Alysia Reiner and her husband, fellow actor David Alan Basche, just became first-time parents to daughter Livia last December. While Livia’s entrance caused a “massive shift in [their] familial universe,” the 39-year-old Sideways star said there’s nothing quite like Liv’s “very generous smiles, giggles and babbles.”
Alysia sat down with Celebrity Baby Scoop for an exclusive look into her “whirlwind life” which includes appearing on TV shows such as 30 Rock and Law & Order, promoting her newest film Speed Grieving which she created, produced and starred in, and of course making all of Liv’s food from scratch!
CBS: Your daughter Livia is turning 1 this December. How has the first year of motherhood been? How has your life changed?
AR: “Motherhood has been amazing. I truly had no idea of my capacity to love until I met Livia. Everyone says that, and I feel like a cliche, but it’s so true. Having said that, I’ll also say the first few months are rough, and if you’re a new momma going through it, the change in your life/body/marriage/identity are cosmic. Don’t underestimate hormones either! Be kind to yourself, and give yourself a break – both mentally and actually – whenever you can.
I had a wonderful post-natal doula named Patty who kept saying ‘happy Momma, happy family.’ It’s SO HARD in the beginning to take care of yourself, you just want to take care of this wonderous creature, but truly the best way to take care of her is to take care of yourself too.
Click below to read Alysia’s birth story – Livia was almost born in the car! – and hear all about her deeply personal film, Speed Grieving….
My husband David and I try to go on a date once a week and we DON’T TALK ABOUT THE KIDDO! Its hard, but we had a ton of romance before (everyone always thinks we’re newlyweds) and so now we work to keep it! We had had a massive shift in our familial universe – going from 2 to 3 is huge, and it takes some getting used to.
SO much happens the first year, Liv changes daily, she is so incredible to me, she is such a happy happy joyful giggly social being. I just thank my lucky stars she chose me as her momma.”
CBS: How do you manage to do it all with a young daughter in the mix? Do you have any time-saving tips for us busy moms?
AR: “Its a whirlwind life now, I have so had to change my concept of time and what I have time for. Priorities get rocked to the core. Especially in the beginning, if you chose to breast fed, that is a FULL TIME JOB – like 8 hours a day at least.
I LOVE what I do, and feel so lucky to get to act for a living, and honestly I didn’t think I would want to spend so much time just playing with her, just being with her, feeding her, etc. But baby smiles are kinda like crack, you get addicted quick, and Liv is very generous with her smiles, giggles and babbles.
I hear about these mommas with lots of kids “doing it all” and I so wonder how they do it – I can’t imagine more than one!
And I won’t lie: tears are involved. Last week I was working on 2 TV shows, 30 Rock and White Collar, and one morning I cried when I was leaving Liv, even though I knew she was going to be able to come visit me on set that day.
It’s beyond exhausting and beyond fulfilling, it’s so beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before. Being a full time mother, actress and filmmaker has been incredibly challenging, and yet so amazing. Also, my husband is a rock star and there is no way I could be doing it if he wasn’t such an incredible co-parent.
As for time saving tips…Hmm…
I make my own baby food, and I do it in batches and freeze it so making meals is super easy.
I workout while she is sleeping!
I actually take an amazing class called INTENSATI that is a super workout, therapy & happy pills in one – so its a big time saver & $ saver too. There are videos too, perfect for at home mommas.
I return emails and calls whenever in transit (not while driving – I live in NYC so its public transportation).
My beauty routine is super simple, 5 makeup products that take less than 2 minutes combined, and Dry shampoo is key. When I do have time for a shower, I have actually been known to return calls on speaker phone while in the shower or while shaving my legs.
And I have a new idea for an invention: a Swiffer pad attached to the belly of her onesie, so as long as she’s crawling all over the place she can clean the floor!”
CBS: You just created, produced and starred in your own movie, Speed Grieving, that was inspired by the recent loss of your father to cancer. To say this film is close to your heart would be an understatement! Tell us more about how you were able to delve into such a heart-wrenching and personal topic. And tell us all about the film itself.
AR: “I made Speed Grieving because I had such a hard time losing my dad and wanted to help others to not feel so alone in their grief and loss. It didn’t occur to me that helping others with their grief would help me so much with mine. I was reading an amazing article in the NY TIMES today about prison inmates who volunteer to sit with other prisoners who are near death in a hospice ward, and Minister J. Edward Lewis was quoted as saying: “You go in thinking that you’re going to help somebody, and every time they end up helping you.”
It was such a gift to work on Speed Grieving and everyone who helped (it took a village: so many donations of services, equipment, locations, even organic chocolate!) did so “in loving memory” of someone, and they honored that person in a way. I feel like it helped each and every one of them to talk about their experiences more. It was so beautiful – so much love all around.
Now it’s incredible to see how audiences are experiencing the film on the festival circuit, and we are working with incredible grief counselors to create a discussion guide to go with the film so it can be used as art therapy in hospices, hospitals and in support settings like Gilda’s Club, etc.
