Pretty Little Liars Actress, Tammin Sursok, On The Loneliness Of Miscarriage, Mom-Tribes, And Movement

Actress and film director, Tammin Sursok, is pregnant with her second after multiple miscarriages. She shares her reality of getting pregnant, the importance of finding her community of women, taking 40 Days to rest postpartum and directing her first feature film after Pretty Little Liars. @tamminsursok

So, you’re having a baby…

We’re due on the 17th!

What was your pregnancy journey from conception to miscarriages?

It’s been a two-year journey as we lost a few along the way between my first daughter and the one I’m carrying. Therefore, I’ve been pregnant for a few years, in essence, which has taken a toll on me mentally and physically. Needless to say, we’re VERY ready to have our baby.

With my first daughter, we got pregnant immediately. However, with this one, it wasn’t as easy. The thing about miscarriage is that people don’t discuss it. It’s all very hush, hush and you feel as though you’re the only one, which can be very lonely and isolating. The truth is, miscarriages are one in four, which is a very high number considering no one talks about it! What I have found though is that when I tell people my story, everyone seems to have a story too, you never think it’s going to happen to you. The first one was very traumatic because I was far along, and after that, they just kept coming. I didn’t know if there was something wrong with my body, or if I was ever going to be able to have another baby. At the end of 2017, we were exhausted and sad, as we faced the uncertainty of continuing a family. Then come 2018, we got pregnant by accident! Obviously, we wanted her, but we had given up trying, but once I let go, I got pregnant! Getting pregnant is such an intricate thing, and everything has to be aligned. The truth is, there’s no way to plan for that. I’m relaunching my blog Bottles and Heels this year and plan to write in detail about my experience, because if I can reach at least one person and make them feel less lonely if they’ve had a miscarriage, then it will be worth it.

What’s the difference between your pregnancies?

With the first one, we tried so hard to prepare for everything; however, I learned that it’s impossible to plan for something so massive and life-altering, nevertheless, at the time, we tried. Therefore, I wanted to be less prepared and more open with this pregnancy because I know there’s nothing you can do to prepare for the shift that’s about to happen. As a result, we’ve been more accepting and relaxed throughout the whole process.

Do you have a birth plan?

This is a perfect example of how your best-laid plans never come to fruition. At the end of my pregnancy with Phoenix, she was 10.2 pounds and breech with the cord wrapped around her neck. Therefore, at 39 weeks, we had a C-Section. Now that I have more information I know that we probably could have delivered her vaginally but at the time I was too scared that something would go wrong! However, with this one, I want to have a V-Back, which is when you have a vaginal birth after having had a C-Section. I’m working with Dr.Berlin here in LA, the guru of turning babies, plus I’m trying every at-home remedy from jumping up and down to standing on my head, as well as acupuncture, yoga, and squats in hopes that she’ll change her position.

With all of that said, I’m accepting of the fact that if she doesn’t turn, the risks of delivering a breech baby after you’ve had a C-Section is too high. Therefore, if she turns, we will try for a natural birth, and if she doesn’t then, we will have a C-Section. The ultimate goal is both of our safety, and sometimes your perception and plans have to adapt.

What are you eating & craving?

It’s funny because I’ve gained about the same amount of weight as I did with Phoenix which is surprising considering I’ve been working out four to five times a week (power yoga, hiking, and weight training) throughout this pregnancy. However, different from my first (wherein I gained weight all over my body), with this pregnancy my legs, bum, and arms have remained the same, but I have a massive stomach! The first go-around, I was so excited to be pregnant, and I’d eat 6 or 7 cupcakes a night claiming I was “eating for two!”. Knowing that’s not the case, I’m now eating as I usually would: oatmeal for breakfast, then stir-fry, or salad & soup for lunch, and Thai for dinner. I’ll eat coconut ice cream from time to time or have a bit of chocolate, but I’m not binging. I would say the only real craving that I’m having is rice pudding, perhaps because of the carbs, and also pineapple, likely for the sugar. Cravings, after all, are your body telling you that you lack something. So, if you’re craving fruit it’s an indication that you’re low in vitamin C, meat is iron, salt is low blood pressure, and sugar is low blood sugar.

Do you take time for self-care?

I’m trying to sleep and rest as much as I can, even though it’s tough to sleep because I’m so uncomfortable at this point. With the first pregnancy, I went until I dropped because I didn’t have any concept of how hard the first few months with a newborn would be. Whereas with this one, I know what I’m in store for, so I’m trying to rest as much as possible now in anticipation of the first few months!

What projects are you working on?

Next year is going to be massive. My husband and I have a film coming out that we co-wrote together, of which I starred in the lead role, he directed it, and we co-produced it with Wendi McLendon-Covey, David Kelner, and Tom Felton. Plus we have a TV show that we also co-wrote and co-directed together, as well as a film in Australia that we’re shooting from September to September of next year. Plus, I’m set to direct my first feature in May of this year! It’s a coming of age story that I found about three or four years ago and have kept it in my back pocket for the right time. It’s an inspiring time for women in the film industry, as there’s been a considerable push for women to direct and write with a lot of support and people who are eager to see female directors come out. I’ll probably be breastfeeding at the same time, but I love that image in my head!

What’s it like being a working mom?

I think being a stay at home mom is as hard as being a working mother, if not harder! For me, it’s essential that I work because working makes me a better mother and being a mother makes me a better worker. But with that said, I need the balance of both working and being home with my kids. I don’t want to be the mom that’s never home, but I also want to pursue my dreams and aspirations.

My mom and dad worked together. She would work in the morning and be home with us in the afternoon, and my dad was home by 5p. But it was a different time and generation. These days, we’re always ON. Being on set can mean 16 hour days without a chance to run home, or on the flip side, when I’m not filming, I’m home for three or four months at a time.

When I’m home with my daughter, I put my phone down, and if I’m on my computer, I tell her that I’m working so that she understands. For some reason, the phone has a different connotation, as the computer looks more like work and the phone feels like I’m ignoring her. We’re so addicted to our phones which makes for distracted parenting. Also, between my husband and myself, we make a concerted effort to read together before bed or have a chat, so as not to be sitting next to each other on our phones all the time, which can be detrimental to our relationship.

What are you reading?

So many things! Becoming, By Michelle Obama, plus I love self-help books! I’m reading The Happiness Project and The First Forty Days: The Essential Guide To Mothering, by The Motherbees.

Any advice…

The biggest thing that I’ve learned over five years of being a mom is that you can have it all, you just can’t have it at the same time! Do your best to be present in whatever task is at hand, be that at work or home with your kids and that you simply can’t be present for all of it simultaneously.