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Health & Parenting

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TV’s Nancy O’Dell: Mother, Author, Health Advocate

Nancy O’Dell talks about her new book, her baby, and the loss of her mother to Lou Gehrig’s disease.


You’re working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s ALS division. What are you doing for them?

Anything they want me to do. They were there from day one when my mom got diagnosed. A representative walked into the office and said “we will be here every step of the way.” They helped us find equipment and directed us to the expert in whatever issues my mom was having. Now I need to do whatever I can to help them.

It must be hard to be a mom without having yours to lean on. What do you miss the most?

My mom and I were extremely close. We had such a great relationship. She couldn’t have been a more perfect mother. I wish I could call her up and tell her that Ashby is doing this or doing that.

What about your relationship with your mom do you hope to emulate with Ashby?

I could talk to my mom about anything. I never felt like I had to sneak out and I never wanted to participate in anything dangerous because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. It wasn’t that I was fearful that I would be punished if I missed my curfew, I just knew how much they worried and I didn’t want put them through that or disappoint them. This is the type of relationship I hope to build with my daughter.

What about motherhood is most inspiring or overwhelming?

The love. This is a love like you have never experienced before. I can't possibly explain how much I love this person. With the love, comes a lot of worry. My mom was a big worrier. She always said “I hope you are not a worrier like me,” but I am.

Your book of "mom-to-mom tips" for pregnant women came out in April. Want to share a few?

There are cute things and practical things in the book, which is dedicated to my mom and Ashby. There is a recipe for my mom’s spice cake. The ugly side of pregnancy is constipation. I didn’t want to take any medications during pregnancy and I hate the taste of prunes, but this cake is full of prunes and it tastes delicious.

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