Rachel Bloom, the Golden Globe-winning co-creator/star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, reveals what it was like giving birth during the pandemic at the same moment her friend and music collaborator, Adam Schlesinger, was losing his battle with the virus. With COVID-19 as a humbling denominator, she confronts mortality with the same out-of-body clarity in a way that she hasn’t since that one time she took way too many mushrooms in Amsterdam. “There’s nothing more on the nose about as one person enters, one person is leaving,” she reflects. “Ten minutes after he died, I was breastfeeding because she needed food. So there’s something very egoless about, like, I can only grieve for so long.”
You can follow Rachel Bloom on Instagram and Twitter @Racheldoesstuff.
Interested in learning more about Rachel and what she does? Check out the links below:
- Listen to the full version of “The Miracle of Birth” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHIXduEbLz0.
- You can stream all 4 seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix now: https://www.netflix.com/title/80116748
- Learn more about Rachel Bloom’s latest project, ‘I’m in Love With the Dancer From My Bat Mitzvah:’ https://www.vulture.com/2020/09/rachel-bloom-eps-in-love-with-the-dancer-from-my-bat-mitzvah.html
[01:12] Hi, I’m Rachel Bloom, co creator of Crazy Ex-girlfriend. And you’re listening to Good Kids. I gave birth in the middle of COVID, and then my daughter was also in the NICU. And then a week later, my friend died of COVID. In the second she came into the world, I found out my friend Adam was on a ventilator. And actually they were on a ventilator at the same time. So I had hoped they would both get better. But there’s nothing more on-the-nose as one person enters, one person is like leaving. Ten minutes every day, I was breastfeeding because she needed food. So there’s something very egoless about, like, I can only grieve for so long. Right now I have to feed this child and I’m also grieving life while holding new life and realizing she’s going to die someday, we’re all going to die.
[02:17] And then separately, the whole time I was pregnant, it made me think about my future in a really permanent way of feeling my own mortality in so many ways. So it brings up so many profound things. And it was stuff I hadn’t really fully realized or thought about honestly, since, like the time I took too many mushrooms in Amsterdam. So when she came out purple, struggling to cry, it didn’t hit me at first. I was like, oh, yeah, no, that’s a baby. Like, she’s just coming out into the world. Life is hard. And my gyno was like, no, no, get a baby nurse in here right now. So none of this has been typical. And even I had worried about postpartum depression, and I’d really prepared for that, I stayed on my anti-depressants. And I don’t have postpartum depression, but I don’t even know if I had what’s called the baby blues, because during the time I would have had the baby blues, I was crying because of someone dying. And then I was trying to think of people who had babies in conjunction with grief. But really the only advice is you just let your child be your guide. And you’re so in it with a newborn, there’s only so much you can think about yourself and focus on yourself. And the amount that I’ve thought about the life cycle and the death cycle and how they’re linked. It’s definitely changed who I am and the way I see the world and think about the world.
[03:57] The combination of the virus and then having a child, then her being in the NICU, it makes me just think about literal health and safety way more than I did before. As my husband said when she was first born, the level of love is there, but it’s really the level of pure anguish when your child is sick. I hadn’t felt anguish like that before in my life. And then, I mean, she hasn’t been held by her grandparents. I mean, my parents have seen her from afar from like a social distance, outdoor hang. My husband’s parents are on the East Coast, so they see her over Facetime. And so I think when we finally can see people and hold people and touch people again, it’ll make that more special. I think it’s making us all question what we took for granted before this. The future before you have kids, I feel like it’s this very nebulous thing of it’s just the future, but it doesn’t really have a timeline on it. You’re like, I’m always gonna be me. And slowly I’ll just get a little more gray. But it’s this kind of vague thing. And suddenly this child, I’m going to watch her grow, and as I watch her grow, I am fundamentally going to get older.
[05:27] Someday she’ll be in elementary school. Someday she’ll be in high school. And then it made me think about my dog’s mortality because my dog is 10 years old and oh, my God, when she’s in elementary school, my dog will be 15 and 16. Oh, no, the dog won’t live to see her in high school unless Wylie’s like a record-breaking dog.
[08:24] The way that I kind of approach comedy songwriting is taking something that’s like the status quo, which is usually something pleasant, and exploring the very real underbelly of what that thing is. Oh, this is what you say life is, but this is what it really is. And that sensibility also extends to parenting and child birthing. Crazy Ex, I was in a majority moms writer’s room. We wrote a song called The Miracle of Birth, which is all about the realities of childbirth.
[08:52] Clip from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Well, your cervix has been closed and plugged with mucus. But soon that viscous plug will be discharged. It’s called the bloody show.
[09:08] And plus, being very open with mental health. I’ve talked to people about depression, postpartum depression, how you feel when a child is born. I’ve had very honest conversations with people, so I was prepared for all of the confusing, scary bad parts, which is a testament to when you’re surrounded with other artists or with other people who are willing to talk about this. I just felt very well prepared, which was good because the things that ended up happening to me, no one could have prepared for so. But at the very least, I knew that I wasn’t going to be getting a lot of sleep. So that wasn’t a shock. No one can warn you about a pandemic, but people can warn you, OK, you won’t be getting a lot of sleep and your moods are going to be all over the place and all of those kind of concrete things that other people might not warn you about. “Oh, no, it’s wonderful. It’s the greatest thing in the world. You’ll be glowing. You’ll feel wonderful!” I felt very prepared for the grittier parts.
[10:14] I’ve already started playing piano for her a little bit. I don’t know if she cares yet, but I grew up with my mom playing piano. And the way that I learned to sing was my mom playing piano and me singing. So I’m gonna make sure she’s always playing an instrument. She can pick whatever instrument she wants, but I’m gonna make sure she’s always playing one because I know so many people who were playing instruments and were allowed to quit and then regret it. And so she can play whatever she wants, but she needs to be playing something.
[10:53] Aline, my writing partner on Crazy Ex, is a mom of two. We did certain storylines on Crazy Ex from a parent’s point of view that are now really relevant. One of them is this character, Heather, who was allowed to quit everything because she didn’t want to do it anymore. And her parents were kind of no boundaries and she resented them for it. And that is part of a parent’s job is you do know better because you have the life experience. My mom actually had a thing framed over the piano growing up that was Mozart playing and his mother standing behind him saying, “someday you’ll thank me.” And that’s right.
[11:40] I went to public school and growing up in Southern California, going to public school, I really had friends from so many backgrounds and that was really valuable to me. And so that is something that I’m definitely mindful of. And that’s something I’m also figuring out in L.A., being in the entertainment industry, how do I not have like a douche-y Hollywood kid? Like, I don’t want my daughter to be an influencer. And in fact, we haven’t publicly said her name because we want to give her the control of when she puts herself on the Internet. I want her to understand what the implications are. I don’t want her to Google herself and it be synonymous with me, unless that’s what she chooses, if that makes sense.
[12:44] Good Kids is a Lemonada Media original. Supervising producer is Kryssy Pease, associate producer is Alex McOwen. And Kegan Zema is our engineer. The show is executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Music is by Dan Molad, with additional music courtesy of APM Music. Check us out on social @LemonadaMedia. Recommend us to a friend, and rate and reviews us wherever you listen to the podcast. If you want to submit a show idea, e-mail us at [email protected] Until next week, stay good.