7: It’s So Sci-Fi (w/ Austin Fremont)

September 20, 2023

You know that feeling when you meet someone on the road of life who’s just a *little* bit further down the boulevard than you? Austin Fremont is that for Meredith – her son Felix is nearly a year old and was conceived with the help of Austin’s friend, Stephen. The  gals chat about their decision to go this route and how sci-fi it feels to be choosing their own motherhood destiny.

In New York City?  Fremont Blue specializes in the development and execution of events in the visual arts, architecture, design, lifestyle and cultural communities.

Transcript

Meredith: 0:09

Hello everyone, welcome back to the backup plan. This intro is going to sound a little bit strange because I’m on the road and, while I did bring my equipment, the dongle that I used to plug my computer into isn’t agreeing at all and the microphone is just recording every other word and you don’t deserve that and I don’t need to deal with that. So we’re just going to the iPhone. The standard Sounds pretty good, right, but you know what? We don’t need to do much of an intro because the conversation you’re about to hear is really cool. One of the guys who reached out to me in the first couple of weeks my podcast has done exactly what I’m looking to do have a baby with one of her gay friends, and so we went through the steps that she took. She went the IVF route and we talked about, kind of like, remaining agile in a sort of amorphous co-parenting situation. We talked about how sperm bank catalogs just feel like too parallel to Tinder, and it was just such a lovely conversation and I can’t stress enough how lovely it is to meet y’all and talk to y’all and this just feels like the beginning of a really cute, cool little community, so let’s just hop into it. All the social media handles are backupplanpod, the website is backupplanpodcom and my personal Instagram handle is meredithk8. M-e-r-e-d-i-t-h-k in the number eight. That’s on pretty much just Instagram. But hey, she posts a good story, so check it out. Anyway, my voice is dying because I’ve been out talking all day and I’ve been up at 5 am for the past two days and baby needs a nap, and by baby I mean me, not a baby that I have yet. Let’s just jump into it. Here’s a conversation with Austin. Have a great week, guys. I’m just so glad that you reached out. First of all, thank you.

Austin: 2:16

To your point of why you started this podcast is it’s odd that there isn’t more attention in conversation surrounding this, because you’ll find, as I’m sure you are finding, there are a lot of single moms by choice and it’s such a unique experience that I think it’s great that you’re creating a reference and like a community around it.

Meredith: 2:40

Let’s start with an introduction, though, as to who you are. Everything, austin, here we go.

Austin: 2:44

All right, I’m Austin’s free mom, born and raised in New York. I own an events company. We produce lots of Gala’s benefits or, like I like to say, anything you pay us to do, and yeah, and I’ve always wanted to be a mom and so I roast my eggs and I don’t know how much this is. So not an introduction anymore. But then I grew up in the art world and, yeah, definitely a unique upbringing, so you were raised in Manhattan. I was born and raised in Manhattan. I love that. That’s so cool. I mean it’s normal for you, but yeah, born and raised in Manhattan, I went to the UN school. I later went to Villanova, which was an interesting choice, for my mom was like, are you sure, after coming from New York to the art world, to Villanova? Very kind of strict Jesuit school.

Meredith: 3:39

Where is that? Again, it’s outside of Philly, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, I was born from Maryland originally, so the East Coast, I understand you got it. And I’m like Villanova’s, not New York.

Austin: 3:50

No. And then the only other time, besides Villanova, that I left, I lived in Italy for a year.

Meredith: 3:55

Not bad when I taught.

Austin: 3:55

English. Yeah, it was great. I taught English to the Italian defense staff and I’m so glad I did it because it was the only time in my life where it was like. You know, I worked for a year after college and then I was like much to my father’s chagrin I went and got my English teaching degree as a second language and taught there for one year before. I came back and worked at Martha Stewart, and actually that’s where I met my donor daddy.

Meredith: 4:24

Oh my goodness, which is a nice segue, yeah, yeah. My cousins live in Connecticut and I go up there like at least once a year and I remember being like 14 and we went to Westport and we were like we have to find her, we have to find Martha.

Austin: 4:40

I did?

Meredith: 4:41

She was just shopping and I was like, oh my God, it was a joke, she’s real. She’s real, she does exist.

Austin: 4:49

Yeah, I learned lots there, lots and lots and lots. They made some of the best friends that I still have. So amazing. It was a super, super great experience and I like to say I was there for three years, three October’s, yeah, through three October’s season. So yeah, that’s three full fiscal years. It was and it was. I have stories for 10 years.

Meredith: 5:20

What I was really excited about when you reached out is that you did exactly what I’m doing, because I’ve had a couple of moms reach out who’ve done the donor sperm thing. But you know your donor and they are your friends and I would love to talk a little bit more about how that all came about.

Austin: 5:38

Yeah Well, like every big decision in my life, I kind of I make it it’s something I like brew on personally and then I make the actual decision like super fast, I am the same way.

Meredith: 5:51

Yeah, I’m the same way, where I’m like I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Okay, let’s do it now.

