Photos by Lindsay May for Classic Kids Photography
“This has been the best year of my life, no question about it,” Savannah Guthrie, “TODAY” show co-anchor, says on a chilly April afternoon as spring has just begun to grace the streets of Manhattan. That’s certainly saying something, considering that Guthrie’s average workday involves reporting on breaking news and interviewing some of the biggest names in culture, entertainment, and politics.
Of course, her quickness to graciously gush about her stellar year is easily explained: Not only did she marry Michael Feldman (a public relations and communications consultant and former Democratic political adviser) in March 2014, but Guthrie, 43, also welcomed a baby daughter, Vale, last August.
Her sunny disposition is even more impressive when you factor in that, on the day of our interview, not only did she wake at her customary 3am to head to work at NBC, but she’d also come from a now much-discussed interview with presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul, in which he undeniably lost his cool in the face of Guthrie’s well-researched questions about his changing stance on certain issues.
Regardless of one’s political leanings, most of us would likely find ourselves flustered if we were ever faced with an irritated Rand Paul. Not so for Guthrie—the chief legal correspondent for NBC News as well as a former White House correspondent, and a graduate of the University of Arizona and Georgetown Law—who remained calm and collected through Paul’s interruptions.
In person, the confidence, charm, and poise that greet “TODAY” viewers and guests every morning is just as present as it is on-screen. Whether Guthrie, who grew up in Tucson, AZ, is dishing on her “delicious” baby daughter or giving behind-the-scenes glimpses into life on-set at “TODAY,” there’s an awareness and appreciativeness of her blessings—in life and work—that cut to the heart of her appeal.
“I’ve been a ‘TODAY’ show viewer my whole life and, to me, it’s this iconic, wonderful show,” she explains. “To think that I get to be a part of it is just beyond imagination.”Come to the New York Baby Show, the largest family-friendly event for expectant and new parents in the country! It’s coming up on May 16 and May 17 in NYC. Click Here For Details And Tickets.
You’ve had an exciting year—you got married and had your first baby! How has this new phase of life been treating you?
Getting married was amazing and having Vale has just been the experience of my life. I feel like I exude happiness and joy because of her—she’s so special and sweet and adorable. I race home to see her. I feel transformed by the experience. In my mind, of course, I always thought and hoped and wanted to have kids, but I never knew what it would be like to actually be a mom… I came home yesterday and she put her hands up and was jumping up and down in her highchair, just so excited to see me—I was like: “I feel like a celebrity because Vale recognizes me and knows me!”
You were very candid about announcing and going through your pregnancy on national television. What was it like to do that in such a public way?
Mostly, it was really positive. People were so genuinely joyful for [my husband and me]. How can that be anything but something that makes you feel great? I get to meet people every day out on [Rockefeller] Plaza during the show, and their eyes would light up and they would tell me about their kids like: “This is my little baby, and he grew up!” I would say, overall, it was an extra-special part of an already special time. Of course, it’s not easy, necessarily, as your body is changing, and you’re getting bigger and bigger, and you’re in the eighth month of pregnancy, and you’re like: “What am I going to wear today?” And you’re doing that on national TV—so there were some days that were better than others, but mostly it added a real something special to the whole experience.
What is your daughter, Vale, like right now at this stage of her life?
She is so delicious and adorable! She has the biggest cheeks; she is constantly smiling. Of course, I think she’s the cutest baby in America, and perhaps the world, but not only that—she has a great personality. She’s always laughing and smiling; she’s very social and loving. She’s just a happy and peaceful baby… People stop me on the street—not because I’m from the “TODAY” show—but because she’s so cute! Seriously!
What have been some of the biggest joys and challenges of new motherhood?
I was walking up the stairs the other day and started thinking about Vale laughing and I actually started smiling, and I thought: “What other thing have I ever experienced in life that could just produce a spontaneous feeling of warmth and joy coming up from my heart?” And that’s what she is: Pure love and pure joy… And the challenges are real—being a mom is obviously not all a ray of sunshine. For me, the biggest adjustments have been in realizing what I don’t know and having that anxiety about [things like]: Is she sleeping through the night? How come I can’t get her to sip water out of this little sippy cup? What foods should I give her?
We loved the post you wrote for “TODAY’s” parenting platform, TODAY Parenting Team, in March called: “I knew nothing.. but now I know this.” What would you say to other new moms who feel like they don’t know what to do yet?
Just try to be gentle on yourself. Especially in New York, we have a lot of working moms and moms who have been successful in careers. We’re used to understanding a problem and executing a strategy at work. And then you’re at home with this little baby, and it’s just a whole new area and you know nothing about it, and you feel so helpless and you wish you could reason your way out of this situation—and you can’t! You just have to trust that you know as much about this, and about your baby, as anybody else. Don’t worry so much—that would be my best advice. I’d like to take it, too!
