This season I start my second year with ESPN. It’s all very surreal when I look back at where I was a little more than a year ago. In the thick of postpartum depression, in between jobs, and figuring out how to manage traveling and a newborn.
For those who don’t know my background, I was a reporter for FOX Sports San Diego covering the Padres. It was an amazing job, working with great people. I got pregnant towards the end of my second season. (I don’t say “we were pregnant” because my husband didn’t have morning sickness and could drink a glass of wine at night). Around the same time, my husband got his dream job at Pepperdine. So after the season, we moved up to LA, and I finished out my college football season with FOX.
But during that time, I became very insecure about my pregnancy. I said goodbye to the viewers in San Diego, and never mentioned we were having a baby. I went through an entire football season wearing baggy clothes and heavy coats trying to hide it. I never brought it up to the players and coaches I was covering. I don’t know how to describe the feeling other than to say I was embarrassed. I know, that’s a horrible thing to say. I hate myself for even typing that.
Here’s my reasoning behind it. In tv, especially as a woman in sports, you feel that you have to be pretty, skinny, best-dressed, ageless. Yes, I know my job is so much more than that, but you do feel pressure to look a certain way. When you are pregnant, you feel anything but those qualities. At least I did. I was not one of those women who have a certain “glow” about them. I called that sweat. I also felt like there was a certain perception about female sideline reporters. I thought that if people knew I was a mom, the viewers would look at me differently. They would look at me like…. like I did. Like I was old.
It’s no secret that there aren’t as many women in sports in their 40s. Maybe I thought that becoming a mom would put me “over the hill” in tv age. That it meant I reached the peak of my career, and everything after that was downhill.
On top of that, I was also in between jobs. Who would want to hire a pregnant woman for a job on tv? I can tell you now…. many will. I auditioned at the Tennis Channel 32 weeks pregnant. I was hired on the spot. I was also in talks with ESPN at the time. They offered me a job six weeks after I had Jace. I was wrong. People didn’t hire me because I was a cookie-cutter, blond, skinny female who knew sports. They hired me because I was dang good at my job.
I looked back at it now and I feel incredibly naive and stupid about it all. I’m at a company with the top reporters in our industry. Some are moms. Some aren’t. Regardless, they all got there on merit. Not looks or their age. So why did I think my case would be different? I’d been covering college sports for 12 years. Why did I think becoming a mom would negate all that?
Now I have this amazing, tiny human running all over my house. (well, not so tiny anymore). I hate that I ever felt ashamed for being pregnant with him. I don’t have many pictures during those 9 months. I don’t have many of us in the hospital or the days after he was born, because I didn’t want to be in pictures. I hate that as well.
I’m writing this because I hope next time around I’ll take pride in having a baby. I didn’t know it at the time, but having a child has made me a better reporter. I can relate to the moms watching their sons get injured on the field. I can relate to the coaches who miss out on dinners and weekends with their families. I have more in common now with the people I cover than I did before.
To all the other women in my industry that want or are about to start a family: don’t hold off on it because you’re afraid of how it will affect your career. I can tell you now, it doesn’t matter. The majority of viewers and bosses in this industry will not judge you based on your age and the number of children you have. And don’t concern yourself with the ones that do. They don’t hold a cup or tea in comparison to the love you’ll have for your family. The hard part is managing the love for your job and your family. I’ll save that for another post.