AJ Langer and her three-week-old son, Jack Haydon Langer Courtenay, have been making headlines due to their royal connections, so Breezy Mama had to ask the My So Called Life actress what exactly does her baby’s title mean?
“The whole title thing…I am no expert,” she responded. “It means they have a verrrrrrry big and long family tree. It means more to some people and less to others. It definitely makes for interesting conversation, and an interesting story. Am I royalty now? No – I am not royalty…by marrying Charlie I can take the courtesy title of ‘Lady,’ and my children can take the title ‘Honorable.’ If Charlie becomes the Earl of Devon, my title would become the Countess of Devon and our kids would be Lords and Ladies. But we don’t use the titles in our daily lives, they are there and we respect the history that gave rise to them, but in our reality we’re just a normal family.”
In fact, her husband Charlie Courtenay, the son and heir of the Earl of Devon would like to, “discourage the ‘Royalty’ thing. Although it makes for a good headline, it is inaccurate,” he clarified. “Royalty implies a person is a member of the royal family, which we are not. An Earldom is an aristocratic or noble title granted by the King or Queen of the time –in our case by Queen Mary Tudor — but it is not a royal title and, save for [our 2 1/2 year old daughter] Joscelyn who thinks she’s a princess, we’re not considered royalty.”
In addition to royal dish, Breezy Mama caught up with AJ on the jump from one kid to two, home birthing, and more.
Congrats on your second baby! How are you doing with the transition from one baby to two?
Pretty great – at least it has been with my husband home, though it may be a different story when he goes back to work…
Has your daughter taken to her new little brother?
She loves him and is amazingly patient with him — not necessarily so patient with mommy.
Do you have family near you to help?
Yes, and they are crazy about our daughter and so excited about Jack. Each of my family members also run their own businesses so it’s not regular help, more like play dates and sleepovers when they have the time. They have been able to be very supportive, especially recently.
Will you have a nanny help you?
How did you find your nanny?
We tried going with referrals and recommendations from friends and community but were having difficulty finding specifically what we wanted. We are very hands-on parents so we wanted less ‘nanny’ and more of a domestic assistant who could help around the house and generally assist us in the day to day work of parenting so that we are able to enjoy this time of our lives. It was getting very late in the game and we still hadn’t found the right match. When I was told about [the agency] Green & Granola Domestics and what they offer, I called right away and they were awesome! We had our nanny within the week and she is perfect. Just in time before my husband has to go back to work.
Before your son was born, did you do anything in particular to prepare his big sister?
She was very into the whole process and gave my belly millions of kisses as it grew. We talked about her baby brother/sister and if it would be a boy or a girl – her first guess was a boy with blue eyes like daddy – so far it looks like she was right. She came to midwives visits and we talked through the whole deal. She was always interested and excited about the baby. She was very involved with all the preparation and was great company throughout.
What has been the most difficult part for you?
Did you do a home birth?
Oh my gosh.
No… I’m a big epidural person [laughs].
[Laughs] I’m a very ‘to each, his own.’ Very much. I would not stand on a soapbox and preach natural home birth. It has to be the right option… the only option for you — — it was for me.
Did you do it both times? I’d love for moms interested in home birth to get a first hand account. Would you mind sharing some of your experience?
Yes [both times]. The first time was more traumatic. In preparing for the second home birth, it was important for me to be clear on why that was. With the first one, the actual labor was more painful than I expected. The midwives were checking me all along the way which hurt and felt unnecessary to me as I knew things were progressing. I was naive and submitted to instruction figuring that the midwives knew more than me. My cervix swelled from the checks which made it much more painful in the end – and believe me you don’t want anything making it more painful in the end! I was surprised that I was absolutely unable to find a comfortable position because of pain shooting down my arms and legs, the birthing pool wasn’t strong enough or deep enough and therefore didn’t give me the support I was hoping for. By the end, I was exhausted. I lost track of my breath and pretty much all sanity — it felt very masochistic. It confused me deeply.
This time I made it clear that I was not going to be checked — unless absolutely necessary. As soon as my contractions were five minutes apart, I got in our heated swimming pool. I can move much easier in the water and figured that by laboring in the pool I’d have less of a chance of exhausting myself before getting to the finish line. I got into yoga breathing and just vowed to breathe into each contraction and focus on releasing all resistance no matter how intense it became. That was the key for me and carried me through to the end. This baby was much more active in labor than my daughter had been and was moving and grooving his way out – he definitely deserves some credit for speeding up the process. When the intensity got to the next level I went from the swimming pool to the birthing pool which was upstairs [in our home] and warmer. We purchased a birthing pool and had tested it prior to the big day. It was nighttime and the midwives had it all set up and [had] candles everywhere. We had fans and fresh outside air blowing right on me. I stuck to my breathing. It was an amazing challenge but this time I was able to stay in touch with the progress. When the pain hit the roof, I had the thought that in a matter of moments I was going to be sitting and holding my baby with a big fat smile on my face –a thought that seemed ridiculous to me at the time but I knew it was true. And there we were, moments later…
I’m dying here. Listening to the story it sounds beautiful, but I know the pain, so I’m dying.
Yeah, you know the pain. It’s just so shocking to know it’s the pain all Mamas go through … I just thought of animals — how do they prepare [laughs]??? Some women have painless childbirth, God bless them. I wasn’t one of those women.
