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March 30, 2022 26 mins

In Episode 1 of The Healthy Baby Show, Shazi is joined by actress Minnie Driver and developmental psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Aliza Pressman to discuss one of the most important lessons they’ve learned as parents — no matter how much you plan, things don’t always… things actually never… go the way you expect. Shazi shares the story of her son Zane’s autism diagnosis and Minnie discusses her unexpected pregnancy and experience as a single mom. The episode concludes with a discussion on how modern parenting is evolving, what to expect in the future and how to enjoy the ride. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Healthy Baby Show is a production. If I heard
podcast Network and healthy baby dot Com, my birth plan
went out the window. They told me I was having
a girl. I didn't have a girl. I had a boy.
I wanted the first word that he heard to be
love as I was pushing well her out, and then
my mom went, oh, my goodness, it's a boy, and

(00:21):
I went fuck, what the fuck? I was a single parent.
I always thought i'd be married and have children. I
thought that love would come first and then a baby.
Like the whole thing was back to front. The whole
thing was improbable. But it's only us that apply all
of our strictures and dogma to what it should look like.

(00:43):
And my mother said, you should bury the words should
in the backyard and forget about it. There is so
much about having a baby that I wasn't prepared for
and that nobody really tells you. And that's what this
podcast is for. This is the Healthy Baby Show. I'm

(01:04):
Chassi vas Rahm. I'm a mom with two kids. I've
also grown up in the baby space. I've spent the
last twenty years starting companies that are all about cleaning
up our baby's environment and creating a healthy start for
our children, and I've learned a lot as a new mom,
especially having one child with autism and one that doesn't.
Between my family and my professional life, I've met the

(01:27):
most amazing minds in the parenting space, scientists, developmental pediatricians,
and neurobiologists. In each episode, you can expect to hear
insight from these experts, as well as personal stories from
mothers like Mini Driver, Bethany Van Delft, and Sarah Haynes.
This first season of the podcast, we're going to be
covering nine topics that I think every parent should know about,

(01:48):
from what to do in the first moments after birth,
to postpartum recovery, to the latest research on gut health,
brain development, and chord blood banking. So if you're thinking
about starting a family, or if your family has already
started and you have questions about what the latest research
says about raising a healthy and connected baby, this podcast
is for you. That voice you heard at the beginning

(02:11):
of the episode was actress, singer, and podcast hosts Mini Driver.
Mini is the mother of a thirteen year old son, and,
like me, one of the biggest life lessons she learned
as a parent is that when it comes to kids.
Nothing will ever go quite the way you expect. That
lesson started from day one for both Many and me,
when our careful birth plans that we created went out

(02:31):
the window, and it only continued each passing day for me,
especially when Zane was diagnosed with autism at twenty six months,
totally out of the blue. I mean, he had been
developing so typically really the first eighteen months of life,
and then he just got sick for so many months,
and the next thing you know, we have this autism diagnosis,

(02:53):
and we're hearing things like, well, he might not ever talk,
he might not ever go to school, you might have
to find him a place to live for the rest
of his life, he might not ever be independent. And
you know, at first you have to mourn everything that
you imagined was going to be and let that go

(03:14):
because that's not going to be our experience. And then
you have to kind of pick yourself up and say,
my child needs me right now, and I need to
figure out exactly what to do to be there for
him in the best way possible. When you're clinging to
control things, it's usually because you're anxious, and whatever makes

(03:34):
you feel anxious, whatever sets off your internal alarm system.
Your solution is often to try to control it exactly perfectly,
and unfortunately you just never can do that when you're
having kids. That's my friend and expert Dr Eliza Pressman.
She's co founding director of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center,

(03:57):
the co founder of the Parenting Education group see Links,
and the host of her very popular podcast Raising Good Humans.
I asked her where this impulse to plan and control
comes from, especially for new parents. It's developmentally appropriate to
feel anxious. When you're bringing a life into this world

(04:19):
and you're responsible for that life, it would be a
very appropriate time to go into some bit of a
stress response. So a little bit of that gets you
like motivated and moving and planning and knowing that you're
getting all your ducks in a row. Too much of it, though,
can make it so that you're not experiencing the reality

