’What to Expect When You’re Expecting?’ Ask J. Lo & Cameron Diaz
Heidi Murkoff’s book "What to Expect When You’re Expecting" has helped countless women through the expected (and unexpected) aspects of pregnancy. Now it’s a film that stars a slew of Hollywood celebrities playing expectant mothers, as well as the fathers. Amongst them are Elizabeth Banks, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Matthew Morrison, Chace Crawford, Dennis Quaid and Rodrigo Santoro.
But leading the cast are two actresses that - it was revealed this week - placed on Forbes Magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful celebrities: Cameron Diaz, who placed 59th and Jennifer Lopez, who moved from 50th place last year to first with earnings of some $52 million this past year. (She beat out both Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga.)
Talk of Hollywood clout, though, wasn’t on the agenda when Diaz and Lopez met the press at a recent press junket to discuss the film. The topic was focused on the film at hand and its subject: pregnancy and motherhood, where the actresses shared stories of their own experiences.
In the delivery room
In the film Lopez isn’t one of the pregnant characters; rather a woman in the process of adopting a child. Still, the conference gave the actress/singer the opportunity to share her birthing story, and that of her sister.
"I had a C section but my sister gave birth six months later," Lopez said. "We got pregnant around the same time, and she asked me to be in the delivery room with her and I was like, ’Wow!’ Because I had twins and that was recommended for me to have a C section, there was a part of me had thought, ’I didn’t get to do it the way that everybody else does,’ but when I saw my sister pushing that baby out I was like, ’Maybe this was all right! Maybe this was a better way!’"
Though she is not a mother herself, Diaz was also exposed to a similar ordeal of a sibling. In the movie she plays a fitness instructor who gets pregnant by her celebrity dance show partner.
"The first time I watched was my sister, who had a C section, which nobody told me [about] at 25," Diaz said. "My sister was like, ’I’m not going to have this baby if you’re not in the room’ and I was like, ’No, you are going to have this baby no matter what.’ So I was in and they were doing a C section and she was like, ’Will you come in with me?’ And I was like, ’What? What? Why didn’t anybody tell me?’ I was 24 and I was thinking, ’Oh, just go in there.’ But it was crazy dude. There was just like blood everywhere, my sisters guts out on a platter, and the inside, all of her intestines. I was looking at it like, ’Oh my God!’ But the vaginal delivery was crazy. No man should ever see it! Never let a man see that. Never."
Lopez: read book cover-to-cover
The film uses the book’s title and incorporates some of its lessons into the plot. When she was pregnant, Lopez read the book cover to cover.
"I found the book to be so incredibly accurate while I was pregnant," Lopez said. "Honestly I just see why everybody has this book and why it’s the first thing that you get when you find out that you’re pregnant because it just takes you through everything. When you get pregnant, it’s the type of thing everybody’s talked about your whole life, but you know nothing about when it’s happening to you. This book helps you to not freak out, like this is happening, you are feeling this way, this is what’s happening inside your body right now and this is where you should be, and it kind of just helps you to calm down as an expectant mom. It helps you to know that it’s normal."
After her C-section, Lopez turned to the book for some comfort and wisdom. "After reading the book, because I remember sitting in my bed with these twins and I had a C section so I was obviously in a lot of pain," Lopez said. "I am going crazy from the pain and I want to hold the babies but I can’t, because it hurts too much. But I’m like, ’No, I’m not going to take the painkillers.’
"So I have this baby nurse helping out and I say to Marc [Anthony] at the time, ’The babies don’t love me, they don’t love me and they’re not going to know me and they’re going to love the nurse.’ I start crying and the whole thing. Then I open the book, and it was on this specific day that you get this hormone drop -- it’s the tenth day and it’s called The Baby Blues. I was like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. That’s happening to me! That’s what’s happening to me right now!
"It made it so much better, because really you do really feel out-of-sorts and you don’t know what’s going on. So in that sense it’s just a great tool book, friend, everything you need in that moment."
Enlarged nose, swollen feet
The body goes through some surprising changes during pregnancy, and if you didn’t read it in "What to Expect..." you might think you’re alone. Lopez cited an enlarged nose as one of her unexpected developments. She also shared swollen feet in common with many other expectant moms.
