Health & Wellness

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: An Interview with Emma Bing

Emma Bing, the baby that inspired What to Expect When You’re Expecting, has her own baby now—and is featured on the cover of the fifth edition! Workman interviews her here.


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You were the inspiration for this perennial bestseller when your mother was pregnant with you and couldn’t find the information she was looking for. You were raised with these books in your life. But were there still things about your own experience with pregnancy and parenting that surprised you? How did the books help you with any challenges you faced?

Nausea is kind of the universal pregnancy symptom. I’m pretty sure every pregnant woman has at least a brief wave or two over their nine months—and I expected it. But what I didn’t expect: Pregnancy nausea isn’t anything like regular run-of-the-mill, stomach bug, ate-some-bad-turkey kind of nausea. No, no, no, let me tell you! It’s a tunnel of queasy with no light at the end. You want to throw up to make it go away but you can’t (at least I couldn’t). It’s like spending 24/7 on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the carnival after eating a funnel cake with extra powdered sugar and six hot dogs. Things got real in that department. I wore Sea-Bands 99 percent of my pregnancy. I even wore them at delivery.

What to Expect always managed to put me at ease when I was concerned about something. Or everything. I had some spotting when I was around ten weeks and naturally grabbed my book for reassurance (and, of course, I also called my mom and the doctor). I am an alarmist by nature, so I ended up grabbing the book a lot. There wasn’t one pregnancy question that I had that the book didn’t cover. It’s basically a portable version of my mom.

And one of my favorite things about the book was seeing what my baby was up to each month—I was so curious to see what new organs were developing, how his little fingernails were forming, and how big he was growing. Granted, I did cheat and skip ahead a lot.

But, the truth is, there is nothing that’s going to prepare you for leaving the hospital in a giant diaper after a vaginal birth . . . or for the hemorrhoids. You read about it, you hear about it from friends, then you experience it and you’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I just pushed a human out and now I have to sit on a donut and use witch hazel wipes? What is this?!”

emma traumTell us how you used the What to Expect books when you were expecting Lennox, and after he was born.

Appropriately, I was with my mom when I got the call from my doctor’s office confirming I was pregnant. After crying happy tears in the Whole Foods parking lot for twenty minutes and forgoing the grocery run, we went back to her house and I—of course—got a signed copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I read it every day. I remember sitting at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store waiting for service, reading it. I wasn’t showing that much at that point, but I had it in the open making sure that every bystander could see it (and realize that I wasn’t just bloated). I was so proud. I also abused my text and phone privileges . . . I’m sure my mom wasn’t super excited to get those three a.m. calls. It felt like it had come full circle. I inspired the book before I was born, and here I was reading it during my pregnancy.

After I had Lennox, the book was like my guardian angel, or a live-in mom. I had not really been around a lot of babies. I was a bit of a mess. What to Expect the First Year was my constant companion. My alarmist nature transferred over from pregnancy to now having a newborn, so you better believe I looked up every little tiny thing that Lennox did that concerned me . . . which would be everything. You know, from “Does his belly button look normal?” to “How much should he eat?” to “Is his poop supposed to look like this?” I was really green—and First Year gave me a confidence boost when I needed it most.

Lennox is on the cover of What to Expect the First Year, and with you on the new edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. You are both cover models! Tell us about this!

I’m not gonna lie, Lennox is a little competitive. He is on the back cover of What to Expect so technically he has three cover photos (well, four, if you count his cameo in my belly). He likes to remind me of that. Really, I know this word is so overused, but it is such an honor to be on the cover. When my mom first mentioned it, I was like, “Wait, are you sure? Am I worthy?” Then when I realized my mom was serious about it, I cried.

What to Expect isn’t just a book. It’s a family. I am grateful to be a part of it. The moms that read What to Expect are a part of this beautiful community. A sisterhood, if you will (as my mom says). I am privileged to be a part of it. Lennox naturally feels the same way.

And I have to admit, when I go to Target I always line the two books up and sneak a photo. It’s pretty special. I can’t wait until Lennox is older so I can embarrass him in front of his future girlfriends with the cover.

How do you think the new book cover speaks to today’s pregnant mom/couple?

I think it’s fresh and bright and new—and so happy! When I was shooting the cover photo, my heart was filled with so much love—I think you can see that in my eyes. I felt so lucky to be pregnant, and I hope that every mom reading the book feels the same way.

My son was the first cover model in the What to Expect series that wasn’t a drawing . . . I’m the second. I personally prefer that. It’s 2016 and What to Expect is evolving. Not only inside, but outside. It’s like, “Hey millennial mom!”

How do you feel about being so front and center welcoming millions of new moms to pregnancy?

I’m beyond excited to be sharing this adventure with so many moms-to-be. I almost wish I could pop out of the book, hug them all, and say, “We got this!” But not really, because that would be creepy, and no pregnant woman needs that kind of surprise. (We have enough reasons to pee our pants!)

How did you decide on your wardrobe for the cover photo?

There was never any question that I would wear Seraphine. I wore it my whole pregnancy and it made me feel pretty and put together even when I couldn’t see my feet. I honestly still wear the clothes now. That’s how versatile they are. They have a denim jumpsuit out right now that makes me want to get pregnant. Just for that jumpsuit.

How did you feel the first time you saw the finished book?

Again, I cried. Can we sense a theme here? I am a crier. It was really, well, unreal.  Like, “Wait?! That’s me?!” It’s extra special to me because my pregnancy with Lennox is forever commemorated. By the way, I’m the officially super-embarrassing person who takes selfies with the book every time I see it. Just kidding. Not really—check my Instagram. The new edition is INCREDIBLE and I’m so proud of my mom. She really outdid herself this time. It’s by far the best edition yet . . . and not just because I’m on the cover . . . but, I mean, that doesn’t hurt.

What is Lennox up to now? Is parenting a child his age what YOU expected?

Lennox is three now and seriously the joy of our lives. He is the sweetest soul on earth and by far the funniest person I’ve ever met. He has a passion for bugs. He’s a mini me. When I was little I was called the “bug girl” because I used to collect bugs at the park. Over time, my bug obsession melted away, but this little fella is bringing it back. It’s kind of magical how kids have that effect on you. They help you see things that you would have missed without them there. They allow you to see the world through their eyes. It’s beautiful. We collect rolly pollies together and put them in our ten-gallon aquarium that we got just for them. We have a whole colony. I have become that mom. And I love it.

He is starting his second year of preschool in September. Let me tell you, it goes fast. You blink and they’re walking and talking. I wish that you could blink and potty training would be done. Alas, it doesn’t work like that. Maybe I should check out What to Expect the Second Year.

Parenting a toddler is not for the faint of heart. It makes babies look like a walk in the park on a summer day. They’re little people with big personalities. Every day is a new challenge and adventure. It’s messy and it’s a roller coaster. But let me tell you, it’s the best ride of my life.

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