Amy Schumer didn’t know what to expect when she was expecting.
“I didn’t know that you got so sick for so much of your pregnancy. Is that stupid I didn’t know that?” the comedian, who was vomiting blood at 14 weeks pregnant, asks in her three-part documentary “Expecting Amy” streaming now on HBO Max. Schumer, at the time, had not yet been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes severe nausea and vomiting. Her sickness forced her to cancel part of her comedy tour in late February 2019. Gene, her son with husband, chef and cooking show co-host Chris Fischer, arrived a couple months later in May.
For her new project, Schumer, 39, tells USA TODAY she handed over “hundreds of hours of footage” to “Expecting Amy” director and editor Alexander Hammer, an editor on Beyoncé’s Coachella concert film “Homecoming.”
Schumer says she filmed the documentary on “our own phones” with the thought that it might be nothing or perhaps “a kick ass home movie.” But she couldn’t ignore a gut feeling that has served her in the past. “It was just like a lot of things in my life are,” she says. “I just have, like, an instinct, and I just follow it and see if something comes of it, and sometimes it does.”
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“Expecting Amy” shows Schumer grappling with the “different kind of hell” that was her hyperemesis, while performing comedy and preparing for her Netflix special “Growing” released in March 2019. It also depicts Fischer’s diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder.
The desire to depict an honest portrayal of pregnancy motivated Schumer, who wanted to “keep it real as hell.”
“All my friends have babies, but I hadn’t been exposed to how hard pregnancy is,” she says, revealing that the doc sparked candid conversations among her close pals. “It’s really kind of painful, personal, intimate stuff that we – who’ve been friends for 30 years – had never talked about. So, I hope this opens up a conversation for a lot more women.”
Cameras also capture Schumer’s fights with Fischer. She says the couple deemed it “important” to include the tense moments. “It’s not particularly flattering to me, but I think we were just like, ‘If we’re doing this, let’s really do it and share all of it,'” she says.
Schumer says she learned a lot about herself from the filmed fights. A portrait of the comic done by her husband became a point of conflict when he couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t find the image flattering. “It was like a really big issue,” she says in the docuseries. “That difference in his brain shows up sometimes.”
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Schumer tells USA TODAY she wanted to include Fischer’s diagnosis as it “wound up being just as important as any other moment, because our experience with it as a couple and for him personally, has been so positive.”
“It helps him understand his brain and gives him tools for how to communicate better which is so helpful and such a relief for him,” she says, adding that she’s “saddened by the idea of young people going undiagnosed, because it’s doing them a disservice…”
Earlier this year, Schumer shared that she and Fischer turned to IVF to give Gene a sibling. The following month she revealed that out of 35 eggs retrieved, the couple has one normal embryo. Though the pair “think about it all the time,” plans for another baby have been put on hold amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“That’s one thing about having a baby, especially if you’re sick, you just go to the doctor all the time,” she says, adding they’re “not thinking about it for the next year.”
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Chances are the couple will pay careful attention to how Gene’s sibling’s name sounds, given they changed their firstborn’s middle name to make his moniker less risqué. Schumer realized Gene Attell Fischer, a tribute to Schumer’s close friend comedian Dave Attell and her husband’s late mother, Jean, sounded like genital.
“That is such a parenting fail that it sort of desensitized me to, like, the smaller failures,” says Schumer, who didn’t realize her misstep until about a month after her son was born. “I’m so horrified. It was so horrible, that it was kind of funny.”
Gene’s new middle name is David, for Attell. It is also her father’s middle name. “Also it’s funny ‘cause Larry David’s name is Larry Gene David. So, he likes to think that we named Gene after him,” she says.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amy Schumer aimed to keep HBO Max doc ‘Expecting Amy’ ‘real as hell’