On her way to mommy place
Expecting her first child this winter, Courtney Thorne-Smith, who just turned 40, is also promoting her first book, Outside In (Random House). The novel is about an actress on a prime-time drama who is wronged by her sleazy husband and her co-star. Thorne-Smith's own husband, Roger Fishman, has a digital media company, The Zizo Group; they married Jan. 1, 2007. Currently starring in ABC's According to Jim, she previously appeared on (the prime-time drama) Melrose Place and on Ally McBeal. Here, she talks about her book, her pregnancy, her body and the importance of friendship.
Is your novel's main character, Kate, actually you?
No, it is fiction. I got to put every annoying person I've ever worked with into Sapphire, Kate's nemesis, and I tell women, "Hamilton [Kate's husband] is whatever horrible, controlling boyfriend you ever had—whoever makes you enjoy the book more." But even though Kate is not based on me, I can totally relate to what she thinks and struggles with—that fighting to find her own voice. She's 30 but seems so much younger. Now, Paige [Kate's friend] is the adult me and all my girlfriends. What I really wanted to show in Kate's situation is what might happen if you don't have a support system, or anyone around you who tells you the truth. That's what we are seeing with young actresses now—they are surrounded by "yes men."
Let's talk about your pregnancy. Is having a baby something you've always wanted?
I really have always wanted to be a parent, and when I hit 36 and had just ended a relationship, I remember thinking how much I still wanted it. But I thought I'd adopt. I was very open to it, thinking being pregnant wasn't what was important. Knowing that seemed to quiet my biological clock. Then when I met Roger, he never doubted that we would have a baby. But I was 39, and you never know. I really lucked out.
I know you struggled with body image for years; how are you feeling about your body now?
I feel great: I wanted this so badly. One day I was with one of my friends, and I was rubbing my belly, and she asked me, "How does it feel?" I told her, "It feels really good." And she said, "Great. I hope that you keep rubbing your belly with love even after the baby is born." And that was so powerful, because my belly has always been the spot I obsess over. I have come to appreciate my body so much—and I think that's why I was able to get pregnant. Now, the baby is kicking and it's all working. It's a miracle what this body can do.
Have you been working out?
Well, I used to be a compulsive exerciser, but I'm over that. For the past several years, I've been walking 40 minutes and doing Pilates and yoga stretches at home, so that's what I'm doing now. I used to run 8 miles a day, then go to the gym, do weights and then yoga, until I realized that I was so hungry and tired all the time. So I stopped doing all that and started just walking. I feel so much freedom now: I don't have to stay in a hotel with a gym and I'm never so hungry that I panic.
A lot of women are in a crazy exercise cycle; they're so afraid they'll gain weight if they stop, and it's especially hard when they get pregnant. What they need to realize is that if you're not exercising so much, you don't have to eat so much, and your body adjusts. It sounds so simple, but you really do have to listen to your body.
What kind of mother do you think you'll be?
I honestly don't know. I hope I will be a calm mother; I do yoga and I meditate, and those should help. The one thing I do know is that I will have time for this baby. I'm at a time in my life that I don't feel I have to prove anything in terms of my career. I feel I'm in a place where I can really devote myself to raising my baby. The baby is all I'm doing.
And we're going to try going without help outside the family. My doctor had some very good advice about bringing in someone like a baby nurse. He says some of them have very definite ideas, and you need to find your own way of doing things first—otherwise, you're doing everything their way, not yours. I want to figure out what works for us.
What about sleeping arrangements? Bassinet in the bedroom? Crib in the nursery?
We haven't really decided, but the baby probably will be in a bassinet in our room for the first few months, then move to a crib. Roger doesn't want to put the baby in another room. I don't think we'll have the baby in bed with us, but you never know; if you do that, can you ever get them out?
And do you know what sex the baby is?
We are not going to find out the sex. Once I realized that I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl, I got into the adventure of not knowing. And the main reason to not find out is so you don't put all these projections on them even before they're born, like, "Oh the baby's so active, he's going to be an athletic boy." Well, maybe she will be an athletic girl, you know?
Is your pregnancy being written into the show?
Yes, but not right away. I met with the producers, and they said, "Uh, you're showing—Cheryl isn't pregnant in the first episode." I said, "OK, here's the problem: Courtney is 6 months pregnant; it's not like I can take it back." But the clothes are so forgiving right now, it should be easy to hide; people will just think I got a boob job.