Austin: 5:55

Yeah, I’m like, well, I would never do it on my own. I think as you get older and this is actually probably a result of extreme solitude during the pandemic and like that reassessment of what the hell am I waiting for? This is life, and like if this was a job professional job that I wanted, I would go after it. If it was something I wanted to do professionally, I would do it. So why the fuck am I not Like doing what I want to do with my life? Why am I waiting around? I’ve had a failed engagement. I have dated when you’ve been dating from 15 to 40, that’s a lot of dates. It’s a lot of dates. I was really really ready so I made the decision. Oddly, even though I was hearing stories of all my friends with kids about having kids during the pandemic and I was actually super bad, I didn’t have a kid during the pandemic for a number of reasons Financial plus, I could just take edibles all day and watch TV and like it didn’t matter. At the end of the day I was like I have nothing If I don’t have my job, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have anything that I really, really wanted. I always wanted a family. I think I heard you say this on a previous episode, but the husband had never taken form in my fantasy of the future. I definitely had a kid, I had children and I’ve always known that I wanted that. So, as I was 39 probably when I started, I was definitely 39 when I started this process. But my friend texted me something funny because, unlike your best friend, stephen, and I are like we’ve always been good friends and we always had dinner like a couple of times a year. We always text each other. We have a lot of similar friends but we’re not in each other’s kind of day to day talking, so we probably hadn’t talked like directly in six months or something.

Meredith: 8:17

You know, michael and I go through that too, though Now that we’re doing this, we’re texting back and forth all the time, but we have gone through those phases too, where that happens, of course.

Austin: 8:27

Yeah, and so he texted me something funny and I was like anyway, do you have like two seconds for like a life altering question, cool meme. And so he was like yeah, I’ll give you a call. Whatever I said, you know, so I’ve decided to become a single mom by choice. And he was like that’s so amazing, you’re going to be the best mom ever. I’m so excited for you. And I was like and I was wondering if you would be my donor and I should have prefaced this with. I was like going on the donor websites and I was scrolling through photos of babies to have babies with and then like how did?

Meredith: 9:21

how did you feel about that? Because in doing the sperm bank research that I was just doing to freeze Michael’s sperm, a lot of them would just respond back like sure, here’s our catalog. Like not even read the message that I’d sent, not even answer anything about private banking. And I would see, I saw the catalog and it was like I am so happy for anybody that wants to use a donor service and that’s great. It’s not for me, I don’t think. You know, knock on wood, who knows what happens down the road. But the list of donors was really unsettling to me in a kind of strange way. I just wasn’t prepared for it when I saw it.

Austin: 10:00

Well, I think I’m just such an in-person person that it felt as as icky as I mean and listen, I’ve been on every dating app, like as weird as that feels to me and how I don’t think like things translate there the same. I felt the same way about some of the you know just doing the donor profile and I know I know people that have children with you know donors, unknown donors, and they’re great and they’re happy and I’m, like you said, like that was it was. It was basically my friend or that Like I was in. I have, as you can imagine, after working at Martha Stewart and I work with a lot of LGBT organizations. I have lots of gay men at my disposal, not that they’d all want to have a kid at all, but I you know it was. I wasn’t going to ask everyone if he said no and I felt I didn’t. I just felt like I couldn’t connect with any, like I was like. And then I’d read one profile and I’d be like, oh my God, he sounds amazing, like medical school and loves music or whatever the description was. And then it would be like low, vile count and I was like, oh my God, everyone else loves him and he has four million children and I do know, I do know, like people who, like, have actually met up with siblings, I’m the same donor and that’s also cool and like how cool. Or is it that we’re in a time where, you know, we have the ability to kind of create our own families and we can step out of this like, yeah, predetermined, super heteronormative expectation of what a family looks like?

Meredith: 11:45

It feels very sci-fi to me, like there’s a whole incredibly sci-fi.

Austin: 11:49

Wait till you go to the next chapter. I don’t want to rush ahead in the story, but anyway, stephen, I’ll get there. Yeah, so he thought about it. He said give me two weeks. I said absolutely. And he came back to me and said let’s do it. And I was actually shocked. I was like he had said if there’s anyone I would do this for, it’s you. But you know it’s still such a big thing and we are super, super similar. So I could kind of like predict his points of anxiety, like as he would come back to that, you know, with me, which was. You know we started when we did our donor agreement. You know it says he’ll be around on birthdays and he will, you know, be in the child’s life, but certainly not all the time. And you know, obviously there’s no financial responsibility or any really beyond. There’s no commitment besides whatever you know, he wants to and he wouldn’t, be referred to as daddy or papa or father or whatever, and I was fine with all of that and he went through the whole thing. We used California cryo but we did the six month quarantine which you don’t you had said you were trying to avoid.

Meredith: 13:17

Well, yeah, yeah, we’ll see. Because I’m doing this crazy travel where it’s like I mean this next week I’m gone all week long and then next month I don’t have anything, but then November I go to, I’m doing a Christmas Market River cruise with my mom, so I’d be there for two weeks ish and then come back and then a month later go back there for maybe six weeks. So the quarantine might be fine. It may be fine.

Austin: 13:45

Yeah, it also gives you time. The six month quarantine gives you time to prepare your body as well, like more prenatals, all that stuff like workout as much as you can. All that right because you are the best. Yeah, so we did that. Six month quarantine I had frozen my exit 37 so I was using and I had 25 total 10 from. I had done two rounds of egg freezing. That’s a good amount. Yeah, so I had 10, but this is the crop shoot, so I had 10 and 15. So I said let’s freeze the batch of 15. So we did that. They 12 survived the thought. Nine fertilized, seven fertilized to the point where they could genetically test, and then only one was normal Whoa.

Meredith: 14:37

And.

