Caitlin Moscatello, SEE JANE WIN

Caitlin Moscatello, SEE JANE WIN

Zibby Owens: I’m here today with Caitlin Moscatello who is the author of See Jane Win: The Inspiring Story of the Women Changing American Politics. An award-winning journalist, Caitlin has written for New York Magazine’s The Cut, Vanity Fair, Time, Elle, Marie Claire, O, The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. She is the founder of Repro, a newsletter about reproductive rights legislation. She currently lives in New York with her husband and son.

Thanks, Caitlin, for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Caitlin Moscatello: Hi, thanks for having me.

Zibby: Your book, See Jane Win, please tell us what it’s about. What inspired you to write it?

Caitlin: See Jane Win, I started working on this book in February of 2017. This was just a couple months after the 2016 election where many women across this country thought that we were going to see the first female president. We obviously know now that did not happen. The public temperature had definitely changed in those months. Right after the election, we know that groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were being inundated with donations from men and women, but mostly from women. Then of course, there was the Women’s March where in sixty countries around the world people were taking to the streets. Right around that time, I want to say it was right around the Women’s March, there started to be these early reports that groups like Emerge America and Emily’s List, these groups that train and recruit democratic women to run for office, they were being completely flooded with applications. In a typical year, maybe there’d be nine hundred women who they might be able to get into their fold. At that point, there were fourteen thousand.

It was very, very clear that something was happening. I decided to follow that. I write about women. I tend to write about gender. I write about women. I really don’t consider myself a political writer. I was interested in the fact that women were doing this in a big number. I also saw it as if this works, if these women actually run, if they make it on the ballot — they have to get past their primaries. If they win, this is really a lasting action. It’s one thing to march. It’s one thing to donate. Those are certainly great and worthwhile endeavors. If we really want to talk about change and we want to talk about getting more women in leadership and getting more women in positions of power and really just getting better representation — we’re a democracy. We should have more women in office. With that, I started calling these groups and connecting with women who were — many of them were even just thinking about running when I started talking with them. I ended up closely following the journeys of four candidates. I’ll use their titles because they actually all ended up winning.

Now Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, she’s a mom of three, a former CIA operative. I interviewed her over the phone a few times. Then the first time I went down there was right after she launched her campaign. She was running it out of her daughter’s playroom. It was complete mayhem. She ended up becoming the first woman to ever represent her district in congress and the first democrat since 1968. This, in the beginning, was considered a huge longshot of a race. There’s State Representative London Lamar who is now the youngest black woman in the Tennessee State Legislature, twenty-seven years old. Anna Eskamani, who was a former Planned Parenthood staffer, she was able to take her activism and bring that into a political campaign. Now she is a state representative in Florida. She’s the first Iranian American elected to office in Florida. She ran this really bold, progressive campaign in a purple district. She was out there talking about abortion access, talking about sensible gun legislation. She lives in the district where the Parkland shooting happened a few years ago. More than forty people were gunned down in an LGBTQ nightclub. She really ran this bold, progressive campaign and won, and won by a landslide. Then there’s Catalina Cruz –we’re having this conversation here in New York — Catalina Cruz, the first Dreamer elected to office in New York. She was undocumented when she was growing up and then ended up becoming a US citizen. She’s an attorney and has the most incredible backstory ever.

I ended up following their journeys closely. Then as I was doing this, the story grew. I had no idea. People say to me, “You were really onto something. You saw this before anyone.” I would love if that were the case. Really, I just thought, this is a story worth telling. I didn’t know. It was constantly a moving target, the whole election. I didn’t know until election night, just like everyone else, that this was an inspiring story. The book was initially — when I pitched it to publishers, which was back in the spring of 2017, it was See Jane Run. Then they all won. I was talking with my editor. I’m like, “I guess we could make it See Jane Win.” We ended up changing the title.

Zibby: Wow. That was the book.

Caitlin: That was a very long answer.

Zibby: It was great to meet you. No, that was perfect. I loved it. You talked about what you were just touching on briefly, the aftermath of the last presidential election. You said, “We know now that Clinton’s loss, however devastating, signaled a beginning rather than an end. Instead of wallowing passively, women were moved to act.” Then when you were talking about how you had planned to write about the personal journeys, you wanted to talk about this greater narrative, which I know we just talked about a little bit. When you were talking about your focus shifting and when you’re actually down in it following the people, all the candidates and everything, take me through how you made that transition. Did you say, “Oh, gosh. Maybe now I need to go do research on this. Now I need to bring in all this”? How did you grow the whole scope, or did you just passively watch it unfold?