It’s been so rewarding and amazing. The film is really not only about grief, but about not rushing through life in general. It’s helped me to remember to be in the moment, to breathe, and to feel my own feelings.”
CBS: In a story we posted about the birth of Livia, you apparently just made it to the birthing center on time. Would you share your birth story with us?
AR: “My birth story:
It was a sunny Friday in December. I was three days past my due date, and to be honest, I woke up so disappointed that I was not in labor. “Enjoy these last days,” “walk by water,” “see lots of movies!” I wanted to shoot anyone who said these things at this point. Emma Thompson had told me to eat curry a few weeks previously; we went straight to little India, but no baby. So on this gorgeous day, my husband and I took a long walk through Central Park. It was so crisp and beautiful – I remember the magic of the day, the feel of the air the sparkle of the sun… I remember thinking as we walking up and down so many steps werenear the Conservatory Garden: what will it be like to walk these steps with a child, with a stroller, with my baby? We made sure to try to walk by all the water we could find, and ate knishes from the little Knish Knosh stand. The knish guy gave us a free cookie, probably feeling sorry for my big ol’ bloated belly self.
At around 2:35pm, I started getting weird cramps so I texted my doula to say I was feeling funny. I tried to drink more liquids, change positions, all the things they say in the books. But every time I moved, tried to change positions, anything, another wave would hit…HARD. What happened to contractions being an hour apart? Heck, I would take 10 minutes apart – but this was constant and pretty intense.
We called my midwife around 3-3:30. She was was totally caring but told us to call back when the contractions were 5 minutes apart and a minute long, for at least an hour. She assumed we had hours to go – we all did! She told David to run me a bath. David started to think it might be fast so he told the doula to meet us at home ASAP – it was Friday afternoon and he didn’t want her stuck in traffic.
By 4:00 pm I seriously began to feel like this kiddo (we didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or girl) wanted out….NOW. As in: birthing at home, no doula, no midwife, no tub, no nothing, but NOW! I was on the couch, trying to breathe deeply but really starting to get nervous, and then David gave the best performance of his life. He said “Don’t worry babe, worse comes to worse, I can deliver the baby – I mean, we watched all those videos…I really was paying attention!”. He was so re-assuring and calm, I bought it hook, line and sinker. The boy was TOTALLY freaking out inside, and he deserves an Oscar.
I started to feel relaxed, but then my body started pushing – against my will, as if I had nothing to do with it – which totally rocked me. I had been in labor maybe an hour and a half – there was no way I could be ready, could I?
My fabulous doula Kim arrived. I told her “my body is pushing without me” and at that moment she realized this spectacular creature that would soon be my daughter, wanted OUT. And though she didn’t tell us at the time, she was weighing if we would make it to the birthing center or if we would be doing it on the couch. Kim knew if we did it at home, that would mean calling 911, an ambulance and a hospital – not the birthing center, not my optimal choice – so she decided to brave the drive. It’s now rush hour Friday, and we were going 90 blocks! She grabbed a blanket for the car – I thought it was to keep me warm but her thought was to wrap a possible baby.
For the next 40 minutes Kim and David tried to preoccupy me during the drive. Kim followed an ambulance when she saw one, just in case (smart huh!), and they both were telling me to breathe and look at the pretty Christmas lights. Now, I had all these plans for labor (as did David, with inspirational music mixes, funny printed t-shirts, food, beverages – he was ready for a war zone). I had mantras and breathing and yoga and positions all set and ready, but in that car all I could think was: “don’t have the baby in the car, don’t have the baby in the car!”
We finally made it to the birthing center, and to avoid getting graphic I will just say we made it right on time. I gave birth standing up with my shoes still on, 2 pushes. Out came Livia, my water breaking as she came out – she was born ‘in the caul’, meaning my water sack never broke, and supposedly it means she will be very psychic. The Dali lama was born in the caul. It’s very rare.
My midwife passed her to me through my legs, football style, and I took one look at her and fell passionately in love. “We have a girl!!!!!!” Hello Livia Charles Basche. Two and a half hours from first labor pain to quite an entrance. When she was ready she was ready. She has big plans and break time is over.”
CBS: You’ve been on so many great shows such as 30 Rock, The Sopranos, Law & Order and the film Sideways. Do you prefer working in TV or film?
AR: “I love it all, theatre included! Each is so different, and within the genres there’s so much variety – be it comedy, drama, budget, etc. I embrace it all and feel so lucky to work in all mediums.”
CBS: Do you and David want to have more children?
AR: “We promised not to discuss it with each other till Livia was a year old, so we can just be here now with her. SO I guess I can’t really discuss it in the press either!”
CBS: Any future projects?
AR: “A film I did called The Vicious Kind which was at Sundance last year is going to be in theaters soon, and I am now working with a favorite director of mine to develop a fabulous idea for a TV Show. I can’t say any more about it now, but I am really excited about it.
And of course, go to www.SpeedGrieving.org to join our Facebook fan page and come to a screening near you!”