Exploiting My Baby* *Because It's Exploiting Me

pregnant

Pregnant Again: It's A Do Over

General StuffTeresa Strasser28 Comments

I’d like to go to my senior prom again, but not be blackout drunk with a 26 year-old date.

For a brief period during which I hosted a basic cable decorating show, I was kind of famous. I wish I could be famous again, without having to emotionally implode from the cognitive dissonance of thinking I was a nobody and the world thinking I was somebody and the compulsive need to prove myself right. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t glower at people who shouted my name at airports. I would wave and smile. Like I deserved it.

If I could be pregnant, give birth and care for a baby again — oh wait, I can.

For once, life has given me a do-over. Of all the major life cycle events, the big moments, the passages and transitions, the ceremonies, beginnings and endings, of all the big deals I have screwed up just by being terrified of failing at them, I never get a chance to try again with the full knowledge of how I will look back at it. However, as I sit here four months pregnant with my second child, all I can think is: this pregnancy thing certainly is different when I don’t spend the day Googling “miscarriage causes” or “chromosomal abnormalities of Ashkenazi Jews” or “the dangers of eating soft cheese during pregnancy.”

The kid is just fine, my two year-old. What I couldn’t have predicted is that my love for him would give birth to some kind of ever-multiplying fear monster, that instead of just experiencing him growing in my stomach, or instead of just watching his tiny face sleeping, I would spend most of his early days on a maternal death watch. If he slept for too long, my heart would race, something was wrong. If he had the hiccups, or a rash, or a fever, or a crying fit, I knew the end was coming.

Sorry, this is dark. But I have to admit it. My love for this creature, before he was born and after, made caring for him a perpetual shift on the front lines of a little war I was losing against my own anxiety. Bad things happen. Terrible things happen. Those things still might happen to me, to this new baby, but I can tell you this: I truly don’t think my contemplation of doom either manifests or protects against it.

And another thing. Another thing about the first-born. You don’t know anything about anything. Or at least I didn’t.

Now, I can tell you how a Braxton-Hicks contraction feels as opposed to real labor, I can school you on when to take away a pacifier or how to pack a diaper bag. I already have a pediatrician, I even know the parking drill over there and it won’t panic me. I have a daycare. I have hand-me-downs. I know where to find indoor playgrounds and I can tell you which bookstores and restaurants in Los Feliz have changing tables in the bathroom. I got this.

The first time around, thanks to the omnipresence of www.babycenter.com, I knew exactly how many weeks and days pregnant I was, whether my fetus was the size of a plum or kiwi, whether it had eyebrows or a spleen yet. This time, I lose track. Sometimes, at least until someone offers me a cocktail, I even forget.

The most prominent symptom I had the first time around wasn’t morning sickness or bloating, though I had those, the most pronounced side effect of carrying a baby was acute self-absorption. It’s not that I was self-involved out of some sense of my own importance or awesomeness, I was just so scared something would go wrong that I somehow became convinced, despite lots of evidence to the contrary, no one had ever carried a baby to term before. I was the only pregnant person on the planet, it was all about me, my swelling ankles, my ultrasounds, my need to find a name, my due date, me. The thing about this pregnancy is that I’m finding it almost impossible to focus on myself, on all the bad things that could happen, while caring for a two-year old who needs me to play garbage trucks and spray Oxy-Clean on butter stains.

So, here’s to do-overs. Oh wait, I can’t drink.  Just pass the Camembert.

It’s Futile to Resist: Maternity Clothes are like Ugg Boots, Both Homely and Seductive

General Stuff, Stuff You Should BuyTeresa Strasser11 Comments

 

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Not buying maternity clothes is like refusing a Xanax on an airplane. Don’t be a hero.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was 18 weeks pregnant, a woman I barely know, but who must now in retrospect be considered a saint, gave me a stack of hand-me-down maternity clothes.

I never would have purchased this stuff myself, because I secretly harbor paranoia that the entire baby and maternity industry is a racket trying to squirm its grubby hand into my chubby pocket and convince me I need bullshit like nursing pajamas.

Sometimes, I’m wrong. I still think the maternity industry jacks up prices because it has a captive and nervous audience, but Old Navy and Gap maternity basics are the shit. Get yourself a Gap Maternity Cami with built in bra for $19.50 and you will never take it off.