(04:43):
to find that healthy balance between having some positive stress
but not so much that it becomes prohibitive, like you
can't do anything, you're not able to enjoy the experience.
You're feeling your safety is being threatened. In this case,
the safety is the safety of this being that you're
in charge of, and also yourself, your identity is being

(05:07):
threatened because some people don't feel ready to fully just
shift their identity from protagonist to the mother of the protagonist. Yeah,
because for me, like I remember, it was like running
this organic baby food company. We sponsored this movie called
The Business of Being Born, you know, with Ricky Lake,

(05:28):
and we signed up for the natural Childbirth Center at St. Luke's,
at the birth plan we did our birthing classes. I
remember that was like the first kind of wake up
call to like, Okay, you can make as many plans
as you want, and you can type it in whatever
font size and have as many copies as you want,

(05:50):
but like at some point you have to recognize that
that was just your idea of what it could be
in an ideal scenario that you imagined, but then real
life happens. I remember afterwards because it was in labor
for like twenty hours and then turned into the emergency
C section, and then I remember just like walking around

(06:11):
a sort of like feeling like a failure for a
while because I didn't have this sort of birth experience
that I wanted. And in retrospect now eleven years later,
and emotionally, yes, it was a little disappointing, but ultimately like,
I had a healthy baby boy, and that's really what
you look back and you remember. But I remember carrying
around that guilt for a while, and it was almost

(06:33):
like this first life lesson of parenting, how things don't
always go the way you expect. I think ideally you
set your intentions so that you don't cling so much
to it, you just are inspired by it. Set a
plan up so that you're not just like, whatever happens happens.
But after you set that intention, recognized this is only

(06:54):
what I can control, get comfortable with throwing out that
piece of paper with my birth plan and thinking about
the bigger picture, which is I just need this baby
to come out healthy. I actually broke a window with
what to expect when you're expecting, and I threw it
out because I felt so overwhelmed, and I kept thinking,

(07:15):
this just cannot possibly be true for every single baby.
That's a mini driver. Again, we talked about how this
impulse to plan and control played out for her before
her son was born. I've done an enormous amount of
watching films and reading about the business of being born,
like the business of having babies in this industry, and

(07:37):
did you kind of write your mission statement before he
became a mom got I was told I couldn't have children.
I was told when I was eighteen. I sat in
a cold Harley Street doctor's office and this awful patrician
doctor came into the room and I was still there,

(07:58):
semi naked and paper gown. He compared my uterus to
the U bend and a toilet and was like, nothing's
geting through there. You're you won't be having children, you know.
I was eighteen and I was like, well are you
Are you sure? Like, is there nothing I can do?
And he was like, well you can, you know, have

(08:19):
a lot of sex and see if you can bang
something around a bit. But I don't believe anything's really
ever going to get through. So I believed him, and
I believed him through my whole life. And then when
I was in a couple of long relationships that I
was in in my life, I would say, you know,
don't worry once we've all been tested and everything like that,
I can't get pregnant, and there was this pressure off.

(08:41):
And then when I was seven, I work up on
January the one with flu, and I was so balmed.
I was like this just I've got flu. It's the
first a year my life. I have no man. I
just recently broken up with someone who was nice but
wasn't my partner. I didn't have kids, I didn't have

(09:02):
a job, I don't know. And then I found out
I was pregnant. My sister was like, I think you're pregnant.
I was that, ton't be ridiculous. I'm barren, and she
was like, that's absurd. I don't think you are. And
I was like, how do you know she's because I've
got three kids. So I got pregnant. And then when
this is a miracle, this is a miracle, like through
and through, this is a miracle. I always loved an adventure,

(09:25):
and here was this great late stage adventure, so I
just went on it. So I actually managed to stay
very present with it. Because of her unexpected path to pregnancy,
many focused more on finding great and caring doctor and
tried not to sweat the small stuff, and even when
her birth took an unpredictable turn, she tried to stay