Austin: 14:37

I was like out of 15 eggs. So I was like what was wrong with them? They were like too many chromosomes are too little and I was like, oh well, glad I have them genetically tested. And that’s why it is like such a crap shoot, because I have friends that you know have had three eggs and had one you know right right embryo. So it really it’s. It’s hard to get excited and I think I mean that’s something I can talk about like a little bit later, but like managing your expectations while wanting it so bad, but being okay with the outcome, but loving your life if it doesn’t happen. But don’t get too excited, but get. And that’s like the whole pregnancy too, because you’re like what’s wrong?

Meredith: 15:18

It’s the whole female experience too, though, isn’t it, or it’s like be happy but not too happy, and, like you know, be grateful but want more, yeah, and it’s like tempering your expectation at every moment.

Austin: 15:33

because, like tempering your expectation at every moment, because, like, who knows, and I think someone’s going to join this podcast I hear him.

Meredith: 15:47

Totally fine.

Austin: 15:48

No, he’s not going to join. He’s going to cry for a little. He’s turning into a toddler. He’s going to be one next weekend and all of a sudden it’s like my non crying, non complaining baby is like turning into, like someone’s opinions.

Meredith: 16:05

My nephew is three and it’s been wild to watch his transformation. And today I was taught. I was facetiming with him tonight talking to his mother my sister-in-law and he decided that he did not want me to be there anymore. So he took the phone from her, walked away she’s pregnant and like kind of on bed rest, took the phone away from her into another room and put it in another. Put the phone in another room and close the door.

Austin: 16:29

Well, my nephew, my youngest nephew, used to just hang up on me and I was like yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, bye, yeah, not even he’d be like mad. So I was like aren’t you do? You think you’re done breastfeeding? And he’d be like goodbye, like leave me alone like that question. No, he did not, he was not ready, but yeah, so I was super fortunate, I did the, the you know whatever, all the drugs and the shooting up and Full on, I, full on. I Didn’t even try anything else I did from a financial perspective as well as like the emotional piece of it. I just was like I know, and I’m really glad that genetic testing Is like the potential of that, like I know people also who did IVF, who could it like wait the three weeks and it’s hard because you’re at this like wrote, you know I get that too, but and then it’s just like miscarriage or not. You know, either miscarriage or not, you know it doesn’t take and it’s that that kind of disappointment and over and over would have been really hard for me. Yeah, so I was super lucky, because people are like oh, how many rounds did you do for Felix? Like I had one embryo and I did it once and he stopped. So that’s, he was embryo eleven and he was born at five eleven in the morning at eight eleven pounds. So we already know, Lucky number that’s incredible, yeah, yeah.

Meredith: 18:08

So how did it feel for you? Like when did when I mean you made the decision during covid and there, for me there have been a lot of different moments along the way of like, oh shit, I did make this decision. Oh man, like when, I think I’m totally fine with it. And then, you know, I went up to Alaska to do the DIY turkey baster method and then I freaked out. I just totally freaked out. I planned on doing it a couple different times while I was up there and I just I had like an anxiety attack about it and I think it made me realize you know, okay, you really are choosing to do to go into this next chapter. Did you have any other kind of similar anxieties?

Austin: 18:49

Hey, I mean, I didn’t, like I think it’s the same like unknown thing. Like I was always more concerned about him or the baby. I didn’t want to know the gender, and that’s a whole other story, but I was always concerned that I because it’s so sci-fi and because it’s so like messing with nature, yeah, and at any moment where you know, because doctors like to freak you out I’m a bigger girl, I’m old, they couldn’t believe I didn’t have gestational diabetes. You know they maybe take that test 400 times. You know they were determined to find something off and I was like, oh my God, give it up. Like I also would like you to find out if I do have gestational diabetes, because I want my baby to be healthy and I want to live, so like we are on the same team. Stop trying it. That’s a whole, another whole story. That’s frustrating. Yeah, it was super, super frustrating, but yeah, I think I was always just anxious that something would go wrong. And again, like back to like, tempering expectations. And you know, and I will say back to like the donor, the known donor thing versus like someone who’s just donated their sperm, is that like, even though Stephen didn’t want to be involved, he like was very curious and so like I’d go to an appointment and I’d be like, okay, I don’t, I won’t call you if you don’t want me to, and he was like no, I love to hear, like what’s happening. Like, yeah, like throughout the process, he kept more and more invested and that was nice, because what does feel different, like in terms of your experience, is there’s someone. There’s no one else like, and even even him knowing everything, there’s no one as invested in this as you. Yeah, and I think that that I mean I think if you’re married, there’s obviously more investment, there’s more day to day like. It’s not like I had someone to rub my feet or clean up my vomit from the bathroom, like I had to do it after I vomited. Yeah, yeah, you know that was like, but it was really nice to talk to someone who like to have someone to be like. Oh my God, so like his heartbeat is super strong.

Meredith: 21:16

And you know all this stuff, you know and I did with my mom.

Austin: 21:19

I’m very, very close with my mom and my. That was gonna be my next question. Yeah, yeah, who has three boys? So she’s, like you know, super mom and so I could call her and be like is that normal? Like that I felt this, or like I haven’t you know, they say I should be feeling in kick every two hours and I haven’t, like you know, it’s fine. Yeah, I mean she, she, she think it was good to have like sounding board.

Meredith: 21:43

Yeah, so I mean in terms of support your, your mom is in the city as well.

Austin: 21:48

Yeah, my parents are in the city. My sister’s actually in LA. Oh cool yeah.

Meredith: 21:54

I’ll say hi, yeah.

