Sarah Chalke Interview

Actress Sarah Chalke fulfills (in real life) her Scrubs character's obsession with having a baby.

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We’ve watched Sarah Chalke, 33, grow up on television: First, as daughter Becky on Roseanne, then as Dr. Elliot Reid on Scrubs. Now she plays recurring character Stella on How I Met Your Mother. Her newest role—parent, along with fiancé Jamie Afifi—is scheduled to kick off on Christmas Day, her due date. We talked with her at this issue’s cover photo shoot, just five weeks before her big day. Fit Pregnancy: How have you liked being pregnant? Sarah Chalke: I’ve loved it. The first three months, when I had nausea 24 hours a day, were not that fun; and I couldn’t believe how tired I was. Now, it all feels pretty miraculous, especially feeling the baby kick. I have been more nervous than I thought I would be in terms of thinking about the baby’s health and all, but I try to keep that at bay.

I do feel a change now as we count down; at the beginning you think 10 months is forever. Now I feel like I need every second, like I’m cramming for exams. There’s so much to do before the baby comes. And I just can’t wait to meet him.

FP: Has there been anything that really surprises you? SC: The insomnia! I’ve never had trouble sleeping before. I wake up and go and do stuff—check emails, clean closets, steam some milk and go back to sleep—I guess this is nesting, and also my body preparing to be up at night.

Another thing that caught me off guard is how incredible the whole experience is! It’s really the first experience I just can’t wrap my head around, that there is a baby living inside of me. I did four pregnancy tests because I didn’t believe it; then there’s the ultrasound and they give you a due date!

I was at all three of my older sister’s deliveries, but it still never ceases to amaze me. I guess the other thing that surprised me is the level of responsibility you feel from early on, all the tests. And whether to get the swine flu vaccine—I got in line at 4 a.m. to get mine. All these decisions. I guess I will never wake up without worrying again.

FP: Have you had any cravings or aversions? SC: When I first got pregnant, about a week before the morning sickness kicked in, I was just starving all the time. But it was for bland, simple food like carbs. I grew up eating vegetarian and organic, but we always had dessert, so I still go for ice cream. Also salt-and-vinegar chips.

It’s interesting how strong the cravings are—I remember talking to my sister while she was making chocolate chip cookies and I just couldn’t stop thinking about them. Aversions? Chicken! I love chicken, but you could just say the word and I’d get queasy.

FP: What have you been doing for exercise? SC: Before, I was doing yoga, boot camp and hiking with my dog. I don’t like the gym; I need to switch out or I get bored. Now I focus on gentle exercise I know is going to be safe—just yoga and hiking, some prenatal Pilates.

FP: And how will you get back into shape? SC: Because of the industry I’m in it definitely crosses my mind, but I want to have a balanced approach, I want to spend time getting to know my baby. I can’t wait to put the baby in a carrier or buggy and bring him to a mommy-and-me class.

FP: Have you always wanted to have kids? SC: Absolutely—I grew up in a family with two sisters, one 13 years younger than me, and my parents ran an adoption agency. So we had lots of babies around and I’ve always known I want to be a mother.

FP: What kind of mom do you think you’ll be? SC: One thing I know for sure: I’m gonna love the crap out of this kid. Jamie and I are so ready. Parenting is daunting; you’re handed this perfect little human and your job is to keep him safe and raise a kind person.

I’ve had some good examples: My sister says always go with your instinct. And my parents had a philosophy: no unnecessary “no’s.” They kept the no’s for the really important stuff. You need to find that balance, so that your kids respect you and still have a relationship that feels right.And I just know Jamie will be a great dad. I’ve known that since the day I met him. He is so good with kids, my nieces and nephews absolutely adore him. We also have similar parenting philosophies.

FP: Do you have a birth plan? SC: My goal is to go as natural as possible, but the advice I get is have a plan, then be prepared to let it all go. I’m open to playing it by ear.

FP: Will you breastfeed? SC: It never crossed my mind not to breastfeed. I think it’s such a cool bonding experience and it also feels like you are giving your baby a better shot at health. And it’s so much easier. I’m very convinced.

FP: And what about going back to work? SC: That I will play by ear, too; I feel lucky that in my line of work I can have both the career and the family.

FP: What maternity clothes have you been wearing? SC: I was surprised by how quickly your body changes—overnight something just won’t fit anymore! I love Isabella Oliver, and AG Jeans have a super comfortable, supportive high panel in their cords and jean. The Fierce Mama line by Christian Siriano is awesome. Liz Lange [for Target] is fun, and I’ve loved A Pea in the Pod.

FP: Have you changed what you eat or the products you use? SC: I still eat organic whenever I can; and I tossed any skin care products with parabens and just use natural stuff like Dr. Hauschka and Josie Maran’s line. I also cleared out most of the toxic cleaning products.

And it’s fun to find natural stuff for the baby, like Rosie Hippo, Kicky Pants and Serena & Lily’s organic bedding. I think it’s important to clean up whatever you can.

Congratulations to Sarah Chalke and her fiancé Jamie Afifi who welcomed a son, Charlie Rhodes Afifi on Christmas Eve.

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