Trained culinary expert, food writer, and television personality, Gail Simmons shares her pregnancy tips and experience as she journeys through pregnancy number two.
Previous Children: 1 daughter, Dahlia, 4 years-old
Expected Due Date: May 2018
Q: Do you already know the baby’s gender or is it going to be a surprise?
A: We are going to wait to find out. We did that the first time around too and I kind of loved it. It doesn’t make a difference to me either way. I find it just makes me nervous knowing that, because there are just so many variables that can go wrong. We are a little bit superstitious about finding out, and also, we’re not going to be painting the room pink or blue either way so we’re happy to go create the nursery in the neutral way at first.
Q: If you could offer one bit of pregnancy advice to soon-to-be mothers what would it be?
A: There’s a lot. Everyone experiences pregnancy differently but there’s obviously a common denominator. It’s great to have advice from other people who have been there before because it’s such an overwhelming and exciting experience, but I also feel like it’s such a personal experience that you have to go through it in your own way and trust your instincts. I think the best advice that stands no matter what, is that you can’t plan. Pregnancy is a bigger force than you are and you have to just allow it to just take its course. Stay as healthy as you can and listen to your body, but in terms of how it all plays out there’s no such thing as a birth plan that goes completely according to plan. You have to just be flexible and that’s with all things not just the day of the child’s birth but with how you’re feeling along the way, what you can and can’t do, what you’re up for and not, in terms of everything. It’s really a one day at a time journey.
Q: What is your favorite part about being pregnant?
A: I love seeing what my body is capable of doing. It’s sort of amazing that in five months my body has totally morphed and is no longer my own. I love the sonograms and seeing the baby in the sonogram screen and seeing it move and seeing it’s parts become bigger and more animated. It’s just amazing that this whole universe is going on inside of me and I’m still the same me on the outside, though I may look a little different. My belly is just amazing how it just grows.
Q: What is your least favorite part about being pregnant?
A: It’s just harder to be my usual energetic self and do all the things that I usually do when I’m not pregnant. Chasing my toddler around, is one obstacle I didn’t have in my first pregnancy. Getting up and down and carrying around extra pounds in my belly is tough, and it’s harder to maneuver as I get bigger. It’s definitely a challenge and life doesn’t stop when you’re already a mother so you can’t sort of bask in the glow as much. You have to keep moving and there’s no stopping there’s no time to relax like there was the first time around so that’s been hard.
Q: Any food cravings or aversions?
A: Not really this time. Last time I had very specific cravings. I wanted spicy food, I wanted lots and lots of fruit and I wanted everything frozen. I wanted popsicles and fruit pops and ice creams and slushies…all those types of things. But this time around I’ve been pretty even keeled I definitely have an appetite though. I’m hungry all the time so that makes me snack a lot more than I usually do, but otherwise I’m keeping relatively healthy and I don’t have any cravings, or crazy aversions this time around. I feel very even keeled.
Q: How have your pregnancy symptoms varied from your first pregnancy?
A: My symptoms have actually been milder. With my daughter I had mild nausea, nothing severe but I definitely had morning sickness pretty consistently through the first trimester. With her I was able to function and it wasn’t all the time but I certainty felt nausea and exhaustion, I was napping and falling asleep everywhere and my first trimester with this baby has been really easy thankfully. I’m in the second trimester now and I feel great, I didn’t experience any of that nausea. I have been very lucky that I have felt great. I’ve had one or two days of discomfort and not feeling quite myself but really overall, I’ve felt really strong and energetic.
Q: How was the first few weeks of pregnancy for you?
A: I was on book tour of seven weeks of my first trimester. So that made me really nervous when I found out that I was pregnant because my book tour was already fully in motion and it was hard for them to stop it, but again, I just took it as sort of a one day at a time situation. I could have been paralyzed by it but my husband and I decided to take it one day at a time and see if I was feeling totally fine and, in the end, I had to change very little, I just couldn’t drink as much champagne to celebrate.
Q: Any advice to other mothers about juggling pregnancy, parenting and a professional career all at once?
A: I think everyone’s life is different. My schedule has never been a conventional one to begin with, with my job. I travel a lot and I work a lot, but I also really carve out time to be with my family and I think it’s important to keep doing that, especially in the last months when your family is changing, because there really are so many changes that I can’t even imagine. I think in general just being a parent has taught me so much patience and that you can be as organized as you’re able to be but spontaneity and just going with what feels right and trusting your instincts is such a big part of the puzzle.
