Elisabeth Rohm Gets Honest About Infertility & ‘Weight Challenged’ Maternity Style

elizabeth rohmBetween all the maternity-chasing in the general direction of certain bronzer moguls, pants haters, and princesses, you could say that celebrity motherhood is kind of having a moment. Models Lara Stone and Eva Herzigova both gave birth this spring, taking pregnancy up there with palazzo pants for 2013 trends. Just like when they pull off those impossible pants, celebrities make motherhood look easy. They stroll with a staff member for each toddler, a trademarked fruit/number/location name for just their kid, and a figure that miraculously bounces back to bodacious quicker than most moms can say Tracy Anderson Method.

What they most certainly don’t do is talk about fertility problems, or any of the myriad struggles the average mother faces. While we’re all supposed to be Leaning In and Having It All, celebrities happily flaunt the fairy tale lives that reality TV producers they have created. Elisabeth Rohm would like to change that.

An actress most recognized for her role as the assistant district attorney on Law and Order, and more recently on The Client List, Rohm, 40, released a book this April called Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not as I Expected). The project started two years ago as a regular blog on People.com in which Rohm would share stories about her family. She never expected women to react so strongly to the posts she wrote about some of the more trying topics — on a recent post she talks about being on lockdown in Boston during the Marathon bombing last month — but they did.

Empowered by her loyal following, Rohm got uncensored to share her triumphant tale of in-vitro fertilization, and how talking about the agonizing process helped her through it. “When women stop talking,” she says, “women stop being heard.” We had a chance to talk to Elisabeth about how her work as an actress became a tool to sublimate some of the hardest times, and how pregnancy changed her body — and then her wardrobe.

You’ve played an assistant district attorney, been on a show about prostitutes, written a novel, and are now a mom; how does fashion help you step into all the different roles in your life?

I am a total Sex & the City New York girl. I love fashion and I have a shoe fetish. I’ve never been one for flip-flops or sweatpants. I’d rather wear heels than ballet slippers. Fashion is an extension of everything that one is doing and feeling, and it’s empowering to feel put together. It feels good to LOOK good.

Your new book is about your own difficult path to motherhood, and traumas and challenges you’ve faced throughout your life. Did you find going on set, getting hair and makeup done, and being put in a wardrobe helped you cope?

I think when a woman is struggling with infertility, they tend to question their self worth. Not being able to conceive naturally challenges a woman’s sexiness and confidence because it’s necessary to seek help for something that is supposed to be a God-given gift. So, yes — being pampered in hair and makeup and then having to portray feminine characters absolutely helped me cope with my struggles.
elisabeth rohm daughter

You’ve become an outspoken advocate on a lot of women’s issues. Do you think fashion is a tool women can harness to bring power to some of those issues? Or, to my previous question, do you think style can help other women facing personal struggles?

My mother was a hippie chick, so fashion was certainly not my forté while growing up. However, over the years I’ve learned to love fashion as an expression of inner confidence and personal style. It has the ability to create a statement. From eco-fashion and green designers like Stella McCartney, to other designers that stand up for various purposes — it’s really great supporting designers that are vocal about causes. Wearing their clothes has a meaning behind it, and that can be empowering for women. On the other hand, just simply having a style helps a woman to feel confident and beautiful, and that is empowering, too.

What was the best part about maternity style; were there any brands or products you became obsessed with?

Being that I was very “weight-challenged” during my pregnancy, I became very conscious of clothing in a different way. I learned to find clothing that worked with me, not against me. I undoubtedly found solace in the maternity store A Pea in the Pod. They offer incredible clothing designed for a fuller figure and I had a great relationship with the store.

What’s the hardest part about maternity dressing?

Everything. Particularly near the end of your pregnancy, when there’s probably only one pair of pants that you end up tolerating. It’s really great when you have a wonderful designer to help you out because then you don’t feel like you’re letting go.

What do you think about the trend of eschewing maternity clothes and just getting away with larger sized regular clothes during pregnancy?

If you’re a woman with a naturally slim figure, I’m sure it’s much easier to get away with wearing regular clothes during pregnancy. But for me, I gained a lot of weight; so maternity clothes were definitely the most flattering. I think it’s cool if you’re able to do it, though — it definitely leaves you with more options.

Did you use being pregnant as an opportunity to wear something you never would have worn sans bump?

Wide-legged pants. They were oh-so comfortable!

Baby Steps is available online and in Barnes & Noble stores.

All photos by Kimberly Metz

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