Like many of us, Laura Prepon is currently quarantining (at her New York City home) with her husband and kids—in her case, a newborn son and a toddler daughter. But before she entered into this new temporary reality, she had an already full plate, with her second book being published this week. You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood, chronicles Laura’s struggles with postpartum anxiety and losing herself in motherhood—and finding her footing again by prioritizing herself once more. We spoke to the Orange is the New Black and That 70s Show star about her book, becoming a new mom again and how she’s dealing with coronavirus quarantine life.
Congrats on your new baby! How has this time been different?
I think for me, the first time, I had no idea what was going on. I really struggled with mama bear protection to the nth degree, to the point where it was almost debilitating. I was so invested in protecting this child that I couldn’t help myself or my family. I’m a “get it done” person and I was a complete disaster. And the second time around, I knew what to expect, and I knew how to support myself emotionally and physically. A lot of us are dealing with similar things in different ways, and speaking to my mom squad as well as women from different backgrounds and ages of children was very healing. You kind of mourn your previous self and become a different person. Becoming a mother is the most incredible thing I’ve done and the most terrifying. The book speaks to mothers of all ages. Partners get so much out of it, too and also women who have not become mothers and may not even become mothers.
How are you keeping everyone sane during quarantine?
Routine really helps. As a child, I grew up in a family with no routine. I like having one, and my daughter, who is a toddler, likes having one too. My newborn son is like, whatever. But we always have breakfast and playtime in morning, and do bath time and storytime, and put our kids to bed. And we are just trying to make this time fun. We got a swing set that’s way too big…we play with chalk and put up a soccer net. As for my husband and me, we’re so busy. I don’t know how people are recognizing their pantry and closets! Not only am I doing a book tour and doing wonderful things like talking to you, but I’m running a restaurant because I’m cooking and cleaning for every single meal.
I’m also trying to clean on top of that! Which is a joke. Plus, any time a box shows up you have to open it with a hazmat suit. You have to laugh and try to stay positive, but we are keeping some sense of structure and trying to stay positive and be creative and work. I find the people who are losing their minds are the ones that aren’t putting out creative energy. I’m obsessed with Master Class and listen to that like a podcast.
How do you deal with mom guilt?
When I first went back to work at six weeks with my daughter, I had a lot of mom guilt. And it doesn’t go away but it gets better…it’s definitely stronger when your children are young. I felt guilty I wasn’t with my children. When I came home, if I wanted to take a short bath after work, I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my children. Even if I was trying to go workout or exercise and get some endorphins, I felt guilty. Self-care goes out the window. Eventually I realized that self-care and not having mom guilt were the things that would make me a better mother and partner. When you’re refused, rejuvenated and rested, you’re so much better.
You’ve talked about having to end your second pregnancy because the baby was having major growth issues and there was also risk to your health. What was it like going through a subsequent pregnancy with your son?
When it happened it was such a shock to us and so devastating. I was angry at myself and my body. I couldn’t understood why it happened and thought I had done something to cause it—you start thinking illogically. I started self-love—literally putting my hands on my body parts and saying I love you arms and I love you stomach, I love you thighs. When I got pregnant again with my son, I would talk to the baby. I would put my hands over my belly and send love and energy to that place. I would get scary thoughts and get upset but I would really try to stay focused on having a safe place for the baby to grow, and thank goodness we have a beautiful healthy baby boy. But I’m so thankful that we have two healthy children.
Any words of support for moms struggling at home all day, every day, with kids right now?
I would say, I get it. As the parents we have to stay strong and keep it upbeat because our children are little mini satellites and smart—they pick up everything. If we’re freaking out—and by the way I get it because this is scary—they sense it. Staying positive is more important now than ever because so many people are in close proximity with the social distancing and isolation. Anything you can do to stay creative and positive, your kids will feel that.