Caitlin: No, nothing was really that passive.

Zibby: Nothing seemed passive from the way you told it.

Caitlin: This was a lot of reporting. This was almost two years of reporting. People ask me all the time, “How did you pick the women that you followed?” That was a whole big process. There are people I interviewed who didn’t end up in the book or they ended up in the book in a more minor way. I wanted women who were going to be really candid with me, who were not going to give me these buttoned-up answers, but who also were going to commit at least one interview a month, who would let me come to their homes, to the districts and let me shadow them. The one thing a candidate doesn’t have is extra time. The fact that these women were able to sign up for that was a huge thing. That was a lot of reporting, a lot of transcripts. You’re on a podcast, so you know. It’s taking all of those conversations and molding them into a story. Then on top of it, yes, there were news reports coming out.

I have my office in my apartment. Some women would announce or there would be a big news story. I would print it out. I would tack it up on this bulletin board in my office. There’s three parts of the book. It’s broken up into three sections. The last part of the book, I do write more about this as a movement. There’s a whole chapter about how this was happening, the surge of democratic women running for office, what was happening in the background. There was the Women’s March happening. That ended up being its own movement. There was the Me Too movement. That was also taking place. Shortly before the election, we had the Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford hearing, and how that influenced everything. There was a snowballing effect. It was really, really difficult to decide what to put in the book and also to make sure that we didn’t lose the personal narratives of the women who I had been following. I think about it as these two layers. There’s this very in-the-weeds layer where you’re eye-level with these women. You’re in their homes with them. You’re on the campaign trail with them. I spent election night sitting on the floor of Abigail Spanberger’s hotel room with her. Just like her, we were sitting there waiting to see what the results would be.

There’s this very personal layer. Then there is this much bigger story that gets woven through and really comes out in the last section of the book, which includes how these different movements were influencing the campaigns. The other thing I think is really important to the book is that three of the four main characters are women of color. I also wanted to make sure that the intersectionality, that the issues that women — running for office as women sounds like this one big thing and that there’s one blueprint for it. There’s not. It’s very different to run for office if you are a low-income woman, if you are a woman of color, if you’re an LGBTQ woman, trans-woman, getting these things in there and trying to shed light on them without losing that very personal feeling of the book too.

Zibby: One really interesting part of the book was this unspoken sisterhood you found between women and the candidates who were running. People would take them under their wing and say things like, “How are you holding up?” and assume that it was such a challenge. “Are you making time for yourself?” Some people would say, “Are you doing okay? How’s your self-care?” Abigail Spanberger would say, “I don’t have fucking self-care. I’m running for congress. I’ll take a nap in November. Do you want me to win this, or do you want me to go to yoga?”

Caitlin: In my experience with her and having interviewed her, really followed her story for two years, it’s a very Abigail mind-set. You have to remember, too, she’s a former CIA operative. She’s a cool customer. There’s not much that rattles her. I remember when we had this conversation. She was telling me about this. She was actually about to head into a fundraiser. She was here in New York. We met up. I was interviewing her and catching up on the previous few weeks. She said it was well-intentioned a lot of the time. We know that around these women who were running, there was a huge groundswell of women who were newly becoming activists or who were newly engaging in the political process. Women who hadn’t canvased or phonebanked for a candidate were really joining these movements and getting behind these female candidates. That was a big part of what helped them win. She recognized that. A lot of time it would be well-meaning. The way she put it was something like there’s a difference between someone saying to you, “Oh, are you hungry? Let me go grab you a plate. Let me go make you a plate. You’re busy. You’re talking to people. We’re at this fundraiser,” and “How are you doing? Are you hungry? How are you really doing? You look skinny.” That kind of thing is not helpful.

Zibby: Anyone who says “You look skinny” to me I would find very helpful, so just keep it coming. No, I see what you’re saying.

Caitlin: More of this action. She did talk about some of those interactions. Questioning too, would you say this about a male candidate? People would talk to her sister at events and be like, “How is she really doing, though? She seems fine, but tell me, how is she really doing?” as if she should be falling apart at the seams. I do think there’s a recognition among women — I understand this a bit better now. I’m a new mom. I kind of get this now. I do think there’s a recognition among women, especially women who are moms, that life is so hectic. She was a mom of three young girls. Her daughters, when she was campaigning, were all under the age of ten, and she was working. She ended up leaving her job to run this campaign. A campaign is grueling. People who are really familiar with that process as well — a campaign on its own is grueling. Being a mother of three on its own is grueling. Combining those two things, I can imagine how women would look at that and say, “Gosh, how is she doing it?”

