TALKING PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD... WITH A.GISH (March 2007)
Captivating actress whom you’ve seen in hits such as Mystic Pizza, Nixon, Beautiful Girls, The West Wing, The X-Files, and most recently, Showtime’s Brotherhood, Annabeth Gish now has a new co-star, a precious little boy named Cash.
The Cradle: Describe motherhood in three words.
Annabeth: Transcendent, challenging, and transformative.
The Cradle: What unexpected, or surprising, feelings have come with being new a mom ?
Annabeth: I’ve been a little surprised about how blurry it all is because of the sleep deprivation, and there are aspects of it that seem surreal that I can’t chart. I feel like I’m in a daze and so I just kind of feel at sea some of the time. I can’t believe that eight weeks have passed and yet they’ve been the most intense eight weeks of my life. And so the time-warp sensation has been one of the really odd aspects for me. And I think also, just the real physical demand. You can read about it, you can hear about it, you can watch it in somebody else, but you can’t know it until it’s in your cells. And so that has been a surprise to my body.
The Cradle: Were there surprise feelings while pregnant ?
Annabeth: I actually enjoyed being pregnant – I didn’t expect to enjoy pregnancy as much as I did. And the biggest surprise for me was the respect I earned for my body. I really got to a place of a new respect and gratitude for what the female body can do. [And] I never expected that patience would be required on so many levels…patience with my child, patience with my body, patience with my husband, patience with my clumsiness, with myself. I knew with motherhood that I’d have to learn how to be patient with my kid, but [there are] so many other levels.
The Cradle: Did you feel any pressure in going through your pregnancy while living in the public eye ?
Annabeth: My pregnancy came at a time when it’s very chic for actresses to be pregnant. So, no, I didn’t because of the climate now, and pregnancy is kind of in vogue – it was celebrated. Surprisingly I didn’t feel any pressure. I do feel a little bit of pressure to get back into shape for work.
The Cradle: If you knew then what you know now…
Annabeth: While I was pregnant, I read everything about being pregnant and I didn’t read anything about being a mother. And if I did it again, I would read more about being a mother because the pregnancy is transitory and motherhood is lasting. So I would have read books about being a mom. I would have invested more time in preparation, but maybe this is the point – you can’t. You can’t know until you’re in it.
The Cradle: How did you come about his name, Cash Alexander ?
Annabeth: Alexander means leader of men, which is auspicious. But he doesn’t have to be a leader if he doesn’t want to. And Cash was a name that my husband loved and chose…it’s kind of cowboy-esque. It’s the name that we always liked the most [during pregnancy] but popped a few more names into the ring to have options. We were going to wait to see what he looked like…even though we knew he was going to be Cash.
The Cradle: What piece of baby booty did you most look forward to getting ?
Annabeth: What I always loved seeing was mothers with their slings and the Baby Bjorn – the carrying things. I really like the Maya, the Moby, and the New Native. I like the Maya the best.
The Cradle: What was your favorite gift you received ?
Annabeth: The pump has been pretty crucial. I will say that I got a lot of diaper bags for gifts, but I still haven’t found the right one. I can’t seem to find the perfect bag.
The Cradle: Decorating the nursery: enjoyable or emotional ?
Annabeth: Far too emotional for me. My husband had to take over in decorating the nursery. For some reason, it was far too daunting for me on every level. One day when I had one of my major meltdowns during pregnancy was when I came in and the furniture was being delivered for the nursery. It was all too real and all too big, and it felt very permanent. It was just a daunting task. And it wasn’t emotional like “Aw, isn’t this sweet.” The responsibility of the nursery weighed too heavily, so Wade had to do it.
The Cradle: Name some maternity pieces that you couldn’t live without.
Annabeth: Lucky jeans, their non-maternity jeans, was what I lived in. They’ve got a stretch to them. And their tops were good, too. But there was one dress that I lived in for dinners, which was made by Olian. And I will say that I lived in my Juicy sweatpants… Juicy velour sweatpants. My pregnancy uniform !
The Cradle: What’s your favorite (or not-so-favorite!) unsolicited comment you received while pregnant ?
Annabeth: A week after I delivered, someone asked me when I was due. That tops it.
The Cradle: What were your biggest cravings ?
Annabeth: Macaroni and cheese… and salsa and lemonade.
The Cradle: Anything you couldn’t live without during your pregnancy ?
Annabeth: I took a lot of naps, so maybe my bed. I slept a lot. It was such a gift to give myself that time to nap. I was never much of a napper until I was pregnant. Also, there was a pregnancy masseuse named Seva who, towards the last few months of my pregnancy, was really great.
The Cradle: What piece of reading material do you recommend to moms-to-be or new moms ?
Annabeth: There were so many different books. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy [was] refreshing to read because it demystified it and de-glamorized it. But then there was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, which was about a commune in Tennessee called The Farm where they deliver babies naturally [with the help of midwives]. It was interesting to read about other people’s experiences.
The Cradle: How did you anticipate having a baby would affect your career ?
Annabeth: You always kind of wonder. I was worried because I like to work, so I was worried to have such a long stretch of not working. But one of the great things about this business is that things take time anyway, there’s usually a lull. And I was in the wonderful position of being employed three months after I was pregnant [during her pregnancy, she found out that her show Brotherhood was being picked up for a second season].
The Cradle: Did you worry that you were going to lose out on opportunities while you were pregnant ?
Annabeth: Yes, I did. I did worry that while I was pregnant, the role of a lifetime would come along, but it didn’t. So again, there’s a learning that has to somehow integrate itself into motherhood, which is patience and acceptance … things that you can’t change. And there’s only so much you can control – it’s a total loss of control.
The Cradle: And how do you feel about going back to work with a little one ?
Annabeth: Frankly I am worried about it because I just want to spend time with him – I don’t want to lose those precious hours away from him. I am excited about creatively returning to this project, but it’s just the concept. The best part, though, is that I’ll have him in a trailer with a nanny, [so] I can breastfeed and potentially take him to work. So I’m very, very lucky. It’s the best of all worlds, I think.