“Lucifer” actor Lesley-Ann Brandt shares her story of pregnancy, a torn ACL, and challenges in health care.

People have abortions for many reasons. In my case, I simply wasn’t ready. That’s it, and that’s good enough. I didn’t want to be a mother at that moment in my life, so I made a decision that was best for me and my relationship.

I could afford to have that abortion. I also had the means to start my family without skipping a beat in my career. Millions of women do not have those luxuries, with many being forced into a situation they don’t want and are not ready for.

I tore my ACL in early August. It was a clean tear, right at the base. After physiotherapy, MRIs, and doctors’ appointments, I learned that my latest injury was likely directly related to a “bad left hip” that I’ve had since carrying my firstborn. Pregnancy was tough on my body. That “glow” I’d heard about left me pretty soon, and towards the end it was incredibly painful and uncomfortable.

I was almost seven months pregnant towards the end of filming season two of Lucifer, and I was still performing modified stunts with a tight round ligament. I was exhausted and depleted. When I walked my baby would move, hit my sciatic nerve, and cause my left leg to collapse beneath me. I’d grab onto anything and anyone while trying to breathe through it.

Then, eventually, came two days of labor. I was told that I was having one of the hardest types of labor: prodromal labor, where you have all the signs of active labor but with little to no progression. I threw up with every contraction, and with every contraction came the awful back pain.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I made it out the other side battered and exhausted, but with a healthy baby. I was so happy that I didn’t need a C-section because, as a family, we simply couldn’t have afforded the additional recovery time. I needed to get back to work.

Actors don’t get paid maternity leave. In fact, in our contracts, pregnancy is often treated as a disability. As the main breadwinner in our household at the time, I had no choice but to return to work a mere six weeks after my son was born.

I did have an incredible postpartum doula, a group of fellow mothers I could lean on, and of course, my husband. But I wasn’t coping, I was drowning. My body had barely healed when I was suddenly back to work, breastfeeding through the nights and showing up on set the next morning, often pretending to be fine.

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