She’s baaa-aack… recurring on ABC’s Speechless this fall

I’m thrilled to be joining the cast of ABC’s hit show Speechless (starring Minnie Driver) in a recurring role. It’s an amazing group of people to work with and really great writing. What more could a girl ask for?!
I’ll share an air date once I have it, but in the meantime, if you missed my first appearance last season (or just want a quick chuckle), check out the video below!

Don’t Panic. (A reading list for new and expecting parents)

I am Type A. When I’m excited about a topic or jumping into a new venture, I like to research the shit out of it. So when I got pregnant, my nightstand looked like a library. I have a few amazing people in my life who are expecting babies right now so I put together this list of what I found to be the best and most useful books.  I call this list “Don’t Panic”. As in, “yes, I know it’s a long list but it’s organized in the approximate order you’ll need the info so just start wherever you are in the journey and DON’T PANIC!” Also, some of these books won’t be for everyone so I tried to give an idea of what I found helpful. That way if you’re like “No way, hippy! I’m demanding the best and most high tech drugs as soon as I walk in the hospital door!” you can skip the books that don’t apply to your needs.

Expecting Better by Emily Oster: A look at pregnancy conventions in America and the studies that back them up (or don’t). This is a great read for pre-pregnancy or early in pregnancy to help you effin’ chill about many of the dos and don’ts. (Ignore the kitty litter part. Your partner should still take over scooping the box. Cuz you’re fuckin’ pregnant!)

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Written from the “childbirth is natural, your body is capable” angle, this book is less fear-based than “What to expect when you’re expecting”. It covers all the pregnancy basics from the medical standpoint.

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin: This is essential reading for partners with everything from how to remain calm during a hospital delivery to how to deliver a baby in an emergency situation. My husband read and highly recommends this.

The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer: This book details what can happen when one medical intervention sets off another. If you’re one who wants to show up and take the delicious drugs as soon as they can get them, thank you very much, then this is not the book for you. If you want medicine-free delivery and to be involved in the medical decisions during your birth, check it out. You’d be amazed at the variety of interventions that can come up. In the midst of contractions is not the time to be hearing about them for the first time.

Birthing From Within by Pam England: This book is a bit woo-woo. But honestly, so is natural childbirth. If you’re not depending on drugs and the doctor to lead you by the hand, then you’re depending on yourself and your amazing body. So you’d better have faith in it. The art stuff in this book was not for me but there were enough things in here that rang true (and made me tear up because of it) that I sought out a Birthing From Within class in my city. It’s about letting go, trusting your body, and realizing the rich storied history of women that you are becoming a part of. It’s kind of magical. And again, so is childbirth.

Baby Bargains by Denise Fields: This is basically a book about how not to spend a bajillion dollars on your baby. I found it handy.

Lucie’s List: Great site for baby stuff reviews. This is the first place I look when I’m shopping for a new item. There’s also a “crib sheet” on here that gives a decent jumping off point for what you actually might need to buy for baby. I used that, and another from a friend, as well as my own nanny experience, to fill up my registry.

Baby 411 by Ari Brown and Denise Fields: We referenced this book, like, weekly during ABC’s first year. Health, growth and development, when to call the doctor, how to bathe and swaddle. It’s all in here. Their Toddler 411 is great after the first year.

Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Repley and Tracey Murkett: We loved this method for starting solids. Baby feeds herself and eats what you eat (modified early on). It made more sense to us than doing the “Stage 1 – 2 – 3” foods.

The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon: We were lucky. We got a good sleeper. I know some people read a million books before they find one that helps with a baby who struggles with sleep. This one worked for us immediately. It’s somewhere in between the “cry it out” method and the “go in whenever they peep” method and I felt it was a perfect happy medium. Lots of other good info about sleep stages before you get to “sleep training” age, as well as up to school age.

DEVELOPMENT: It is invaluable to understand what your kid is going through and WHY they are so crabby (or clingy, or won’t eat or won’t sleep) some weeks. Seriously, understanding this stuff is what keeps us sane and empethetic. These 2 books track different leaps in an infant/toddlers development. I highly recommend them both.