Tell us about how you and your husband’s parenting styles compare and contrast thus far.
We’re just discovering our parenting styles, honestly. We’re very similar in the sense that I think we’re very sensitive and we both want to get it right, really badly. He’s probably a little tougher than I am—the whole sleep-training thing is a big deal when you have a baby, and Mike was always trying to gently push me to say that there’s probably going to be a time when we have to let her cry it out a little bit. I thought I understood that intellectually, but when it came right down to it, that was very hard for me to do, so I didn’t do it for a long time. Only now, since she’s a little bit older, we’ve experimented with it a bit more, and she is now sleeping through the night, I’m happy to say. So I guess I’m a little bit more of a softie than I would have expected myself to be. But we’ll see—I think it changes once you have a toddler, and then a little girl, and I think the differences in our parenting styles will probably become more apparent.
What are you looking forward to as Vale gets older?
I love meeting other moms because I think that support is so essential. Actually, as Vale gets older, I look forward to having more chances to do playdates and have interactions and make mommy-friends. I have a lot of friends who are moms, but not a lot of friends who have an 8-month-old, and I think there’s something to be said for having friends [whose kids] are in the exact same stage as your child, because at this age, each month makes such a huge difference… [“TODAY’s” Orange Room host] Carson Daly’s fiancé had her baby a week after I had Vale, so London Daly and Vale are best friends. We’ve had a few playdates—they’re besties, it’s very cute. We just learned that [“TODAY” correspondent] Jenna Bush Hager is having a baby in August, and she’s my neighbor, so she’s one of my mom-friends. There are friends, and then there mom-friends… It’s nice to be there in the present with someone who has a similar-aged baby.
Do you ever swap stories and advice with your “TODAY” colleagues who are also parents?
All the time! In fact, just the other day I was talking to [“TODAY” news anchor and co-host of the third hour] Natalie [Morales] about being a working mom, and when you have to travel and be away from the baby. I was saying if I have a long day and don’t see Vale during the day, I feel so sad, like: “Is she going to remember me?” And Natalie said: “Oh I remember going through that so much when my babies were little and I had to travel.” She had just started at the “TODAY” show then, so she didn’t feel like she could say: “No, I can’t do that shoot.” So she was very torn… She and I were just sitting together in the makeup room in the morning and it was really helpful to talk to her and have her say: “I know how you’re feeling but don’t worry, you miss her more than she misses you right now.”
Are there any behind-the-scenes anecdotes from “TODAY” that you can share with us?
Believe me, there are antics every single day! One thing I do is FaceTime the baby during commercial breaks…and it could be 7:25am and I call the baby and I’m making faces at her and then [“TODAY” co-anchor] Matt [Lauer] gets in there and is like: “Googoo gaga googoo gaga!”
When I was in college, I was a journalism major but my classes were all in print journalism. Honestly, back then, my whole dream was to be in a news magazine—like Newsweek or Time… But I got a part-time job at the local PBS station in my hometown and that kind of opened my eyes to this whole world of television… I learned about how to tell a story using visuals and using sound and I really liked it.
Are there any career highlights you’re especially proud of?
I’m proud that I worked at the White House and was a correspondent, because I think that White House correspondent is just about one of the hardest jobs you can have in television news. I’m proud that I did it—it was a great experience and great preparation for the job I’m in now… In this job we get a lot of big breaking news events—and for me, that’s still the most exciting and important thing that we do. To cover something like the Boston Marathon bombing as it’s unfolding, or interview the President—all of those things are always going to be highlights in this business.
Besides work and family, what are your personal passions and interests? How do you make time for them?
Gosh, napping—just kidding! I love to play tennis, I love to play the guitar. I wish I did more of my hobbies—lately I’ve been all about the baby, the baby, the baby… I love to run, so once the weather warms up I hope to do that again. Actually, Natalie got me a jogging stroller for my baby shower, so once the summer comes around, I’ll have to put it to use—I’ll have no excuse! Although running is hard enough—I can barely keep my breath—so I don’t know about pushing around a 25-lb baby.
Who inspires you—both as a mother and professionally?
I feel like my own mom is a really great example. She’s interesting because, for the first 16 years of my life, she was a stay-at-home-mom and then she went back to work later [doing public relations for the University of Arizona]. I really admire her for that. I feel very thankful that I had her at home and had so much of her attention. I have a lot of respect for stay-at-home-moms in general. Especially when you become a mom and realize how hard that is. No matter how you slice it, there are pluses and minuses, so I think of my mom as a role model because she did it both ways… Right now I’m working, but maybe there will come a time when I stay at home. I like the idea that you can adjust over time.
Mia Weber is a senior editor at New York Family.Interested in stories like this? Sign up here for our eNewsletter New York Family Baby