Austin: 21:58

My first. For the first part of his life my mom was coming over once a week. She came over Wednesdays, then she was out in the Hamptons with my sister’s kids and everything. So we’ve been on quite a hiatus and she’s traveling. So I’m like, let me know. And fortunately my sister had had a fabulous like nanny who her boys love and she the timing worked out. So she’s now my nanny and incredible it really. I’m so, so lucky. She’s flexible. Like I said, I’m in events, so there are times where I’m like okay, can you come over at six am and I’ll be home at two am. I’m like I’ve worked in events in the past.

Meredith: 22:38

So I totally understand that life, yeah, yeah.

Austin: 22:43

The only. It’s like not ideal, I think, for a single parent to be in events, but it’s also very ideal because I’m so logistically oriented that like figuring out like who’s going to be where and how I’m going to get everything done. Yeah, you know that comes naturally.

Meredith: 23:00

Yeah, I’m a project manager right now, and so it’s just logistics make absolute sense to me, and it drives me crazy when I’m with people who don’t understand like it’s more efficient for us to do it this way, according to X, y and Z. So yeah, you get it. Yeah.

Austin: 23:18

So you have one step up on everyone else. Great Cause. Everyone’s like how do you do it? I’m like, oh well, I like or like. In the beginning of it I feel like, well, it was weird because I explained our run of show, that’s funny. But then he like shit his pants, like through our like we’re like an hour behind. Like the other day I was so excited to go to Trader Joe’s, which truly I am that meme where it’s like the Trader Joe’s person is asking you what you’re doing that weekend and you’re like this this is it. Yeah, trader Joe’s. Like that is now like a highlight of my weekend and I am not kidding. I tried from 8pm. I think we ended up going at 2pm, or sorry, 8am to 2pm. Like you know, he took a nap and we were like whatever. It was like oh my God, I just want to go to Trader Joe’s.

Meredith: 24:08

It’s not that hard, felix, come on yeah.

Austin: 24:12

Like let’s move it. Yeah, but in terms of support, like the nanny, you know, and she’s it’s not, it’s actually pretty rare she also like cleans and she is flexible. Like I forgot, I made a hair appointment tomorrow and I was like, ooh, I know, I said just a half day, could you come the whole day? Yeah, I mean like meetings all morning and then whatever. So that’s my support and I have family and friends here, so, but for the most part, I’m also not somebody who likes to ask for help. So that is a personal hell that I’ve had to explore, like where I’m like, no, it’s fine, I can do it all and I really honestly, I find and I wonder if you’ll feel this too when you have your baby but like when someone comes over to help me, like get out of the house, I forget stuff, I’m discombobulated, I’m so much more stressed than it’s just me and Felix and I can get everything and I’m focused. It’s like we have our a groove Right.

Meredith: 25:15

I am like I don’t like traveling with other people. It’s really difficult for me to like go to an airport with other people and stuff, because I get so in the zone and I’m just so militant about how I do things X, y and Z and you know, I have my TSA pre-check and I know exactly how to get to the line and then I know exactly where I’m going to go. I can get to the airport 10 minutes before the airplane takes off and I’m the front of the line to get on the plane, like I have it set. So, yes, I imagine that that would be difficult for me as well, to just people coming to help me and like no, no, no, no, no, it’s actually would be more helpful if you just wait outside for a second.

Austin: 25:59

Yeah, and even like I think most of the time, like I’ll be like just watch Felix and all focus on everything else, right, but even that, I don’t know, even that throws me sometimes.

Meredith: 26:13

Yeah, well, you get into routine.

Austin: 26:14

Yeah, yeah, exactly, but yeah. So, as time progressed though, donor daddy, as I call him, kept you know just like wanted, and then he came to an appointment and of course, it was the scary appointment, whether they were like your baby has ambiguous genitalia, and I was like what? And I was like, oh my god, this is why I’ve done so much work in the LGBT community, because I’m the mother of an eye. I looked up like support groups. I was on the spiral and that’s when I really got into, like my, you’ve had to fuck with nature, you know you’re gonna have a sick kid. Now, like, because it was about not, I was less concerned about the genitals, as I was the like implications, chromosome, like genetically, of the manifestation of this Like, which was like adrenal failure and like all this crazy stuff. Right and sure enough. Like and this is a word to you like, take everything they say with a grain of salt, because it’s all just litigious and they have to say all the scary shit all the time so that their ass is covered and it’s like so, fuck up, you’re pregnant. You’re like, yeah, I was in. It was definitely worse for the baby than having ambiguous genitalia.

Meredith: 27:29

Yeah. Like what they put me through what kind of stress and I was like, is there anything I can like?

Austin: 27:34

then they were like, oh, and then that’s how I found out the gender, because I didn’t want to know, but I’d had it genetically. I had the embryo tested. So I said someone knows what the predicted sex? Was and when they realized it was XY, they were like, oh, we’ve downgraded it to like a micro penis and I was like, great, the kid with like the single mom has a micro penis. I was already like coming up with comeback. So, like all the bully how many I like? I’m so immature, I’m like you’re really gonna fight. You’re like figuring out how you’re gonna fight with kids, yeah. But yes, I was, because I would always be on Felix’s side, right? But sure enough, they were like. They ended up saying like oh no everything’s fine. Yeah, they were like or it’s just like puberty, everyone develops at a different time. And then, like I came back in two weeks and they were like oh, yeah, definitely a boy. I’m like all right, thanks. I’m like so sorry, sometimes we stay too much too soon. But they literally were like it’s gonna be a hermaphrodite. Wow, what a medical unicorn. I was like all right, can we stop the celebration for a moment and pump the brakes like yikes. And then they were like oh, your blood pressure spiked. I was like yeah, thank you.

