doula to the stars

sir bob & me (a.k.a. doula to the stars).

I never expected my 15 minutes of fame to include Robert De Niro. I’m a maternity nurse in private practice; I teach prenatal classes and provide “doula services” (coaching women throughout labour).

In December 2002, I was hired as a consultant for a birthing scene in the movie GODSEND, which was being filmed in Toronto. I found myself waiting in a trailer to meet Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, the expectant mother in GODSEND. Finally, I was off to meet Rebecca. “There’s Rebecca”, “Which one”, I asked. Obviously, the one whose legs went on forever, somehow making a giraffe look short. She was smoking, WHY? I told her “You shouldn’t be smoking in your ninth month of pregnancy”. She shrieked “I knew the midwife would be mad at me for smoking”. We bonded.

We talked for 35 minutes, where I showed her ways that women push, grunt and scream through birth. Yes, celebrities are really just people; with 5’11 inches of perfect body and face to match. Rebecca said it would be great if I would be at the birthing shoot and advise the obstetrician in GODSEND. “Who plays that?” I asked. Robert De Niro. Say what! As if doing the consult with Rebecca wasn’t enough; I just catapulted into another sphere. They even told me I would be an extra in the birthing scene.

When I got to the shoot (at the former King Spa Ranch), I was amazed at the scene. I went to the "extra" room, which is a whole world unto itself. Many know each other well. One extra was married to another, and they even had a little "extra" baby.

The Set and Sir Bob

Finally, onto the set I go. This is supposed to be a delivery room. Nothing's right! There's barely any equipment. How can they shoot it here? Suddenly, the gig is up. I start to panic. In walks Robert De Niro. "What do I call him?", I whisper to one of the crew. He laughs, "Sir Bob". I am still freaking out over the inappropriate set before I react to Bob (I drop the Sir). I ask "Have you thought about how you will film the baby coming out of Rebecca?" "Not really", the director replies. This isn't fun anymore!

"Take your places". Surprisingly, Bob's not acting like an obstetrician (they have egos as big as movie stars). I tell him how a doctor would say the lines. Bob seems nervous; his voice appears to be quivering. Perhaps being between Rebecca's spread legs with just a thin layer of lycra covering her "parts" clearly adds to his discomfort. Bob is kind and soft-spoken. He tells me to keep instructing him. The director isn't thrilled with my dialogue with Bob; after all, he was the director.

The director then takes Bob, Rebecca, Greg (Kinnear) and me to work on the scene in private. I am in a daze. I have to put my hands on Bob's to show him how to "deliver" a baby. He is very handsome. I would rather put his hands over my heart. I was developing a schoolgirl crush. Bob is now very intense. His voice is still hesitant. Come on, Bob, rise to the occasion.

Finally, the shoot.

Tension mounts. A mother brings in her three-month-old baby, the biggest "newborn" I'd ever seen. The mom is completely awestruck by Sir Bob and does the hero worship talk. This is a big no-no. You can tell the actors are focused and don't want their spell broken. Rather than dismissing her, De Niro graciously says "I don't have time now to take a picture with you, we can do it later". Big brownie points, maybe that's why they call him Sir Bob!

After the shoot, I thank Sir Bob for this surreal experience. Playing by the professional rules, I ask for no autograph, no picture, nothing to prove that this happened, except the movie itself. Finally, a year and half later, the movie is released. Only my husband will accompany me to my film debut at the theatre. Unfortunately, the reviews were not too favourable (not one of Bob's better parts – to say the least!). There I am – next to Sir Bob – in celluloid for eternity (From Here to Maternity). I try not to get carried away... and now the Oscar goes to Wendy Goodman, Best Extra in a movie!

I submitted this story to The Toronto Star just before the movie was released in Toronto. Unfortunately, neither The Toronto Star nor Hollywood ever responded. Good thing I stuck to my daytime job!