Best known for her role as Meadow Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos, Jamie-Lynn Sigler also has appeared in the feature films Extreme Datingand Beneath the Dark, and guest starred in a number of TV series. In 2002, she published an autobiography, Wise Girl, that focused on her struggle with an eating disorder. Here, she talks about her pregnancy (she gave birth in August), her parenting hopes and dreams, and her best (and worst) health habits.
You just had your son in August. How was your pregnancy?
The first few months were not easy. I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks, and at 6 weeks, the nausea and exhaustion kicked in pretty hard. They call it morning sickness, but for me it was 24-hour sickness. All I could eat was bagels for about 3 months. And I couldn't stay up past 10 p.m. I'd sleep for 12 hours and wake up even more nauseous. Everybody promised me that it would end at 12 weeks, and I'm lucky that it did. I just woke up one day and it was gone.
How about the second and third trimesters?
I definitely got the "honeymoon" phase. I got my energy back and the first 3 months are a memory. I got that natural feeling to nest. We [fiancé Cutter Dykstra] renovated our home, and I got really excited about setting up our little boy's nursery.
Were you nervous about anything during your pregnancy?
I tried to avoid too many pregnancy books or advice columns or forums, things telling you that you should feel this many kicks per hour and so on, and if you don't, you start to panic. Being pregnant is the most natural thing our bodies can do. Our grandparents did it without all these books, and they came out OK.
What were your childbirth plans? Did you go all natural, or bring on the drugs?
I gave birth in a hospital with a doula. Birth is really judgy and people get really opinionated, and everyone's entitled to the experience they want. My doula told me, let's prepare in our minds for the level of pain we're expecting, and double that and see what we would want to do if that happens. But I wasn't scared of childbirth, I think because of my doula. I educated myself and did my fair share of research, and that made me feel a little more prepared.
How did you find your doula?
It's kind of crazy! I did a show with NBC called Celebrity Game Night, where six celebrities are teamed with regular people to play games like charades. This girl on my team, we really hit it off, and she told me she's a massage therapist and doula. We stayed in touch. She lives in Tennessee, and she flew in for the birth.
You've said you picked up a lot of advice from friends who are pregnant, too. What's the best tip you heard?
I watched my best friend give birth a few months ago. I was in there, front row, right behind the doctor, and it was amazing and such a privilege and such a beautiful thing that she allowed me to be there. She already has a 3-year-old son and now just had a little girl, and she's kind of who I went to for everything. I was really panicking about all the things I needed to buy for the baby, and she was like, "You don't need this, you do need this, try this and see if he likes it..." And my mom said, "Jamie, I did it with nothing. We had three kids and very little for you, and you were all fine." They eased my fears.
Was it easy or hard to keep up with working out during pregnancy? How did you adapt your schedule?
I wasn't the best, I have to be honest! I looked up yoga stretches and positions online and I did that sometimes, and I tried to walk as much as I can, but I didn't pressure myself to keep up any kind of exercise routine. I lay down a lot! In the first trimester I couldn't do anything; I was lucky if I could get out of the house. Since I was super-pregnant during the two hottest months of the year, I also swam whenever I could.
What are you most looking forward to doing again that you've had to give up while pregnant?
Sushi, for sure. You know, I was also never a big drinker, but I'd watch the Real Housewives shows and they were all drinking champagne, and it looked so good to me!
What are your thoughts about your parenting style or philosophy?
I'm inspired by many of the different ways people parent and discipline. A girlfriend of mine gave me Happiest Baby on the Block, and I want to watch that. But I don't want to be rigid and hold myself to expectations of how things should go. I want to see what he's like and who he is, and he and my fiancé and I will figure it out. I know a baby's main way of communicating is crying, so I have to not get frustrated about it. A friend told me to get Zen about it when you hear that sound: It's him talking.
Who are your parenting role models?
I've had a lot of good examples. My brother and sister-in-law have three kids, and she's a phenomenal mom. She's had three babies in 5 years, and I go to her for a lot of things. There are six of us in my group of friends who are all having babies this year, and it's been nice to have this close network of people you trust going through it together.
When you're not pregnant, what's your best health habit? Your worst?
I'm a big juicer! I like to get in my greens that way. I'm not a big salad eater. I'll eat the stuff that's in the salad and not the greens, so I get it through juicing. My worst habit is that I have a very, very large sweet tooth. I like a lot of candy. Nerds and SweeTarts are my favorite. My sister-in-law makes special cakes, and for my birthday, she made me one in the shape of a Nerds box.
If you could wave a magic wand and eliminate any disease or health condition, what would it be?
That's so hard. It's like picking which kid you love best. I'd say cancer just because it's affected the most people in my life. There have been so many breakthroughs and there's hope, but it's still that scary word. There's a reason people used to whisper it when they said it.
What are you most excited to do with your son?
I was just talking about that yesterday with my fiancé. His family is from the South. My mom is Cuban, and my Dad's a born-and-raised Brooklyn Jew. I'm really excited to bring him to meet all these different relatives and expose him to these different cultures and places in the country. And I'm just excited to see what he's going to be into. Cutter is an athlete, and I'm in arts and music, and it will be fun to go on that journey with our son and see what he's into and support whatever it is.
What's a perfect "me day" for you?
First, I'd sleep in. Then I'd sit outside with Cutter and my dog and read the paper on my iPad. Then we'd go out for a nice big breakfast. Breakfast tends to be my largest meal, so it'd probably consist of some type of omelet and pancakes and chocolate milk. Then something outside, like swimming or going to the dog park. Then I'd come home, take a shower, get in bed, watch a movie and fall asleep. I'm a big fan of the afternoon nap! And then I'd wake up and go have dinner with friends and come home wishing to do it all over again the next day.
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