Meet Paloma Louise Lebenzon!
Ugly Betty star Ana Ortiz and husband Noah Lebenzon welcomed their first child on June 25th in New York City, and Celebrity Baby Blog can exclusively share their in-depth interview and baby’s first photos.
Click below for the interview and images!
|Erin Patrice O’Brien for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
On her labor:
Ana Ortiz: I went into labor Friday night around 1:30 a.m. and I just kind of dealt with it. It was a surreal experience. I’m like, “This is finally happening. This is really happening.”
I tried to sleep but I couldn’t — it was too intense. Around 3 a.m. I got up, sat in this chair and just tried to breathe through it. It was hard. I was just so excited and anxious.
I wanted to stay home as long as possible because I didn’t want to have the epidural too early. I was afraid that I was going to get talked into things that I didn’t want to get talked into, like getting induced just to make the labor go faster. I wanted to take its own time and be as natural as possible.
Around 6 a.m. the contractions were five minutes apart and it was intense. That feeling is … well, I can’t even explain it. So I called the doctor and he’s like, “You should get to the hospital.”
We got to the hospital around 7 a.m. and around 1:30 p.m. I had the epidural. At 4 o’clock I started pushing and 4:25 p.m. she was born.
On Paloma’s birth:
AO: I was so scared, but it really was a wonderful and — I hesitate to say easy — but it was a nice experience.
I [had her at] Mount Sinai Medical Center, overlooking [Central Park]. My mom was there, my best friend Jill and my husband, so it was a full house. But it was great. I didn’t have to push until 25 minutes before [she was born].
I’ll tell you the funniest part. When I was in the process of giving birth my husband was right with me and he’s telling me, “Babe, you’re doing so great,” whispering encouragement –- he’s super mellow and cool.
Then I started to crown a little bit and he’s still going, “Oh my God baby, it’s amazing. You’re doing great, keep going.” And then her head popped up and then he goes, “Woah, woah, woah!! Holy moly! That is crazy.”
I couldn’t see it, thank God! They offer you a mirror and I was like, “Uh, no.” There will be none of that. I don’t need to see that. I was a birthing partner for two of my friends so I’ve been at births. But I didn’t want to see my own.
Noah Lebenzon: I feel like we are connected on a different level now. Watching Paloma coming out of Ana was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen from the female body. I have so much respect. It’s just so incredible.
I love Ana a lot more than I did before, that’s for sure. My relationship with her is even better with a kid. It really is. Ana is more beautiful than ever as a mom.
On seeing their daughter for the first time:
AO: Oh my God! Well, she was pretty. When they come out babies are normally freaky looking and she wasn’t. I know I’m biased. I’m telling you she was gorgeous!
I guess I was just completely overwhelmed because I didn’t cry and was sort of in a state of shock. When I first saw her … I can’t even begin [to say].
They took her right away to get her cleaned up — the umbilical cord was still attached and Noah cut it. I told him, “Go with her, go with her.” He was with Paloma the entire time, looking over her and it made me feel so reassured and safe. She had these big, big red lips, and these big cheeks and was perfectly pink.
NL: I was so afraid because the woman is pregnant so she feels the baby and I’m like, “What if I don’t love the kid?” I really want to love her but I don’t feel that connection because it’s so outside from me. But right when she was born it was that lightning strike of absolute love.
On naming Paloma Louise:
NL: It’s hard naming a kid! I didn’t think it was going to be that hard. It was complete stress and freaking out over what we are going to call this person for her entire life.
AO: We had a list that we liked and just wanted to see what suited her. Even when she was born the whole night we still weren’t sure on the name. We were like, “I don’t know. What do you think? Which name, which name?” We couldn’t decide.
NL: We just hung out with her for a day and a bunch of them dropped away. Then it was between two.
AO: The next day, we were still unsure. My best friend Marie Anna came over, and the four of us — Noah, Paloma, Mar and I — were just sitting there talking about different names.
Then all of a sudden Noah was just like, “It’s Paloma! It’s Paloma,” and my best friend and I were like “It’s Paloma!!” So Noah decided. I think it fits her well. Thank God!
NL: I was talking with my mom in Los Angeles about it and I said, “It’s going to be Paloma” and she’s like, “That’s the name!” It was a nice choice and it’s always nice to have your parents back you up.
She just looked like a Paloma to me. It’s Spanish and it’s cool. I never thought I’d have a kid in New York with a Spanish name. You never know! You just roll with it.
AO: Paloma means dove, which is the bird of peace, but I just thought was a beautiful name. It’s elegant and yet it’s powerful.
I wanted a Spanish name that people who don’t speak Spanish could pronounce without destroying it, so Paloma fell into that category. Paloma is easy in English and easy in Spanish. And the name just suited her.
The middle name, Louise, is my grandmother’s name, my mother’s middle name and my middle name. It just fits with Paloma. Paloma Louise seems old-fashioned and yummy! I just liked it.
On Paloma’s looks:
AO: So far she really looks more like my husband and his side of the family. Her nose and her coloring. She came out with this light sandy-colored hair and I was like, “What the…?” She’s totally pink and there’s no olive in her!
On Paloma’s personality:
AO: She’s really calm. I’m sure she gets it from my husband — he’s really patient and even keel. He’s from California and is mellow and she is too. We just got really lucky.
I’ve been told that their personality when they are born is pretty much their personality. That’s really interesting and I hope it’s true! So I’m so lucky. I couldn’t have asked for a better kid. She’s our own little Buddha baby so far.
