The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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FP: What are some of the most valuable, surprising things you learned?
O'Dell: Gauze. Everyone gives you all this gorgeous nursery stuff and cute baby clothes, but I wish they had told me that you need gauze to wipe a newborn's bottom. That you can just use a baby nail file instead of those scary baby nail clippers. That you should register for soft clothes instead of jeans, and for some 1-year-old sizes because you get way more than you need of newborn clothes.
FP: How did you deal with the weight gain?
O'Dell: Well, I hid it the first three months (there are tricks in the book). That first trimester I gained more than I was supposed to, mostly in my breasts, which Billy [Bush, O'Dell's Access Hollywood co-host] noticed right away and asked me if I was pregnant. But I leveled out and gained about 27 - 30 pounds.
I started pregnancy with a back problem, and my doctor told me another rule I didn't know - that whatever exercise you had been doing before pregnancy, you can continue. Even though I had been a runner until I developed my back problem, I had not been running before I got pregnant, so I swam, did yoga and walked.
About 8 weeks after I had Ashby, I stared running again and it was hard - I didn't realize how often you have to feed the baby. You nurse for 45 minutes, she falls asleep, then wakes up and you feed her again. I would run down my driveway and back. Eventually I got a trainer to come in the morning while she was sleeping, but we had to get used to the interruptions. We did moves that were a combo of ballet and Pilates. By the time I went back to work, I'd lost all but 4 or 5 pounds, but I still felt mushy. I'm talking Spanx. Double Spanx.
FP: What's your best bit of advice on what is a big concern of new mothers - how to calm a crying, or even inconsolable, baby?
O'Dell: While I was pregnant, I had dreams about going to the store and leaving the baby in the shopping cart. I would wake my husband up, and ask him, "Am I really ready? Do I know what to do? Have I read enough?" And I really worried about knowing what the baby wants when she is crying. You read that they are either hungry, sleepy, need their diaper changed. But it doesn't always work like that. Completely by accident we discovered that Ashby loves the sound of water and it is really calming to her, so we put a fountain in her room. It works.
FP: How do you deal as a working mom?
O'Dell: I've dealt with it, but not well. My mom died three days before Ashby's first birthday, and I think because I crave that relationship so badly, the working part has been tough. When I went back to work, I'd cry, and the minute we were finished I'd run off the set and go home. But my boss hasn't sent me out of town too much and I take her with me. The most I have been away from her is a day. I need my baby fix.
And it really is one big constant guilt trip. Sometimes you have to say I'm going to stay with my family and not do this for work, then you worry about work, or you say, I'm going to miss this family event to do my job, and you feel guilty about that.
My advice here? Be in the moment. If you decide to do the family thing, then be there. And if you decide you can't sacrifice your job, don't think about being with your family. It'll drive you crazy.
FP: Can we talk a little about Dancing With the Stars? How disappointed were you to leave the show?
O'Dell: During the rehearsal, a week before the first show was to air, I had gone through a month of rehearsals. Tony [Dovolani] and I were set to dance the waltz first, and we were doing really well. I could feel the music and dance the routine, and I felt ready to go out and perform.
So, we moved on to our second dance — a salsa, and while we were doing a step called the grapevine, I took a twisting step and bent my knee backward, then pulled my leg in during a spin, and Ow! We discovered it was a torn meniscus. The only way to heal is with surgery.
But I am anxious to get back [to the show]. I liked the rehearsal and training. I liked the athletic, physical aspect. It's much harder than you think. You don't realize how much you are lifting your arms and raising your legs, and even if you aren't sweating, your core has to be tight. I started seeing muscles in my back, I had abs for the first time since I was pregnant. I enjoyed it. And Ashby is a huge fan of dancing.
FP: Will you have another baby? O'Dell: We haven't decided yet; we're not actively trying, but we're not NOT trying. It was stressful that first time, after I had the miscarriage. I had every measuring device there is to figure out when to have sex. Then we tried a technique my friend said was foolproof: You have sex every day 5 days before ovulation and 5 days after. The first month we tried, boom. We had decided that we would turn to science if it didn't work. But it did.
I write about all of this - conception, miscarriage, the pregnancy, in the book. I want people to know they are not the only ones going through these things.