Zibby: You did write about really beautifully, how exhausting it was to be a candidate. Just following this book along and seeing what it was like really showed that as much as told it. You said, “Typically, we get to see only a very narrow view of what it’s like to be a candidate. In reality, running for office is exhausting. Running for office means dealing with online trolls and Facebook rants and attacks on your character. Running for office is a time-suck. It takes you away from your family, your job, the gym you joined months ago and haven’t set foot in since. Running for office means having men tell you how you should wear your hair. Running for office means having women tell you that you should start smaller. Running for office is a long, hard slog, a brutal marathon that often pits women against centuries of bias.” Yet as you say in the book, most women say, “Someone had to run.” Tell me a little about that and the impetus for all these women jumping in.

Caitlin: What we know from the 2018 elections is that there were so many first-time candidates. These were women who had not run for office before. Something I would hear a lot is actually that these women were perhaps more engaged than the average person. They might be really involved locally in their communities or with various nonprofits or things like that. A lot of them would tell me, “I always was kind of interested in running for office. I just thought it was something I would do later in my life.” This is really common. There’s a lot of research that speaks to this. The things that have tended to keep women off the ballot historical is, one, that they don’t think they’re qualified enough or that they have to have this perfect political resume in order to run. The other is that no one asked them to run. No one encourages them to run. Men get encouraged to run for office. Men are also — we see this outside of the political world as well — are much more frequently, or maybe would say, “I might not have all the qualifications, but I can do this. I think I should do this. I would be good at it.”

Those things really went away, to a certain extent I should say, not completely, those things really went away with the 2016 election. Women saw, in Hillary Clinton, this incredibly qualified candidate who had a long political resume. They saw her lose. She lost to a man who many Americans knew as the star of The Apprentice, a man with no political qualifications to speak of and who, on top of that, had run a blatantly racist and sexist campaign. They saw him take her place. I think there was this feeling — I would hear this from women when I was talking to them. There was this feeling of, “Well, if that guy, if he can be president of the United States, then surely I can run for my state legislature or my city council or for congress.” What that starts to do is it starts to build a pipeline. The more women we get into these state legislatures and in congress, then you think about the future. You think about ten years from now, twenty years from now, and what the impact of that can be. I totally lost sight of the question.

Zibby: Me too, but that was really an interesting answer.

Caitlin: I’m going off on a thing.

Zibby: Something you said also — I wanted to go back to about Spanberger and her school-aged kids. You said in the beginning of her campaign she was afraid to admit that her kids were young because it would somehow make her seem less qualified, that she’d be too distracted or have too much else going on in a way. By the end of her campaign, she was completely embracing it and was like, “These are the ages of my kids. I have school-aged children.” She wasn’t dancing around it anymore.

Caitlin: This is one of the great examples of how women changed the conversation in 2018. What we know — again, this comes from research. What we know is that female candidates with young children, voters tend to express concern how those women would handle balancing the demands of their family with the demands of their constituents. Male candidates don’t face that because it’s often assumed that if they have children, their wives are at home with the kids. Actually, having kids really benefits male candidates, that idea of the family man. It shows responsibility. Some people might see that as saying something about his character and what have you.

With women, there’s more of this concern. A lot of this comes from the fact that we still think of mothers as being the primary caretakers. It was completely understandable to me, knowing that research even when I first started talking to Spanberger and when she was saying early in her campaign when she wasn’t used — now she’s very used to talking to the media. Early in her campaign when she wasn’t, she was very prepared about, “When reporters ask me about my kids, this is going to be my answer. I’m not going to give their ages.” Her youngest daughter was three at that point. She was like, “I’m not going to give them their ages. I’m just going to say, ‘Yes, I have school-aged children,’ and just leave it there and hope that it didn’t press further.” Then it was maybe two months before the election, she came out with this TV ad that featured her three daughters. It opened with the three of them playing on the floor and saying, “My mom’s like a superhero,” and this really adorable ad.

She had completely, at that point, embraced it. Then on election night after she won, she was on the stage downstairs at The Westin in Richmond. Her youngest daughter Catherine kept crawling up to the stage and wanted to be next to Mom and knew it was really exciting. Finally, Abigail picked her up and put her on her hip and just kept going. The women in the room went wild. It was really this emotional moment. The power of that, the power of seeing a woman who’s going to represent you and that her life actually looks like your life, that she’s juggling the things you’re juggling too, the impact of that is so, so huge. We don’t see it enough.