Meredith: 28:45

And how far along were you at that point I was five weeks or five months.

Austin: 28:50

Sorry, it was the 20 week appointment. Oh my gosh, and I was like, oh my god. And then, but when I got through that, what it was, like you kind of, you know, you always try to, I always try to find lessons in life and I was like, okay, like I have to temper everything that these doctors say to me and put it through like a different filter and like reassess. But again, you know, and of course this was the one that he came to, and I was like, and he’s like, this is why he didn’t want to have kids is like scary things could happen with kids and of course he comes to this appointment. But in the end, you know, and then he came to like another appointment and it was the same like crazy doctor, because I saw all of the you know, all the doctors at the practice. But yeah, and then when Felix was born, like he like couldn’t believe it and had no idea. I mean, and one day we were sitting Felix was still really baby and I was sitting, you know, he was over visiting and I, and which had became like once or twice a week, sure, like more and more and more, yep, and we were sitting and I was like to you, but like we met when we were 24 and we’re both the exact same age and I was like, if you had told me when we were working at Martha Stewart that we would have a baby together, yeah, like at 40 and I would be like. I would be like what are you even talking about? So like. And then, like he started crying. I started crying and we were like this is just so great, yeah.

Meredith: 30:24

It’s the best thing ever. Yeah, so Well, I was. You know it’s funny, I was talking. You know the episode I did with him. I asked him like do you remember when we met? I actually found the picture of that moment because I was going out on a walk with my roommate from the dorms and we ran into a group of friends that I had already had and he was hanging out with them and I took a picture of all of them hanging out and that’s the moment I met him and like it means so much to me now to look at that picture because I’m like, oh shit, like the beginnings of it all.

Austin: 30:58

It’s really crazy, I know and it’s just, it’s so crazy. I know I found a picture of us from like 2013 or I don’t. I think it was before 2013, but then my camera roll from 2013. I texted it to him this morning and I was like what were we doing? Who are they? We were definitely dancing at a party, yeah, and it was funny because when all the other embryos sucked, stephen was like, oh god, do you think it’s a sperm? And I was like you’re a fresh sperm? No, it’s my old ass eggs that have been to every party we’ve ever been to. It’s definitely not you Like you really give me a lot of credit. I was like I think I signed it back to the FFL too. Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, that’s wild.

Meredith: 31:45

How has he, like you said, that his support has kind of changed based on, like initial conversation that you guys had and the agreement that you came to? What was in that original agreement beyond the you said it was like birthdays and really just like birthdays and special occasions, I think is the verbiage I don’t really recall.

Austin: 32:09

I always knew I would be fine if he wanted more, knowing that like it would be easier to be clean, cut where it was like at my discretion, just because that’s like easier, if you are the soul like one that’s responsible, it’s easier for me to be like well, that doesn’t work for us. But I have always welcomed and continue to reassure him that he is please like let me know when you want to see Felix, like or I’ll be like when are you in town? And like the summer was hard because he travels a lot and I was out in the Hamptons and I was working and so like he didn’t see Felix for like three or four weeks and it was just like you know. And I I text him daily multiple times like photos, so like I am constant, he’s in constant contact. I text his sister too. There’s a group text to there.

Meredith: 33:00

And he’s. He’s in New York as well. He’s in New York.

Austin: 33:03

Yeah, he actually lives pretty close to us and like very close to my office. That’s just been really great and it’s their relationship has developed so much to the point that around Father’s Day I wrote a note to him from Felix that said I know you’re my donor, daddy, but I was wondering if I could call you daddy for short. And because I felt I since the beginning, have been talking to my therapist like how do I explain that this person, we were never going to lie about him being his biological father. but the more time he spent, the more I was like, oh, this is going to be harder to explain. Oh, and the other funny thing is that when we were at Martha and this is like sick and twisted, but I would be like daddy, like I always I always called him daddy. Yeah, so I’d be like daddy and he’d be like mama, and so we’ve been calling each other daddy and mama since we were 24. I was like, yeah, I was basically grooming you for years.

Meredith: 34:09

We’ve been doing the same thing, because he had this dream that we had a baby together and at the end of his dream the baby was still born, which is horrifying. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this dream that we had a baby together. And then we worked for a hot second after college we worked at Ikea together. They opened an Ikea in Florida and we were so excited and, like you know, broke and we were like, maybe Ikea is our future, maybe we become executives at Ikea, maybe we run Ikea eventually. And so we went when we started working there and we actually built the store out like you know, like when those stores open, like they bring the employees in to build all of the furniture that’s in the store for like weeks on end. So we were literally like wearing hard hats, oh my god, and building beds and tables and stuff like that. So, anyway, for a while, when you went to the Ikea store, there was a picture. It was very much that, like you know, the office episode where they take a group picture from the rooftop. Yeah, they did that, oh man. And so everybody else is just kind of like smiling like unhappily in a parking lot and the two of us are like posed and fabulous and holding our arms. It’s ridiculous. But there was a gal that he worked with and she was a. She was a troublemaker. And I came down to visit him in the department that he was like building. And he goes, meredith, tell her it’s true. And with Michael, you know, I was a theater major, I have a lot of improvisational experience. So just yes. And I just yes. And my way through life. And he said he goes, tell her it’s true. And I go, of course it’s true. Why would he lie about it, not knowing what he’s talking about? And she looked me dead in the eyes and she’s like you two have a kid together. And I was like, yeah, yeah, yes. And Michael’s like, but don’t talk to her too much because it passed away. And I was like, oh, he’s, he’s using the like dream as a real-life situation. And so she was just like you had a kid together, as like, yeah, it was during college and we decided we would do it and everything. And so then that became like you know, baby mama, baby mama, baby daddy, and that’s just what we call each other and it’s one of many nicknames. So I got it. You know, sometimes life manifests in the way that you have been Bending it the whole way.