(09:45):
in the moment. I definitely saw so many women be
given potoson, which invariably ends up in a C section,
just because somebody wants to make their golf game and
it's taking too long. And the people that I had
with me, we're patient and kind and good. So I
arrived in that hospital. My heart rate was down. I

(10:07):
was in trouble and they needed to get me stable
so that they could do anything. So the kind of
calmness with which I was met, exhausted and in agony arriving,
and very quickly he was like, right, we're going to
get an upper dural and then we're going to see
what happens, because once you're out of pain, we're going
to be able to make a more measured decision. I

(10:28):
had the upper dural, everything calmed down, and then it's like,
what do you want to do. You can have a
c section if you just want this to be done
and you don't want to push and you've reached the
end of the road, or we can go ahead. He
is a big baby. You know there may be some
remodeling down there if you have this child. And I
was like, oh, Christ on a bike and I was

(10:52):
like listen, twenty eight years of yoga and surfing and
being an athlete, like I can give birth. I'm not enormous,
but I can have a big baby. So I just
went ahead and they did have forty three internal stitches.
It was bananas. However, I don't remember this, but apparently

(11:15):
I screamed to him, you better stitched me up like
a broad handbag. Um. You know. I did all the
necessary retraining of down there. I was like, I can
do this, like women have been doing this for thousands
of years. I know that it is a mess down that.
Right now I have this beautiful baby. I'm going to heal,
I'm going to be in the sixth baths, I'm going

(11:35):
to do the exercises, I'm going to do this. But
I was very cognizant of that being my path. This
is my story with my baby, with my doctor and
my midwife, and the idea that other women that there
was this comparison. That's what I hate about all those books.
You know my friend Charlie who was like, yeah, if
you don't have an orgasm, you're not doing it right,
and it's like, what babies are you having? But she

(11:57):
literally said that she had an orgasm every time she
had a kid. That's a story, fantastic. I don't never
want to hear it again. That's not my story. That's
not my story. It's not my women's story, crazy story.
It happened. I believe we're God. I hate her. A
little tiny baby, tiny healthy baby, tiny little vibrating right

(12:19):
out with a giant or she bought it from Goop
for six d. Well, it's time for a quick break,
but we'll be back in a minute. Welcome back to

(12:41):
the Healthy Baby Show. For so many of us, including myself,
it is so hard to stop comparing our story to
everyone else's. And that's because other people's stories and advice
are everywhere. We see perfect people on Instagram with their kids.
We read article after article and how to be a
perfect parent online. I asked Dr Pressman how she advises

(13:02):
her patients to filter out all of the parenting noise.
Whenever you're looking for expert or peer advice, the first
thing you have to check in on is when you
read it or hear it, how do you feel in
your body? Are you now short of breath or are
you feeling like, oh okay, that makes sense and I

(13:23):
feel a little bit better than before I was seeking
that information. If you keep going back to communities and
websites and Instagram and people who make you feel crappier
after that's a definite don't read it or think about
it because it's not going to serve you because you
don't learn anything when your brain is closed to new information.

(13:45):
So another thing that I would look at is if
you're finding conflicting information like how to start solids, that's
because there's not one good answer. So that should give
you a clue that you can just let go because
nobody's gotten it right. That's why they're so many very dancers.
I like how you said. That's like when something makes
you feel icky in any way, to me, it's a

(14:08):
sign that either I'm being challenged and I feel uncomfortable,
or this isn't cool and I don't want to do
it anymore. It goes from advice that you want to
being preached at. Yeah. Like then you're like, I'm ashamed
of the parent that I am, and nobody deserves to
feel that way because everybody sets out with good intentions.
That's heavily researched and also very intuitive. You don't become

(14:32):
a parent and think I want to screw this kid
up and do a terrible job. Nobody does well on this.
I'm wondering, given your years of expertise, like when you
meet a parent who really takes to heart that things
are not going to go exactly the way I hope
or plan, and that will be okay, and I am

(14:52):
going to figure it out and it is going to
be okay regardless. When you meet that mom, how do
you think her baby benefits from her being able to
really be adaptable. I mean it's the cornerstone of resilience
because they're given real time, everyday modeling. When you embody

