The NFL on-air personality and journalist just gave birth to her first (a girl!) after a whirlwind romance with husband, Jason White. Now, the Los Angeles-based family is cozying up in that postpartum glow with six-week-old Wilhelmina Marie and navigating their new normal.
We sat down with Chex to talk pregnancy, her early delivery due to Wilhelmina’s intrauterine growth restriction, and plans for forging her own back-to-work path at the sports organization.
How’s it going? Deets??
We have an almost six-week-old. Her name is Wilhelmina and Marie’s her middle name. She is absolutely amazing. She decided to come a bit early, which is not a bad thing. It meant we got extra time and extra everything. She was born on December 11 with the most beautiful and easiest labor. She is so tiny and so sweet and so cuddly. We’re exhausted but in bliss, and could not be happier to finally have her here. Now the journey of parenthood can begin!
Did you know she’d be early?
At 25 weeks, my doctors told me that she was an IUGR baby – intrauterine growth restriction. I’d gone in for a normal doctor’s appointment, and they noticed that her stomach was growing smaller in comparison to the rest of her body. IUGR is somewhat common. But I found out that there are two different types. There’s a symmetrical and an asymmetrical one. Her’s was asymmetrical, meaning that it just impacted one little part of her body, not her overall body. So her little tummy was really tiny.
My doctors wanted to closely monitor me and her to figure out why that was. So from 25 weeks on, we knew there was a possibility of her arriving early. With her stomach being smaller, there was a question around is she getting enough nutrients in the womb? When my doctors felt as if she may thrive better outside, they would make the call. But she did great and continued to grow. I was on bedrest at 25 weeks. At 37 weeks, they decided they wanted to get her out and bring her earth side to us and start giving her lots of nutrients from her mama. So that’s what we did. I got induced right at 37 weeks.
How stressed were you about it?
It was stressful but we had and still have the most incredible care providers. I had a doctor who was a guardian angel. Our relationship never felt transactional. We had all of my appointments at home. So it was never in a hospital setting or office. It always felt like this holistic, natural process of checking on our baby. From there, once we knew that there were some complications, she gave me an incredible maternal fetal specialist who I saw through the remainder of pregnancy. He was the most non-alarmist, chill, happy doctor who constantly always told me like, Oh, she looks good, everything’s good. He was always so reassuring that we were on the right path.
How was the birth?
It was the most ideal, beautiful, incredible experience in the world. I think you hear these horror stories of induction, that they’re really tough. But my induction could not have been smoother. I checked in at the hospital at 11pm. And then she was born 24 hours later at 11:01pm. But the active labor was super quick. I pushed for six minutes – probably like six or seven pushes. So all in all, it was less than 10 minutes. She was born small, which we always knew, but perfectly healthy and didn’t need the NICU or any extra support. So that was always our biggest hope for her.
Tell me about your postpartum experience so far. How’s it going?
Postpartum has been good. I think because labor was so easy, my body bounced back immediately. And not “bounced back” like, Oh, I’m so skinny type of way, but as in I feel strong, I’m not in pain, I’m able to move around and engage with my baby around the house. We are lucky to be able to have help. So we have a newborn care specialist / professional nurse who’s living with us right now. We’re incredibly hands on and do everything ourselves. But she’s there as that extra support, and someone who can really help us during night feedings and diaper changes. She’s there to assist and keep company and reassure us. My husband is now back to work, so I never feel completely alone, or really overwhelmed with a newborn navigating all the things that daily life brings.
In terms of diet, I don’t. I surrender to the craving as in what’s going to fuel my body. Exclusively breastfeeding has been really natural for me. But with that comes the constant need for food. So I’ve been intentional about fueling my body. So it’s not, I need to go on a diet or cut down. I don’t have this LA lifestyle like, let me bounce back and have this cute little body two seconds after having a baby. It’s just, what are the foods that are going to fuel me enough to be able to produce and give nourishment to my baby? Our nurse is from Trinidad, so we’ve done a lot of Caribbean food, like beans and rice and really delicious meats like curries, and stewed chicken, and vegetables. It’s incredible comfort food loaded with veggies and nutrients, and everything’s fresh.
