Talk about a case of life imitating art. Last year Michelle Morgan’s character on the CBC hit Heartland (Lou Fleming) was scripted to become pregnant.
Michelle was all set to play the part, but when shooting began in 2010, she discovered she and her partner, Derek Tisdelle, were expecting their first child. Mara was born in April 2011, and just a few months later, Michelle was back on set taping the show’s fifth season.
We asked the busy couple (Derek is a day trader and commercial pilot) to separately answer some questions about the challenges of being a new parent. Hats off to their responses!
What has most surprised you about becoming a parent?
Michelle Morgan: How much I loved being pregnant. It was the healthiest, most peaceful time of my life.
Derek Tisdelle: I made a point to approach the process with an open mind. I haven’t had much exposure to small children so everything is new to me. One thing that stuns me, though, is how fast they grow and learn. They’re little miracles.
How has your partner most surprised you now that he/she is a parent?
MM: He is so cool and calm. At those times when I am most frustrated and exhausted, he is always ready to step up and take control. He is very good at keeping his cool when Mara and I are both in tears.
DT: Michelle puts her heart into everything that she does so I was excited to see her in this new role. After some stumbling the first few weeks as we tried to figure out how to keep this little creature alive, I’m amazed at how quickly she eased in to motherhood. I can’t recall a complaint coming from her.
Which of your skills has best helped you now that you are a parent?
MM: I’m a good clown. I love acting goofy to make Mara laugh, pulling faces, making funny noises, whatever it takes.
DT: Being able to stay calm when Mara’s cries are pushing 100 decibels makes me glad that I’m patient but I’d say that the experience has been humbling on balance. I’m still wondering whether I’m qualified.
Who changes the most diapers?
MM: Hmmm… I’d say it’s about 50/50.
DT: I do!
What does your baby do that makes you laugh?
MM: The funniest thing she does is laugh at nothing. Sometimes I’ll be taking her for a walk in the stroller and she’ll just look out at the world and laugh out of nowhere. It’s beautiful, and always makes me chuckle.
DT: She really likes the taste of magazines.
What does your baby do that makes you want to tear your hair out?
MM: It’s frustrating when it’s her naptime and instead of sleeping she just cries and cries. But her sleeping habits are improving as we get used to her schedule.
DT: Mara is an easy going girl but we’re still trying to get her to sleep through the night. Lack of sleep is more a source of grey hair than of hair loss though.