The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooih: Ok, so this is actually horribly written, but the info is good. There is also an app available with less info but better than nothing if you can’t stand to read the repetitive writing.

Touchpoints: Birth to Three by Joshua D Sparrow: This thing is great. Well-written and from a pediatrician’s perspective.

I know, I know, It’s A LOT! But these aren’t all cover to cover readers. Many are reference or ones that you work your way through as the kid progresses through the first year. Stick ’em on your book shelf and pull them out when the questions come up (oh my lord, the questions that come up. “Is that blood in my 3 week old daughter’s diaper?! (See Baby 411))

But guess what. The information is out there. You’ve got this! Just love them hard, know the learning curve is steep but not impossible, and DON’T PANIC!

*I am an Amazon affiliates member and make a small amount if you purchase through my links. Please and thank you! 🙂

A hard sad post I needed to write

This is not a funny post. It is not a helpful post or call to action. This is a hard sad post that I need to write because I need to stop writing it night after night in my head.

This isn’t my story to tell, which is why I’ve resisted writing about it. It is not my tragedy. But it has affected me greatly and I need to talk.

Two weeks ago, a little boy died. A sweet, beautiful, observant little boy, four days older than BabyABC, a playdate friend. We knew him only casually but somehow, I’d made enough room for him in my heart that there is a noticeable hole now. He died very unexpectedly for unknown reasons. Those who were there suspect mistakes were made by the medical professionals trying to save him. An investigation is pending. But whatever the cause, he is gone. And his parents are left behind.

What his parents are going through… I stay up at night thinking about it. Horror. There is no other word for it. It is unfair and unnatural and sickening and terrifying. It is horrific. To be ripped out of the active role of parent in this way. To be so suddenly without a piece of your heart. It keeps me awake.

His mother is not my best friend. We were connected by our children. We mostly talked about our children and things related to them. So are we anything to each other now? Is there any way I can help her find even a tiny bit of peace? Or would hearing from me now add to her pain?

I went to the funeral. I struggled with that decision. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle it. The thought of going made me feel sick to my stomach and terrified, while the thought of not going made me feel sick to my stomach and ashamed. In the end I decided I could live with terror, but not shame. Sitting there, saying goodbye, watching his parents say goodbye was one of the worst, most painful experiences of my life. The stark contrast between his photos, full of life and curiosity, and him actually there in a child-sized casket, his mourning parents standing before us, made it unbearably real. Unfair, unnatural, horrific, and real.

Every time someone asks me how I am lately, I want to tell them this story. I want to pour some of this horror out at their feet in the hopes that they’ll take some of it away from me. I want to say “Don’t you know? A little boy died. How can anyone be ok?” I want to tell them that even though this is not my story, I am a little bit broken by it. And I think maybe I always will be.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

BabyABC is fighting a bit of a diaper rash so I decided to give her some diaper-free time. We bought this excellent waterproof blanket* so we don’t have to worry about her having an accident on the carpet (is it an accident at this age? I mean, it’s not like she ever tries not to pee so…)

The trick these days is getting her to stay on the blanket. She’s so busy she wants to run all over the house shouting “I’m naked! I’m naked!” (Ok, she actually shouts “Eeeeeeee! Eeeeeee!” but I’m her Mom. I’m an excellent translator.)

I thought I was being pretty darn clever when I opened a new bag of diapers and had her hand them to me one by one to put in the changing table drawer. It kept her in place for a full 2 1/2 minutes! Clever right? Thank you. I know. No please, stop, you’re embarrassing me!

Any time we commit to diaper-free time in this house we know there is a risk we’ll spend a few minutes afterward wiping her down and cleaning up pee. However, for a diaper rash I decided I’d make the time, take the chance. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I said, “I can handle a little pee clean up if need be.”

Then she crapped on the floor.

Touché, ABC… touché.




*Amazon affiliates link

A Day in the Life

It dawned on me recently that most of the people currently reading this blog are not actor/writer/stay-at-home moms. (Of course they aren’t. That’s friggin’ specific!) My closest mommy friends consist of women who stay home full time with baby or work full time. My situation is in some weird limbo in between that has a few of the problems and advantages from each of those. So I thought I’d share what a busy day in our house looks like.

