Jenna von Oy’s Blog: Birthdays, Boredom, Baby Shower Games and Other Blasphemy

05/23/2012 at 11:00 AM ET
Thirty-six weeks pregnant!Brooke Boling Photography

Thanks for welcoming celebrity blogger, Jenna von Oy!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

She’ll next appear in Lukewarm, slated for release this spring.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They expect their first child, a girl, in June.

You can find her on Twitter @JennavonOy.

I pride myself on providing you with an engaging (and hopefully amusing) read each month, and the past three blogs have come very easily for me … which was more than likely apparent by the number of words I managed to cram into each one of them. (Don’t be fooled by that last comment. This installment is equally long, so brace yourself!)

Up until now, the ideas have flowed so naturally, it was as if they’d been waiting impatiently to come out. This month? Not so much. Now, it seems the only thing waiting impatiently to come out is my daughter, who is quite the mover and shaker lately despite her ongoing spatial challenges.

I’m fairly certain my new friend, Baby Brain, has truly nestled in, and has opened the door to welcome his cousin, Writer’s Block.

At the risk of offending both of my guests, I’m not a big fan of either of them. Thanks to their antics, words seem to be leaking out of my head faster than I can type them. You will find that I’m all over the place with this month’s blog, vaulting from one concept to the next with reckless abandon.

I recall my friend, Cindy Alexander, once mentioning that she had trouble writing music while she was pregnant with her twins. Well, Cindy, now I sympathize! Perhaps being scattered is a side effect of being so close to giving birth? There I go again, blaming it on the baby. It’s just too easy!

Allow me to introduce the following vignettes, regarding some of the things I’ve been tackling lately…

“Birthday” — The Curse Word of the Month.

Truthfully, my 35th birthday slipped my mind until my husband and parents reminded me of it. I’m well aware that it comes on the same day every year (May 2nd), so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that it was on the horizon. But let’s be real, I’ve been slightly preoccupied lately! If I could skip May entirely, and miraculously find myself in the throes of June, I would be thrilled.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the birthday itself that requires avoidance. In fact, I wasn’t apprehensive about turning 35 in the least. As my grandmother used to quip, “You are only as old as you feel.” Well, I feel like I’m 25 years young and ready to conquer the world! It’s just that I’m so darned excited to meet my little girl in June; May has me feeling like I’m stuck at a perpetually red traffic light.

There’s so much to look forward to next month! I’ve written a lullaby that I can’t wait to sing to my baby face to face (though she already receives a belly serenade every morning), she has a closet full of adorable clothes that are begging to be worn, and there’s a nursery that feels downright lonely without her.

As zany as it sounds, I’m even looking forward to going into labor, though I’m the first to admit I’ll be retracting that statement the moment the contractions begin. But I digress…

Brad and I at our baby shower/BBQ – Lila McCann Photography

The “Shower” That Wasn’t.

Before you think I’m ungrateful … I don’t actually think a baby shower equates to blasphemy. I mean, who can possibly complain about being thrown a party where everyone shows up with gifts and love? Certainly not me. It’s a blessing, to say the least, in whatever form it may take.

That said, I cannot say I’m terribly beguiled by the traditional baby shower. It isn’t that I frown condescendingly upon those of you who enjoy tea with your girlfriends, serving pink and white Jordan almond pouch party favors, or battling each other in a festive game of baby shower bingo. More power to you!

It’s just that none of those things quite fit my personality. I prefer a more low-key approach in the celebration department, I suppose. The thought of having folks win a prize for correctly guessing the number of inches my belly has grown, or playing “pin the dirty diaper on the baby’s bum,” is enough to make me break out in hives. And I already have enough going on with my body right now, thank you very much! (See the last segment of this blog for more on that.)

Putting on a brave face while opening presents in front of our closest friends makes me cringe. I simply can’t fathom cooing over frilly dresses, nipple creams and Diaper Genies … it turns out that’s where I draw the line on my acting chops.