Austin: 36:33

So Exactly, yeah, yeah. And Felix really backed us up because when we were crying after he said, of course he can call me daddy, like Felix spin his pacifier out, was like and I was, oh well played, well done. There was no way he, he wasn’t gonna say yes at that. I mean, steven was like it almost sounded like he said daddy, like it was really Perfect, and we couldn’t believe it. I was like I can’t believe we were recording this.

Meredith: 37:03

What a moment. Well, I saw, I saw the video on your Instagram too. Were like the moment you called him Felix. He smiled like this. Kid’s timing is remarkable.

Austin: 37:12

What the hell. I Was watching that the other day because of course I’m getting very emotional that it a Year and they go, went by, so so, so, so fast, like it’s. I don’t even. I Truly can’t believe he’s gonna be a year. Yeah, it’s crazy. Yeah, and it’s like, I’m like and I’m nostalgic already for like that newborn Moment, yeah, already, so it’s do you think about doing it again, or is Felix? Yeah, definitely. I’ve thought about it since the moment I had him and I had a terrible experience in the hospital and a C-section. It was horrible and Even when I could like barely get out of the chair, I was like, oh, this must be hormones. But I, so cute, yeah, yeah. So I have been thinking about it, you know. I mean, I’m so happy I have like a beautiful baby boy and I couldn’t ask for more and as a single parent, having one is really Civilized. It’s me and him, that’s all I have to think about you know what I mean. Like. So, like I am, I am leaning into that. At some point, if there are some good embryos, I will switch my thinking into like sure, I really want this, because I think you have to do that for your body to get pregnant.

Meredith: 38:33

I’d say yeah, yeah, yeah, no. I, because of that first time when I went up to see him, I think I freaked my own body out. I think I stopped anything from happening. So I just, I mean, I also think my body just absorbs all the stress of everything, so Just trying to get zen. I try to be cool.

Austin: 38:54

Well, listen, I’m in event production and I couldn’t have been like. You know, you’re always, yeah, I’m stressed out in it. So, yeah, but yeah, I’ll send you when you’re ready. I’ll send you a someone else that sent me this like subliminal Fertility thing that I like listen to. Yeah, but it was just like it sounds like. I think it sounds like birds in the rainforest, but it like oh my whatever I did it all acupuncture. Well, of course, like I was like I went to an acupuncturist and I said like I’m, you know, I’m gonna do IVF. She’s like oh, great one. I was like next week and she’s like oh, so normally people come to me a little more in advance, but we will just do this. And I went to her before and after the transfer to okay, cool.

Meredith: 39:42

Cool. What other things did you do to give yourself good fertility vibes?

Austin: 39:49

Not, those were the main things like and I stopped. I did stop like drinking. I think I had like I like had my last like martini right before or after Christmas, and then I had like a couple of glasses of champagne on New Year’s. I fully was still using weed until which I don’t think you’re supposed to, but like until like maybe a couple, yeah, like maybe after New Year’s I kind of like got clean and. I had my transfer on January 14th 2022.

Meredith: 40:25

Yeah, yeah, I found myself kind of Like I have kind of an aversion to alcohol ever since I’ve started getting like really serious about this. I just don’t want to drink like I used to. I’ve had a couple nights where I’ll have some fun and then the next day I just feel worse about myself and it’s. I don’t want to be sober. I love, I love drinking, but I but I just don’t. I don’t have a desire to do it like I used to and I wonder if it’s because it’s my body just being like Okay, we’re actually gonna prep for this thing.

Austin: 40:59

Yeah, and I think also, like I mean now, even though I can, I don’t, I don’t, I, I have not been drinking the way I used to, but I also think I have. It’s gonna sound pathetic, but I do have like now, really have like a purpose and like someone. I need to show up for, and be not like a gross higher-breathing mess in the morning. You know like so like and like. There’s nothing like Sweeter than picking a baby up who’s like had a bath and gone to bed and had, like well, I’m hoping he’ll have 12 hours sleep tonight. And you know, yeah, and you’re like smelling alcohol, it’s like so gross. So it’s just not the and and he’s what I am doing, right now.

Meredith: 41:43

Yeah, you know like.

Austin: 41:45

That’s what I think it’s kind of great about older Mothers is like I, and I think your mom said that’s, even though I don’t think she was.

Meredith: 41:52

She was like 35, yeah, I remember and that’s that’s a different age in 1985. Yeah, 1985 35 was different exactly.

Austin: 42:00

Yeah, of course I think your mom said it correctly like she had traveled, she had done all these things that she, so she was really ready to be your mom. Yeah, and that’s how I feel. I don’t have FOMO, because people are a party. I’m like I, I now I try to schedule dinners, like in my neighborhood, so that I can come home, even if the babysitter is still here for the nanny still here, like put him to bed, because those are like my hours with him. Yeah, like I hope I hope he gets up at 6 am Tomorrow, because then that means I have from 6 till 9 with him. Yeah, the nanny gets here, you know. So it’s like I really, I Really love being a mom. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. And you know people are like are you, how are you surviving in this? Like you know that whole adage, like if you do the thing you love, you’ll never work another day in your life, and like this is really what I’ve always wanted to do and what I really love doing.