Zibby: I love in that moment how you wrote how she gave — you said something like she gave her husband one of those looks like, “You’re doing this wrong. Let me just take the kid.”

Caitlin: Yeah, that flick of the wrist. Any mom knows that. No one can see us, but that flick of the —

Zibby: — “Just give me the kid.”

Caitlin: “Give me the kid. Give him to me,” that kind of thing. That’s so recognizable. There was this transformation. That was just one example of how when you have so many more women running — in 2018, a lot of the women who were running for office had kids. It normalized it. There’s Liuba Grechen Shirley who ran for congress out on Long Island. She didn’t end up winning her election. She did have two toddlers when she was running. The advice used to be, don’t bring your kids to campaign events. You don’t want to overdo it with the mom thing. She was like, “I have to bring my kid to campaign events. My babysitter cancelled. Babysitters are $22 an hour. This is too expensive. This is just how it has to be.” She actually successfully petitioned the FEC and was able to change campaign finance law so that candidates can use campaign funds to pay for childcare, which is something that both men and women benefit from. A lot of dads running for office too, now that helps their families. Of course, it really is a game changer for women.

Zibby: For people who need help paying for childcare, one thing you can do is run for office, get donations, and pay for your babysitter. This is a great loophole .

Caitlin: I loved that. That’s in the book. I loved that because it again shows women paving the way for other women behind them and creating this real change. Our whole system has really been designed by men for men. To see women disrupting that was great. I also wanted to be able to show, how are they disrupting it? and changing that conversation about, this is what it looks like to be a candidate. “This is who I am. You’re going to see my kids because I have kids. That is also part of what I’m bringing to the table.” It speaks also to — one of the big things that helped women win in 2018 was that they were so authentic. There was a lot of urgency to running. I think people felt like a very big shift had happened politically in our country and that we were going off the rails and there was this feeling of, “I just have to get in this because I feel like I could be doing better.”

Zibby: I don’t think it’s just in politics, the shift to authenticity. In a lot of different spheres and industries, I feel like bringing your kids in is getting more acceptable in a way than it used to be, and especially from point of view of women. Pretending like everything’s under control and whatever — kids in the back of conference calls, I just feel like all of that is now — there was a such a huge shift, women in the workplace. Now, not that it’s calming down, but we have to find a way to make this work without pretending that we don’t have kids. I feel like it’s not just in this industry necessarily, but this is how it’s reflective in the political sphere.

Caitlin: Right, this is how it came out in the political sphere for sure. You’re absolutely right. People really want to feel a genuine connection these days. Even if we’re just talking about politics, it used to be that everything was filtered through the media. Now there’s social media. You can have your Instagram and show whatever side of yourself that you want to, as you can across industries. You see this with celebrities now too. It used to be celebrities were really relying on the celebrity profile and everything else. Now they can create their own image and narratives online.

Zibby: Good or bad, though. This is not always such a good thing, but yes, it is a thing. After doing all this research and reporting, would you run for office?

Caitlin: I don’t know. I would never say never, but no. That has never been an aspiration of mine. I’ve been a journalist for fourteen years. I wanted to do justice to these women’s stories. If I can, through this book, do that and then perhaps also inspire other women who might be interested in running or get women who maybe aren’t as politically active right now but are curious about how to step into that, whether it’s as a candidate or an advocate or organizer or whatever it may be, then I feel like that might be a good use of my skill set toward this goal of getting more women into office and having better representation. No, it’s not some aspiration that I personally have had.

Zibby: Do you think that the upside of it is worth, I won’t say the downside, but all the work and the exhaustion and the being in the public eye? There’s a lot you have to put up with to give yourself in this way to be of service to your country. There’s a lot of baggage. Seeing it all unfold, would you tell a close friend to do it? What’s your inside scoop here on someone’s thinking, “Yes, I really want to do it. I’m passionate. I want to help, but can I?” What do you think?

Caitlin: Catalina Cruz has maybe the best answer that I’ve heard to this question. I’m going to quote her. She says if you want to run for office, that is great, but you shouldn’t be doing it because it’s a next step in your career. You shouldn’t do it because it feels like it might be glamorous or it might elevate you in some way. You should run for office if you want to serve. It’s about service. If that is in your heart and that motivates you and compels you, absolutely. What we know now is that you don’t have to have everything that a lot for women have always thought you need. You don’t have to have the most powerful network. You don’t have to have the richest friends. You don’t have to have the long political resume. There are ways to run for office and be really successful without those things. I’m glad that through this book you can really see how women did it at various levels of office, so not just for congress, but for state offices as well.

