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Watch This: 40 Weeks, The Movie

A documentary that celebrates the transformation of woman to mother--aka pregnancy.

Watch This: 40 Weeks, The Movie

It’s not until you become pregnant that you truly appreciate the amount you can accomplish in those 40 weeks. At the beginning, it feels like such a long time, but somewhere around the halfway point you realize that 40 weeks is nothing. And yet you manage to grow a human being, make a nest for him, prep your village for his arrival and then miraculously transform yourself into this other person: a mother. Talk about great documentary fodder.

Husband and wife filmmaking team Dominique Debroux and Chris Henze thought so too, so they created 40 Weeks the movie. The heartfelt documentary brings you into the lives of a diverse group of real women, from pregnancy positive to the birth of their babies, including all the emotional ups and downs in between. It’s all at once comforting, empowering, shocking and inspiring. It honors and celebrates pregnancy, and reminds you that every experience is different--and yet also the same.

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“Birth is of course the great dramatic emotional outcome of pregnancy but all is built (including the new life) during pregnancy,” says Debroux. 40 Weeks the movie, explains Henze, is a “guide and roadmap that women can follow and that helps them along their way.”

Get some insight into the journey these intrepid documentarians experienced to create their baby, 40 Weeks the movie, and click here to buy or rent the movie. And check out a preview here!

What led to the idea of the documentary?

Chris: I watched my wife, Dominique go through her pregnancy to bring me my beautiful daughter Gaia. I’m so grateful to her. Along her journey I was able to meet a lot of other pregnant women and thought their stories were also beautiful. That was almost 7 years ago, and I finally have a DVD to put into someone’s hand that fulfills my dream to celebrate and honor pregnancy for all that it is.

Dominique: Chris really did celebrate me throughout my pregnancy and brought that awe to all the women that he interviewed. I also think that his inspiration was further fueled by the amount of complaining I did through my pregnancy about not having anything to watch from the point of view of other women. I did not have girlfriends who were pregnant at the same time, and I worked long hours and traveled for work so I did not have a lot of time for meet-up groups to make new pregnant friends. I certainly wanted to know what was going on with my body, but the intense morning sickness that I had well into my second trimester made reading a real chore. I just kept wishing there was something I could watch, some women I could visually-virtually connect with.

Why focus on pregnancy vs. birth?

Chris: I wouldn’t even say I chose pregnancy over birth. In 40 Weeks the movie, we also experience the birth process as part of the pregnancy journey. I wanted to create a guide and roadmap that women can follow and that helps them along their way. If we only focused on birth we wouldn’t be able to do this.

Dominique: Birth is, of course, the great dramatic emotional outcome of pregnancy, but all is built (including the new life) during pregnancy. Women who are not moms who have watched 40 Weeks the movie talk about having a better understanding of the love that you can have for a child and a better understanding of how their mother feels about them. The birth by itself cannot give that; the arrival without the journey is incomplete.

How did you choose the women included in 40 Weeks the movie?

Dominique: We wanted to show a range that is as close to what the U.S. is right now, within the constraints of a less than 2-hour movie. Interestingly enough, without trying to do so, the percentages of natural birth, epidurals, scheduled cesareans and emergency cesareans that we ended up having in the movie follow the national percentages. It allows us to see what is going on, and our community can strengthen what works and hopefully help change what does not.

Tell us about the changes you witnessed in the women you followed over the 40 weeks.

Chris: I was lucky enough to be with the 40 Weeks the movie moms very early in their pregnancy journeys and observed them change fundamentally. To me, women sacrifice who they were to become mothers, they are no longer the same. One mom told me that she knows that her very last thought will be of her daughter. Some of the moms I have talked with have said there’s no sacrifice, and "look what I have after pregnancy." So I now call it a noble sacrifice. Men, we evolve into fathers, we don’t fundamentally change. Women [change] so gracefully that it can happen without being noticed.

What was the most surprising thing you caught on camera?

Chris: Actually I was most surprised by how much the 40 Weeks the movie moms let me into their lives. The depth was more than I could have imagined. I had total commitment and heard everything.

The most hilarious?

I have to say the funniest thing was when some moms would share their crazy pregnancy brain stories or wild cravings.

The most heart-warming?

When the moms would talk about how much they love their babies and how happy they are about becoming a family--so beautiful.

You captured so many intimate moments. Was there anything that was off-limits?

Chris: There was nothing that was off-limits, and it’s all there. There were a couple of things in the film that I made sure the moms were okay with me sharing, and even though they could be embarrassed, they all chose to be fine with it being included. We all were working with the idea that the more open and human we all could be about the process the more we had a chance to help women who were watching the movie feel comfortable.

Over the course of your filming, what did you learn about pregnancy that you didn’t know before?

Chris: I’ve always had a lot of respect for women because I have a great Mom, but what I learned about women through the process of making the film is that they are even more amazing than I thought. I’m not sure that women even realize how amazing they are. I hope this film shows them.

Dominique: Through our long journey of getting pregnant and then having Gaia, I had let go of a lot of the “right and wrong” ways to be pregnant, but I still had some remnants. Getting to know all these women wiped those out. All lives are different, and they bring different challenges. All the women in the movie (and now I am thinking the majority of expecting moms) want to be the best they can be, and they grow and change as they can. That is inspiring.

What do you hope people walk away from this movie with?

Chris: I hope that women who watch the movie will feel more comfortable about their pregnancies and learn some things that can help them achieve healthier outcomes. It’s going to be hard and challenging but you’ll make it through.

Dominique: I hope women realize that they are part of a welcoming community and that they are inspired to educate themselves on all parts of the pregnancy journey.

What’s your best piece of advice for a woman that just learned she’s pregnant?

Chris: Watch 40 Weeks the movie. Well that and engage your social group, your partner and your community. They are willing to help and let them. Oh and get massages they’re really good.

Dominique: Watch the movie, watch all our videos, learn as much as you can, ask your doctor/midwife/nurse lots of questions and most importantly celebrate yourself, you are doing something amazing.

This post was brought to you by Big Belli.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

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Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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