Being pregnant is like being initiated into a secret society. All of a sudden you’re learning about things you’ve never considered before, from mesh undies to padsicles. If you’re lucky, you may even have some trusted friends who can clue you in about what to really expect from pregnancy and childbirth.
But for the women who don’t get the frank honesty that can make the experience of growing and birthing a baby a bit easier, comedian Amy Schumer’s new documentary, “Expecting Amy,” is here to fill them in. The three-part documentary is exposing everything anyone could ever want to know about pregnancy and becoming a mom–and then some.
Comedian Amy Schumer had unexpected challenges throughout her pregnancy with her son Gene, now almost 15 months. They included vomiting blood and an eventual diagnosis with hyperemesis gravidarum. Schumer had been recording snippets of her pregnancy on her phone, but she realized that she wanted to share the experience with the world, giving a fully honest look into pregnancy that would “keep it real as hell.” The footage was given to director Alexander Hammer, who previously worked with Beyonce. Hammer transformed Schumer’s home-movies into the documentary, which is now streaming on HBO Max.
Schumer told USA Today that she wanted the chance to document her own experience and help other women, especially those with hyperemesis gravidarum, understand that their experience is normal.
“It was just like a lot of things in my life are. I just have, like, an instinct, and I just follow it and see if something comes of it, and sometimes it does,” she said.
Although every pregnancy is full of personal and emotional complications, Schumer had a lot on her plate while she was expecting. She was in the middle of filming “Growing,” her Netflix special based on marriage and family life. She was dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum. And, at the same time of all of that, her husband, Chris Fischer, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Although getting the diagnosis was ultimately a positive, it was a lot to absorb.
“It helps him understand his brain and gives him tools for how to communicate better which is so helpful and such a relief for him,” Schumer said.
Overall, she called her pregnancy a “different kind of hell.”
It can be hard to talk about the downsides of pregnancy, especially for women who have previously experienced loss or infertility. It’s acceptable for us to groan about our swollen ankles or sore back, but talking openly about the emotional and mental toll of pregnancy is more taboo.
Schumer hopes that by being totally honest about her less-than-ideal pregnancy, she’ll open space for other women to do the same. Even though she has close friends who have children, she hadn’t had intimate conversations about pregnancy.
“All my friends have babies, but I hadn’t been exposed to how hard pregnancy is. It’s really kind of painful, personal, intimate stuff that we – who’ve been friends for 30 years – had never talked about. So, I hope this opens up a conversation for a lot more women,” she said, adding that it already started the conversation within her friend group.
The series includes arguments between Schumer and Fischer. She opted to include the footage even if it didn’t show her in the best light, because so many couples argue during pregnancy.
“It’s not particularly flattering to me, but I think we were just like, ‘If we’re doing this, let’s really do it and share all of it,’” she said.
Gene was born in May 2019. Schumer and Fischer would like to have another child and were using IVF to try. Schumer had 35 eggs retrieved, but they only produced one healthy embryo. Then, the pandemic struck and like many couples Schumer and Fischer decided to put their plans to expand their family on hold. That was especially important since Schumer spent so much time at the doctors while she was pregnant with Gene.
“That’s one thing about having a baby, especially if you’re sick, you just go to the doctor all the time,” she said.
Hopefully when and if Schumer does get pregnant again, we’ll all be a bit more comfortable talking opening about the good, bad, and ugly of pregnancy.