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Amy Schumer’s ‘Expecting Amy’ displays pregnancy alongside ambition

July 27, 2020, 1:06 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! WNBA players make a statement, Eileen Murray sues the world’s largest hedge fund, and Expecting Amy shows pregnancy and ambition side by side. Have a productive Monday.

Today’s guest essay comes to us from Fortune senior editor Beth Kowitt:

– What to expect. I knew comedian Amy Schumer’s new documentary Expecting Amy might feel a little raw for me. I had a baby in January, so I’m not far enough removed from it all yet to have a dulled memory of labor and, in my case, those 41 weeks that led up to it (but who’s counting!).

But what resonated for me even more than Schumer’s depiction of her pregnancy itself was the doc’s incredibly intimate and honest portrait of a woman dealing with a career and ambition. I’ve never seen the intertwining of a pregnancy and work—which is the reality for so many women—captured in all of its messy complexity like it is in Expecting Amy.

Schumer’s big personal project, as it were, coincides with the development of her Netflix comedy special, Growing, and the three-part documentary series tracks the conception, gestation, and birth of both.

Schumer’s decision to put together a comedy special during her pregnancy is an intentional one. She wants to do something big before the birth of her son to essentially bookend this stage of her life. Her pregnancy may be horrific as she suffers through hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)—a condition that can lead to severe nausea and vomiting—but it’s also fueling her work and creativity.

These scenes brought me back to some of the choices I made while I was pregnant: sleeping overnight in a lounge of the Beijing airport at 20 weeks; racing against the clock to finish a big story before I went into labor; continuing to come into the office even once my daughter blew past her due date. I felt that urgency to tie up loose ends before she arrived. But I also wanted to prove to myself, and my colleagues, that I would have the same commitment to the work I love after becoming a mom—that it would still give me the same satisfaction and joy it always had. As Schumer says in her special, “You don’t stop being you.”

Looking back now, I realize I was happy to have those war stories as evidence that I could still handle all the normal pressures of the job. I was always hesitant to talk about my pregnancy at the office unless someone else brought it up first, fearing that my identity as a hardworking, reliable employee would be subsumed by my new one of “pregnant lady” and eventually “working mom.” I hadn’t yet realized that I would find a way for all of those traits to coexist.

It’s a tricky balancing act. The physical demands of pregnancy are real—but for many women, so is the need to continue to do your best professional work. Onstage Schumer tells the audience, “I hate women who start to act, like, really just, like, precious.” She doesn’t want to be treated like a delicate flower, but she also wants her pain to be acknowledged. Less than two weeks after giving birth, she’s back onstage.

Schumer has always threaded feminism into her comedy—who else can so effortlessly land a sex joke with a punch line about equal pay? But by capturing the nuanced and complicated picture of a pregnancy, Expecting Amy may be the biggest service Schumer has done for women yet.

Beth Kowitt

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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