You’re a public figure with a high level job. How will you integrate motherhood with work? What do the next few months look like for you?
Thankfully, the NFL was so incredible and accommodating. When we found out Wilhelmina had IUGR and I went on bed rest, there was never pressure about whether or not I was still working. It was, how can we support you and love you from afar? Let us know what you need. Of the female talent based in Los Angeles, I’m the only one who has a child now. I was unsure as to what that would look like professionally and if there would be a negative assumption of my ability, or how I would work when I was pregnant during football season. But the NFL has been above and beyond supportive.
As I start to think about returning to work, there’s anxiety because I’ve just had this uninterrupted time with her on maternity leave, and I’m going to continue to soak that up. But there’s a job waiting for me on the back-end. I’m going back at the end of February for the NFL Combine, which is when our scouts, general managers, team owners, and head coaches go to Indianapolis for a week, and the new prospects come do a week of workout and interviews. It’s a closed environment, but we have loads of shows, content, and interviews around the new faces of the NFL. When I told them I was pregnant, that was a date we circled on our calendars, because I wanted to be a part of these new guys telling their stories next season.
So I’m going to travel to Indianapolis for that week, but I’m bringing Wilhelmina, my husband, and my nurse so I can still keep up with breastfeeding and have that routine and that connection with her, especially knowing she’s on the smaller side.
Then in late April, the next step for the NFL world is the Draft. That’s where all these prospects get drafted to teams. I’ve hosted the Draft for the last two years, which is really fun, and it’s back in my hometown of Kansas City. Again, that’s going to be another opportunity for the whole family to pack up and come with me. From there, real football season will start late summer and that will be full steam ahead. My husband and I have to figure out what that’s going to look like. Is that one of our parents living here for a little bit? Is that a nanny? We’re still contemplating that process.
Do you feel like you’re setting a new pace for motherhood in the workplace at the NFL?
I feel there’s a new way for us to think through what motherhood looks like, for some of my colleagues who may be in this chapter soon. There are women I’ve had honest conversations with regarding motherhood. A lot of women have put parenting on the back burner, because they’ve waited to have their break on air. I was fortunate to get this national opportunity at a young age, so I worked my ass off. I didn’t feel like I had to pause my dream of becoming a mother to fulfill my career. It seemed like I was able to do both at the same time, and not have a negative repercussion for that. It’s a privilege, and not a lot of other women’s experience in the industry.
The most eye opening thing is that my job no longer defines me. I was so career driven, and was so heads down and I still very much am. I want to be a kick ass mom who works and who inspires her daughter. My purpose is now so much bigger, because truly, I want to do this for her, and I want to set this example for her. So it’s not an ego thing anymore. I want to do this with the pure intention of showing my daughter that the world is hers. She can break molds and break barriers on her own and become an example to others. So it’s been a new process for me and a different process for our organization. Thankfully, we have incredible leaders who have supported me through it.
“My job no longer defines me.”
With all the work you do in social justice, inclusion, and advocacy for Black and Brown women, now that you’re a mom, what does that mean to you?
My husband and I have really been so reflective ever since Wilhelmina was born. Even during pregnancy, we were humbly reflective on our privilege. Here we are, both people of color, and very unapologetic about that. We understand what Black maternal and fetal health looks like, and the statistics and the really scary numbers that exist, and we understand that we had been so privileged to be able to advocate for ourselves and have the resources. We very closely understood that this wasn’t everybody’s experience.
With that, we’ve constantly asked ourselves, what more can we do? How can we advocate for women and advocate for families of color? How can we help people who may not have the means financially to be able to have the resources that that we have? Our doctor was a Black woman, and we also happened to have a doula of color. We sought out those resources and never worried about that impacting our livelihood. So it’s been an interesting acknowledgement of our own privilege through pregnancy.
As parents, we want to dedicate ourselves to understanding the other resources that exist out there and exploring what resources are here in LA. We want to get involved and make a difference, because people have very scary stories. So it’s been really eye opening to be able to sit in that reflection, and understand that our experience was incredibly rare, but should never be rare.