Meredith: 42:57

Yeah, I feel very, I feel it’s and that’s not to say it’s not hard work, or sometimes I don’t want to cry, but you know it’s so worth it and he’s the best thing ever, yeah in my life I’ve encountered people who Became parents because it was the next step, it was the thing that they were supposed to do, or People who’ve had kids, you know young, and it was a surprise and they just kind of went with it. And it always upsets me when and I can’t think of like a person in particular this is not a a sub tweet, so to speak like, but it always surprises me when I hear them talk about parenthood and how they’re like I Rolly about it, or they’re like don’t do it unless you actually want to, because this is hard. I’m like oh, I don’t like the, the vibe you’re putting out about this, because for me, yeah, that’s not how it feels at all.

Austin: 43:53

Yeah, and I think everyone has. There’s also so many different kinds of moms. Yeah, you know, like my sister’s a different mom, my mom was probably a different mom than I am. Then I am like, you know, some people don’t, you know, want to play on the floor and that doesn’t appeal to them, but they’ll have value. Another, you know Like, yeah, and that’s also fine. I really do want to be on the floor with Felix and watch him do all these things. Yeah, and like, of course there’s times like I am alone, like he has to play by himself and it’s great that he does, because I have, to like, cook breakfast.

Meredith: 44:31

But those are independent, like people have to learn how to be independent.

Austin: 44:35

Yeah.

Meredith: 44:36

Regardless of whether or not they have siblings or two parents or whatever so that’s. Those are very important lessons to learn.

Austin: 44:42

And I hope that he’s. He’s going to a cocktail party with me on Sunday and you know we’re just gonna and I’m trying to take him out to dinner as much as possible, like even though it’s getting harder To keep that like a normal thing that we do. So he knows how, like that that happens and that there’s a certain way, yeah, to be.

Meredith: 45:05

But well and like with the kind of travel I have to do for my job and just that, like the entertainment industry has generally, like I want To find a way to bring my kids along Kid kids, whatever ends up being, and so that they know what travels like, they know what you know, dining at restaurants is like Like those are the kinds of skills I want to impart to a kid because it’s important to me, that’s, that’s the mom I’m gonna be and I think that’s a really good point that you bring up too. Like there are so many different ways to be a mother and I think that we, like society just is like this is what it looks like here it is. This is the way you have to do it and if you’re not doing it this way, you’re not doing it right. And I that, for a little bit, like I put out of my head that I wanted to have kids Just because of the way that the whole world turned for a little bit there, not to say we’re not out of it, but you know, I just like. I don’t want to bring a kid into this world. But now I’ve been able to kind of look and see that like no, no, no, there’s. There’s a way for you to do this the way you want to do it. You don’t have to subscribe to any specific way that anybody else is doing it. You’re gonna make your own little worlds, and that makes me feel really good.

Austin: 46:20

Yeah, and you’re going to figure out what works for you Because, like, even I have to say with, like, the sleep training thing which, like I had to do like twice Because bedtime is very important to me, because, like, I will get back on my computer after we get off the phone after I clean up the kitchen and Do like a little bit more work. But like and I know it’s good for him, you know it’s good for me, but I’ve had to like, especially as he’s like going through this new stage like Follow my gut a little bit, like is it going to be easier if I do just go it back in and calm him, like I and I totally believe in sleep training and like I did like a the beyond-furber method, where you like close the door at 7 pm and you don’t go back until for 10 hours, like whatever happens. And I mean his donor daddy came over to the first night that we did and thank God, because I actually had sat down, I’d made pasta, it was hot and and RuPaul’s Drag Race was on and Felix was like four months old and he started crying and it was like no, no, it’s eight o’clock, you should be in bed, what am I doing? I texted him and I was like I’m starting sleep training tomorrow and so we did. But yeah, but recently I’ve just been like you know what, I’m gonna go Settle him. Because there’s this whole thing like how they’re toddlers they don’t know how to calm their emotions down or calm themselves down. And then you’re like, but they do at night when they’re alone in a room and I’m like it. So like I just kind of use my discretion.

Meredith: 47:58

I think based on like yeah, how hardcore he’s being.

Austin: 48:04

You have to trust your gut like that’s just.

Meredith: 48:06

That’s the thing to do as we round this out, because we’re at about an hour and I want to be respectful of your time too.

Austin: 48:13

I mean, you’ve given me a lot of advice through this conversation and I’m so grateful, and I’m grateful to get to know you and keep you on in my text messages and Come to see you and, honestly, any questions, any questions you have along the way, please don’t hesitate because, like I said, it’s like there’s so many things that, like you, feel and go through and especially, I think, as a single mom by choice.

Meredith: 48:37

You know, I’m pleased to happy to have you stay in touch and have you been a part of any of the single mother by choice Boards or groups or anything online?

