We hopped on with the country singer at almost 38 weeks pregnant just prior to getting induced. She dished on her reciprocal IVF process (mind-blowing and amazing), how she’s tackling postpartum and all the ways she stays hopeful for her children with wife, Dawn Gates. Read on….
How’s it all going??
The last few days have been a lot! I thought he was coming last night to be completely honest, but it ended up being a kidney stone passing – which was an equal amount of pain. There’s a lot of things different with this pregnancy, because I did reciprocal IVF with my wife this time. By science, I’m essentially acting as a surrogate. It’s my wife’s egg, and we used the same donor for our previous child Declan, so this baby will actually be a half-sibling to both of our kids. My wife has an older child from a previous marriage, which is from her egg, and this baby will be my wife’s egg and Declan’s donor, so we have a link to both of our older girls.
The process of getting pregnant was also different because it was full-blown IVF this time for me versus IUI with Declan, since she was my egg. What you go through IVF, it’s definitely a process in terms of all of the shots and commitment and ups and downs and the hormones. But all in all, it’s been a wonderful pregnancy. I’ve had some illnesses that had nothing to do with the pregnancy. I’ve had some little curveballs, like last night having a kidney stone passed. In January, I was in the hospital with kidney infections but it was all separate from the baby, and he’s just thriving and healthy. That’s been such a blessing for sure.
How have you prepared your older ones?
We talked to Declan about him and she’ll kiss my belly. The biggest thing that we’re trying to do is potty train her since she’s 21 months this week. She’s definitely ready. I think it’d be great to not have her in diapers as soon as possible. We talked to her about how she will be a big sister and what that means. I think she’s excited. We’ll see. She’s very opinionated.
Do you have a birth plan?
I want everything to start out as naturally as possible, and then I’m open to anything. Everything lives and dies with my breath for me. If I’m not in control of my breath, I know I’m going to need more medical intervention in terms of an epidural. But I just want to see what my body does first, and have that be a second option. I understand that through medicine, those surges or contractions can be quick or powerful versus just naturally coming. So I have a roadmap and I’m open to detours.
I also do a lot of meditation and a lot of visualization. That’s been very big for me. I have an incredible doctor who was so supportive of the way that I was visualizing my birth, because we didn’t know if the baby was transverse or in the right position. She made sure that I got an ultrasound so that I could visualize turning him, visualizing actual labor, and that’s really important. I can’t say enough for people to have a great relationship with their OB.
Have you had any cravings?
I have a deficiency that has caused chronic kidney issues in the past. It reared its ugly head during this pregnancy. I grew up a meat eater and then when I found out about my enzyme deficiency, I went vegetarian. When I got pregnant, I started craving fried chicken. The mentality I had in this pregnancy was that I was going to eat whatever my body was asking.
What’s your postpartum game plan?
I feel like the best way for me to be a mom is to be open to having a plan, but to understand that you may not get everything. With Declan, it was such a learning experience because I’ve always been so type A. I feel like I’m actually more prepared this time around. I have a loose postpartum plan. I’m planning to breastfeed. I’m planning as soon as I’m cleared to start walking and yoga. I plan to sauna. I think I didn’t experience postpartum depression, but it’s not lost on me that I could this time. So I’m making sure that I’m actively intentional about talking and communicating with my wife, so that she knows where my mental spaces are.
How does family inspire your work?
I write from experience. I’m the person that’s like, don’t do something bad to me if you don’t want me to write about it. I love writing about what I am experiencing in motherhood. The biggest thing I can say is that I feel like I’m in a softness in my life, in waiting, where I really am just taking in everything around me.
Whether it’s my family, friendships, nature, all of it, you know, like I’m just in this space of gratitude and joy for being able to coexist with the people around me and the experiences around me. That pours into the way I write and what I write about. I’m writing a new album that will be coming out later this fall, early winter, so I can’t wait to see what will make the cut.
Any parenting tips and tricks?
I try to live in a space of flexibility, and where I’m happy knowing that everyone is healthy and safe. We’re in such a tumultuous time in the world right now. Being a mom has been so jarring for me, I get nervous saying goodbye. I try to get as much done the night before, even putting in my Keurig cup or filling up the water early. So it’s easier to function and spend more time with the kids. I’ll be honest, because if God forbid something happened, I’d want us to have those mornings.
How do you stay hopeful?
The best thing that we can do is just try to raise kind children, to try to have conversations with them as much as possible at their age level. If something seems off, speak up, don’t hold it. I try to create safe environments for our children, where they feel safe to speak with us, because we do have an age gap between our oldest and Declan where we have one that’s a preteen and then a two year old. You’ve got to have those conversations at different age levels, because I also don’t want to sugarcoat anything for our children. I’ve tried to talk to them in terms of where they’re at in their development, and we’re trying to raise kind kids who are non-judgmental and inclusive. That’s our goal.