By: Karrie Keyes
I was on tour with Neil Young and Pearl Jam when I discovered I was pregnant – at the time it seemed like a cruel joke. I was pretty happy with my career, spending 8 – 10 months a year on the road. I was working with artists that I enjoyed and respected, juggling between Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, and hoping that Fugazi would tour again. I could not imagine fitting a child into this world, or if it was even possible.
Something changed on the Mirror Ball tour – I allowed myself to think about being a mother. Of course it was the ideal version of being a working mother, the version that told me I could have it all. A career and family, the one that I headed out to mix Woodstock and returned home in time for a Mommy and Me class. I was almost 30, (oh how our views of when to become a mother have changed) and it felt like it was time to grow up. It felt like the time was right.
As I started to view myself as a mother, I also came to accept that my ten year relantionship was coming to an end. In my ideal version of motherhood I still saw us together and happy parents to a baby boy. (Yes, a boy – I spent my live with surrounded by men, I was not going to have a girl). As it became clear that this ideal version was not going to happen – I started to see myself as strong single mom, who toured the world, and was able to be a perfect mother.
Well, that ideal dream version was shattered on the first trip to the doctor. I was three months pregnant and nervous. I watched as the doctor performed an ultra sound and became visibly excited almost ecstatic. He announced that it was twins, they would be his first set of twins. I was in shock! This was not how my ideal version of pregnancy. This was not how I imagined being a strong single mother. How in the world would I be able to take care of twins by myself? On top of it – my doctor told me I must stop working now.
I was less than happy, my soon to be ex was less than happy. I still had three months of touring to finish off the year. I had no idea what I was going to do. My touring families got me thru it and looking back on it – I was fortunate to be surrounded by them at a very confusing and scary time in my life. They provided support, advice, and were just there for me.
I made the decision to move to Seattle, my biggest support group was there. At the time most of the Pearl Jam crew lived there. My ex and I decided that we could try and stay together, but most likely it we would only last a few more years and neither of us wanted to raise children in an environment that was less than happy. I still viewed myself out on tour, but how that was going to happen was not clear. My ex had a choice to be involved or not and only time would tell. I know he was just as confused and scared as I was.
I managed to move and finsih the touring I had that year. I took care of myself on tour, making sure I ate well, rested, and drank lots of water. I stopped lifting gear – but still pushed it. At the time I was bouncing between Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers, both bands were doing two or three weeks of touring and both schedules lined up. Pearl Jam would finish a leg and RHCP would start. Both of the crews were very supportive of me.
I ended up touring until I was seven months pregnant- mainly because I had not found a replacement for RHCP yet and felt I owed it to them to stay as long as possible. Looking back, it was because I had not accepted that I would no longer be part of their crew. My doctor had signed off on this (I had a new one that encouraged me to keep things as normal as possible), he did tell me to monitor my blood pressure after each show and if it reached a certain number to go to the emergency room. It never did and mixing the shows was not stressful. The travel was the hardest, trying to sleep on a bus, driving on East Coast roads, with thirteen people on the bus was less than ideal. Thankfully it was a short two weeks. Would I do it again? No! But it was my goodbye. Of course I believed it was only a temporary good bye.