"I was like, what am I going to do with all these great shoes?" Lopez said. "But it does go back, almost. It’s just like your ribs. I used to fit into the sample size, that only had to open up the hips a little bit for me, but up here, I was like hmm, get in here, just like the models. But now my ribs opened up a little, and your body does change. I had a really ideal pregnancy. I was on tour until I was six-and-a-half months pregnant. I didn’t really blow up until I was like eight-and-a-half months with the nose -- the whole thing -- ugly, and the ankles and everything."
In the movie, all the pregnancies were enhanced by prosthetics. Diaz may have had the biggest tummy... and the biggest breasts. "My prosthetic breasts, my pregnant breasts were really amazing," Diaz said. "I was like, wow! Those are awesome! But then, when they put them on, because it was just the top part, in the Atlanta heat, I aged about 40 years by the end of two hours. They were literally hanging down to my hips. They were just drooping down, like they were just melting off my body, and it was really not attractive."
Since she played fitness trainer Jules Baxter, Diaz got to display her real muscles. Those biceps were not special effects. "Those were my natural pistols," Diaz bragged. "It’s called consistency. You have to be consistent with fitness but what was fun about that part was that I love to work out. It’s just for me, I love it and it’s something that I enjoy doing and I think it’s important to take care of your body, not just for today, but for the rest of your life, I stay fit because I want to be 60 and doing all the things I’m doing now, and so I like to stay strong. But being in one place and being able to train consistently, eat properly, do all that, and then dance for a whole week, all those movements, help to make the body a little bit tighter."
The adoption experience
The adoption subplot in "What to Expect..." made Lopez really appreciate another form of motherhood she has not herself experienced. Her character applies to adopt a child from Ethiopia. (The baby is played by two Ethiopian infants.)
"It’s funny because before the movie, I never really thought about adoption at all," Lopez said. "I just always wanted to have my own baby and I was so focused on that, it took me awhile to have my own. But when I held those two little Ethiopian twins during the making of the film, I fell in love instantly. I can see how somebody can do this, how it is so easy to embrace a child who has nothing. It’s a really a beautiful selfless act of love, and it’s something that you go, okay, I understand these feelings, I get this, I know how this happens."
The film doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of raising children either. Diaz’s character, Jules, resists the prospect of change to her routine, but learns to embrace it when the baby arrives.
"It was also honest about how nothing’s perfect and that your life completely changes," Diaz said reflecting upon the way pregnancy changes her character in the film. "There’s nothing that represents who I used to be, I’ve got a baby strapped to me and I’m pushing a buggy. Like my life changed and everything is different, but right in this moment I would not change a thing because this is my life, my children are my life now.
"So I think the film is honest. It doesn’t pretend, ’oh, everything is peachy keen.’ No, it’s tough. It’s really, really hard being a human being and it’s even harder to raise a human being. So I think it’s very honest about that too."
Messing up the baby part
As an actor, singer and producer, Lopez may be one of the busiest (and wealthiest) working mothers around. "I’m a little bit tired right now, I’m not going to lie," Lopez said. "I’ve been rehearsing, doing ’American Idol,’ promoting the movie. It’s a lot of stuff, but I just feel really in the zone. I feel good about everything, I feel everything is going so well, and I feel really blessed. I do."
No matter how busy Lopez is though, Max and Emme come first. "First, all you do really care about is not messing up the baby part," Lopez said. "I just want them to be okay, and so that comes first for me and then everything else falls into line after that. That’s my philosophy, so as long as that is kind of working in the right way, then I can dedicate whatever time I need to dedicate to my career.
"I just take it one day at a time. I have a lot of help and I have a lot of great people in my life, who help in all those areas in work and at home. I have a great family, so all together we do it. It takes a village. And it’s just like any single working mom’s plight, that there is the guilt that comes along with it, you leave and they are like, ’Don’t go to work mommy again’ and you are like, yep, almost every day. So it’s just that thing, it’s a juggling act and you do the best you can and say no when you have to say no.’"
"What to Expect When You’re Expecting" opens Friday.
Watch the trailer to "What to Expect When You’re Expecting":