7:30 am BabyABC wakes up and comes to bed with us to nurse and play. This is one of the glorious things about both my husband and I being freelancers. Many mornings, we get to hang around in bed together as a family before we start the day.

8:30 am Production meeting with a group of women via Google Hangouts. We’re trying to produce some scenes we’ve written to use for our drama reels. BabyABC waves and grins as I head upstairs to the office and then proceeds to shriek and babble up at me throughout the call.

9am: Breakfast as a family; I move over to makeup table to prep for the day as Joe cleans up BabyABC. Teamwork!

10 am: I put BabyABC down for a nap just as my sketch group arrives. We have about 90 minutes tops to set up and shoot a scene for a sketch I’m producing in our living room before she wakes up. Luck smiles on us and BabyABC stays quiet and asleep. After we get the shot, we sit down for a planning meeting.

11:30 BabyABC wakes, so I step out of the meeting to get her up. I pull out her lunch and set her up in her highchair in the circle with us. She munches and observes while we meet. When she’s done, I wipe her down and get her dressed while trying to give productive notes on a sketch pitch. BabyABC plays on the floor with me.

12: 30 pm Our lovely sitter comes (teamwork!) and takes BabyABC out to the park. There is a brief break in the meeting as ABC has a meltdown about leaving Mommy. We wrap up the meeting and everyone heads out.

1:15 pm I eat lunch in front of the computer as I gather some info that my new manager requested.

2:15 I go downstairs for a quick baby snuggle before I put ABC down for second nap. I gather my things for the rest of the day, thank the sitter, and get on the road for an evening shoot. I’ve been hired to simply show up and act on a project. What a treat! 🙂 I have a lovely time on set and am invigorated, being in my element, doing what lights me up.

9 pm On this particular day, I get home after ABC is bed. Many nights I get to be there for dinner and bedtime. For example, the next night, we have dinner as a family, go for a short walk and are both home for bedtime. Then I head up to the office again for a writer’s meeting (a half hour comedy I’m working on with 2 other mommies) that goes until about 10:30pm.

Every single day in our house is different. Freelance comes with a lot of benefits but it also means we don’t have a predictable start and end time to our day. Joe and I do our best to keep BabyABC on a schedule despite Mommy and Daddy’s lives being so changeable. It’s hard some days (many days). There is no balance, no perfect schedule. It’s like the tides, flowing in work and flowing out family. But I love my job and my time with my family so I’m holding on tight to both and making it work (mostly) one day at a time.

The Birth of a Family

When we were preparing for labor, Joe and I took this amazing birthing class. Ok, actually we took a bunch of birth classes. I’m Type A . I prepare. So we took a bunch of birth classes but only 1 that was amazing.

Along with the pain coping techniques and hormone sequence lessons (Fascinating. Seriously. Women’s bodies are magic.), our teacher gave us pearls of wisdom that have stuck with me long after labor. One of the concepts in particular has saved me on a number of occasions:

After laboring for hours, 3 new people emerge. A baby is born. A mother is born. And a father (or mother or partner) is born.

Think about it. There is suddenly a parent where there simply wasn’t one before. It is a complete and utter transformation of self, particularly for the birthing mother, whose hormones go on a wild ride.

Remembering this has saved me more than once from the heaving guilt of new motherhood, the “not enough-ness” that every mother faces. During one particularly stressful time a few months ago, as I nearly melted down about not having it all figured out yet, Joe had one of those magical “nailed it” husband moments. He reminded me to go easy on myself. “You’re only a year old as a mother!” I then had an “oh yeah!” moment and cried relieved tears onto my super-husband’s already super-soggy shoulder.

Why should I, having only been a mother for 1 year, have all the answers!? I can’t. I don’t. And that’s ok. I am learning and growing into motherhood. Growth can be painful at times, and challenging. To help my daughter grow, I try to practice patience and understanding, and to give her all the love and hugs she needs when things don’t go the way she intended. My 1 year old mother self deserves no less.


