In this episode of Podcast Tactics, you will get practical podcasting advice including tips on how to give great interviews. Today’s guest created a show that shares the harrowing stories and the ultimate triumphs of women who have experienced challenging pregnancies and births.
Remember to share what you got out of my conversation with Paulette by leaving a review at https://www.podchaser.com/PodcastTactics
Learn More about Paulette and Her Show “War Stories from the Womb”
Episode recorded on February 24, 2021.
Music by Valence – Infinite [NCS Release]
James: In this episode of Podcast Tactics, you will get practical podcasting advice, including tips on how to give great interviews. Today’s guest created a show that shares the harrowing stories and the ultimate triumphs of women who have experienced challenging pregnancies.
Remember to join and the mailing list at PodcastTactics.com so you can keep learning about podcasting, get inspired and stay motivated.
I’m James, the host of Podcast Tactics. Thanks for listening in. Let’s get into it!
Joining me right now is Paulette from Northern California. Paulette, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thanks so
Paulette: much for having me.
James: Let’s dive right in. What’s the name of your podcast and what’s it all
Paulette: about? It’s called “War Stories from the Womb.” And it is about women sharing their experiences of getting pregnant, being pregnant and giving birth, and kind of the focus of the podcast is on the difference between their expectation of that whole process and their actual experience.
So I get stories that range from, you know, I was hoping for a natural birth with no anesthesia and I had to get a C-section and this is all the kind of things that I went through in that process. Um, to, you know, I had an ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed me. So there’s a, a range of experience. But the unifying theme is that everyone expected almost universally.
People say what they expect is kind of what you see in the movies. Like, you know, a beautiful bump and I’ll be so happy and I’ll, you know, be glowing and you know, it is a very, um, it’s like not at all useful narrative about what actually happens, but it is seated in everyone’s head. So everyone comes to it with that kind of picture.
James: It’s a powerful. Message. Uh, you know, the kind of ideal versus the reality
Paulette: of it. I find most women who are unhappy with their experience, it’s in part because of that disconnect, right? What they, what they expected, what happened didn’t happen at all, because it’s not really how any of this goes, right.
It’s such a transformative experience and it’s so kind of massive physically and emotionally in ways you can’t predict, um, So I find it’s useful to talk about it because I think we would all be, I have two daughters who are teenagers, and I want them to have a more realistic view about kind of what is involved.
And if, you know, if it’s all butterflies and rainbows, great, you know, it’s even better than it’s even better than you can imagine. Right. What
James: was the, uh, the origin of the podcast? How did you come up with the idea?
Paulette: Probably not, not surprising to you. I had. Trouble getting pregnant trouble, being pregnant and not uneventful birth.
Um, and my kids are 18 and 16, so it happened a while ago. Um, and I was pretty medically well-versed cause I had a bunch of, um, medical issues in my past and my father’s a doctor. And so. I had some experience with the medical community, but I had a, we had a super rare problem. It turned out I had an autoimmune problem that I didn’t know I had.
And auto-immunity and pregnancy don’t usually play well together.
James: So you found out about this, this auto-immune deficiency when you got pregnant.
Paulette: In the middle of the pregnancy, they, something is wrong with the fetal heart. And it’s at a time when it was supposed to be 120 beats per minute, it was 50. And they kept saying like, oh, she’s definitely going to die.
This is not, this is not a viable thing. Um, and then we went for 12 weeks with, uh, she definitely gonna die with all the things that that involves. Um, and I have written about it extensively, my sort of primary jobs as a writer. Um, and I’ve written about that and immunology and pregnancy in other contexts.
And I wrote a book about it. And in doing all that research, you know, I thought I ate can’t even though my particular experience is very unique. It’s one in 22,000. All right, is the occurrence of my specific problem. And I think like, you know, congenital heart problems are super common. Um, the heart’s like the first organ to be formed.
