Reality TV starlet Melissa Rycroft is reveling in new motherhood. The gorgeous Bachelor alum and her “amazing” hubby Tye Strickland welcomed their first child, Ava Grace, on February 16.
The 28-year-old first-time mom – who is teaming up with Huggies and the Every Little Bottom campaign – opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her adorable 4-month old daughter who is “growing up way too fast and changing everyday,” her breast reduction surgery that left her unable to breastfeed, and her amazing postpartum weight loss: “I wish there was a magic pill after having a baby.”
CBS: How’s baby Ava doing?
MR: “She’s wonderful. She is growing up way too fast and changing everyday just like everybody said she would. It happens much quicker than you anticipate. She’s four months already!”
CBS: What kind of baby is she?
MR: “I think with every parent, your child is perfect. But we really couldn’t have done any better! She definitely has an independent and stubborn streak in her that she gets from a combination of both of us. She’s a really happy baby. She’s laughing and smiling all the time. She’s found her voice and she’ll sit there and babble to herself all day long. I can’t wait to hear what’s she’s actually saying once she’s forming words. It’s exciting to see this little personality come out everyday. It’s been really exciting.”
CBS: How did you come up with the name Ava Grace?
MR: “There’s really no romance to the story. My husband and I had been bouncing around a few names back and forth to each other. And then he was listening to the radio one morning and a woman named Ava had called in to ask a question. He then called me and said, ‘What about the name Ava?’ I thought about it and we started calling her Ava and we just never changed it – she became Ava. It’s a great name.”
CBS: How have you adjusted to motherhood?
MR: “I don’t know if you ever fully adjust to motherhood. It sort of becomes who you are and what you do. I look at my life five months ago and I really don’t remember what I did all day! My life, literally, every minute of every day revolves around Ava and her schedule: ‘Is she hungry, or sleepy, or does she need to play?’ It’s about what can we do today as opposed to what am I going to do today.
The few times that I have had a bit of free time during the day, I’ve sat at home and said to myself, ‘Well this feels awkward!’ I’m so used to having this little one around me that I almost don’t know what to do with myself when I don’t have her. I guess motherhood has just become me and defined me.”
CBS: What has been the biggest challenge of motherhood so far?
MR: “Having one this young, it’s just trying to keep your relationship the priority. And not to lose yourself in everything. It’s very easy to just let Ava define who I am and let Ava run our household. But at the end of the day, I’m still my own person and I still have my own wants, needs and desires in life. And, I have a husband and we have a great relationship that we want to keep strong.
Right now it’s hard because she’s definitely running the household and probably will be for a little while still. But those are two things that I never want to forget. That I was a person before she came along and I still have those same wants and needs and desires that I did before she came along. Even though they get put on the back-burner for a little bit, they’re still there. My relationship with Tye is still the biggest and most important relationship to me and we’re going to continue to make that a priority.”
CBS: Are you breastfeeding?
MR: “No, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. I had a breast reduction when I was 19 and so it was one of those, ‘maybe I will, maybe I won’t’ situations. I just wasn’t physically able to breastfeed. I would sit and pump for hours and hours and hours and produced nothing. Not even a drop would come out. It was a tough decision to give up trying. I really wanted to give it a shot and I really wanted to bond with her that way.
With a breast reduction, it all depends on how the surgery goes. I was pretty large to begin with, so they did have to move around a lot of the bodywork. During the process, some of the tubes got disconnected.
Obviously, breastfeeding is the No. 1 thing you can do for your child, and when it’s not an option it’s hard. But I had to come to terms with the fact that I just can’t do it. She’s thriving, she’s happy and she’s healthy and she did that without mom’s help.”
CBS: You look amazing at 4 months postpartum! What’s your secret?
MR: “I sure wish there was a secret! I wish there was a magic pill after having a baby that would just magically transform your body back. But there’s not and I think there are a lot of factors that attributed to getting my body back. I’m still not back to where I was and I’m not even looking to get back where I was.
I think first and foremost, I didn’t feel pressure. I didn’t feel that I had to lose the weight and look good. I took a couple months off work so there was no industry pressure for me whatsoever. And I didn’t have any pressure from Tye. He consistently told me throughout my pregnancy that I looked beautiful and looked great. And I also had luck on my side. I gained about 50 pounds, but a lot of it was boob, water and healthy weight because it didn’t take a lot to get it off.