Zibby: I feel like this is why there was that movement just for a minute of maybe Oprah would run. Do you remember that?

Caitlin: Yes, I do.

Zibby: It’s like, oh, great. I’ll vote for her. It doesn’t matter. You want someone you can look up to and you respect. If you’re smart enough, you figure it out. I feel like that’s the way people think about elected officials right now.

Caitlin: It’s not glamorous. I thought about this a lot when I was writing the book. We typically get to see this thin slice of what it is to run for office. We see candidate at events. We might see videos of them on the debate stage with the lights. They’re at the podium. We see them when they win. They’re on the stage again. That’s great, but that’s such a small piece of what this is. It is not glamorous. The first time I interviewed Abigail Spanberger in person, we were in a messy playroom in her house with her kids downstairs. Catalina Cruz and I met at a coffee shop. Anna Eskamani and I were out — I was eight months pregnant. I was down in Florida with her. It was high eighties. We were canvasing and walking around her district.

Zibby: Ugh, that sounds awful. Eight months pregnant in hot Florida having to do anything that involves your house sounds tough.

Caitlin: She was so sweet. She kept giving me water and was very patient with me when I had to keep finding bathrooms. The first time I was with London Lamar, the grass was frozen in Memphis. It was so, so cold driving around with her. You really do see that this isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of women who are inspired by the success that women had in 2018. That’s a really great thing. I didn’t want to do this book that was like “Rah-rah, women running. It’s so great.” It is great. I also wanted to show that gritty reality of what it looks like.

Zibby: It should be called ultramarathoning for office, not running. You have to be a triathlete. You can’t just saunter. This isn’t a stroll around the reservoir.

Caitlin: No, there’s no sauntering.

Zibby: You are in it crawling — what’s that race with the military when you’re on your hands and those races?

Caitlin: Like a Tough Mudder?

Zibby: Yeah, Tough Mudder. Running for office is like a Tough Mudder of a career. You have to get in it.

Caitlin: There’s very little sleep. You’re constantly doing events. The most effective way to reach voters is to be face to face with them. You are not going to win on social media no matter how great your posts are. You have to get out there. You have to knock doors. Knocking doors, what does that mean? You’re going to have people say really bad things to you. Sometimes they’re going to slam a door in your face. I was at an Emerge America bootcamp. It was a training for women who were planning to run for office. We were down in Atlanta. Some of the advice they were getting was literally what to do if someone pulls a gun on you. It’s no joke. Then fundraising, the realities of fundraising when you are a first-time candidate, it’s not just, “I’m going to write an email. People are going to max out their donations to me. That’s going to be great.” No. That’s not what it looks like. It’s sitting down with your phone contacting every single person you know. Imagine asking people you haven’t seen in ten years, or your college roommate’s friend or your ex-boyfriend or whatever it is, to donate to your campaign. Asking people for money is a challenge. Women, they’re doing it. They’re overcoming it.

Especially for women, we know that that’s been something that’s incredibly uncomfortable. What they have to remember is you’re not asking for it for yourself. You’re asking for it for your campaign. I was told before I went to the bootcamp, “When we do the fundraising” — they really make them make the calls right there. It’s not just practice. They were like, “Watch the bathroom. Watch how many women will go in the bathroom,” because it’s so intimidating. Sure enough, I saw that. Spanberger even saw — I wasn’t at her training, but she said that she went in the bathroom and cried. The woman next to her was like, “I have an event with Senator Duckworth. I’m in touch with Wendy Davis. We’re going to do all these things.” Spanberger was sitting there, “Oh, my god. She knows these people. I don’t know anyone. I don’t know anybody. What am I doing here? I’m so far behind.” She went in the bathroom and cried. There was a former congresswoman from a different generation who came in and saw her crying. Abigail was like, “She gave me this look of total disgust and this awful, awful feeling.” Of course, Abigail ended up being an amazing fundraiser and won her election and did very, very well. She figured that out.

Zibby: You’re clearly a brilliant reporter. You wrote about it beautifully. You wove in the narrative, page-turning type of narrative woven in with a lot of facts and things I didn’t necessarily know. You finished this. Are you going to keep covering political stuff? Are you putting your hooks into a totally different topic now? What is your next move aside from trying to get your kid not to get his fish ?

