Chances are, if you’ve had a baby, adopted a baby, been pregnant, or know someone who has done these things, or, taken a stroll through the bookstore, you know who Heidi Murkoff is. You may or may not know her name. But you know her books. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the world-renowned series of books designed to help any expectant parent experience this process with a tad less stress.
To have this resource, a witty and laugh-out-loud funny BFF on my nightstand, standing at the ready, was always immensely helpful. Heidi Murkoff travels from military base to base, throwing baby showers for military mommies-to-be, is endlessly accessible to moms everywhere on social media, and tirelessly continues to write books to help us through pregnancy, baby stages, toddler tantrums and beyond. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would be presenting a Q&A post with that same witty author I relied on, some 7.5 years later. Here, is part 2 of my Q&A with my favorite mommy-guru, author, humanitarian, ambassador and fellow mom, Heidi Murkoff.
(You can catch part 1 of this interview here.)
Ericka: Favorite baby product (can be generic item or a brand)
Heidi: Swaddling blankets that don’t require swaddling skills, which admittedly I never mastered. Swaddling blankets for dummies, I call them. Whether it’s with zippers, snaps, Velcro, a hybrid swaddle/sack – there’s no easier way to make a snug little baby burrito.
Ericka: New Mommas, don’t waste your time…
Heidi: Sweating the small stuff (the only small stuff that matters, is that little one).
Ericka: Experienced Mommas, don’t waste your time…
Heidi: On your phone (unless you’re on Facebook or twitter with me 😉 ). Seriously, childhood can pass you by in the blink of an eye – now to quote Aerosmith “Don’t want to miss a thing”. #distractedparenting
Also, for all mamas: try not to judge (yourself or fellow mamas).
Ericka: Favorite Kid movie?
Heidi: Dumbo – my favorite song is Baby Mine And Lennox loves it, too! (Lennox is her adorable grandson)
Ericka: What books/advice helped you get through pregnancy?
Heidi: If only! The handful of books out at the time were terrifying. And I didn’t have a mom network, since we were the first in our social circle to get pregnant (oops) and there was no such thing as a social media, so finding expectant mom friends on line wasn’t an option. Empathy and empowering information would have been most welcome!
Ericka: What other books, if any, besides your own would you recommend?
Heidi: I don’t read other books for a very specific reason – I want to make What to Expect the best it can be, and always want to trust my gut (and the best, most up to date medical information) to guide me. So I don’t want to be inadvertently influenced or thrown off track. It’s not that I work in a vacuum. Certainly I spend a ton of time talking to moms on social media and moms wherever I go (especially at all those military mom baby showers!). And they continue to be my most valued resource. I just like to be true to WTE. Mind you, I’m of the mind that we’re all on the same team – anyone who wants to support moms and dads through pregnancy and parenting – so it’s never “me” against “them.”
Ericka: Favorite celebrity Mom?
Heidi: I look up to every mom. So they’re all my favorites. And they’re all super special to me. I have had the chance to meet Michelle Obama twice, and she is a pretty awesome mom – and an expert hugger. (She is widely known as the “hugger in chief.”) She hugs everyone, just like I do – real hugs, not the pat, pat kind. She’s dedicated to her kids and her family, but also to moms and families who don’t have the same advantages. I have some photos with her on my desk – in one, Erik had just told her I wrote WTE, and she was saying “You did not!” and in another, she’s using her hands to show me how she’d read every page back in the day when Malia and Sasha were little.
Ericka: Best moment from a fan interaction? (Such as, a fan who touched you in some way, or funny fan moment.)
Heidi: It’s hard to think of moms as “fans.” They’re my family. And moms touch me all the time, especially my military moms. I hear so many stories, especially about dad deployments and the struggles moms face. But probably the most touching was the mom at Ft. Drum who brought me a tattered, very old copy of WTE the First Year, a first edition. She told me how just before her husband deployed to Afghanistan, they went to a thrift shop and bought that copy so that he could take it with him, to connect them – and their baby while he was so far away. I signed that old, beat up copy, and gave them a new one too. And of course, we had lots of hugs.
I’m starting to get recognized more, because of the videos on the WTE app – never was before – and it happens in places like Whole Foods. Then there was the time when Tom Arnold came up to me on an airplane and said he and his wife were big fans. And I spent much of the rest of the flight holding their son. But best moment besides the Michelle Obama one: when I met the President. He was told what I wrote and he said, “I know, that’s how my kids turned out so well.” I reassured him that I’m sure he had something to do with it, too!
Ericka: Advice for mommas who are trying to pursue a career while being mom?
Heidi: Set priorities – and no fair making them all top priority. You can’t do it all, all the time, and do it all well. So think about what matters most, and do the best you can, but don’t stress yourself out in search of Super Mom status. All moms are super, but all of us are also only human. So cut yourself some slack, especially when it comes to the stuff that doesn’t matter so much (crumbs and chaos come with the kid territory…and so does a fair amount of takeout).
Ericka: Advice for stay-at-home moms?
Heidi: I was a stay-at-home mom always – and we never, ever had outside help. I’m not even sure of how I managed to write books at the same time. But I worked a lot while breastfeeding and during naps. Most important, for me, was having schedules and routines. That made my life run much more smoothly. But it’s also, I believe, reassuring for little ones. Consistency is comforting. (Plus it’s great when you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner Monday when it’s always pork chops).
Ericka: What’s the best part of being a writer?
Heidi: Definitely not the writing! I love when I’ve written something. It’s done. And I can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s done (like just now that I’ve finished WTE Fifth edition). But getting there is really not half (or even a quarter) of the fun. For me, though, it’s not about being a writer – which is the solitary part – it’s about the interacting with readers and other moms and dads. The fact that my job allows me to connect on such a personal level (read: have hugs) with so many people from so many different backgrounds (whether it’s a military mom in Germany or a Syrian refugee in Jordan) really is the best part – that’s what makes me happiest.
Read part 3 of this interview here.
To see more of Heidi’s work in action, advice, tools and book info, head over to her website and her Facebook page!
Originally published May 2016.