So it’s in there a long time cooking and a lot of things can go wrong. Right? Yeah. Uh, so I just thought that there other people must be having this experience. And if you’re like I was, which is ultimately lucky to bring home a baby. You know, you don’t really get to process it because now you’re feeding and changing and doing all the, uh, infant care, which is, you know, unbelievably hard work.
Um, and I just thought this is not, you know, the more research I do on pregnancy, the more I realized there’s just. There’s not that much known about it, even among the scientific community, you know, it just, it boggles my mind that we’re half the population and there’s something like, you know, I, I’m not sure I entirely trust the estimates, but they suggest that 10% of the population is it in for, at all.
Oh my goodness. So 90% of us are going through this and there’s still like an amazing dearth of information about every single thing, every condition, every even how pregnancy works when it works. Um, and so that I think is, uh, something to be addressed,
James: providing a lot of value with, you know, the, just presenting this experience for women, realistically, you know, and sharing women’s stories.
You know, you’re not idealizing it. I got from the episode that I listened to that, you know, it’s, it’s a very straight conversation that you’re having about these experiences. Yeah,
Paulette: I don’t want to, I don’t, I mean, there is selection involved and the people on choosing. So, um, every single person has been successful in quotes in some way.
So even if you had like an ectopic pregnancy that obviously is not viable, they went on to have kids. So there is, you know, it’s not all doom and gloom. Sure. And most of it is really focused on the overcoming. Right. We had this super challenging thing happened and this is how I managed it. And you know, now we’re on the other side of it and.
I look back and think how grateful I am to be where I am now,
James: maybe as a topic as this topic, as this is ultimately, it seems, and again, I only listened to one and I’m looking forward to listening to more, but ultimately it seems that the end result is an uplifting, positive outcome. It’s actively about how you get your, um, your guests.
Come on the show. How do you. How do you locate them? How do you approach them?
Paulette: So I think it will be tricky going forward. And I think I got lucky in the beginning. Um, my sister lives in Madrid, um, and she is very entrepreneurial and as a part of our, you know, 10 Facebook groups or something, and she, I wrote up a little something and she posted in her groups and I got an overwhelming response.
So, you know, from two posts, I got 200 people who wrote me. He said, I want to be on a podcast. Um, and I would say like 90% of them. Yeah. It totally works out. Like it is, it is a story that, you know, um, is something that you should share. Right. Right. Any other cases, like one person for example, had something that sounded like medical malpractice.
And I was like, I can’t like, that’s a totally different thing. And it’s, you know, undoubtedly a trauma that you’ve overcome and that’s amazing, but, but that don’t want that to be the focus because that’s a different thing. And for, for the most part, even though, you know, we had many ups and downs in our own experience, like I went on.
The doctors put me on the medication. And only later when I got all my medical records, did I see that they had listed it as experimental, which they did not share with me, but, you know, I fundamentally think they’re all trying to help me. Right. They’re all, all these doctors and nurses, they’re all trying to help us get to the place we need to get to.
And so there’s no like malevolence or anything, but you know, that’s a little squishy, right? I have been doing a ton of research on my own. And I ended up getting off the medication, um, against medical advice, uh, just cause I wasn’t comfortable with it. Um, but you know, um, that’s a little bit of a different issue, right?
That’s not that wasn’t like the driving force or whatever. So, so far I’ve been, I have probably 25 interviews. Kind of in the can in some pro some form of some point in the process. And those all came from the initial Facebook posts. That’s
James: amazing. When did you, when did you start your podcast? Remind me please.
Paulette: Well, it wasn’t, I didn’t release it till January, 2021. Okay. Um, but I started interviewing in September of. Uh, 2020.
James: Okay. And is that around the time that that initial message went out around September? Yeah. And then, so it just flooded in and ever since then, you’ve been setting up interviews and meeting people, hearing their stories, putting together the episodes.
Paulette: Exactly. And now I have put like a sign up sheet on my, on the war stories from the room website, but I haven’t gotten much traffic there. So I may have to go back to Facebook to find more. Who are
James: willing. I want to acknowledge you for putting up a website. I looked at it, you did a great job. That’s my background.