I feel really lucky that I have a really good system in place. Different from the first time around when you’re really just sort of blindsided by it all and have to create a system. As much as I know being a mother of two is going to create a massive change, I have more knowledge and just trust myself more now as a person, and I know what worked and didn’t last time, and I have support so it doesn’t feel as daunting. Plenty of people have done it before me so I have to believe it is possible.
As far as juggling so many aspects of life; just taking things day by day. With my schedule sometimes, it can be a lot of pressure and a lot of stress but I feel really fortunate that we get to do it – that trumps everything. You have to just let it play out. I don’t think there’s just one solution, I think it works differently for everybody.
Q: Do you have any specific delivery plans?
A: No. I want the baby to be delivered as carefully and healthfully as it can be. I don’t believe in plans so I’m going to do as much as I can, for as long as I can, and then I’m going to just trust my doctors and make sure I’m safe and the baby is safe. I just don’t think there’s such thing as planning to the nth degree and being able to check stuff off a list.
Pushing a child out of your body is a very crazy situation so I’m just trying to be strong and healthy and fit so that I can be the strongest version of myself when that baby comes out and understand the processes and be prepared but that’s all I can do. I’m not saying I winging it, just having done it before it never goes the way you think it’s going to go. It’s biological it’s not cerebral. I’m going to just do the best I can and be strong and trust that I’m in good hands with the doctors I know and trust, and get to the hospital as soon as I can.
Q: Can you offer any advice to moms who may not be so calm and stress-free with their pregnancy and want to relax a bit?
A: I think everyone has to do what makes them comfortable, if it makes you feel comfortable to write out a birth plan then do it. Everyone has to do what feels good to them up until it happens and hopefully there is a good support system around them that can help them make smart decisions in the moment. In the delivery moment you have such little time to make clear decisions, so you want to know what is out there and be prepared but there’s a difference between being prepared and being naive about thinking you can just plan how things are going to unfold.
Q: How is Dahlia looking forward to being a big sister?
A: She is really excited. She’s been asking for this for a long time. She’s four and so I think it’s a good age. For me I really like that they have a bit of a separation in age. I don’t know if my mind would have handled it well if she was still in diapers and still needed me so physically as a baby, but the fact that she is now coming into her own little personality in life and is at school every day works. She has great friends and loves her classes and teachers and sort of has her own little world and is independent which is great, because she can wrap her head around it and she’ll be a great helper.
She loves to come kiss my belly, she brings her dolls to come listen to my belly all the time, and she calls the baby lemon. We don’t know why or where she got that from but I like it, it’s really sweet. She literally calls it lemon. If someone is saying something about the baby she’ll say “you mean lemon?” I think it’s cute that she calls it that and she refers to it as lemon all the time. It is really awesome and I can’t wait for them to create a relationship. I think she’s going to be a great big sister. She’s very opinionated and loves little kids and loves telling people what to do in general so she’ll be great.
Q: How Important do you think the postpartum process is?
A: Postpartum is just as important as prenatal. Those first three months can be just as hard, if not harder for women when they have a baby because, ultimately their responsibilities grow and there is so much to look after it is really easy to neglect yourself and I think that’s actually a focus that all women can’t forget because, it can be so crippling. I think where the preparedness comes in is for caring for after the baby’s birth, not for the birth itself. You can prepare as much as you can but you don’t know how that delivery is going to go, but you can prepare for when the baby comes home so that you have people around you and support and extra sets of hands and extra moral support as well. You need a lot of strength to get that baby through the first three months and it can be very debilitating for the mom, both emotionally and physically. Our systems are physically depleted from the birth and there’s no rest. I mean, the baby comes out and two hours later it needs to eat, and two hours after that, and after that, and after that, for months on end! That can be really, really strenuous. It can feel really crushing at and I think it’s important that moms talk about it and have support groups and get help and lean on people because it truly does require as much support as you can find.
Q: Do you plan on taking a break from everything after the baby is born?
A: Oh yea, I’m from Canada. Where I come from you get a year of maternity leave for every single child so I definitely plan on taking off. I’ll definitely take the summer and I’ll go from there. I’m just going to disappear for a while and be with my family and unplug myself as much as I can. I think it’s important not just for the new baby but for my daughter as well, for my marriage, and for my own well-being. It has to become the priority for a little bit.