(For the record, this is not a new concept for me. I felt similarly about our wedding as well, and opted out of such things as the bouquet and garter tosses, as well as the bridal party dance. Even our cake cutting was relatively subtle. I guess I’m not terribly comfortable being the center of attention in that aspect.)

Brad and I enjoying our BBQ – Lila McCann Photography

So, for our shower, Brad and I opted to have a coed celebration… or as Brad fancies calling it, “BBQ, Babies & Beer.” (Which, I realize, tends to sound a bit ominous, depending on how you phrase it … Rest assured, we have the best of intentions!)

I’m elated that society seems to be a bit more accepting of our coed plans than I initially thought it might be. After all, we do live in the South, and sometimes tradition prevails here. I defend our coed choice with this: my poor husband has helplessly seen me through nine months of retching, 4 a.m. binges, displaced hormones, breastfeeding classes, and the obligatory, preparatory talk of infant poop. He should, at the very least, be honored at some fun festivities before he is catapulted into the throes of Daddy-hood!

As for me? I couldn’t be happier about the laid-back feel of a BBQ. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered, especially since it means I was able to get away with wearing a sundress and flip-flops. Let’s be frank, at eight months pregnant, my desire to dress up is about equivalent to my desire to run a marathon in the Sahara Desert donning a space suit. A casual atmosphere suits me just fine!

Very dear friends of ours, JD and Brittany, generously offered to throw our celebration at their home. Since Brittany shares my fondness for planning, and thoroughly enjoys channeling her inner Martha Stewart, we couldn’t have asked for better hosts! Needless to say, they truly outdid themselves. (They weren’t the only ones — check out the photo of the baby booty cupcakes my friend Amanda made!)

Baby booty cupcakes – Lila McCann Photography

I am incredibly moved by their love and support, and we are blessed beyond belief to have them in our lives. Our little girl doesn’t know it yet, but she is surrounded by some phenomenal people who will teach her what love and friendship truly mean. I’d like to think she’ll have some gifts to give them in return …

As one of our friends so eloquently put it, “The enjoyment is in being a part of this new life coming into the world. It’s about sharing a little piece of making her into the person she will be, and playing a role in helping her to grow up.”

Such a neat thing to hear from a friend, because it makes you realize you aren’t the only one invested in your child’s future … It truly does take a village!

The Nursery: Pink Is the New Black. Sort Of.

Based on my career trajectory, I realize the outside perception of my life might be that it is a bit on the glamorous side. However, my husband and I live a very non-Hollywood lifestyle here in Nashville. We opt to be relatively “no frills” people.

When it came to constructing our nursery, like many of you out there, we couldn’t afford to just go out and buy whatever struck our fancy. We’ve been trying to diligently stick to a budget (sometimes easier said than done), and we began a baby fund early on to help us out with expenses.

I have such an affinity for design, it was tough for me to bear the thought of not being able to set up the nursery as I’d envisioned. Lending my art direction to the baby’s room has been a huge part of entertaining my nesting instinct. Not to mention, it has helped to distract me in a positive way! (At this point, I’m trying to keep myself as busy as possible, so the time goes by a little faster. Boredom is my arch nemesis!)

In order to satisfy the artistic hunger in me, we worked really hard to find creative ways to set money aside for my “pet project.” The result? Our nursery was built on a lot of love, along with the overwhelming generosity of our family and friends.

Brad’s mom bought us our crib, his sisters sent us all kinds of goodies that their kids no longer needed, and friends called every now and then with a “Hey, I’ve got a package of newborn diapers for you… can I drop them off this afternoon?” (Thanks, Lila!!)

I can also attribute my child’s already full closet to friends and family. My best friend, Lisa, sent us a box of gorgeous clothes her daughter has outgrown, and our friends Tyler and Holly gifted us with her very first pair of shoes — vintage leather baby boots! I’ve included a photo so you can swoon.

Vintage baby boots – Karan Simpson for Mimosa Arts Photography

Let me just say, if my baby is the best-dressed kid this side of the Mason-Dixon line and a clotheshorse by the age of two, I have my girlfriends to thank!

