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This story first appeared in the 2015 Women in Entertainment issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Over the past year and a half, many of the women working at Jimmy Kimmel Live! got fat. Including myself, nine staffers wound up knocked up (all by Jimmy, who explained he is strongly committed to building a family atmosphere in the workplace). One day, we were zipping around the building, noses in our phones, scouring YouTube for videos of kids sobbing over Halloween candy … and the next we were waddling around the office, noses in our phones, trying not to cry or puke in meetings.
“You can have it all,” joked McNearney (second from left, holding Jane Kimmel) as she and her ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ colleagues posed with their remarkably well-behaved children. They were photographed Nov. 30 on the set of the show.
I vomited at work almost every day of the first 26 weeks of my pregnancy. My low point was hurling on Hollywood Boulevard exactly halfway between Phil Collins’ and Regis Philbin’s stars, much to the horror of a man dressed as Chewbacca.
When I wasn’t throwing up, I struggled to keep my face from hitting the keyboard. Turns out, growing a human inside you is even more exhausting than trying to get Justin Bieber to commit to a comedy bit. My pregnant co-workers and I would send production assistants on late-afternoon coffee runs to fetch useless cups of baby-safe decaf.
Our appetites resembled those of 7-year-olds. We’d send runners out for the only foods we could stomach: mac and cheese, french fries and milkshakes. Elementary school superfoods. Our building is dangerously close to a Wetzel’s Pretzels. I nourished my fetus with warm pretzels dipped in bright orange “cheese.”
Being pregnant at work was challenging, but experiencing it as a group with other tired, frightened and excited women made it easier. Our support for one another grew along with our bellies.
Once the babies came and drained us, we returned to work and discovered how lucky we were to have one another. The advice was helpful (How do you sleep train? Why am I crying at soup commercials? What’s the best way to get poop out of a bathtub?), but what I valued most was the unconditional support only fellow mothers can give. We looked out for one another. We understood one another. We respected the athletic prowess required to succeed at work and at home. When Carrie almost drowned her baby on Homeland, we shared a group panic attack. We traded baby clothes, stories of sleepless nights and far, far too many photos of our kids.
We buy one another strong coffee now. We greet one another with tired eyes and unmanicured nails. We feel guilty for leaving our babies at home to go to work. We feel worse for wanting to be at work when we’re at home with our babies. We clean our breast pumps in the office kitchen while a 20-year-old intern named Kevin tries to avert his eyes.
Together we’re struggling to balance our lives — working hard to make a good late-night show and even harder to make good little human beings.
It’s not easy. We often have to put work first — in my case, writing scripts while breast-feeding, missing bath time so President Obama can read Mean Tweets, sabotaging sleep training so that Rihanna and a camera crew can jump on Jimmy’s bed at 2 a.m.
It’s challenging but rewarding because we do it together. We do our best every day to please audiences big and small. My hope is that our tireless little mom army inspires our daughters and encourages other women who plan to juggle a career with children. At the very least, it’s fun to make Kevin uncomfortable.
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