I’m a web developer and a project manager for a web development company. Did a fantastic job with it. It is a, it’s a nice central place to point people at to, you know, learn more about you and you know, your podcasts. So. Not everybody does that. So, you know, take home message here, you know, get a website up folks because, um, you know, it’s the central repository for accessing all of your episodes and other things too.
So, uh, well done with that, Paulette. Thank you. Oh, you’re welcome. Talk to me about the challenges that you’ve had with putting your podcast together.
Paulette: Um, I think, uh, you know, there are kind of like mundane ones, like getting good sound or, you know, sometimes, uh, so, and actually I’m totally going to copy the email that you sent to me, where you had like, tips about, you know, make sure you’re in a quiet room.
So yeah. I have one episode, which I’m going to air pretty soon where it was a pretty good story, but her cat is walking on her desk. Like, while she’s talking to me and you could just hear this weird crunching the whole time. And I have no idea how to get rid of that. So there’s sort of those things. And then, you know, um, everyone responds to kind of trauma and difficult circumstances in their own way.
So it is a little bit of a challenge to step softly enough around those things. So as not to. You know, it’s kind of say the wrong thing. Yeah,
James: absolutely. And the episode that I listened to it was, I was impressed by your ability to do that. I mean, it’s, you know, I don’t, there’s no spoilers by the way. I do want people to listen to your podcast.
The episode that I listened to was super compelling. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit, but your interview style, I thought it was super, very natural. And I wanted to ask you, do you have a background in interviewing or is this your kind of your first foray into, you know, interviewing people?
Paulette: I’m certainly not formally trained by any stretch of the imagination?
I, um, I did it a little bit at like my first job out of college. Um, but I, you know, my I’m, uh, many years out of college now. And so I’m sure I was completely bumbling when I, when I did it, but it wasn’t necessarily. Scary to me because I had done it before. Um, and for the most part, you know, I’m mostly letting the women tell their story.
Right. It’s mostly them. And actually one thing that’s interesting about this kind of interview is many women have shared their birth story before. So this is a story they’ve told before, so they kind of have it down. So it’s unlike, you know, uh, describing like an episode of a show or. Some kind of new experience, right.
They thought about it. So it’s much, it’s a much more linear process with most people. Cool. How
James: about successes with your podcast? What kind of successes have you experienced with
Paulette: it? Uh, so there, there are two, my two biggest successes are if a guest contacts me and says, I really like it. That is just, that is I’m happy for like a week.
That is a huge thing to get because they’re entrusting me with their story. And I am, you know, including, uh, medical expertise in, I’m also interviewing doctors that are relevant. And I’m very careful to say, like, you know, I don’t want to step on anyone’s ideas about stuff. So for example, there’s an episode coming up soon where.
Um, the woman has had hemorrhage, super, um, prolifically. So she literally lost half of her blood volume in a hemorrhage, and she’s afraid to get a transfusion. And so when I am interviewing the doctor, the doctor’s like, oh my God, they’re totally safe. You have to be okay with getting a transfusion. And so I don’t want to step on her.
Everyone gets to do whatever they want with their own body and my mind. And so if you’re not comfortable with it, that’s fine, but I don’t want to publicize a fear of transfusion. Right. Cause that seems, yeah. Tricky. So, um,
James: yeah, it’s kind of counter to what you’re up to
Paulette: as well. So, so, so sometimes like you, some of those things.
So my other success is that with some women, I just interviewed a guest where the clamps yah. And did not know if you have a clamps yet you’re at lifelong risk for cardiovascular disease. And she actually, I interviewed, um, a specialist at university of Chicago who studies preeclampsia. And she was great and did a great interview and was a lovely person to talk to.
And she said, can I listen to the whole interview together before you send it out? So I let her listen to it. And she wrote me back and said, this woman has not in any way, suggested that she’s at risk. She may not know you need to contact her. Oh, wow. Um, and so I thought, you know, I wrote back to the woman.
One was like, uh, probably you already know this and we just didn’t talk about it. Blah, blah, blah. She had no idea. Oh my goodness. Wow. Um, so that to me is a huge win, right? That is a sacred life. Well, well, you know, it is like important information and it’s not, and she, this woman lived in France, so maybe it’s not, um, you know, conceivably people manage those issues differently.
Although I would take the most conservative aspect of that. Um, and the other day I was talking to someone, uh, like a social media manager. Cause I that’s not at all my skill. I don’t know anything about her. Other than that, she’s a social media manager and I give her this example. And she has had preeclampsia and no one has told her that she’s had cardiovascular risk.
James: sounds like a really good kind of follow up to, you know, the latest episode that you have currently up where, you know, just to FYI, you know, like they’d get the message out because that’s really surprising. You know, I would, my assumption, there would be that if that somebody went through an experience like that at the hospital, that somebody along the way would have disclosed that kind of information to them.
And it doesn’t sound like. It has happened.
Paulette: Yeah. It’s a little bit shocking. Both of these people were out of the us. So the one, one was in France and the social media managers in England. So maybe they just do it differently. But, um, but you kind of have to know that. Yeah.
James: I mean, in either case, you know, that’s, that’s great information to get out there.
Talk to me about how you, um, approach going into an interview. Do you outline, do you, how do you prepare.
Paulette: Um, so originally what I was doing was having a zoom call with people and I would, they would tell their whole story and I’d be typing it all out. So I typed up notes
James: as, as the interview
Paulette: was happening.
You were typing it out. This, this was like an informational. Oh, gotcha. Okay. Um, and then, and then I type up the notes and I’d write like show notes for them and like a skeleton of an interview, just to kind of make sure it was linear. Um, and then set another date. But what I found is people are very excited to tell you their birth story the first time and much less excited the second time.
So I ran into a couple of things where the story was this amazing story, but either I caught him at a bad day or they didn’t want to repeat the whole thing or whatever. So, so now it’s a little more off the cuff. And now that I have done like 30 interviews, I have more kind of information at my fingertips about the more common issues.
So I’ve already done that research and I can just, we’re just having a conversation.
James: What kind of resources have you been using to improve, uh, the level at which you’re either interviewing or the quality of your podcasts?
Paulette: The main focus is on kind of information. And so I am, um, doing a ton of research online with each.
With each interview, there are medical issues. And so I’m doing a lot of research about those issues so that I can add some information. And in terms of trying to find the relevant expert, um, there’s a lot of research that goes into that. Um, I, as I said, like the tech, the technical aspects of it are not my forte.
And so I’m sure I could be making it better with. Other technical.
James: Yeah, I guess, I guess that it’s really the root of my question because when I listened to your episode, I did not detect any technical issues. And so I was curious, how did you, did you go to YouTube and look up, uh, how to, you know, Mike, yourself up for a
So the original sources, um, as with many people, pat Flynn power up podcasting. So I went through that training course and bought everything he told me to buy. And, you know, I am still using zoom instead of audacity. I think there are probably better platforms that I could use, but the podcast is free and there’s no.
You know, there’s no income surrounding it. So there’s a limit to how many things I can buy to make it better. If I win the lottery, I will, you know, do zoom caster or one of those rooms to make the sound so quality great and stuff like that. But, um, today those things are out of my reach. I
James: mean, I’m just going to acknowledge you for, you know, you’re doing a great job.
As far as the quality, the sound quality of your podcasts, the editing. It’s really nice. What is it that you want people to get out of listening to your show? Why should they listen to your show?
Paulette: Um, I think a couple, there’s a couple of goals. The first one is to really fundamentally change the narrative around how we talk about this enormous transition from, you know, being a person to a parent.
Um, so ideally it would be, it would help to further a conversation about that. So we’re not all even like, I think you’d probably have saw, um, what’s her name? Uh, John Legend’s wife. What’s her name?
