RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Engaged
RESIDENCE: Venice, California
CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Easton August Anthony, age 5
I started professionally acting once I graduated college at the age of 23. I was first featured on the soap opera, One Life to Live, then quickly moved on to primetime with a reoccurring role on the WB show, Angel. To date, I’m probably best known for my role as ADA on Law & Order. Other credits include the show Heroes, as well as movies such as Transit and Abduction. I am currently filming the movie American Hustle with Dir. David O. Russell, and can also be seen on the Lifetime show, The Client List. Visit www.elisabeth-rohm.com.
Robin Gorman Newman, founder, MotherhoodLater.com, had the opportunity to chat on the phone with Elisabeth while she was on set shooting American Hustle. Elisabeth was super friendly and forthcoming about her fertility challenges and her desire to inform and empower other women who aspire to have children.
What was your road to parenthood like? In many ways, it was very quick. I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, so when I found out that I had fertility issues I immediately became proactive. Luckily for me, I got pregnant after two cycles of IVF. I was blessed that it worked out and that I had options besides the “old-fashioned” way.
What led you to write your new book BABY STEPS? I didn’t initially plan to be vocal about having fertility issues. However, once I started blogging about my infertility, I found a real need for more openness and a call to action to make the subject less taboo. I had such an outpouring of love and support from readers that it seemed like the right thing to do. The rapid decline in my fertility came so early for me. I was 34. In a way it was a blessing because if I hadn’t made the discovery early, I might have missed the boat completely. If you want to take your time and have a baby at 40, it’s your perogative, but it requires thinking ahead and having more information than what is commonly discussed amongst people openly. Women are sometimes ashamed when they have fertility challenges. If you have a baby when you’re in your 40s, you likely had assistance with it. So, what’s the big deal? My goal is to get women talking about it early….to create more conversation, openness and dialogue around it…so it’s not something that women suffer in silence over. More medical advances are being made, and women can share and give each other support to manifest for themselves in their own time what their ultimate life dreams are.
How did it feel when you found out you were pregnant? I was one of those kids who wanted to be a parent. I had baby lust at a young age. The one thing I knew for sure what that I wanted to be a mother one day. It was so shocking to learn at age 34 that I was never going to get pregnant naturally. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be able to do?
What does your daughter think of your book? She just turned five, but she will read it one day, and I want her to be okay with it. I’m telling our family story. My family feels entirely comfortable with it, which encouraged me.
How do you balance spending time with her and your career? Balance is a tricky thing for everybody. Before Easton was even born, I made a commitment that she would be my first priority no matter what. On the other hand, one needs to have their independence. If I have a business meeting or feel the need to see a friend, I don’t feel guilty. And trust me, Easton lets me know when she wants to make her own decisions and see her friends, too!
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? I think the advantages of waiting until you’re older have everything to do with why there is so much infertility in the world today. You have a greater sense and knowledge of yourself. You’ve been able to focus and accomplish the goals that you’ve dreamt. You are more mature and most likely more stable. It makes for a great parent, but not so bueno for your eggs. Unfortunately, if you take the time to pursue your career, or to find “Mr. Right” instead of “Mr. Right Now”, a woman’s best years in terms of fertility quickly diminish.
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it? As far as what surprised me, it’s definitely been the heartbreak. I never knew how hard it would be to watch Easton grow older and start craving independence. What I love most about it is simply a four-letter word, “Mama”. To be someone’s mama, to be needed, to have the privilege of that title and to realize that you are to someone what your own mother is or was to you – there is no greater feeling.
Can you share a humorous experience you’ve had as a mom? There are so many humorous moments on a daily basis, it’s hard to think of something in particular. Easton adds whimsy to each day – from creating clothes out of candy wrappers for her stuffed animals, to breaking out in laughter while just holding her hand and walking down the street. It’s all pure delight.
What do you most want to teach your child? What have you learned from him/her? From the moment that Easton was in my stomach until today, she has taught me how to connect with people. She is deeply affectionate and loving, and has a desire to connect with others in a way that has multiplied my world tenfold. I want to continue to teach her to be an expressive, confident, communicative, conscious and kind human being.
Do you aspire/plan to have more children? I come from New York…half my friends are Italian….half are Irish, so I was thinking I’d have a football team. At this point, I’d very much like more. It’s definitely a goal, but I’m not gonna torture myself over it. I know I’m very lucky to have one. We’ll see if it’s in the cards!
Where do you turn for support as a mom (or did your turn to when she was little)? How important is to connect with mom peers? I always turned to my mom for support, until she passed away when Easton was two years old. Now, I mostly turn within and think, “What would my mom say?” In terms of connecting with mom peers, it is very important. It is always comforting to share experiences with people dealing with the same challenges. As women, we need each other for support in making good choices, as well as to help us feel empowered and confident.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? I think it’s really important for every person to seriously think about whether or not they want to be someone’s parent. You can’t just assume and take the idea for granted, “Oh, I’m going to have a kid”. It’s a tremendous responsibility that shifts your world as you know it. If you’re certain that having a child is the path you want to take, definitely act sooner than later. If you’re 30, consider freezing your eggs. Why not have a little bit of an insurance policy called frozen eggs? In case Mr. Wonderful walks into you life at 38…which isn’t old…you’re in the prime of your life….and it’s unfair….but eggs age. You don’t want to get started on parenthood and marry or partner with the wrong person because you’re a certain age. Make a plan. I would tell any 22 year old graduating from college….hey, you just finished school and want to be a career woman…good for you….and you want to be a mommy too one day, here’s what you should do……It’s not crazy!
When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your child or other parents? With my mother, there were two priorities: affection and an endless supply of love. She showered me with hugs and kisses twenty-four hours a day. Beyond any doubt, I knew I was cherished and loved, and I make sure to do the same with Easton.
My mom always told me don’t give up your career. They grow up so quick, and then you won’t be able to come back to it. You’ve worked hard. The other thing was to encourage my daughter to always tell the truth and not make the truth come with a huge consequence. It keeps them communicating with you and more in their loop. My mom really focused on honesty. She asked me to always tell the truth, explaining that doing so just made life much more simple for the both of us.