Austin: 48:47

I have not and it’s funny because I was thinking about it the other day that I wanted to look back and actually I’m on the board of the coalition for the homeless, like in New York First-step job training program and one of the other women on the board yeah, it’s a great, great initiative. But one of the other women on the board emailed me separately. It was like I don’t know if you know this, but I’m also a single Mom by choice and she has a 12 year old daughter. I think she was 12 and she was like I want to make sure you know about this like Group and it was right in the beat. I was still like I don’t know, six weeks or eight weeks postpartum where like I’ve never felt so dumb in my life. It’s great. I the brain fog is like Whatever anyway, so anything that kind of happened in that time period.

Meredith: 49:41

I’m like revisiting now, like, oh, so I’m not, and Probably should do I also am not on Facebook and so, like, getting on Facebook to look up something like this is like a chore for me. That’s not helpful, it’s hard for me to do so that’s why I’m like I’m just gonna start my own thing. I’m gonna start this podcast and start talking to cool ladies and figure out my own little network.

Austin: 50:06

Oh, I was fully gonna like record the whole thing because, like I don’t know, if you know Katie Sterino, she’s like plus-size influencer.

Meredith: 50:14

No, no and.

Austin: 50:15

And she’s great, she owns that company, mega babe. I don’t know, I just had to promotion for her the other day, but it’s like side-chafing and bust dust. Anyway, she’s a really great galley. She’s very body positive thing and she was like you need to do a podcast or you need To record your whole thing, and I was like I’m totally gonna do it. I didn’t do one single. Yeah, I didn’t. I’m glad you. Well, I’m happy you like the.

Meredith: 50:55

The more gals I’m talking to, the more I’m like. If you want to get involved, like I’m happy to do that.

Austin: 51:00

I’m trying to figure out and like the whole, this whole time, like raising Felix, I’m like what is annoying that I can solve mm-hmm and Create a product. That’s really great. I mean something. Also there are no fucking like not a lot of children’s books about this, like single mom, yeah, and definitely not this, this specific thing. And I think I know, like I said, the more people you talk to someone, you know you’ll be like so-and-so. You know, I have a friend that’s in that, you know. So I think it’s so and I love hearing that, because I also I do think about Felix going to school. Mm-hmm like I am gonna always talk about how I’m a single mom by choice. I’m like I really wanted you and there is a really good book I’ll send it. Yeah as a Gift. It’s really cute and it’s I see it’s Felix’s favorite book. We read it every single night. We didn’t really think she was out of his mind, tired, but it’s the first part and see, see what is over. The other day and started reading it and cried and it was like even sounds like I did that he’s. He’s the best. If Felix is half of Like him, yeah, I hope you. He’s all him, truthfully a busy, smart, caring, funny, kind, talented, yeah, just everything. And. But it’s like it starts with I wanted you more than you’d ever know, so I said love to follow you wherever you go. And then it goes into all these things. Anyway, felix loves it. We read it every single night and I like, I mean it, like I he is like, so great.

Meredith: 52:38

Yeah, I’m getting emotional.

Austin: 52:39

But yeah, he really is the, the best, the best guy, my baby guy, yeah.

Meredith: 52:44

I mean like seeing all the pictures of him on your Instagram, like he’s so cute. And then like spending time with Shayna and like I had lunch with her and her mom and her mom was like do you want to hold him? And I was like yes, please. And he’s just like he was a c-section to use. Get this pillow, this. He’s three months old, oh, and he’s so advanced. He like kept making eye contact with us and like smiling and kind of he wasn’t making the laughing sound, but he was making the laughing like gestures, and I was like this boy is so advanced. Look at him.

Austin: 53:16

Go the best yeah, I know, I took Felix to LA for Christmas when he was about three months and Highly recommend traveling at that age because they don’t do anything like the thought of getting on a plane with Felix right now, it’s like extremely daunting, but because he’s so busy, the sweetest Cuddle bug, yeah, age, yeah, like they’re just yeah, it’s just so good. I know I’m staring at pictures like that. I have a film, yeah, and His daddy is a photographer. So we’re we’ve amazing decided to do a portraits every six months for right now, while he’s changing so much. So I’m very excited because I’m having a step small get together For his birthday Next week and then I’m making my mom stay and I’m going out to dinner with my friends and we’re gonna we’re gonna do the poor kid before the party I love that great. I’m very excited You’ll see it. It’ll be posted immediately.

Meredith: 54:17

Good. Do you have anything that you’d like to promote before I send you off to work? No, Motherhood. Well, I’ll have your, I’ll definitely put your event company in, like, yeah, yeah, so, and you do everything you said, right yeah?

Austin: 54:34

I mean, really we do Like brand activation and such, we don’t really do weddings.

Meredith: 54:41

Yeah, how long have you owned this company? We will be ten in the spring Congrats.

Austin: 54:48

I know I have again no idea. Also, I made that decision over lunch, just go with it. I was like yeah, I am, I will start my own company.

Meredith: 54:59

You have good intuition, I guess I.

Austin: 55:03

Don’t know about, like you know, if my my failed engagement back, I was a real psycho and yeah, so I’ve only made my missteps, but like, yeah, at least like some big rash decisions have worked out for me for you.

Meredith: 55:18

I like that yeah well, thank you so much for joining, and we’ll have I’m gonna have you on again, I’m sure, for more advice.

Austin: 55:25

Yeah, and whenever you need.

Meredith: 55:29

Yeah, yeah, I definitely want to keep in touch and thank you for reaching out. The backup plan is created, produced and hosted by me, meredith Cape. Julian Hagen’s is my co-producer. You can find us on social media at backup plan pod. The best place to get updates is to sign up for our newsletter at backup plan podcom, where we also post all episodes, show notes and transplants. Thank you for listening.

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