Sounds of Pertussis

Sarah Michelle Gellar probably won't be happy to hear this, but she will forever be Buffy Summers to me—no matter what amazing roles the Emmy-winning actress goes on to play (including her part as ad exec Sydney Roberts in the new CBS series, The Crazy Ones, opposite Robin Williams, which debuts this fall). I loved her as the girly lingo-slinging, kick-butt vampire slayer who was always there secretly saving the world, and looking awesome while doing it.

Now mom to Charlotte, 3, and Rocky, 8 months, Mrs. Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a superhero of another sort (don't all mothers deserve that status?!), and, since she's been through it twice, I knew she'd have some amazing pregnancy wisdom to share.

I sat down for a chat with Sarah—who was on the cover of Parents when she was five years old!—to chat about her favorite tips for moms-to-be, and found out about her new mission to save babies lives. Here's what went down:

When you're pregnant, you're so worried that you're going to do something wrong—not eat well enough, not exercise enough... You know, with my first I actually went into labor during Pilates. I told my trainer, "I'm cranky today," but it turned out I was in labor but didn't realize it!

No way! Well, that's a crazy story you can share with Charlotte one day! Some women love being pregnant; others just can't wait to get it over with and have the baby. Which were you?I loved being pregnant because there was a baby growing inside me. Were there some parts that weren't so fun? Yes. No one likes morning sickness! But I like crackers and pasta, so it wasn't so bad.

You already had a girl, so how did you react when the doctor told you that you were having a boy with Rocky? Actually, it's a funny story. I saw the sonogram before the doctor even came into the room, and I [saw the penis and] was like, "Oh, that's a boy!" The tech was like, "Let's wait for the doctor, but I think your hunch is right."

I'm amazed you could make it out. I feel like most pregnant women have no idea what they're looking at on sonograms. I've always been able to look at the screen and say, "That's the foot, that's the head." It's a hidden talent. I am really good at it!

Which did you gain more pregnancy weight with: Charlotte or Rocky? That's an interesting question, because you don't count the things the same way the second time around because you're chasing a toddler. I wasn't aware of how much weight I had gained or when I started showing with the second pregnancy.

You're just too busy to, huh? Yes, and I'm lucky because my kids are just one day apart (by three years) so at least with milestones I can remember when they happened because they'll be the same age exactly at the same time.

You couldn't plan that even if you tried! No, you couldn't. By the way, it makes birthday planning very difficult.

Was it easier being a clueless first-time mom, or a second-time mom with a toddler running around? Ultimately it's easier the second time because you know more. Kids are very fragile but they're also very resilient. I don't question myself in the same way now.

What's your best advice for nervous moms-to-be? Being pregnant, and then having a baby, is very overwhelming. But you need to learn to trust yourself and your instincts. The first time around I didn't believe I could do it and I was really hard on myself. I wish I realized then, "You know what? I did a pretty good job." But I'm not perfect. I still put diapers on backwards! I can't tell you how many times a day I'm still like, "Wait a minute—what's going on here? Oh, I put it on backwards!" Or snaps on onesies—why are they so hard? Each set of snaps should be color-coded so the red goes to the red, the blue to the blue, etc. The zippered onesies may seem easier but trust me the first time you zip your baby's skin, you want to kill yourself. You have to just let it go, though. That happened to me, and you know what? My kids lived and they don't even remember it.

How did you balance work, a toddler and being pregnant with a second? It's a juggling act. Anyone who says it doesn't take a village is either lying or is totally kidding themselves. I'm fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive village and I have wonderful friends. Also there's a lot of OCD scheduling with colored pens. Having a child is the best medicine for being a control freak because you can't control everything. You just go along for the greatest ride of your life and enjoy every minute.

You first heard about how deadly Pertussis (whooping cough) is to infants while you were pregnant with Charlotte, right? Yes, I had already had the Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis) vaccine and booster because I had been traveling to underdeveloped countries overseas [for charity work], and then when I was pregnant my OB asked if I had had the vaccine and if I was up to date. She was the one who explained to me how extremely dangerous Pertussis is for infants. I thought it was something that everyone knew about. When I found out not everyone did, I wanted to be a part of the campaign to get the information out there so adults can help prevent their loved ones from suffering from it. I liken the vaccines to when you have a new baby and someone comes to visit you automatically ask them to use hand sanitizer. This is the same thing. It's about keeping your children safe.

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Sarah aims to save lives as the spokesperson for the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur campaign, Sounds of Pertussis. The goal is to educate adults about the deadly threat of whooping cough (Pertussis) amongst infants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that America is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of reported Pertussis cases in 50 years. With infants not being able to get vaccinated until they're two months old, and with it sometimes taking up to three doses for them to be completely protected, babies are the most susceptible to Pertussis.

The good news is it is preventable. In 80 percent of the reported cases, the infants contracted it from a family member and in 50 percent of the cases, parents were the ones who exposed their babies to the disease. So if adults are vaccinated, and they keep up their booster shots as directed by a doctor, the chance of their children or other infant family members being hospitalized or dying from Pertussis is greatly decreased.

Pledge to get your Tdap vaccine and spread the word to your family members on the Sounds of Pertussis page on Facebook.

TELL US: Did your OB tell you to get your Tdap vaccine? Have you gotten it yet?

Image of Sarah Michelle Gellar courtesy of the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign.