gail

As a trained chef, Special Projects Director of Food & Wine Magazine, a judge on Top Chef (and Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels), host of the new show The Feed, overseer of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, board member of City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen, published author (if you haven’t read Talking With My Mouth Full you should) – Gail Simmons has a lot on her plate.

Add to the roster: mom to five month-old Dahlia Rae. But don’t tell her that “it’s going to get better” because she already loves every minute of it: “It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.”

The new mom leaves her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, neighborhood – where they moved a week before she gave birth – for Boston soon to shoot season 12 of Top Chef with Dahlia Rae in tow.

We caught up with her (in between pumping and meetings) about the challenges of nursing and one of her most embarrassing moments (yes, it involves breastmilk).

What’s In A Name?

Dahlia is my favorite flower – it symbolizes sunshine and comes in so many amazing colors. It was our wedding flower and it was on our invitation. Rae is to honor my husband’s Aunt Rena, who passed away two years ago. She was so encouraging and supportive in our lives, and we love and miss her so much.

 Lifesaving Products

We opened the Fisher-Price bouncy chair when she was a month old, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t opened it sooner. It allowed us to eat dinner, for me to pump and go to the bathroom when I was home alone with her. Once she hit three months, she graduated to the Mamaroo, which we call the hovercraft. She’s really into it now.

 Part Of The Club

On Top Chef, I was the only one who didn’t have kids, so they’ve been a wealth of knowledge and help. Michelle Bernstein made me realize it’s okay to be back at work and to lose the guilt associated with it because it’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity.

 Deep Thoughts From Gail

How will she sleep comfortably unswaddled? How can I leave the house without 14 bags? How do I pump when I’m running around all day? These are questions I don’t know the answers to.

 #Momfail

I was taping in front of a live studio audience and forgot to put nipple pads in my bra. They leaked right there. It was horrifying. You think you’re at least keeping it together on the outside. Of course I was wearing a beautiful silk dress. And in case you didn’t know, yes, milk stains. It was a low point.

Get In My Belly

After giving birth, you feel like you don’t know anything, including how to keep yourself fed. I have mastered the efficient grocery shop. Fresh Direct is tough for me because I like to physically walk the aisles and see my options. I went to Union Market and created a basic order with them. Sometimes I go and pick everything out and have them deliver it, others I just call and ask for my basics. I embrace anyone who delivers these days.

Flower Child

I love Honest diapers. Dahlia wears dahlias on her bottom – how cute is that?! Angela and Ethan Stowell [chef] gave me this amazing RoSK blanket that’s waterproof on one side, soft and fluffy on the other and it ties onto the stroller. It’s great for the park because you can put the waterproof side on the ground.

Neighborhood Nosh

We moved to Cobble Hill a week before I gave birth, so we’ve been getting to know the restaurants with baby in tow. We love Buttermilk Channel, Court Street Grocers, Nightingale 9, Red Gravy, Iris Cafe – they’re all so accommodating and kid-friendly. I spent a month in LA shooting and we frequented Cafe Gratitude, Alfred Coffee & Kitchen and lunch at Fred Segal.

Just Stop, Already

Everyone keeps saying, oh it’s going to get better, but we are actually loving the early days. She’s only four and a half months, and we are already reminiscing about things she “used to do”. It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.

Give Yourself A Break

I think new moms feel out of control so they obsess about routine and schedules, but the truth is they are babies, and you have to give yourself a break. They are going to be fine if you can’t feed them every three hours to the minute. Babies are adaptable and every child is different – you can’t prescribe one schedule for all. It’s all going to be okay as long as they are fed, dry and loved.

First Foods

I hope to make Dahlia Rae’s food myself in the beginning. I can’t wait for her to try avocado, banana, mango, sweet potato, peaches, corn. There would be great irony if I spawned a very picky eater.

Three Hours Alone On A Saturday

Will that ever happen again? I’m getting a mani, pedi and a massage anywhere that will take me at a moment’s notice.

Mom Brain

Now I know why my mom sometimes can’t remember my name. Because she had three children. I barely know my own name some days, and I only have one. Sleep deprivation is rough.

 

Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

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On Our Radar September 19, 2014

radar WHO: Sick kids who need to stay hydrated and non-sickies who could use added nutrition.
WHAT: Ella’s Kitchen organic electrolyte drinks are full of all natural ingredients (coconut water, fruit and veggie purees) and don’t have any of the bad stuff (artificial flavors, colors, or additives).
WHEN: Stock up before you actually need it.
WHERE: target.com

WHO: Parents and caregivers packing little lunches on the regular.
WHAT: Zoli’s new vaccum-insulated food containers keep soup hot and yogurt cold, plus the cheerful colors just make you feel happy.
WHEN: Before soup season is upon us.
WHERE: zolibaby.com

WHO: Parents of paci-obsessed littles.
WHAT: Chewbeads new paci clips are not only cuter than the other options out there but they also glow in the dark, making them easy to find at all times.
WHEN: Before you lose another one.
WHERE: chewbeads.com

WHO: Owners of downright filthy strollers and car seats.
WHAT: BuggyLOVE is a line of organic cleaning products that safely rid your gear of muck.
WHEN: Before it becomes a health hazard.
WHERE: buggylove.com

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mommy_board_acronyms

I’m a FTM, EBF my 8-week LO (actually NAK at the moment) and have a semi-embarrassing question: LAM is a real thing, right (not an OWT)? Because we DTD once, and I’m worried I may be PG again already. Have not POAS. It would be impossible to get a BFP, right? RIGHT?! WM on ML freaking out here. TIA.

Welcome to the MMB (mommy message board). Not only must you learn to interpret the unique cries of your baby, but those of your fellow mamas. And they also speak in code. Keep handy this mile-long list of acronyms to translate the beautiful craziness that is the MMB. While it can be a wealth of knowledge, consider yourself warned, it’s a serious rabbit hole.

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attachment parenting

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birth control (what reading a mommy board will drive you to)

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big fat negative (on the stick)

More

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big fat positive (on the stick)

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breast milk (we gotcha there, huh?)

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controlled crying (a sleep method)

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cloth diaper

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cry it out (aka hell on earth)

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dairy allergy

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dear daughter

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dear husband

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dear son

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did the deed (isn’t “sex” just as easy to spell?)

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exclusively breastfeeding

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expressed breast milk

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elimination communication (we had to wiki that one too)

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formula feeding

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first time mom

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Lactational Amenorrhea Method (natural birth control while breastfeeding)

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little one

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miscarriage

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maternity leave

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mommy message board

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nursing at keyboard

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old wives tale

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pregnant

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pee on a stick

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postpartum depression

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Resources for Infant Educarers (the parenting method all the LA moms follow)

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stay at home mom

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thanks in advance (the universal sign-off on the MMB)

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trying to conceive

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vaginal birth after cesarean

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work at home mom

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working mom

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what you’ll say after reading this list

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