The thing about maternity clothes is that they aren’t just bigger, they are cut differently, roomier in the right places and in many cases, with a band of extra-wide, yummy elastic where the waistband of your jeans or skirt or cargo pants would normally be. Any mom knows this, but it was news to me. Even if you aren’t that big, maternity clothes are like Ugg boots for your gut, so comfortable you don’t mind looking like you just stepped out of a food court in Lodi clutching a shopping bag from Claire’s.

And if you hand your maternity clothes over to another pregnant girl when the breeding is all over, you can at least relish the knowledge that in some small way, you are sticking it to The Man.

Bad Move: Calling Nancy O’Dell a “C-Word”

Favorite Posts, General StuffTeresa Strasser144 Comments

Almost every idiotic thing I do can be traced back to one basic flaw: trying too hard. This explains how I ended up calling Nancy O’Dell a “stupid c-word.”

That’s right. I called America’s sweetheart a “c-word” on the Adam Carolla Podcast and I may have done it more than once, although it’s all a bit of a blur now, except oniTunes, where it screeches out at you with perfect clarity. 

 

People I Want to Punch

Favorite Posts, People I Want to Punch, PreggersTeresa Strasser65 Comments

If one more mom tells me, “Go to the movies now, because after you have the baby, you’ll never get to go to the movies again,” or “Go on a trip now, because once you have the baby, you’ll never leave town again,” or “Have a date night now, because you will never see your husband again,” I am going to punch her right in her tired, defeated face.

Hey, how about you shut your rude, projecting, bitter soup coolers and let me be? [...]

ABOUT 'EXPLOITING MY BABY'

General Stuff, PreggersTeresa Strasser26 Comments

Why Exploiting My Baby Seems Like a Good Idea Like it’s so special having a baby. Britney Spears did it twice, so there you go.

Yet, we’ve all seen these spooky, lost smother mothers with their sippy cups full of self-absorption and their non-stop, mind-numbing prattle about the relative merits of organic baby food. These are the souls who update their Facebook status to reflect little Jackson’s latest bowel movement. This is not okay. This is haunting[...]

A BABY STORY

PreggersTeresa Strasser8 Comments

Author's Note: I had no idea when I was writing this piece that I was already pregnant, probably just a few weeks. Because ultrasounds have gotten so precise, it now seems that I got pregnant on New Year's Eve. It was a romantic evening as I recall; my husband and I rented a documentary on Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels (yeah, we partied like it was 1939). 'A Baby Story' in h Magazine

Right now, I'm the sidekick on a morning radio program and co-host of a weekly television show on deep, deep cable. Based on my career trajectory thus far, my next job will be a series of non-union Mobisodes.

In the parlance of street fighters, or middle managers trying to rally their sales force after a bad quarter: It's go time. Or more specifically, it's gonad time. I'll explain in a minute. A few years ago, I almost landed my dream job, filling the chair left by Lisa Ling on The View. I sat in for a couple of episodes, had some wholesome, well-lit laughs with Barbara Walters, trotted out on stage arm-in-arm with new BFF Meredith Vieira and felt an almost narcotic sense of belonging. Despite a career characterized mainly by bad, impetuous decisions to quit jobs and paralyzing self-doubt, I began to think: I could do this. I was about to link elbows with destiny, as I had with Meredith, who when you get close to her smells like a combination of baby powder, lilacs, and poise.

As my cab sped toward JFK to fly home after taping my second episode of The View, producers called my agent to say I was one of their top choices. Before I even checked my bags curbside, we agreed on contractual terms.

I spent that flight envisioning my move from Los Angeles to a furnished apartment on the Upper West Side. I fantasized about the breezy rapport and private jokes I would have with the full-time driver they promised, the non-pretentious but clearly expensive collection of Burberry trench coats I would acquire, and of course, the non-stop cold splash of "I told you so" my new post would throw in the faces of anyone who had doubted me. It would be hard to keep up my persona of self-deprecation with near toxic levels of smug coursing through my veins, but I would manage.

By the time I landed at LAX, I was out of the running.