As for the nursery design, and much to the surprise of my friends and family, I actually chose black, white, silver and … wait for it … PINK! I know this comes as a shocking revelation, based on my aforementioned aversion of said color.

It turns out I’ve gone soft on my anti-pink stance, and discovered I don’t mind a bit of fuchsia here and there. I also think it’s somewhat unavoidable when you are having a baby girl, so if you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em! That said, no one’s making a mad dash to go buy ruffles and lace, or turn our house into a Pepto Bismol-colored explosion.

As a side note, since I thoroughly believe God has a sense of humor, I’m starting to wonder if my daughter is going to bleed pink, and constantly ask to wear princess dresses, tutus and tiaras. It would serve me right!

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included a photo of the nursery, so you can see some of my design handiwork. It doesn’t show the entire room, but you get the idea … And before any of you get nervous about the crib bumpers in the picture, and wax poetic about the dangers they pose, please note that a lot of that stuff is there for current “cute-factor” photographing purposes, and isn’t necessarily sticking around.

Brad and I are doing our due diligence in researching everything possible, and then we are trusting our instincts at the end of the day… which is one of the key facets of parenting, in my book!

Our nursery! – Karan Simpson for Mimosa Arts Photography

My “Almost-a-Mother’s Day”

So, I was on the phone with my mom in April, discussing plans for her May visit. (She and my dad drove up to Nashville for the BBQ…) She brought up the fact that there was a lot to celebrate in the short amount of time they were here, between our “shower,” my birthday, and Mother’s Day. To celebrate the latter, she suggested that the four of us go out to a nice dinner on the Sunday night after our party.

It happened that my husband, who RARELY has a night out on the town, had asked if I would mind him seeing the Levon Helm concert that same evening. Sadly, Mr. Helm passed away before the concert took place so this didn’t wind up happening, but I’d emphatically said, “YES! By all means, go!”

Brad has spent the last eight months being so concerned about getting home to take care of me, he hasn’t had much time to relax. No complaints from my end; he’s an amazing husband! But I worry he hasn’t taken enough time out for himself, which is also important, so I was seriously pleased at the prospect of him attending a concert he was over the moon about. (I’m no dummy. Pretty soon, going to a concert will be about as realistic as having tea with the Tooth Fairy.)

Knowing my parents would be understanding, especially since the concert was a one-night only event, I told my mother that Brad might not be able to join us for our Mother’s Day extravaganza. Her comment? “Well that’s okay if he isn’t there, you aren’t a mother yet anyway.”

Really? REALLY?? Good ol’ semantics deals a painful blow. Until the baby is born, I’m not technically a mom, it’s true. But I really beg to differ on this one. In my opinion, you become a mom the moment you start putting yourself second to the tiny human in your belly. You’re a mom when you begin tailoring your diet, remembering to take those prenatal pills, and adjusting your savings account to budget for a future college fund.

I also figure the two months of “praying to the porcelain god” earned me the right to celebrate Mother’s Day this year — even if my daughter isn’t due for a few weeks yet. Can I get an amen?

Belly aches, Blemishes and More Bizarre Symptoms

Pregnancy sure brings about some strange little bodily idiosyncrasies! I’d heard of all of the typical ones: swollen hands and feet, lower back pain, heartburn. The list is never-ending. But there were also a few things that snuck up on me.

Do you recall the Nyquil slogan that declared, “The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever so you can rest medicine”? Well, pregnancy rendered me a “Full-time toilet-worshipping, dislocated rib-sporting, strange-little-rash-in-places-I-can’t-mention toting, carpal tunnel-bearing, breaking out like a schoolgirl, all so I can have a baby” kind of woman.

And who knew my right hand would go completely numb? Since I haven’t been able to feel my fingertips for over a month, I’ve burned myself on several occasions … I keep forgetting that I can’t properly sense temperature!

Mind you, I’d prefer not to think that acknowledging these maladies is equivalent to complaining. They are all, unquestioningly, worth it — I’ve embraced every one. But I also feel that keeping them a secret does all of us a bit of a disservice.