*Thank you to Beth Steinhaus and Monica Rainey for inspiring today’s post

Don’t Call Me a Liability

This week I’d like to take you back in time to when I was pregnant and was fired from an acting job because of it. This article was originally posted on Some Lady Parts, an excellent blog focused on calling out sexism in the entertainment industry.

Don’t Call Me a Liability

I am an actor in Los Angeles. And I am pregnant. I’m very driven, always on the go self-producing, auditioning, hustling for that next job. So before we decided to start a family, I had a lot of questions. Will being pregnant and having a child slow me down? Will taking time off for labor and recovery jeopardize my career? Can I be a great mother AND a great actor?

My husband and I talked about it a lot until finally, the timing felt right. When we saw that little blue plus sign, I was thrilled! And nervous as hell. I decided to tell my agents when I was 4 months along, not knowing when I’d start showing, but wanting to give them a heads-up. I spoke with my acting coach on how to broach the subject. I stayed up late worrying about it.

And you know what? It couldn’t have gone better. They squealed and clapped, the same way my closest friends and family did! They offered their support and told me stories about how amazing parenthood is. They told me to take whatever time I needed — they’d be there when I got back. They even offered to hook me up with an agency that specializes in pregnant moms and newborns. I left the meeting beaming and reassured that I could, indeed, do this. Everything would be fine! My career wasn’t over. A new chapter had just begun.

A few days later, I had a theater audition. At the the callback, they had some basic set pieces set up and I used them, running around the table, tossing down a chair as directed. They told me they’d likely make their decision over the weekend and call Tuesday (it was a holiday weekend). They called the next morning and left a voicemail.

Hi Kate. This is —- with the —– Theater. I would like to invite you to play —- … Congratulations! I’m looking forward to this!”

Perfection! One last play before taking a break from theater to nurse a newborn. The comedy was right in my wheelhouse, the theater right in my neighborhood. Yes!

I called the director and accepted the role. We talked about the schedule, then I said:

I just want to let you know that I’m pregnant. I’m not very far along but if the show gets extended, I may need to let out my costumes a bit by the end of the run. I’m very healthy and physically active so there should be no issue in terms of my ability to perform this role.”

Why did I tell him? A: It had gone so well with my agents and B: I have always been a very honest person. I was sure that it was better to tell them up front than to spring it on them later.

I joked “There aren’t any high-wire stunts in this show, are there?” The director laughed. “No, no. The physical stuff you did in the callback is the worst of it.” He thanked me, and said again how excited he was to have me on board.

Yes! It felt like another actor/mother win! But that evening, I got this voicemail (emphasis mine):

Listen, I had a conversation with the owner and artistic director of the theater and they feel because of LIABILITY ISSUES we won’t be able to use you for this show…”

He apologized, said he really liked my work, hoped to use me another time but… ya know, liability issues.

I was shocked. Hadn’t we just spoken and agreed it wouldn’t be an issue?

I was also heartbroken. There are very few things more painful to an actor than having a role, starting to own it, then having it snatched away.

And finally, I was pissed. What the f*** did he mean, liability?

I gave myself a bit to cool off and called back, leaving a voicemail:

I got your message. I just wanted to clarify a few things. I’m not really clear on why my pregnancy makes me more of a liability than a non-pregnant person. Presumably, if an actor got hurt, that would be an issue whether they are pregnant or not. As we discussed, there are no stunts which my pregnancy prevents me from doing, so I’m just not clear on what the issue is. If you could please give me a call back, I’d like to discuss this further.”

The director did not return my call.

I was reeling. This was the opposite of how my agents had reacted. The thought crept up slowly: this was… was this discrimination?!

I posted about it on Facebook. No names, just the facts and my shock, heartbreak, and anger. I reached out to a friend in Equity for insight. He posted to his own wall asking for advice from the community.

Our pages blew up with outrage. Some people asked for names. “What theater is it? We’ll tell everyone!” And man, wasn’t that tempting on some level? But I’ve been very concerned recently with the rise of “internet mob justice”. Stories get taken out of context, threats are made, and lives are ruined without a fair trial. Our justice system is FAR from perfect, but I’m terrified by the online witch hunts. So that wasn’t the route for me.