Caitlin: Not to throw food at me? I actually had this call with my agent yesterday. We were talking about it. The thing with doing a book like this is that the timeline is incredibly brutal. It was two years of reporting. After the election when I knew, really, what I was writing — I had written a few characters, some of which didn’t even make it into the book. I had written a few chapters, but without knowing, is this going to be this really inspiring, amazing story of all these women who won? Are these women all going to lose and I’m going to have to do this book about what went wrong and where we go from here? I didn’t know the answers to that until election night. I had this eight-week period that was really intense. We wrote it. I wrote it. We — I’m talking about my editor who I was constantly going back and forth with.

I had this eight-week period where I wrote most of the book. We did edits through February and March. I hired an independent factchecker. There was a factchecking process. Then we didn’t do the final line edits on the book until June. Then there’s this big promotional and press push that you spend a lot of time on in the lead-up to the book. The book came out the last week of August. Since then, I’m getting approached to do articles and stuff on this topic, but then also just talking about the book and being out there. I really even haven’t had that second of, what is my next thing? What am I going to do? I have some deadlines right now. I’m going to get through those. Then my plan is to maybe take two weeks off in December and see my kid and spend some time letting my mind wander a bit and think about what that next project might be.

Zibby: I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.

Caitlin: No, that’s okay.

Zibby: Next book title, it’s due on my desk in two weeks. Thank you very much.

Caitlin: My agent yesterday was like, “What ideas do you have?” I was like, “My brain is saturated.” A book like this, this was so much reporting. It was really two years of that, and then plus the writing process and then the promotional process. There hasn’t been a break yet in it. December will really be my first break.

Zibby: Sometimes you have to regroup. You need the time.

Caitlin: I think so.

Zibby: Do you have advice to aspiring authors, especially in the journalistic reporting, reportage you would say, type of book versus fiction, but this particular type? Or just whatever you want to say.

Caitlin: Or whatever I want say? Gosh, do I? Obviously, it’s important to be passionate about the topic. I cannot imagine having worked on this for this period of time and with this much —

Zibby: — It had to take over your life.

Caitlin: I’m trying to think of how I can say this that doesn’t sound — so many women go back to work after having a kid. I got pregnant four months after I got the book deal and then didn’t know how sick I would be and was incredibly naïve about what the aftermath of that would be like. It was primary season. I gave birth in the middle of the primary season. There was no way, given the book that I was doing, that I could sit out. It was about three weeks after I gave birth, I went back into the reporting and the writing again. It took me away from my son. I probably wouldn’t do it again that way, to be honest with you. I would’ve taken a good six weeks and really let myself have that time with my son. With any job that you’re doing, there’s always that personal sacrifice and giving up a certain time of yourself. It was worth it to me in that I was so passionate about this project.

These women were so incredible to me. What they were doing was so gutsy to me. I just think if you’re going to do a book, you obviously need to really, really believe in it. There’s some books out there — I’m not talking about any book in particular. There are these books that come out that just feel like the person wanted to do a book. It’s some idea that they’ve packaged. It comes out and it’s whatever. I really believed in this. It was worth going back after three weeks to me. If you’re going to do this kind of book and you’re going to do something that is a really long reporting process and that you’re going to have to be in the weeds with for a long time, it’s obviously important to do something that’s close to your heart.

Otherwise, I would say just drink a lot of coffee. At one point, I was breastfeeding my son. I stopped breastfeeding him at six months. I was in the thick of the book writing then. I had about four weeks until my deadline. Kids at that age don’t really sleep through the night. My husband and I were up in the night. Every morning started at four AM. Our day would start at four AM. It was a really wild time. I was like, I’m not going to survive this without coffee. I did get to a point where I was like, this is way too much caffeine. I can’t be breastfeeding anymore. I stopped breastfeeding. I had to give on some of those things that maybe I wouldn’t have.

Zibby: I can’t believe you made it six months without coffee.

Caitlin: No, let me clarify. I would allow myself a latte a day, which is completely fine, by the way. Do what you have to do. At that point to get through, it was a four coffee a day just to make it through those fourteen-hour writing days. Women do a lot more. I’m incredibly fortunate. There’s women who are forced to go back to work and who work on their feet for twelve-hour shifts after they give birth. I’m by no means special. Personally going through it, I was like, this is tough. This is what people talk about. It’s no joke.

Zibby: It’s no joke. Thank you for going through it. Thanks to your son for sparing a little of you so that you could report and produce this magnificent book that’s really important and inspiring and really awesome.

Caitlin: Thanks so much. This was so fun.

Zibby: No problem. Thanks for coming on.