There is going back to work after baby, and then there is what Ginger Zee is doing, joining "Dancing With the Stars" in Los Angeles in addition to keeping her regular gigs on Good Morning America and serving as chief meteorologist for ABC News, both back in New York City. Literally, how does she do it? When we called to ask, we learned that her nanny was sick for a fourth day in a row, so Zee and her husband were also on fulltime baby-Adrian duty. (Their little boy was born in December.) Zee, ever cheerful, promised they were having fun!
Parents.com: We are in awe of how you're working two jobs, one on each coast, during this first year of motherhood! Where do you get the energy?
Ginger Zee: I swear there are times when I question whether it's all going to happen! And there are of course times when I need more coffee. But with the baby, my awake life is suddenly very different. I kick into high gear. Then, I have to be fully honest, my letdown time is when I'm crossing the country. The travel is when my body doesn't have to do anything and my mind can let go because I know he's in great hands. And what can I do about anything up there? Nothing! You just have to find those moments. Mine happen to be at 35,000 feet!
Having a baby is an adrenaline rush.
GZ: It's that instinct, I guess, taking over. I've never had the type of energy that I do now! I've found this extra reserve that I didn't even know I had. Though I may also take an extra B12 vitamin!
Did they ask you to do DWTS before you gave birth?
GZ: I was actually talking to them about doing the show a couple seasons before this. Then I got pregnant and they asked again. I said, 'Oddly, it would just work, by like a week!'" I was cutting it close and obviously if something had happened that made it physically impossible, I would have had to back out. But my having just had a baby made it a bigger challenge for me and a better story for them. I don't think the show has ever had someone coming to rehearsals and pumping! Val [Chmerkovskiy, her dance partner] certainly hasn't.
Once it became time to compete, were you like, What have I gotten myself into?
GZ: Definitely! I didn't even register that it was a competition until that first night when I looked around at all these other people. I was coming from zero experience! So I had to throw every reservation out the window. But maybe that's the best way to do it. If I had done it a few years ago, I might have been even more self-conscious.
I knew I would have tons of support and help, but physically it's been really challenging. You have to find your center and find it fast. Dancing is all about your core. I still don't understand how we got to the place we are now! [As of this interview, she's made it to week 8 and earned a perfect score.] I've had moments of doubt and questioning, and feeling overweight, but with this show you just have to go and make it work.
I have to say, it does look like a fun way to get into shape after having a baby!
GZ: It's been the best way to change my body because I've been so busy. I haven't had to touch the gym, and I don't want to have to go back there! I'm dancing four to five hours a day, and that will do it.
You've now done a cross-country flight with Adrian, who is living with you and your husband in LA for the duration of DWTS. Any tips for parents who are planning plane trips with little ones?
GZ: Standing up with him totally worked. It's a long flight and I wanted people around me to not be irritated. We were lucky that there was no turbulence and I was able to stand most of the time. I don't know if he wouldn't have been that good if we had to sit. As it turned out though, he was happy when we sat for the descent. And I realized it was because he was pooping. A lot! I was like great. At that point it really smelled and I was wrapping a blanket around him to try and contain things. But he was so pleased with himself! And we got like seven compliments about his good behavior.
What about travel-gear tips? What were the must-have baby-gear items you brought for Adrian out to LA?
GZ: There's a Tiny Love mobile that he's obsessed with, it has a cat on the front. It rotates little stuffed animals and it's his best friend! So even though it took up so much of the suitcase, and we probably could have just bought one in LA, we considered that mobile an absolute necessity. And I travel back and forth with my Medela Freestyle Breastpump. That's an obvious one.
I know he's been on the show once.
GZ: "Dancing With the Stars" tapes late, way past his bedtime. He's on such a schedule that when you go outside of that it's never good! But my husband brought him and it was so loud it was ridiculous. So the poor thing had the biggest meltdown I have ever seen, live on television for 13 million people. We have a screengrab of his face!
Well, all the hard work you're doing is amazing.
GZ: Three weeks from now, if not sooner, I will actually have free time for the first time. I went super crazy, 160 miles an hour, right out of the gate. But when this is all over I can take a moment and breathe!