(15:15):
the attitude of I'm going to have this intention. I
am going to plan because obviously it's helpful, but I'm
going to accept that it may not and probably won't
go exactly as planned, and that I can survive that
and I can keep going. You're going to build more
resilient kids because you're putting in the water of their
environment that this is not just something you talk about

(15:37):
and this is not just something that you believe in,
but you actually live it. I think that's super powerful.
You can't control so many things. You can control yourself,
and to some degree, you can shape the environment in
your home, and if part of that environment is one
where you constantly see adaptability, resilience change rolling with it,

(16:01):
so to speak. It kind of sets the kids up
to see that that's how we live our life, and
it makes it easier for them to also live their
lives that way. Knowing what Dr Pressman would suggest, which
is kind of not focusing on controlling our outcome, I
asked many how she wants to support and shape her son,

(16:22):
Henry's future in a way that's intentional but not controlling mine.
Started really small but incredibly important, like be able to
look someone in the eye when you shake their hand,
to stand up when someone comes into the room and
acknowledge them and say hello, to say please and thank you.
Two listen to what people say. It doesn't matter what

(16:44):
you think about their life, to to listen like these
building blocks. I really want him to know what it
is that makes him feel good. And if you possibly
can find a way of making a living, because you've
got to make a living in the wild, you got
to find a way of being here. I want that
because I know that if he stays connect to himself

(17:06):
and he can find a way of putting a roof
over his own head, then he's going to be all
right and he can navigate like I want the ship
to be sound. I don't care how big the ship is.
I just want the boat to be really well made
and really strong and sealed and able to withstand a
storm and able to go to the farthest reaches of

(17:26):
the world and adventure. But I really want to go
with him. I want to be a little boat that
he pulls behind him. I want to be on that boat.
I want to build such a good boat and it's
sailing in an ocean that is actually enclosed in like
my boat. So he's waiting at my feature. I've got

(17:54):
to become a goddess who creates an ocean upon which
as I'm conceal his ship. No doubt that you could
do that, Jerseys, But I mean it's more just that
I know, but we all, we all have a different totally.
It's funny because I do think that they bring their
own story, these children, these babies, and we want to

(18:17):
apply so much of our stuff onto them. And I
think that there's a lot that comes home to roost
when you become a mother, about yourself and allowing a
child to have its story. So I always thought about
Henry Is having come in with a story that I
also had to learn. However, difficult that might be, or
however much I disagreed with it and had to be

(18:39):
open to that. We really can't control life once it
gets going mm hmm. But I do believe we can
nurture and protect it and shape it. Exactly. You can
nurture it, but having expectations, Like we should teach that
to our kids in schools, how to not have expectations,
but to encourage the best, but to not expect it

(19:03):
in a way. It's very difficult. It's why it's you know,
this is the process. I was going to ask, So,
what would you say to that one called piece of
garbage doctor twenty one years before? Like the word baron,
I don't even know. That just sounds crazy. It's your barren.
I mean, it's it's as like terrible to me as

(19:26):
mentally disabled, which I hear a lot. It's a dead end.
It's like a cul de sac of a word, and
it implies a hopelessness. It's so absurd for a woman
who physically will not bear a child. What a ridiculous
thing to tell them that they are empty. If that's
what barren means, it means dead, a baron landscape without fertility.

(19:50):
That it's it's crazy. I wouldn't say anything to that doctor,
you know who I'd like to get someone to say,
it is my son. I would like to set my
son on that doctor because he would have some chore
is brilliant words. I'm sure a lot of people ask
me about what it's like to raise a childhood special needs,
and I'm always reminded of this poem that I think

(20:13):
any of us who are special needs moms have been
exposed to at one time or another. The author's name
is Emily Pearl Kingsley, and she wrote a poem about
visiting Holland. She talks about how when you're going to
have a baby, it's like you're planning this incredible vacation
to Italy, and you buy your tickets and you do
all the research on why it's going to be so wonderful,

(20:36):
and then the plane lands and instead of landing in Italy,
the stewardess comes in and says, welcome to Holland, and
this is where you have to stay. And at some
point you realize, I don't want to be in Holland.
I want to go to Italy. That was my plan,
but that's not an option anymore. And then you know,