The producers said not only did they want a conservative, but also, they really needed someone who was likely to get pregnant in the coming season. I was single at the time. Just like that, I was plunged back into an obscurity so profound it made Debbie Matenopoulos look like Gwyneth Paltrow. I cried like the babies Elizabeth Hasselbeck would eventually have, endearing her not only to her bosses at The View, but to the stay-at-home moms of America.

Sure, I can't complain. Any jobs I get that don't involve taking over my dad's automotive repair business are blessings. But I can't help thinking that if I want to ascend to the next level, I'll need to procreate.

As it happens, I just got married six months ago and my husband and I have started trying to have a baby. Because said baby may be reading this in ten years, I want to make it absolutely plain that we want a baby for all the normal, healthy, unselfish, non-career related reasons. Still, while I'm terrified about whether or not I'll be a good mother, or have a healthy baby, or know how to love it fully, or be able to conceive at all, I'm totally confident about one thing: being pregnant is good for business.

Babies are transformative. They make you more loving and patient. However, I'm not talking about that kind of change. I'm talking about the magical baby dust that converts, say, Brooke Burke, from an icy and unapproachable swimsuit model, to the beloved champion of popularity contest, Dancing With The Stars.

Sprinkle some magic mommy dust on Angelina Jolie, and she goes from knife-wielding, blood vial wearing, possibly home wrecking, scary force of sexual energy, to earth mother goddess breast-feeding on the cover of W magazine.

So effective is this magic dust, it has the power to make you like Nancy Grace.

A Google search for the term "baby bump" yields nearly two million hits, with most of the top ten devoted to celebrity pregnancy. Think about the following babies and ask yourself how many times you've seen their lovable mugs: Ryder, Shiloh, Apple, Violet, Suri, Kingston, Brooklyn, and Sean Preston.

I used to think this was a brand new phenomenon, that because women have increasing power and earning potential, that it's somehow comforting to know that we are still partially just baby-making machines. The threat we pose is mitigated by the hours we'll spend pregnant, nursing, changing diapers or otherwise tending to kiddies.

However, back in 1953, the country basically screeched to a halt to watch "Lucy Goes to the Hospital," which garnered a record 71.7 rating, meaning 71.7% of all television households were tuned in to I Love Lucy. Media coverage of the event was so massive, it overshadowed the inauguration of President Eisenhower the next morning. Cut to Demi Moore pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, to cable sensation The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Guess what the secret is: we even love pregnant teens! And that means you, too, Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin.

With the proliferation of media outlets (People Magazine even has a Celebrity Baby Blog - read it to learn why pregnant Nancy O'Dell craves baked beans!), we can fill the need we've always had, to see the adorable little faces that result from celebrity DNA, to observe someone known for her svelte body, like Heidi Klum or Kelly Ripa, enlarge. Entertainment news is a now non-stop "Bump Watch."

As a culture, we have a voyeuristic obsession with famous mothers, but we're simply gaga for multiples. How much did we want to see the Jolie-Pitt twins, Vivienne and Knox? According to Forbes Magazine, People Magazine paid a record $14 million for first photos.

Watched TLC lately?

I remember when it used to be home decorating shows (back when I scratching for my seat on The View, I used to host TLC's While You Were Out). Now it's Kids by the Dozen, Jon and Kate Plus 8 and 17 Kids and Counting, which shares the life of the Duggars, who now have 18 kids with "J" names, including Jedidiah and Jinger. Don't worry about the crazy monikers, they won't get bullied on the schoolyard because: one, Jesus loves them and two, they are home schooled.

Aside from the miracle of childbirth being inherently interesting, and the thrill of seeing some tiny starlet get fat and thin again, and the soothing sense that even our most kick ass power women yearn for babies, there is just this: Moms are so Š maternal. Welcome to facile conjecture-ville, I hope you'll have a pleasant stay.

Mothers know things, they have superhuman strength, and they are selfless, protective, gentle and sacrificing. Not my mother exactly - who should have named my brother and me Burden and Buzz Kill for how much she dug being a single parent - but in general, what famous woman wouldn't want to be imbued with these qualities in the eyes of the public?

So, future child, I want you to know I'm not having you just because it will help my career. But, it probably won't hurt.