Bethenny Frankel, the break-out star of RHONY, is one busy lady. She gave birth to baby girl Bryn on May 8th, married husband, Jason Hoppy, at 7 months pregnant, and stars in a reality spin-off called Bethenny Getting Married, which focuses on her new life as a parent. We caught up with the new mom to talk about her ongoing feud with fellow housewife Jill Zarin, the criticism over her post-baby body, and why she absolutely won’t take parenting advice.
How is baby Bryn doing?
Great. She’s perfect. She’s sweet. She’s a really calm, good baby.
How did you feel about fellow housewife Jill Zarin inaccurately announcing the birth on Twitter?
Jill can’t get out of her own way. It wasn’t like she had to pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby. All she had to do was go with a 50/50 guess and she still didn’t get it right.
Do you have a nanny?
Not a nanny, but a baby nurse. I had never really changed a diaper or held a baby; it’s been a real learning curve. Jason and I clean, feed, and bathe her, but its nice to have a baby nurse telling you, “They really have to get the burp out,” or “You shouldn’t put alcohol on the belly button.” It’s comforting.
What can we expect from your new show?
It’s funny and emotional, but not catty. I don’t have to yell at someone for it to be entertaining. I don’t have to be at a cocktail charity event and rip someone a new one or have them rip me a new one for it to be entertaining. It won’t give you a headache. It’s more about the struggles I go through being 39 and doing everything backwards like being pregnant at my bridal shower. And [it's about] what it’s like to have your water break five weeks before you’re due and what to put in your bag to go to the hospital. The devil’s in the details. I could have a C-section and not be in any pain, but if you give me too small of a portion at the ice cream store, I have a nervous breakdown.
How do you balance your career and motherhood?
I’m not doing a great job right now. It’s really, really crazy. I did do a date night last night with my husband, but I guess you have to resign yourself to the fact that it’s not going to be balanced for awhile and you’re not going to sleep well for awhile and then you’ll crash for two days, get up, and do it all over again. Right now, I’m not really sleeping. The iron is really hot for me right now, and it’s not like I have a 20-year career where I can lie down and check out. It’s time now for everything – for the baby, my marriage, my work. I’m trying to balance, but it’s hard.
Can you address the recent criticism that you lost your baby weight too quickly?
You have to take Page Six with a grain of salt. They’ll write about how much toilet paper I have in my bathroom. I gained 35 pounds when I was pregnant, but I gave birth five weeks early, so I probably would have been at 40 pounds, which is a healthy weight to gain. As far as sending a message to women – if sending out a message that being healthy before, during and after your pregnancy is a bad message – I didn’t do anything different. My books [sell] because I teach women how to be naturally thin without obsessing. If I wanted cheesecake, I ate it – but not for dinner, for lunch. They say to eat 300 calories more per day, but I probably ate like 400 or 500 calories more a day. I don’t count calories, but based on what I normally eat, I was definitely eating more. I thought losing the weight wasn’t going to be that easy, but then you realize it will come off if you walk, do yoga, and just be normal. The people who have major struggles are probably those who go off the rails and eat McDonalds and Taco Bell. I didn’t wear a bikini for US Magazine because I thought it would be cheesy. I wore a one-piece. I look like a mom; I don’t look like scary-skinny.
Are you excited to take baby Bryn out this summer?
The baby’s never leaving the house! I’ve only gone once across the West Side highway to take the baby out, and I had a nervous breakdown crossing the road. She’s the baby in the bubble. No, I’m excited [to take her out], but the thought of how much [work] it will be to schlep out to the Hamptons could give me a nervous breakdown, too.
Do you plan to expose Bryn to the reality TV world?
She’s on the show a little bit. She doesn’t say much. She’s a little baby, so it’s not like she does anything. But it’s a concern. It’s a conversation between my husband and myself when she’s older. Do we want to put her into some life that she really didn’t sign up for? The answer is probably no – and definitely in moderation.
How does it feel to be a “real housewife”?
It’s great; it’s beautiful. When I was walking down the aisle, I wasn’t thinking about what I looked like or who was there. I was just so happy to be marrying Jason. I love being married to him. I feel like everything came together.
What shocked you most about parenting?
Breastfeeding is the hardest thing. I could write ten New York Times bestsellers before I’ll be good at breastfeeding. It’s a very demanding, difficult, rewarding, worthwhile thing. Another surprising thing is that you don’t sit still; you don’t get a minute of peace. You’re up changing, bathing, breastfeeding, or pumping. I’m not complaining, but I didn’t realize it was every second of the day. I didn’t realize babies woke up every three hours. That was news to me when she was born.
How do you and Jason differ in your parenting skills?
I’m stricter. I want her to know you have to be in the crib sometimes when your eyes are open and you’re not held. If she’s crying, there’s probably something wrong, but in general, Jason would sit on the couch for an hour and hold her where I really want to get her used to the regimen.
Are the rumors that you’re trying for baby #2 true?
Jason would like to try now but I would break down. No, we aren’t trying now since we can’t have sex, and no, we aren’t trying when we can have sex. I need to process and digest and adjust to having a baby. I know I’m older and have to get on it, but whatever happens, happens.
Do you have mommy friends that give you advice?
On a case-by-case basis. I didn’t read any of the books. If I have an issue, like breastfeeding, I’ll ask my girlfriends, but in general I’m not a big fan of unsolicited advice because I don’t know any perfect people, so therefore I don’t know any perfect mothers. It’s been baby college for Jason and me. We learn a lot from the nurses, but I don’t take everyone’s advice. If I want advice, I’ll ask for it.
Do you think it’s important to maintain your sense of style post-baby?
I don’t have a sense of style. I’m still wearing maternity clothes because I’m too cheap to buy new things. My goal is to be more stylish and take chances and wear fashionable clothes, but the first effort is to brush your hair and put some make-up on. I walk out of my house like an animal at night in my pajamas walking my dog. You have to get it together and that won’t be easy for me unless I’m going out in public.
It seems like you and Jason have a great balance.
I wouldn’t want a guy that was jumping in front of the camera like Spencer Pratt. Jason doesn’t like doing the show, but he says, “If this is good for you and this is good for our family, I’ll do it.’ And he’s got my sense of humor. We’re both idiots, so that’s good.