James: I’m going to fail. I don’t know.
Paulette: She’s super famous and she’s a model and she’s seems like a fabulous person and she’s got shows and everything, and she was public about her miscarriage.
And there, you know, there was like a w a week of coverage about that, right. That should not be the case that, you know, we should all be talking about it. Well, you know, in a regular conversation, it shouldn’t be this shameful thing, which I sort of feel like it is. So I want to, I want to kind of normalize all that stuff so that we don’t, you know, so many women say I miscarried and I felt so guilty.
And what did I done? And, you know, the truth of the matter is 99% of the time, there’s nothing you can do. And, and really one thing probably you learned from your wife’s pregnancy is you really have limited control over anything. Right. What that your body is on some kind of autopilot and as long as you’re not like shooting up heroin or, you know, smoking or something like you’re doing what you could be doing.
Yeah. So that is one goal. And the other one, um, which is, I think a little further down the line is to kind of connect people. Who’ve been through it with people who are going through it. So when I was going through this, I would have loved to have someone I could talk to who could say. These are the scary things you’ll probably encounter, but they work out or do this or do that.
Or this is a mistake I made or some kind of learning why didn’t have to learn everything myself. And so ideally I would put people together so that they can communicate and say, oh, I had preeclampsia and. You know, they told me all the scary stuff, and this is what happened, and this is how it was managed.
And, you know, we haven’t seen any evidence of cardiovascular disease, but I get checked every month or every year or whatever it is. Um, so those are kind of, those are kind of the goals. So I would love for people to take away like more understanding of what it really looks like and to share our experiences, to help each other, get
James: through it.
In terms of the future of your podcast, where do you see that six months? A year down the road. Um,
Paulette: that’s a good question. I can imagine, uh, forming more of a community online so that it’s easier for people to connect with each other, like something like circle or, or a Facebook group or something. The other issue with that is that when I was going through it, I was so scared the whole time that I might, maybe I was unreachable.
Maybe I, you know, you have to really be careful about who you talk to you because. You’re already in such kind of a scary place that you probably don’t have the bandwidth to manage someone who says kind of the wrong thing. Now I’m imagining if we’re all going through preeclampsia, we all, there’s something shared there and we all kind of know how to talk about it.
But, um, but that would be the goal is to have a bigger platform to put, let’s
James: go into an episode discussion. Let’s talk about, I listened to. The fates have their own birth plan, jewels story. Now, in your interview style, you seem to have this ability to draw answers out of your guests, that your listeners are, um, wondering about.
Paulette: Yeah. It’s a little bit tricky because some people like walk fast past the hard part and, you know, I, I feel like. Right. I guess you signed up for this, am I, am I being too intrusive to ask? He just slowed down with that or, you know, like, I’m not sure. So I’m thinking of one I have in mind that was also really dramatic and she whizzed past part of the dramatic part.
And I didn’t stop her. I didn’t ask the question you would have liked to ask because I just, I just have this feeling of like, This is going to upset her. And I’m not quite sure how to manage that yet. At one
James: point, you, you expressed an opinion. I felt like you, you, you, she made a decision. And again, I don’t want to put any spoilers out there, but she made this decision and you were like immediately, you know, I feel ambivalent about that.
And I was like, you know, that, that was a powerful moment in that episode where I was like, wow, okay. You know, there’s, there’s, um, No, you’re injecting yourself in there and that’s a risk. Right. You know, and, and you, you did decide to keep that in.
Paulette: It’s definitely a risk and it is, I feel a little bit like literally every single thing went wrong for us.
So I have some, uh, in the process of getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth. So I have some set, you know, I had miscarriages, so I haven’t some sense of like what that feels like. So it’s not entirely foreign territory, but I have in some of these interviews and I’ve left it in, you know, they, some women say, oh, I had this, this miscarriage.
And it was pretty early on. I wasn’t that upset about it. And then I’ve said, oh, me neither. And then they go on to say, and then I had another one and I was crushed. And so then I feel a little bit like, okay, um, you know, sorry to jump on the earlier bandwagon since like, you know, we don’t know, we don’t necessarily see this the same way.
James: The other thing that I really appreciated about your show too, and how you transitioned to, into it was bringing the, um, the doctor ed, you transitioned nicely over to the doctor interview, uh, you know, She answered the question and then you transferred or transitioned back over into the episode again.
And I thought that was, that was really nicely done.
Paulette: Oh, thanks. Yeah, that, that is, um, sort of my approach to saving myself during that all that trauma was research. Um, and so that for sure is my, the lens through which I look at all these issues and, and, you know, Jules in particular had said no one at her hospital understood what had happened to her the first time.
Right. They said like this can’t happen. So to live with that, uncertainty is a hard thing because how do I avoid something if I don’t even understand how I instigated it the first time? Um, so I find it super useful to talk to, you know, this doctor in particular that I interviewed for Jules was fabulous.
And she had a ton of answers that was very definitive, right. She was like, it’s not unusual and this is how it goes. Um, and I think that too is like a powerful thing for, you know, Juul and then the rest of us.
James: Again, that episode, just from end to end the storytelling, I’m cheap, the incredible arc of the story for her, you know, and, and ultimately, you know, as heavy as it is, uh, you know, it was ultimately an uplifting story.
So before we wrap things up, uh, I have one more question for you. Sure. What is the best experience you’ve had happened because of your podcast?
Paulette: Um, I think the connection to all these women, um, that I’m listening to all these interesting stories, you know, there are smart people all over the world. All these women come from backgrounds I would never intersect with.
Um, and places I haven’t been, you know, I’ve interviewed a woman in Alaska. I’m never going to Alaska. Um, and she’s like a lifelong resident, right. So I’m just, I totally appreciate mixing with all these people. And, you know, um, I’m putting up an interview soon where this woman. Seemed really young. She’s clearly just unbelievably sharp.
But, but also, yeah, much younger than me and, and very young and I would never have a chance to interact with her. And it was just, uh, you know, I find all these people totally inspirational. Right. They have all overcome these really dramatic things and are basking in the glow of their young children and they love it.
And I actually, one thing I really like is. You almost can’t really tell how old the kids are from the interview. So I’m surprised every time when, like the second interview is a woman with triplets and I won’t give away their age, but she’s talking about it, you know, in a way that might make you think, like her kids are one.
And they’re not. Um, and so that whole thing I find, you know, that, that to me cements the idea that it just, it lives with you forever, right? This is a, an experience that is like shaping for you and your children. It is, uh, it feels like a gift to get, to share this with other people and to hear their story and what they did.
And, um, I really enjoy that.
James: Tell us where people can find out more about you and your podcast.
Paulette: Um, sure. Thanks for this interview, James. Um, I, we have a website called war stories from the moon.com. It’s all one word. Um, and you know, you can get the podcast anywhere. You get podcasts, apple, Google, Stitcher, Spotify.
Um, but the website has extended show notes. So if you were interested in one of the medical issues, I link to all the articles. Um, I linked to all the medical experts and, you know, someday soon there will be a library of resources on there for all these different conditions.
James: Paulette. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
I do appreciate it. I do want to keep in touch with you. Maybe even do a follow-up interview. You must stay on the road to see how things are going for you. Does that sound like a plan? That’d be great. The name of the podcast war stories from the womb. I’ll let thanks again. Best of luck to
Paulette: you. Thank you.
Thanks a lot, James.
James: Thanks again to Paulette. Check the show notes for links to learn more about Paulette and her show “War Stories from the Womb.”
Please share what you got out of my conversation with Paulette by leaving a review on podchaser.com. You can find out how to do this in the show notes and do, let me know what I can do to make this show even better for you and make sure you follow podcast tactics to keep learning more about podcasting and future episodes. qThank you!