I’m delivering on that promise of honesty that I vowed in my introductory blog, and I’m unwilling to pretend my pregnancy has been the model of perfection. I’m no martyr, and I want you to know that I’ve had my share of uncomfortable moments during this adventure too!

Of course, you may be one of those rare women who had no issues whatsoever, and this segment doesn’t strike a chord. But if you were put through the wringer during your pregnancy, you are not alone. Everyone reacts differently, and let’s face it, shouldn’t we expect our bodies to protest loudly when our insides are being shoved aside to make room for the mini-human?

I’m comfortable saying that, despite any temporary pain or discomfort, I have absolutely ADORED being pregnant. Sure, I could give or take some of the side effects, but I never expected to get out of this experience without making concessions or enduring some mild malaise.

At the end of the day, I know my body was made for this process … these German hips were definitely made for birthin’! I hope you’ve been able to, or will be able to, look back on your pregnancy with fond memories, regardless of any aches and pains. Just remember, it all leads up to a little miracle!

On that note, I’m signing off. As always, please feel free to leave me a note here on, or send me a message via Twitter. I love hearing from you all!

Until next time (which might involve me typing while changing diapers…),

— Jenna von Oy

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Showing 37 comments

MA momma on

Jenna, you never disappoint! Happy belated birthday! Happy belated Mother’s Day! Love the nursery!

Your party sounded spectacular. When I had my first and was thrown a “shower” I wanted to keep it low-key. No games, just good food, friends, laughter. I’m not a fan of being on display either and I was uncomfortable opening gifts in front of folks, but they gave them out of love, for me, my husband and our baby. But I had some really good friends who kept me in stitches and it made the time fly by. Now that feted baby is turning 5 in July!

You totally rock! Consider penning a book. Seriously! Your babe will be here in no time! xoxo

Vanessa on

Love, love, LOVE your blog!

Stoked to see there’s someone else out there who has baby shower aversion. I thought I was the only one. I loathe being the center of attention and forced to partake in games. My last shower ended up being held at a restaurant with a few close ladies/family members. They brought simple gifts, we sipped on non-alcoholic cocktails and chatted — that was it and I LOVED it!

mommyoftwo on

Couldn’t agree more. My doctor thankfully didn’t want me to travel 7 hours to a baby shower, so my mother-in-law and her friends threw a shower “in absentia” for me. They all got together, cooed over baby clothes, had cake and wrote notes full of love and baby advice for me. Then they boxed it all up and shipped it to me where I could open it at my leisure and be overwhelmed at all their love and generosity. Perfection in a baby shower.

As for all those weird pregnancy things, I joked that I could’ve gone in for a check-up and said that I was growing six arms out of my back and my doctor would’ve just said, “Yeah. That happens to some women in pregnancy.” It’s amazing what passes for “normal” when you’re pregnant.

Michelle on

Jewish people don’t have baby showers (it is considered bad luck) so I was thrilled to get away without having any shower. Couldn’t deal with being any center of attention or making people feel they HAD to buy me a gift.

Jenna – by the way – my carpel tunnel syndrome never went away and I needed surgery – I hope you have better luck!!

Congrats on the impending birth…!!

Karen on

I had a co-ed baby party/BBQ too! So much more fun. 🙂

What of it? on

Good luck with the upcoming delivery. Wishing you all the best.

Tee on

Your baby shower sounds like my kind of party, Jenna!

It sounds like your Mom just slipped up and misspoke but I agree with you wholeheartedly. (I don’t have children.) I always tell my pregnant friends happy-baby-in-the-belly-Mother’s-day! No reason you shouldn’t have celebrated this year!

Tiffany on

I think co-ed showers are great! In fact, I prefer it! I just had my shower with my husband & daughter at the country club pool, family and friends were all invited. It was a very casual and relaxed bar-b-q. Kids had a blast! It’s all about a celebration and I think EVERYONE should get involved!!

Ernest DeBrew on

Glad for her marriage and upcoming baby.

