Actress, blogger, and now mommy of two, Vanessa Lachey is keeping busier than ever. When we spoke, it was clear that she is really a mom's mom—struggling with the same challenges, living in the same joys that all parents do, plus advocating for her fellow mamas. Which is why it only makes sense that she has partnered with March of Dimes for their imbornto fundraising campaign. "I was fortunate to have two babies go full term and be healthy and strong and have a great beginning, but 1 in 9 babies is born way too early in the U.S.," said mom of Camden, 2, and Brooklyn, 4 months. Here, she tells Parents all about life as a mom of a boy and girl, and how she loves watching her kids grow.
P: Now that you have two, have you noticed any major differences up to this point—having a baby girl and a boy—or are the differences more first child/second child?
VL: I think there are both [types of] differences. There is a first child/second child difference. We have to make a conscious effort to give Brooklyn those moments that we gave Cam, and not just plowing through those with her. There's a difference in the fact that she's a girl and he's a boy...not so much now, but already I've started to worry about it—that's what moms do is constantly worry—how I'm raising a gentleman versus a lady. I'd love for him to be kind and caring and strong and genuine and same thing for her, but I think it's in a different way. As a woman she's got different struggles and different obstacles, both good and bad. I've thought about that more when I'm holding her. Already I'm preparing myself for things that I think are important to instill in her character.
P: The last time you spoke to Parents, you mentioned that when Cam went to bed you and Nick had chill time. Presumably that has changed with a new baby, so how do you guys find alone time?
VL: One thing that Nick and I do that I really appreciate—and to each their own, but it works for us—is that we do have a routine. It's benefited us and Camden. Honestly, it's not that different with Brooklyn here—just an hour later. In fact, when Cam goes down at 7:30, Brooklyn is up for her nighttime routine: I give her a bath, I put lotion on her, I put her in her jammies, I feed her a bottle, I swaddle her, I sing to her, and put her to bed. That last hour is super special because it's my one-on-one intimate time with her. Then once I put her down, we still try to make time for each other.
P: How is Cam as a big brother?
VL: He's awesome. A big part of that is that we constantly try not to show favorites and integrate him into everything we do. We give him a lot of one-on-one time because he's more conscious of our time with him than she is. We make it a point to say "You're going on a lunch date with Mommy." And Nick and him go on missions. So we say "You're going on a mission with Daddy," and then when we're done they're like "Mission accomplished! We went to Lowe's!" He loves that we have these things with him, just him. It makes him have this ownership and it makes him feel important. As she gets older that dance will change. For now he's a great big brother.
P: Does he love interacting with her? Is he protective, shy?
VL: He's protective. He wants to play with her but in the way that a 2-year-old boy wants to play with her so I have to find a nice way to say "Gentle hands." And if he wants to help when she's crying, he goes "Baby Brooklyn crying. Baby Brooklyn crying." He's very concerned and he's very aware of her and he's very curious with her. And I love it. It's really fun to watch their dynamic.
P: I know you have email accounts set up for both of them and that you and Nick write to them. When will you give them the passwords?
VL: I think this is something I pass on to them when they're 18 and they leave. I think there's something with "Hey, for the last 18 years I've written to you, I've loved you, I've written down moments in your life and you're going off to be your own young adult and I'd love for you to see this part of your childhood through my eyes." It will be a special moment.
P: When is the last time Cam made you laugh really really hard?
VL: Honestly, I'm not just saying this, he makes me laugh every day. It amazes me. He's at a point where he just does things unsolicited. It just blows my mind. He's a little sponge and I absolutely love watching him grow into this human being, this charming little man.
P: What's surprises you most about being a mom of two?
VL: I think that's it's manageable still surprises me—that I have two and it's doable. To have Nick have a job and me to have a job, it's all very manageable.
P: What made you decide to partner up with the March of Dimes?
VL: One of my biggest concerns while I was pregnant both times was "any day now...any day now...any day now." It's just this fear that we live in and you just don't know what's going to happen. You don't have a window into your womb and you don't know what you would do if your baby came early, but thankfully for some research that we have ongoing we're getting more answers and we're getting more help and that's March of Dimes' mission. I love being a part of that because these children are literally our future.
P: March of Dimes is such a big support for a lot of these women, do you feel you have a good support network of other moms?
VL: Absolutely. It's very important for me to be a good support system to my mommy friends and other friends as well. I'm very fortunate to have an amazing husband; I know I couldn't have done this with out him. But that's why I chose to marry him and have babies with him. I also want my mommy friends and anyone who can reach out to me—thanks to social media—to let them know that I am here and I'm doing what I can.
Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is our resident theater aficionado and can be found constantly running around New York City to find the best new show, the most awesome dance party, or the hottest Bikram yoga studio. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.