They told us what they thought motherhood would be like, but how does the reality match up? Fit Pregnancy catches up with our past star moms.
Last time these lovely ladies were featured in Fit Pregnancy they were expecting or had just given birth, so we thought it would be fun to see how their lives have been going now that their babies have arrived and are flourishing.
Actress Jessica Alba was pregnant with her first child when she appeared on the cover of the June/July2008 issue of Fit Pregnancy. Then, she told us that pregnancy had "mellowed" her. Now that her daughter, Honor Marie, is 1 year old, we thought we’d check in on how she's doing.
Q: Is motherhood what you expected? A: It's a lot more difficult to juggle motherhood and a career than I ever anticipated. So busy! And Honor is more mobile now than ever before and loves putting just about any foreign object in her mouth. I have to be a constant watchdog
Q: What’s the most memorable thing that has happened to you as a new mother? A: Every milestone is memorable, from the numerous wardrobe changes in her first five months due to her explosive diarrhea to the first time she said, "Mama." She already insists on feeding herself—broccoli is her fave. Life moves so fast as a new mom. Sometimes I wish time would slow down.
Q: Any advice for new moms? A: What works for you may not work for others and vice versa. As long as you try your best, that's all it takes to be a great mother. I have also found that it's more useful to stop and listen than to try and always have the answers.
When we last spoke to former pro athlete and fitness expert Gabrielle Reece, 39 (February/March 2008 cover) she was about to give birth to her second daughter, Brody Jo, now 1 1/2 years old. And she told us she was wondering how the new baby would affect the family dynamic among her husband, big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, his daughter from a previous marriage, Bella, 13, and their 5-year-old daughter, Reece.
Q: How are things with the family going now that Brody Jo is 15 months? A: I think when you have your second child you’re surprised that you have more to give. With one, you feel like you’re giving everything you have, and then a new baby arrives and you’re amazed you can give even more. Laird bonded quickly with Brody Jo; and because he got so involved, it alleviated some of my work, so I had more to give him, which helps us stay more balanced as a couple.
It’s been a big transition for Reece, though. I explain that Brody Jo will potentially be the closet person to her in her life, that she should view it as a good thing to have a sister. Reece has run the gamut from being totally soft, nurturing and understanding to where I finally had to put my foot down. She’s emotional and very close to Laird and, suddenly, there was another little girl with her dad.
Q: You also said that you’d been thinking much more about how fragile life is and how “pregnancy makes you more human.” A: Being pregnant makes you feel like a sitting duck; just holding your breath until the baby comes out and you hear a cry. My concern is for their happiness and safety, and it’s always there. I’ve been working lately, taking Brody with me and leaving Reece with Laird, so when we are separated as a family, I am acutely aware of it. I’m not a neurotic mother, but when they get into someone else’s car I’m hyper-aware that they are not with me. I think the way you view fragility changes over time. We have a teenage daughter now, so fragile means something else—her personal safety and hoping she makes the right choices. That’s why taking care of your health, besides family and friends, is your No. 1 asset.
Q: Has motherhood changed you in other ways? A: I’ve become more direct about things—I just don’t have time to hem and haw. I make decisions. There’s no time to mess around with unnecessary drama and frivolity. Since it’s my primary responsibility to care for them, I’ve lost interest in things that dilute this. You just don’t have the time for hassles or to get involved in other people’s stuff.
Q: How has Laird reacted to being surrounded by all the girls, or his “Band of Angels,” as you called it before? A: I see it in his face: When he looks at all the girls, I see so much love, but I also see him wrestling with all of the details of what it means to be a family. I can see him thinking, ‘Oh my God, one more school project and load of laundry…’ It’s about finding the balance. I don’t expect Laird to be a mom. He does other things and we know in crunch time how the other will operate. It’s strengthened us as partners. He knows when to step in, but he wants a medal after doing it. [She laughs.]
Q: Last thoughts? A: I’ve realized that when things are crazy, I have to take a moment and enjoy it—the little voices, laughing, the little feet, even the noise. It can be easy to wash over these things, but you’ve got to try to slow down and catch them. These are the defining moments of life, absolutely what it is all about.
When she appeared on our February/March 2001 cover, Kelli Williams was pregnant with her second child. Today, at 39, she has a dual role as star of Fox’s Lie to Me and mother of son Kiran, 11, daughter Sarame, 8, and son Ravi, 5.
Q: In our earlier interview you said you always tell your pregnant friends, "Your life will be chaotic, but you will be the happiest, sleepiest person ever." How do you feel these days? A: I still don’t sleep enough. Someone is always waking up in middle of night. And soon it’ll be curfews and late nights with teenagers.
Q: You also said, "You wonder if you can love a second or a third child a much as the first, and you do, but differently." A: You know you can love any child, but when you are about to have your second or third, you have no idea how you are going to do it. Then you discover that you have an amazingly endless resource of love for your children. I could have a dozen and still have enough to go around, though that would be insanely hectic.
Q: Tell us about your kids. A: Each has a distinct personality that’s wired from the start, which is so fascinating to me. One kid is empathic and sensitive; one is cerebral; and one is very physical—he's my little savage who needs to stomp around if he’s mad. It’s like they represent body, heart and soul, and I have to parent each one differently. The key, I've found, is to try not to have any ambivalence in your parenting. As moms and dads, we have to figure out how to create boundaries with all that playfulness and love mixed in.
Q: What’s the dynamic like with having three? A: With the second and, definitely, with the third, I have to remind myself to teach them things, that they don’t just learn by osmosis. But my youngest son is probably the most well-adjusted and malleable child of all.
Q: Any challenges? A: At the end of the day, we all want to raise decent people and learn a little something about ourselves in the process. We were just on a family trip to Death Valley and there were moments when my husband and I wanted to just leave them there. [She laughs.] All the whining! You think that no other kid can possibly do it as much as yours. When they are out with friends they’re great, but when they're back in the car with just the family there’s a perfect storm of unhappiness. It’s maddening at times, but you adore them anyway.
Dayna Devon, 39, has co-hosted NBC’s Extra for the past 10 years and has served as an entertainment commentator for CNN, MSNBC and The TV Guide Channel. When she’s not on-air, she relishes being home with her plastic surgeon husband Brent Moelleken and their two children, Emmi, 3, and Cole, 2.
Q: Now you have double the responsibilities with two children and a full-time career—how are you handling all of that? A: This has been tough for me because they are really sad when I leave for work or go out. I think you naturally become extremely focused; when I am home with my children, I am really home with them. I don’t answer my cellphone. I am eye-to-eye with them and make every moment count. We have decided not to socialize during the week, except with the kids or friends with children. On the weekends, my husband and I will still have date nights, but we leave after the kids have gone to bed. For sure, there are victims in all of this—e-mails slip through the cracks, birthday party dates can get messed up and I am not as involved with their school as I would like to be, but I do my best. And I have surrounded myself with people who understand.
Q: What are some of the great lessons you have learned as a mother of two? A: I am not afraid of the word ‘can’t’ or ‘no’ anymore. I had a hard time with that before. Now I am not afraid to say that I cannot work three nights in a row. Kids naturally prioritize your life. The other day my son cut off the tip of his finger—it was the worst moment of my life—and I was supposed to go to work that day. I didn’t, and I didn’t care if they fired me. [They didn’t.]
Q: I remember you saying how excited your husband was to be a dad first time around—was he equally excited about number two? A: We have both love having a girl, but deep down inside I think he wanted a boy. So when I got the call from the clinic after our genetic testing with the news we were having a healthy baby boy, he ran screaming through the house. He was jumping up and down and crying—it was such an exciting moment.
Q: Any advice for our pregnant readers? A: Have a sense of humor about your pregnancy. Try to enjoy the moment. Eat healthy and take care of yourself. I still wish I had done better with my diet. During my second pregnancy I didn’t exercise as much and the pregnancy was more difficult and I think that’s why. And for the new moms—just remember it’s all going to be OK. I remember thinking I wasn’t bonding with my daughter. I was beating myself up that we weren’t connecting and even thought about quitting my job! Knowledge is power. Talk to other moms. Nine out of 10 will probably have experienced what you are going through.
Ana Gasteyer When we last spoke with the “Saturday Night Live” alum (who first appeared in the August/September 2002 Fit Pregnancy), Ana Gasteyer was busy raising her first. Today, Frances Mary, 7, has a little brother, Ulysses, 18 months. Gasteyer, 42, co-stars in the indie feature Dare, which is being released in October.
Q: Are you still a big proponent of women breastfeeding anywhere? A: Very much so. I think it’s important for all the obvious health reasons for the baby; but it’s healthy for the mom, too. I’ve done it with both kids, though they are so different in regard to personalities and nursing. Ulysses is not as gung-ho, since he’s easily distracted, so I am not sure we will make it for two years.
Q: What’s Frances like? A: She is enormously confident, outgoing and full of creativity. She also has this incredible ability to follow through. She begins a project and sees it to the end. I’m not sure if this is a nurture or nature thing—but I learn from it all the time. It’s inspiring.
Q: How is it having two kids? A: It’s actually great that they are so far apart in age; it’s neat to have full advantage of each one's infancy. And having a girl first was totally lucky. She never even batted an eyelash about having the baby around. I am not so sure how it’d go if it were the other way. He’s another character in her show, and she is delighted.
Q: What have you discovered second time around? A: Take it slow. With Ulysses I went back [to work] way too fast. I was auditioning at five weeks, with my husband driving around the neighborhood with our son in the car seat. It felt like I was unemployed for a long time during my pregnancy, but I was foolish not to have taken a proper leave. When Ulysses was 8 weeks old, I fell during rehearsal and broke my ankle in seven places. I couldn’t go anywhere, so I was with him for five months, basically moving from couch to couch to nurse. It was a message from the universe that I had to slow down.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a mom? A: For me, it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my life. It’s taken me outside of myself and it’s connected me in a different way to humanity. Every day I think about what will make them better, happier people or the world a strong better place. I am very lost in it right now. I feel tremendously lucky.