I still love her on “The Parkers” as Stevie and an earlier show “Blossom” I did not watch that much.

twisteddomesticgoddess on

You have the same birthday as my oldest! He turned 13 this year. I have loved reading your blogs and just how down to earth and real you are. I am so excited for you and hubby to meet this new little bundle! You’re gonna be a great mom!

Lisa on

Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you should do! A BBQ instead of a traditional shower is your style, and I think it’s perfect! We had thought of doing one like that but it rained and rained and rained some more the day of our shower, so we wound up being inside. You should do these things in a way that fits your personality, and if anyone doesn’t like it, tell them to bugger off! 🙂

Jennifer Coombes on

Am I the only one who thinks “BBQ” and “baby” in the same sentence sounds weird? 🙂

BlueSkidoo on

I don’t get it – it was still a baby shower. Baby showers come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, I personally have never been to one where I’d have to get dressed up and served Jordan almonds. The headline to this is incredibly misleading.

taytay on

why did she bbq her baby?! is she crazy??

Anna on

Okay people will probably disagree, but those are the creepiest cupcakes I’ve ever seen haha.

M on

I love your attitude, Jenna: your honesty, enthusiasm, independent spirit, sense of fun. You go, girl. You’re going to make a great mom!

Tammy on

Oh gosh!!! This one was HILARIOUS!!! Love her honesty, and lets face it…Pregnancy…for those of us who have/had been blessed with one…brings out some pretty weird ‘side effects’…everybody is different…but I feel that the ‘bad’ ones are just glazed over so that it doesn’t scare a woman.

I wanted to hear about the bad side effects of pregnancy…I wanted to be totally prepared for the worst case scenario and wanted to be pleased when they didn’t happen…which most did not.

LOVE the “Nursery” and the BBQ, Babies & Beer theme sounds perfect! And I LOVE the cupcakes, so cute.

Hope the Labor & Delivery goes as planned…but just remember…roll with the punches and if you don’t give birth as you planned…(Vaginal Birth vs C-Section, Epidural vs No Epidural, etc)…its gonna be okay…it doesn’t matter HOW the baby gets born, just so its born…right? Right.

Sending You & Hubby good thoughts, vibes & prayers.

Tracy Martinez on

Jenna, I Love reading your Baby Blog. =-) Also love your daughters nursery…

guest on

cracking up for 10 minutes over taytay’s comment about why she bbqed her baby…

great article the nursery!

candie on

wow she so pretty and all my daughter has the same birthday as jenna wow so cool:)

Sara on

I LOVED this blog. The insecurities and hopes are so REAL. It’s refreshing. The way you speak of your daughter just emphasizes the kind of mother you will be… honest and kind. I love the baby BBQ idea. Much love to you and your family during this amazing time.

omerta138 on

Your nursery is to die for! That’s the most gorgeous baby room I have ever seen.

jordan on

good luck to you! Will pray for all the patience in the world.

Halley on

Best Wishes for a happy baby! I’ve been a fan of yours since Blossom, and I think you seem lovely.

The nursery looks great, and all ready for a baby. Enjoy her when she comes, you’ll never believe how fast it all goes once they’re here. My youngest will be 1 in July, and I cant believe its already time to start thinking about a birthday party. This year has been a blur!

Jen on

Completely understand the carpal tunnel. I had it terribly with my twins (who are now 8 years old). I just had surgery on both. After delivery it went away quite a bit, but over time, came back. So, 8 years later, it’s surgically corrected. I hope yours disappears completely or you have 8 years to deal with it.

Good luck and God bless you, your hubby and your princess.

Leslie on

I need those little booties! must have them. now.

Jenn on

Totally understand about not liking being the center of attention! I hate it also, my wedding was so low-key because of that.

Cat on

Happy late birthday Jenna and what a gorgeous nursery.

Can’t wait to see pictures of your beautiful girl in her amazing space!

Bree on

Love this blog!!

