Courtney Hansen is the host of "PowerNation," which airs on NBC Sports, CBS Sports and Spike TV, and author of "The Garage Girl's Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Your Car." She originally gained fame as co-host of TLC's hit car-makeover show "Overhaulin'" and as host of Spike TV's "Powerblock" for eight seasons. She gave birth to her first child, daughter Holland, on July 5. She tells us how she's adjusting to motherhood, working to get her pre-pregnancy body back—and planning to make Holland a car girl like Mom.
Congratulations to you and your boyfriend, Jay Hartington, on the birth of your daughter! We love her name: Holland Marysia Walker Hartington. Do the names have special meaning to you?
Holland is one of my favorite places in the world, and I think it's a beautiful, unique name. On my most recent visit to Amsterdam, I thought if I ever had a daughter, I would like to name her Holland. When Jay and I were discussing names and I shared this idea, he agreed and expressed his own love for the country. The middle names honor our moms. Marysia is Jay's mom's name. It's the Polish version of Marissa. And Walker is my mom and late Aunt Barbie's maiden name. Holland totally fits our baby girl. It's perfect.
We were sorry to hear you experienced a long 25-hour labor. Do you have any words of advice for our pregnant readers on how to prepare for birth?
My advice on preparing for labor is to really think about what you want in your birth experience. Talk with your doctor and your partner, read and watch videos pertaining to your idea of a perfect birth, and take any neccessary classes. We wanted to use the hypnobirthing method, so I found the best class, read books and watched videos like "The Business of Being Born." I also think it's best not to listen to too many stories, as every birth experience is different. People can scare you and cloud your head unnecessarily. My experience ended up being completely unique from any story I had heard. Regardless of the plan you set, however, ultimately the baby decides how it will all go down, so I recommend being open and prepared for any outcome. And staying calm and positive throughout pregnancy and labor is beneficial on so many levels.
Any silly, sleep-deprived mommy stories to share?
I start to laugh thinking of my sleep-deprived stories. The other evening, I went to the grocery store. On my way in, I chucked my car keys into the huge garbage can outside, not realizing until several minutes later that I was missing my keys but holding onto an empty water bottle—I absentmindedly threw the wrong item into the trash! Jay ran back to fish out my keys from the garbage. Another funny moment was putting the aluminum foil away in the fridge. And one more: Throughout the pregnancy, Jay called the baby CJR (Courtney Jr.) until we decided on her name. The other day I was telling a story about the baby in my sleep-deprived state, and Holland's name completely escaped me! So I replaced it with CJR on the fly.
Are you taking a full maternity leave from "PowerNation" or will you have to jump back into your filming duties quite quickly?
As far as "PowerNation," we shot many episodes ahead of time, so I will not take an actual leave of absence from TV. However, working harder upfront enabled me to take a couple of months off now to spend with Holland and Jay. I am so grateful for my job and the amazing team of people I work with. They are like family to me after all these years. I'm extremely thankful for that support.
How do you plan to balance your career and home life?
I have always known I wanted to be a mom and believed there would be a day when I would have to juggle my career and family life. For me, I know I will be a better wife and mom if I have an outlet to express myself, continue to earn my own income and have an identity outside of the home. We are already finding a great rhythm, and we have a plan going forward. Thankfully, Jay and I have supportive parents who are eager to help, and we will have a nanny who will travel with me on work trips.
How are you adjusting to motherhood? What have been your favorite and most challenging moments?
Having a child has been a big adjustment. Holland is suddenly my focus, top priority and most exciting and important responsibility. I'm loving it and finding it a cool challenge to balance it all. My favorite part is spending time with Holland, the most precious gift to happen to my life. I cherish every moment with her, even when I'm exhausted. The most challenging part has been the fact that I'm breastfeeding, and it takes most of my day to feed her, change her and pump. It's not as easy to get work done as some might think when that is the focus. But again, right now it's all about Holland.
Besides reading your book, "The Garage Girl's Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Your Car" to Holland at bedtime, how do you plan to turn her into a fellow "car girl"?
I plan to turn Holland into a fellow car girl by reading her any children's books about cars, showing her the car pictures in my favorite automotive coffee table books and taking her to the classic car shows, auto shows and races! When she was in the womb, she went to the Daytona 500, Mopars at The Strip in Vegas, NASCAR in Sonoma and a cross-country car cruise.
What's the best parenting advice you've received so far?
The best parenting advice I have received at this point is probably to read the book "Bringing up Bébé" about an American mother who discovers the wisdom in parenting as the French do. It's informative, unconventional in the best way and offers so much sensible advise that really resonates with me. I look forward to all of the stages of Holland's life and being able to implement these ideas. Another great piece of advice I got is to be a disciplinarian but also a friend to my children. I look forward to striking that delicate balance.
Do you have a workout strategy for getting your pre-pregnancy body back?
Start hiking again. I really love all of the L.A. hiking trails, from Hollywood to Malibu. They've always been a great way for me to enjoy the day and beautiful views while toning and burning calories. I can't wait to carry Holland in a Bjorn with me on the trails. I will also get back into pilates and yoga. And of course, breastfeeding is a fantastic way to burn calories and shed the pregnancy weight. In the first three weeks, I lost 17 of 24 pounds.
Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, why did you choose that method? Any tips for other moms?
I am breastfeeding and finding it to be such a special experience. I chose that method because of the tremendous benefits to the baby. Holland is receiving the best, most natural vitamins and nutrients. She is getting disease-fighting substances to protect her against illnesses and allergies. She and I are bonding in the most beautiful way. And as a bonus, I'm burning a whole lot of calories! My advice to breastfeeding moms is to be patient with your baby, stay calm and keep it positive. The baby feels your energy, and if you maintain a positive perspective and offer encouragement, the baby will feed off that energy and likely find a rhythm with it much more quickly. Holland has been amazing. I'm so proud of her.