I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop to tell you the truth. It’s like the calm before the storm.
NL: We’re lucky with her because she’s such a good kid right now. I say that and she’s probably going to have a temper tantrum and be completely insane.
It’s tough though. I didn’t think it was going to be that hard through the night, waking up all the time. [Paloma fussing] is an alarm clock for Ana. As a guy, I just sleep right through it.
It’s funny — Ana really responds to Paloma, but I respond to Ana, so it’s like a domino effect. She’ll get up with the baby and then I will get up. So that’s the way it works with us.
AO: When it switched from colostrum to milk there was a whole day where she didn’t poop or pee — I went into a tailspin of panic! I was like, “Her kidneys are shutting down! I’m killing my child! I can’t feed her!” It was literally like total dismay. And my mother was like, “It’s fine. It’s fine. Call the pediatrician.” The next day everything was fine!
Paloma is up every two hours to eat. Oh my God! At first I was like, “She’s so awesome! She’s sleeping for four and a half hours. My kid is rad! This is easy!” But now she is up pretty much every two hours to eat and I feel like I’m not making enough milk. I really feel like a machine! I just have to stay completely hydrated. But it’s so well worth it.
On each other as parents:
NL: Ana’s very natural — she really takes care of her. It sounds so stereotypical but it’s really not an effort for her. She’s really hands on with Paloma, breastfeeding.
AO: Yeah, he’s been amazing. He’s always like, “God, baby, you look amazing. You look so great” even though it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m breastfeeding. I look like a complete monster and he’s like, “Babe, you look beautiful.”
NL: I feel bad sometimes but I can’t really do that much for her because it’s such a mother and daughter time right now.
As a mother she’s very patient, which I think is necessary. She’s amazing! I know that sounds cliché but she really is a great mom. I always knew she would be. She always had that quality in her.
|Erin Patrice O’Brien for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
AO: It’s incredible! Sometimes I look at her and I go, “You came out of me? You’re mine? You’re here. This is it. We are going to be together for the rest of our lives.” But it’s an amazing and incredible feeling.
It’s everything that I imagined it would be and more. It really is.
My best friends would tell me, “When she’s born you’re never going to believe how much you can love somebody.”
You hear it and of course it makes sense logically, but when it actually happens, it’s the most intense feeling. I can’t believe I love someone this much.
It’s just the right time with everything in my life. I totally have to pinch myself. I have a daughter now.
In fact, I was talking to the receptionist at the pediatrician’s the other day and I was like, “My daughter is a patient here.” It was the first time I said, “my daughter” and I started giggling. She’s my daughter, my daughter.
It was like when I got married. I couldn’t say “husband” without giggling for six months. [laughs] It’s the same thing.
It’s totally surreal. I still feel like a kid sometimes myself so hard to believe that I’m a mom. Now I’m an adult! It only took 38 years! [laughs] I’m a late bloomer. What can I say?
NL: I’m still figuring it out. I’m still navigating the whole thing. But so far it’s great! I love being a dad.
Ana pumps and I can feed Paloma, that’s one of my favorite things to do with her right now. Looking into her eyes.
On going back to work on Ugly Betty at 2 ½ weeks postpartum:
AO: It was hard. I’m not going to lie. The first thing I did back at 2 ½ weeks was a fitting for costume and wardrobe, and if you know my character, she’s a little miss cha cha. I was like, “Where are the Spanx?! Get me the Spanx!” I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head.
I was nervous about being pregnant because they didn’t write the pregnancy into the show, so I stayed really active. Being in New York City is the best because I’m always walking, taking the subway and walking up and down the stairs — whether you like it or not, you’re going to get exercise.
I also worked out three times a week so I think that really helped with my body and with the delivery.
NL: Work is just brutal. But she handles it so well and she’s such a champion. Her hours are crazy. Waking up at 5 a.m. or waking up at noon, depending on that week’s schedule … and she’s up all night.
AO: I was on set yesterday and I was like a zombie. America [Ferrera] was like, “Are you okay?” And I was like, “Huh?” But I can’t believe how fast things are going.
On favorite activities:
AO: Walking around the city with her. We take her in the stroller and we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge up into SoHo. It just feels like such a family, the three of us.
I love to walk around with her. It’s amazing how many people stop you when you have a kid. They’re all like, “Oh my God, can I see?!” I’m like, “Okay!”
NL: I play guitar for her and try to soothe her. She likes the acoustic guitar — the electric, not so much! So I will play a lot of folk and classical. She really loves it. It’s fun for me because I get a lot of practice in at three in the morning.
NL: Paloma can at 35. God, I didn’t have a girlfriend until I was in my 20′s. I was such a nerd. Ana was much more advanced in that department. Hopefully I can drill that into her head while she’s a baby. I’m coming out with a high-tech chastity belt for high school.
I’m sure I will have absolutely no control over that. Like the birth, you can’t have a set idea on how you think everything is going to go or else you find yourself in a lot of trouble. I just want to be flexible and just be there for her for whatever she needs.
AO: Yes! Absolutely. Very much so. I will probably only give birth to two and then the rest will come to our family however it happens. I can only hold two, but you never know. I really want a boy because boys love their mamas!
– Paul Chi
Ana wears a personalized mommy necklace from Isabelle Grace ($138), from Jewels & Pinstripes Summer 2009 New Girls in Tinseltown Baby Bag.
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