Personally I would NEVER have any form of shower before the birth of the child for several reasons. I grew up in a very small isolated community where many children were given up for adoption, or because the of the belief in “old medicine” and lack of readily available medical treatment many babies and or mothers did not survive labour (In fact my mother was not allowed to deliver at the small community hospital because she was considered to be of an “advanced age” (29 years old!!) and too high risk!!), having the shower after the birth gives everyone a chance to visit with the baby (And take the mommy out of the spotlight (Something I was VERY happy about) and it just seems like tempting fate (My sister-in-law had her shower two months before her due date and lost her daughter at 35 weeks, having to see all those gifts has been killing her)

ALL that being said I LOVE the idea of the BBQ!! Very low-key and celebrating Daddy to be as well!!

I totally understand what you mean about Mother’s Day, although I was only 12 weeks along in my pregnancy last Mother’s Day and had just gone through the worst scare of life, thought I was lossing my baby, turned out it was kidney stones (Labour, WAYYYYYYYYYYYY easier!!) which aside from being absolutly EXAUSTING was pretty terrifying and taking a while to recover from (They were caused by dehydration, I actually lost weight in my first trimester, I couldn’t keep anything down but the ocassional apple)

So I didn’t really feel like making a big fuss but I still knew I was a Mommy, even if I lost my baby, I would always be her mommy and I did want some aknowledgement, at least from my parents and husband who spent many hours holding my hair back as I hurled and sat with me at the hospital as I fought the kidney stones. However this year celebrating with my beatiful baby girl, as you will next year, made it all worth while 🙂

Our nursery was furnished and decorated with the help of lots of savings and loving family, my parents bought the glider, my mother-in-law bought our mattress and my grandparents bought our stroller and car seat along with a pile of clothes.

I know I am risking starting something here but we still have the bumper pads in our daughter’s crib, she is still sleeping with us at night but will play and nap in her crib and we tried doing without them but she is such a squirmy worm that she was banging into the bars and getting her arms and legs caught in them. We have gotten some mesh breathable ones for when she does start sleeping in her crib at night as I am guessing the squirming will not stop any time soon lol Not sure if little miss Gray will be as active as the perpetual motion machine otherwise known as Elianna is but under the right supervision and circumstances bumper pads are sometimes the best thing.

Jennifer on

I love that nursery. My sister did her guestroom just like that and it came out so lovely. It’s so stunning to have that bright pink pop out of the black.

Congrats on the little one. It’s a crazy ride this thing called motherhood, but you will enjoy it!

NW Mama on


What a great blog, you so need to be writing, because you have a natural talent to get your point/message across in such a fun way.

Congrats on the soon arrival of your baby girl. You and your hubby will be over the moon in love with her in seconds.

I have 2 daughters and they are truely the best things that have ever happened to me (also marrying my true love)So enjoy every moment when she arrives, because I know you hear it all the time, but they do grow up so very fast, my daughters are now 24 & 19, and it seems like yesterday I was bringing them home for the first time.

I guess now I have grandparenthood to look forward to, but first I need to get them educated and settled down before all that happens.

Best wishes to you and your growing family. Remember you can always celebrate Labor day when your preggos too. lol My shower cake said just that “Happy Labor Day” so HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO YOU because you became a mom at conception of this child.

Love your Blog, please keep it going.

Linda on


vintage style clothing on

I absolutely LOVE the vintage feel of the baby’s room! Where did you get that black chandelier? I have been trying to find one like that.

drood on

May possibly be the only male commenting here, but your BBQ idea was pure genius. It keeps you out of the spotlight, which you obviously do not relish, but it’s “guy-friendly” at the same time. Your husband is a lucky man. Best wishes for both of you, and your baby.

jes on

Thank you for sharing and if I ever have a baby I’m so stealing your shower/bbq idea, pure genius. Good luck on your little girls upcoming birth.

gina on


I LOVE the vintage leather boots and I want them BADLY for my soon to be 1 yr old princess (we’re having a vintage party theme). Could you tell me where your friends got them from?

Thank you much:))

sophiaadams01 on

The baby shower is a must necessary for pregnant women, and for newborn baby, because which has essential features for mother and baby. Thanks for this post.