Non-acting folks cried I should sue — it was pregnancy discrimination and against the law. But here’s the tricky thing. In Los Angeles, Equity has the “99-seat theater agreement” in which actors aren’t paid. (Actor’s Equity tried to change that this year, but many members marched to prevent it, worried that the LA theater scene would collapse.) So I didn’t know if I was even considered an employee. Many acting folks weighed in that they doubted it.

Another issue? I’m SAG-AFTRA but not a full Equity member yet. Would they protect a non-union member?

I decided to wait until Tuesday and make some calls. The thought of suing the theater, while appealing, didn’t seem realistic. As most actors at my level will tell you, we aren’t looking for a court case, no matter how justified, because a) we aren’t wealthy (yet) and b) this is business is a small one, really, and you don’t want to be known as a troublemaker.

Isn’t that awful? To know you’re in the right, wanting to do something to fix it, but to to be worried it might destroy your chance to keep working?

Along with all the advice, there was a chorus of actresses listing shows and roles that they did while 30, even 35 weeks pregnant! They were indignant that “in this day and age” someone would treat a pregnant actor like this.

In this day and age” came up a lot. Everyone, including myself, was shocked to think that in 2015, anyone could be so ignorant as to consider a pregnant person a liability. Because pregnancy is like an injury? A disability?

Sunday morning, I got an email from the director.

The artistic directors… feel this would be a liability problem because there will be considerable physical blocking, involving climbing on and jumping off tables, diving into boxes, which I wasn’t aware of. They also feel a pregnant character would significantly change the dynamics of the play and raise issues that weren’t addressed by the author…”

Wait. Suddenly, there were stunts that the director hadn’t known about even though he’s, ya know, the director?! And then that line about pregnancy changing the role. This was not his opinion when we spoke!

I recognized a case of CYA . Unfortunately, it probably worked. Their asses were covered. By saying it didn’t work for the character to be pregnant, they gave an excuse that I couldn’t really fight. As actors, we’re hired for our look all the time. “You didn’t get the role because we see this character as thinner, hotter, older, brunette…”

My heart sank. It seemed like they won.

I’m generally a very positive person. I stay that way by trying to find the silver lining or lesson in every shitty situation. But I can’t find it here. Is it “DON’T tell people you’re pregnant if you wanna work?” I can’t believe that’s it. I don’t believe it. I’ve had other experiences proving it isn’t.

But I want to do something to fix this. I don’t want this shit to happen to women “in this day and age”. I don’t want to feel like they won, to feel helpless against discrimination of any kind. So I’m sharing my story here. It’s a start.


I love you More-Milk

Sometimes all the pieces in Baby ABC’s brain grow in just the right way to make mommy laugh while she cries.

Piece 1: ABC is in the babbling stage. She’s said a couple words, but mostly she plays around with sounds. So far we get a lot of “dadada” and not much “mamama”.

Piece 2: We’ve been signing to ABC since she was about 6 months old. Around 10 months I was about ready to give up. Is this kid ever gonna sign back? And then she signed “milk”. Well…kinda. Close enough. She shook her hand instead of the open and close motion we use, but we got the gist.

Another month or so passed and “milk” was the only sign in her repertoire. That’s it? No more signs? Why do we even keep trying this? I was just about to give up again when she signed “more”. Well… kinda. The sign for “more” is bunching your fingers on each hand together, like you’re making duck bills, and then bringing the tips of the fingers together. ABC kinda… clapped. So it was less signing “more” and more a snobby “Hop to, Mother! I need a thing. Pip Pip!” Meh. Close enough.

Put it all together and what do you got? When Daddy gets home ABC smiles and burbles “Dada Dada!” When Mommy gets home ABC frantically signs “Milk! Milk! More milk!” Sigh.

The rewards of motherhood are in the details. When I move ABC to her crib at night and she snuggles me because she’s too sleepy to wriggle away, that’s rewarding. When ABC wants to read a book that I read as a child over and over again on my lap, that’s rewarding. And someday, when she’s old enough, I know she’ll call my name to come play or for snuggles and she’ll be able to say “I love you, Mommy” and I know my heart will explode with the joy of hearing those words in her tiny voice.

Until then, just call me Mommy More-Milk.