The Inspiration for 20 Weeks

By March 21, 2016blog



I’ve been working on a new indie film project called 20 Weeks (writing, visuals, look book) for the last year or so, and am psyched that I have partnered with producer Jane Kosek to make it this summer (June 2016). I wrote it in the summer of 2015, with the intention of making something–a low budget feature with a small cast, crew and limited locations, where we wouldn’t be burdened with raising funds for the next decade.

So we’ve been in the depths of casting, a bit of fundraising, and just generally getting it all together. I love this process, the idea of writing something, then just figuring out  a way to make it, so am very excited, especially to work with some of the folks who’ve been a part of So Natural TV and some of my other recent projects.

This film is a drama about a couple who must decide on how to move forward with their pregnancy when their baby is diagnosed with a serious health condition in utero. It is based loosely on mine and my husband’s experiences with our second daughter…


In the summer of 2014, as I pregnant with my second daughter and making my short film, Dandekar Makes a Sandwich, my daughter was diagnosed with a serious issue health issue at the 20 week scan called micrognathia, in which the baby’s chin is undersized. My husband and I were just shocked as it seemed to come out of nowhere.

The doctors knew the measurements weren’t coming out right, but they couldn’t definitively diagnose what she had or what the issue might be when she was born. We had to undergo genetic testing, and we also were forced to come in and do sonograms every couple of weeks to make sure her growth was on a typical curve. It was a very difficult experience, so many thoughts were going through my head….

My daughter was born in October of 2014 with a serious but treatable health condition called Pierre Robin Sequence. We didn’t know exactly what her prognosis would be when she was in utero, but the doctors had given us a range from not being able to breath at all and having to wear tubes in her neck for two years, to something as mild as not being able to breastfeed. Me and my husband told no one we were going through this, I think we were in shock, and both of us on some level, were hoping it was nothing.

But when she was born, all of the in utero testing prepared us to be ready. We gave birth at a major trauma hospital, with doctors who knew how to treat her condition. There was a huge learning curve because we had to learn how to feed her with special bottles, and she had to undergo four surgeries… That first year was so tough… I almost don’t know how we made it through.

Going through this experience, I was really struck by the marriage of science and ethics, and how fragile the balance really is. Sitting in the room, looking at a sonogram the doctors ask you to make decisions that are tough, that are not easy, and you have to go on faith to move forward…

The part that was so challenging for us was just not knowing, staring at these images of a sonogram that feel like nothing but light and sound, and yet… It’s so much more….


And so my new movie, 20 Weeks, delves into the depths of what a couple goes through when something like this happens… A couple who is deeply in love and is ready for anything… And then the unthinkable happens… The film delves into the psychology of how a couple spirals, and the stress that this sort of situation creates. I hope to tell an intimate story that takes us through the psychology of these characters.


Author lspendha

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