(20:58):
you get off the plane and you start figuring out
what to do in Holland, and it's kind of like
being a mom of a childhood special needs. It's not
the trip to Italy you're planning. But then in the poem,
she says, you know, there's flowers in Holland, and there
are other things in Holland that make Holland really special
and make Colland really beautiful. And it's totally different than

(21:23):
what you expected, but it doesn't mean it can't be
beautiful too. The poem is a way of sort of
dealing with the unexpected. But I believe that you still
have the power to change things after that, and you
don't just have to accept a situation or a diagnosis

(21:44):
as a life sentence, because when we do that, we
disempower ourselves. And really, the whole reason for doing this
podcast is to share how much I've learned and how
much there's hope for kids like saying, and how the
future is evolving so quickly that we will find answers.
It's time for a quick break, but we'll be back

(22:04):
in a minute. Each episode of this podcast will be
asking experts what they think the future will look like
for the topic we're discussing. For this episode, I asked
Dr Eliza Pressman what she thinks the future of parenting
will look like and if some of these issues of

(22:26):
control that so many of us faces parents will continue
to be a roadblock. I unfortunately think parenting is going
to get really prescriptive, though I don't think the science
says that that's the goal, but I do think that
society wants more of that, which I think is taking
away from our ability to grow individually and as communities.

(22:49):
As parents. I think that one thing gen Z is
for sure going to do is be more open to
the plane of possibilities of what is important for our
souls and minds and bodies. They're just much more open,
and the science is kind of getting more interesting, like

(23:10):
stuff that was wacky wacky ten years ago is very mainstream,
like meditation. So that's one way I think it's gonna shift.
And I think we are grabbing for dear life at
the importance of connection and relationships, and so that will
be much more the emphasis compared to obedience and achievement.

(23:36):
I think that is so my perspective on my daughter RuSHA,
after having seen maybe it's just made me grow up
real fast. But after having seen and having all those
ideas of him going to Harvard and everything else, and
now for RuSHA, I could seriously give enough. I could
seriously give an agreed anything is possible in our new world,

(23:57):
and I feel like every day I want to create
a world where anything is possible for her. The most
soothing thing that anybody has ever said to me is
the explanation of the plane of possibility in physics that
we just don't know so much, and that makes everything
so exciting. When we make the decision in advance about
exactly what path our kids have to go on and
who they're going to be, that takes that away from

(24:19):
their experience and our pleasure and joy. I'm excited. I'll
tell you that I think this hyper focus on one
path to high achieving without actually thinking about what does
success really mean, kind of just allowing it to be
one thing, is going to be much easier for people

(24:40):
to stop clinging to. I think so too. I think
that's the real silver lining is we have a real
reason to look and say we don't have to cling
to these other beliefs. We can actually embrace the would
if it's easy to say, well, you just have to
go with it, but that is what we have to do,
and we all have to do that. Everybody is subject

(25:02):
to the vagaries of circumstance. That all we can do
is build our strength at becoming these fluid, flexible, kind
of Judo type people slash parents with what life throws
at us. Well, that's it for the show this week.

(25:26):
Next week, we'll be diving deep into the science of fertility,
speaking with experts and hearing from my friends Chloe mail
Us and Brian Maza about their infertility challenges and IVF experience,
something I also went through. We'll learn the latest when
egg freezing, what pregnancy after thirty five really means, and
what women and men should be thinking about before having children.

(25:47):
So tune in and learn more about what the research says.
Join us next time. The Healthy Baby Show is a
production of I Heart podcast Network and healthy baby dot Com,
where you can find a new line of the baby Essentials.
The Healthy Baby Show is hosted by me shazivs raum.
Our lead producer is Jennifer Bassett. Executive producers are Nikki Etre,

(26:09):
Anna Stump, Shahsi vas Ram, and James Violette Mastering. Sound
design by Carl Cadl and Dan Bowsa, additional writing and
research by Julia Weaver, and our theme music is by
Anna Stump and Hamilton's Lighthouser. Additional music from Blue Dot
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