I dieted my butt off! Probably about three weeks after Ava was born, I started cutting basically everything out: No sugar, no carbs, no starchy anything, no sodium. I ate pretty bland. So it didn’t take very long after I started doing that before I started to really notice the weight really coming off. It’s no way to live and I definitely don’t do that anymore but it kick-started it and got me back to where I am.”
CBS: Did you work out during your pregnancy as well?
MR: “I worked out up until about month No. 7. Anybody who’s been pregnant will tell you that after that it’s pretty much impossible. For the first two trimesters I tried to stay as healthy as possible. I ate really clean and I walked a couple miles every day. In my last trimester I tried to walk about a mile every day. I think that at that point, anything will help.”
CBS: How has Tye adjusted to fatherhood?
MR: “Tye is amazing! He is everything I pictured he would be. Ava has him so wrapped around her little finger already, it is not even funny. He helps out in ways that surprise me, to be honest. She’s been sleeping through the night, but if she does get up at 3 a.m., he gets up with her. I’ll get up and see him sitting with her in the living room singing to her. Or he reads her stories.
I love watching the bond that they are forming. As a mother, I don’t think there’s anything better you can see than your daughter and your husband forming that bond that you always hoped they would have. He’s amazing – everything that I could ask for in the father of my child.”
CBS: Tell us about partnering up with Huggies for their Every Little Bottom campaign.
MR: “Huggies came out with their denim diaper line. First of all, Ava looks adorable in them! They’re still a little big but I don’t care! When I heard about the opportunity to work with them, and they offered to throw Ava a sip and tea party, I learned more about their Every Little Bottom campaign and it’s such a great cause.
We definitely take things for granted and we don’t often think about the people out there that don’t have access to things like diapers. It’s something that I’ve been in such a fortunate situation that I haven’t had to think about that. If Ava runs out of diapers, I run to the store and buy a new box. When you sit down and think about it, you think, ‘Gosh, there are so many people out there that can’t do that and that is a struggle.’ Diapers are a necessity for children. So if there’s something out there that we can buy and it will benefit children, by golly let’s do it!
When I found out that when you buy those denim diapers from Huggies, they make donations to the Every Little Bottom charity which helps to diaper children who otherwise would not be diapered. It’s kind of a no-brainer and you go, ‘Absolutely!’ It’s a great cause and it’s a great diaper.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
MR: “The next big thing is the release of my book, My Reality. It’s coming out probably in September. It’s taking a look back at the last four years of my life. It includes my roller coaster romance with Tye and my ‘don’ts’ when it comes to dating. It’s all about the crazy ride we’ve been on that has taken us here professionally and personally. It’s a fun story and I’m excited to tell it. It’s not really a memoir, it’s more of a love story. It’s not conventional at all. There’s no secret that I was on The Bachelor and Tye and I have known each other for six years. So when you do the math, there seems like there’s overlap there.
This crazy TV world that I live in is not anything that I ever dreamed of. I never thought it was possible for me and it was never anything that I really aspired to do, it just kind of fell in my lap. Because of all the crud that happened with Tye and I, I love going back and reading it and seeing the struggles that we had personally that led to the triumphs.”
CBS: Any chance for a reality TV series showcasing your family-of-three?
MR: “I learned pretty early on in this career to never say never. I know that I’ve been on reality TV and a lot of people associate me with that. I’ve gotten lucky and done things outside of the reality TV world. I’ve done some corresponding and ultimately, that’s my goal. But, if along the way someone decides that they want to see what we do behind the scenes, you never know.
We have always left moving to L.A. an open option. Right now we’re in Texas, but we’ve always said that if I get a job that I can’t say ‘no’ to, then we’ll go. As of right now, our life is here. Tye’s job is here and our family is here. We’re pretty content, but I’ll be honest, going back to work right now with Ava is really hard because it will mean that I travel. Right now, the three of us pick up and travel. We’re leaving again soon for three days, and it’s definitely difficult. I’ll be honest, if it stays like this, the moving question will probably be ringing a little bit louder in both of our ears.”