This [birth] was a smaller baby, so it went faster – nearly half the time. I felt that my instincts were right all along with my first labor – so [this time] I asked my mid-wife to trust my instincts. She was very empowering.
How did you find her?
Through Sacred Entrance Midwifery Services.
What made you decide to do it at home?
I have an aversion to hospitals… and doctors, with maybe one or two exceptions… [laughs]. My body would not easily give birth in a hospital. I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia which can cause odd symptoms, oftentimes leading to my being treated more like a lab rat than a patient. I needed someone who could trust that my body could do this, and doctors tend to think my body can’t. Most people with chronic pain wouldn’t think to do a home birth probably because they’ve been made to doubt their bodies and their instincts by a medical system that has little to offer those with chronic pain. But for me, homebirth was the only option and I am very glad I went with it. My body gave birth to two healthy babies, and I witnessed it. I will never resent my body again.
The thing that scares me about home birth is if there’s an emergency…
That’s what everybody says. But the fact is that midwives are more educated on the process of births than doctors – most doctors have never witnessed an unassisted delivery. Certified Nurse Midwives are well trained to spot any dangers as early as possible and have extensive emergency training, transport doctors and emergency plans at the ready. Have you seen The Business of Being Born?
Watch it if you can. Everyone could benefit from watching The Business of Being Born. Even if you are going to the hospital – which I totally support; I totally support every woman doing it HER way. To feel empowered is a very important thing. Your body goes through an incredible trauma whether you’re feeling it or not.
So, if something went wrong, do you have an ambulance on hand?
Now you sound like my brother and father [laughs]. Like I said, when you do a homebirth all emergency plans are prepared in advance.
Two of my three children pooped in the womb, so immediately [the nurses] had to have a lung specialist clear them out before they took their first breaths, so the midwives are trained to do those sorts of things, too?
Absolutely. I hemorrhaged with my first, so I actually had to have a shot of Pitocin after she was born.
They still took care of that at home?
You never went to the hospital even though you were hemorrhaging?
No. They gave me a shot of Pitocin and massaged my uterus and it stopped. IF it didn’t stop, they would have had to take me into the hospital. You’re prepared that if something happens, that if you need to go to a hospital, you’ll go to a hospital.
Did you have friends and family around?
For the first birth, I had a good amount of people here. I had a chiropractor, a couple of very, very close friends and my family . It was like a party [laughs] . This time I wanted to be able to focus more.
It’s funny what you think the first time – you think you want everybody to come and the second time, you think ‘everybody stay [away].’
Exactly. This time I knew I needed more privacy to focus. I wasn’t really as graceful as I would have hoped to have been [that first time].
Yes, but this time I was able to stay calm, keep breathing and stay present through the toughest parts to the very end. This time the midwives just stood back and let my husband and I catch the baby. So, we felt we did it ourselves. It was awesome.
Are you in touch with any of your My So Called Life cast mates?
Not so much – I’m kind of out of the loop.
Think there will ever be a reunion?
Don’t know — would be cool.
What do you think it was about that show that still resonates with fans today?
It was really good. It was honest. It gave respect to the teenagers.
Do you plan to go back to work?
Haven’t gotten that far just yet. I have a feeling it will happen at the right time and it will be in a way that is healthy for our whole family. I would love to get back into classes as soon as I can –just one night a week, in a good class. It would be fun and very healthy for me.
Will your kids have dual citizenship?
Have you decided on raising them in the US?
No, we will probably spend some of the time in the UK at some point. Our plan is to have no plan, although we are happy here in California for the time being.
Where did you meet your husband?
The Hard Rock Circle Bar in Las Vegas – Vegas Baby!!! He was wearing a kilt – on tour with London Scottish Rugby. We smiled at each other across the crowded room….
Was he aware that you are an actress?
No, and I had no idea about the castle or titles or anything until he drove me up the driveway months into our relationship — which was good ‘cause I wouldn’t have known what to do with that information anyway.
How did you decide on your kids’ names? Did you pick them or did your husband or was it mutual?
Joscelyn was a name from his family tree – but it was with an ‘i’ instead of a y and it was a boy’s name. Skye was after Isle of Skye, which is a beautiful place where we spent a holiday when we were a very new couple. Jack is his grandfather’s name on his mother’s side – a very special person to Charlie and his inspiration for playing rugby. Without rugby we never would have met in Vegas! Haydon is a beautiful [forest] near the castle in Devon – it gets completely blanketed in bluebells once a year and is breathtaking. We didn’t decide on the names until we had a chance to meet them. We had lists of girls’ and boys’ names and then when they were born we took our time to settle on the right ones.
What was your favorite baby product when you had your daughter? Do you have a new favorite since having your son?
Babylegs! Our daughter lived in them and I gave them as gifts to all new babes that year. They are very practical and fun. She is two and a half and still wears them – they rock. I love the Aiden and Anais cotton gauze blankets – they are lightweight, super soft and you can use them for everything. I have an organic one that is my favorite. They are not so cheap but so versatile that I think they are worth it — a good thing to ask for as a gift.
Has it hit you yet that you are a mother of two?
No. Weird concept.
Do you think you’ll have a third baby?
Who knows. Like I said, our plan is to have no plan. Tempting though….
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