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SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak suddenly has SAM to consider on-set and beyond

(Clockwise, from top left) Lindsay Czarniak's parents Terri and Chet (while Terri was pregnant with Lindsay); Lindsay as a baby (3).
(Clockwise, from top left) Lindsay Czarniak’s parents Terri and Chet (while Terri was pregnant with Lindsay); Lindsay as a baby (3).

SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak and her husband, Craig Melvin, are expecting their first child in March. Here, in the first of an occasional Longreads-inspired offerings from ESPN personalities, Lindsay shares what the first seven months of being a pregnant SportsCenter anchor have been like.

My husband, Craig Melvin (I call him by his last name and will do so from here on out) and I could not be more excited to welcome our first child this March. . . expected to arrive on St. Patrick’s Day, in fact.

We got the good news in July. Melvin had just gotten back from a business trip. He is an anchor and reporter for MSNBC/NBC News. One of my favorite moments early on was when he high-fived the doctor in the office when she confirmed that, yes, we indeed are having a baby.

Since then, we’ve been calling the baby SAM. It stands for “sexually ambiguous” because we have chosen to not find out the sex of our child beforehand. SAM has been with me now for almost seven months.

It really dawned on me how close we are the other day when Melvin looked at me as we stood in our nursery trying to visualize our color scheme (I was doing more of that than he was) and Melvin blurted out: “WE HAVE TO GET OUR (expletive) TOGETHER. THIS BABY COULD COME ANY DAY.”

I told him I’m pretty sure it’s not the man who’s supposed to be saying things like that. . . and that SAM certainly doesn’t need that kind of pressure. That being said, I probably had my most productive weekend of baby preparation beginning the next day.

***

I think my job as a SportsCenter anchor is helping me prepare for how I will need to operate my life once my baby arrives. I have to leave more time to get down to the studio before my 6 p.m. show now because I use things like camouflage belts and elastic bands to help hide the microphones in the maternity pants that basically come up to my chin.

It was pointed out to me the other day the position of the microphone/IFB pac on my back would be better suited on my side when I’m sitting at the “debate desk” because it is not ideal to have something protruding from my belly as well as my back. Best, most honest advice I’ve gotten so far.

SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak and husband Craig Melvin, NBC anchor/reporter
SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak and husband Craig Melvin, NBC anchor/reporter

My director, Vic Deloureiro, has been awesome in working with me on camera angles that I’m comfortable with. He sometimes makes me laugh hysterically with a clever quip right before we come out of a commercial break but when I appear flustered, I’ve found I can just wave my scripts in front of my face and blame it on being preggers.

I have discovered sometimes I can get a little winded trying to read through a long story on-air. I blame that on SAM, too. I’m sure he/she will think I’m long-winded one day anyway.

***

We are thrilled about our new addition. I’ve been so lucky to feel really good and energetic through the pregnancy but I also must say, this entire experience has been so new to me. I knew nothing and I’m learning as much as I can with emails to my closest girlfriends that are titled “I swear I’m fit to be a parent but. . . (insert question here).”

My co-workers have been amazing and one of the best parts of being pregnant and sharing the news is hearing all of the stories. I especially enjoy hearing the male perspective. One of my colleagues shared the story of how his wife went into labor weeks early, on Super Bowl Sunday. I realized if SAM plays his/her cards right, he/she could be born this upcoming Super Bowl Sunday. Whichever day my child chooses, as long as it’s not on the Merritt Parkway and as long as his dad isn’t on a business trip where he can’t get back, I’m good.

It’s funny because I knew Melvin had been getting his own advice when we were eating at one of our favorite restaurants last week.

We were sitting at the bar eating our dinner (because that doesn’t look bad when you are seven months pregnant!) and a commercial came on in the middle of ESPN’s NBA game. It was for Hallmark cards, I think. Normal people were looking into the camera saying, “Tell me that you are thinking about me” and “Tell me that you are going to miss me over Christmas.”

Melvin looked at me, I was shaking and there were tears rolling down my face and into my pad thai. I started shaking and had to go to the bathroom to compose myself. That’s the one thing I wish SAM could control a little better . . . I’m not an outwardly emotional person but, this is very true. . . your hormones go nuts when you’re pregnant.

Melvin just looked at me and smiled when I returned. Since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to leave the room for sad holiday commercials or any movies or songs that may send me over the edge.

Hormonal overload aside, there are some other minor obstacles to being a pregnant anchor for a national TV network. Like, what happens the first time your normal dresses won’t zip up?

I called one of our fashion consultants and said “I need help. I don’t know where to go but I need to you to help me with fashion so I feel confident and not like I’m trying to stuff my now pregnant self into teenage clothes.”

It was pretty strange in the beginning in that “in between” stage, when you aren’t sharing the news yet but you’re just starting to show. Being on-air and trying to figure out how to dress so folks on social media don’t beat you to the punch and ask if you’re pregnant or just letting yourself go is tricky.

We hit one store in New York City and I was done. As I said, it’s been easier now being bigger. . . and that’s good considering I’ll only be getting bigger and bigger.

***

Even though I’ve been eating pretty normally it does seem that about every three days, I feel like I have a tapeworm. I literally could eat a house. I have an hour-long drive home from Bristol, Conn. to our home in southwestern Connecticut each evening. I knew there were signs of a potential problem developing when I began stashing full size boxes of Cheez-its in my truck for the ride home. The box would be gone in two days. I’m not kidding. So I had to buy the small single packs just so I don’t lose complete control.

My co-anchor on SportsCenter, John Anderson, sometimes brings me peppermint patties on set. He doesn’t know how much we (SAM and I) thank him for that.

For now, we have started talking more regularly to SAM. Sometimes he/she responds by kicking, which I must say, I will never get tired of. Melvin sings to the baby sometimes or shares little messages. He has a nice voice so we both enjoy that. We also enjoy all the insight he gets from folks he works with at NBC. There are some pretty child-friendly segments they’ve done on Today that Melvin has been there for. They didn’t know it early on but he was taking notes.

I am wondering how these next few months will go; hoping I stay feeling well and that I don’t go into labor on my way to or from Bristol. If that happens, I do feel secure knowing the tremendous family I have up here at ESPN can help me get where I need to go (the hospital).

Until then, any suggestions and stories are welcome at both of our Twitter handles: @LindsayCzarniak and @CraigMelvin.

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