CBB Exclusive: In Depth with Karen Hepp of Fox 5 News New York

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As the weekend news anchor for Fox 5 News in New York, Karen Hepp is used to reporting on issues such as Presidential frontrunners, the climate crisis and Britney’s latest antics. Today, the 34-year-old Hepp and her husband, Brian, are the parents to an almost one year-old son, Quinn Joseph. Karen sat down exclusively with CBB to talk about births, babies and being a top news anchor. Her latest news report: Women can have it all.

Photography: Gabbeli Photography (www.gabbeliphotography.com)
Hair and makeup: Virginia Dominguez

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What was your childhood like?

It was idyllic. I grew up in Charlestown, Pennsylvania. There were lots of farms and rolling hills. Nature surrounded us, so I swam a lot and chased frogs. It was a very relaxed, wonderful childhood.

Did you always want to be a news anchor?

I always had a great love of science and had taken all advanced classes through high school. I took AP bio, chemistry, physics, etc and chose to pursue my other love in college, but realized medical research wasn’t the best fit for my curiosity. I switched into politics and journalism when my friends had just happened to transfer out.

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How are you able to separate yourself from reporting such human tragedies?

It’s difficult. Technically, the stories are easy to report: Whether it’s a murder or a robbery, there’s a victim, there’s the person who did it, there’s a motive, etc. I have to report the facts. My job is to tell the person’s story as best as I can, giving these people the dignity they deserve.

In my personal life, though, that’s another story. If I come across an accident, I’ll be shaken, and the images I see will haunt me.

Is there any story that you won’t report on?

No. I really dislike having to knock on a parent’s door to talk with them about losing their child. That stays with me. It can be hard to separate the professional from the personal.

Speaking of personal, how did you meet your husband, Brian?

Brian and I met down at the New Jersey shore. At that point in my life, I had my checklist for the characteristics I wanted in a man. First, I wanted a man who could go on adventures with me. Second, he had to be able to pay his own way. Third, he had to be cute enough to share a sleeping bag with! And Brian fit all three requirements!

We’ve been married for three years, and I became pregnant with Quinn in late 2006.

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Was it difficult to be on air and pregnant?

Not at all. I gained 34 pounds during my pregnancy, but all the weight just really filled out my frame. I never got big, and I didn’t show until the end of the pregnancy. It was fantastic!

How was your pregnancy?

Genetically, I was blessed. I worked up until the day my water broke. I had tons of energy. I felt great; I was doing my yoga and working out.

When I was six months pregnant, Brian and I went to Hawaii for our babymoon. I had never felt better.

Your labor story is really funny.

It was one week before my due date. I had just finished work and was chatting with a girlfriend on the phone. I went into the kitchen, and my water broke out of nowhere. I couldn’t believe it! I mean, I wasn’t due for another week, and my hospital bag was only half-packed!

So I went into cleaning mode. Brian and I lived in Philly and split our time between there and NY, but my doctor is still in Philly. So I started throwing all the food away that would go bad.

I took a cab to Penn Station to catch the train. I had no makeup on, and I wasn’t feeling my best; after all, I was in labor!

Right then, I bump right into Senator Dodd who at the time was running for President. I apologized for how I looked and I mumbled, "Well, I’m kind of in labor." Senator Dodd’s wife, Jackie, says, "Kind of?" and she laughed. They helped me onto the train, carried my bags for me, even bumped me up into business class!

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Now, you chose to have your baby in a birthing center.

Absolutely. The rate of C-sections is 40%, which is very high. More and more women are getting C’s. Some of my girlfriends got epidurals during their labor, and it slowed down the labor. In several cases, they wound up having a C-section, after having labored all those long hours.

A birthing center was absolutely the right choice for me.

What happened when you got to the birthing center?

We first stopped at McDonald’s to pick up a vanilla shake to put the castor oil in. After I drank that, well, the labor really started!

During the labor, I wound up throwing up on my clothes, and since I hadn’t really packed a bag, I didn’t have another shirt. Brian was wearing two shirts, so I asked him to literally give me the shirt off his back! And Brian was exhausted, since he had been up since 4:00 a.m. the day before.

The pain was so excruciating; I thought I was going to die. Finally, Quinn was born the next morning, and after all that pain, the midwife handed me two Advil’s!

Overall, the experience of giving birth in a birthing center was wonderful. We had a double bed, so Brian, Quinn and I got to sleep together for hours. It was so warm and cozy being in bed, just the three of us. Brian went out later and brought in Chinese food. And that night, we went home, and it was great to sleep in our own bed.

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How is your life now as a family?

I’m really lucky. Quinn is a happy baby, and a good sleeper. He’s always been very alert, and sweet. He was always smiling, and very rewarding at a very young age. I brought him to church the first week he was born, and I also had him out at the supermarket when he was just days old. People were horrified!

It seems that you lead a well-balanced life.

I try. On the weekends, I have pretty much the whole day with the baby before I go into work, and then Brian gets his one-on-one time with Quinn. During the week, I take Quinn to Mommy and Me classes, where I can talk with other moms who are facing the same issues as me.

And I have to say, I like working. I went back to work a month after I had Quinn, and it was great. I like getting dressed and feeling good about myself. I really ascribe to the belief of "Happy Mommy, Happy Baby." If you’re fulfilled and happy, your baby will be happy,
too.

Cora Ann Mihalik (an anchor and reporter for My9 News) once said to me, "You can do it all. You really can." I believe that. Women can have it all. You don’t have to get an A in everything you do, but you can work and have normal kids. You can have it all and be really happy.

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