August 05, 2010 09:00 AM

PEOPLE Moms & Babies is happy to introduce our newest celebrity blogger — Marisol Nichols!

The actress and husband Taron Lexton are parents to 22-month-old daughter Rain India. Currently based in Shreveport, Louisiana while she films The Gates, Nichols, 36, will be giving us a glimpse into her life as a working mom.

In her first blog, Nichols discusses why figuring out Rain’s basic needs was “a revelation” — lest you end up the mom with the screaming child in the grocery store! — and filming her first post-baby bathing suit scene.

Rain India Lexton – Courtesy Marisol Nichols

Hi mamas! Thanks for reading my first-ever blog.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself — I’m an actress and a new mom. My daughter Rain is my first child and is 22 months old. You may know me from 24 or further back, from Vegas Vacation. Just before I got pregnant, I was also the spokesperson for Bally Total Fitness. Currently, I’m on location in Louisiana shooting ABC’s The Gates. I’m also the only one of my castmates who has their baby girl with them out here, so as far as “hanging out while on location” goes, it’s the local Gymboree for me!

I must confess — or brag, depending on how you look at it — that I was an expert on everything while I was pregnant. I ate the right things, took tons of vitamins and drank lots of water, quit caffeine and most sugar (I had my moments), did light exercise for at least a few months and thought I had it down. I read the books, saw the doctors, did it all. And then … I had Rain. Okay, now what?!

First, let me say that Rain is an amazing person. And yes, I know I’m her mom and get bragging rights, but she truly is. She’s extremely affectionate, loving, gentle, funny, smart, playful and super easygoing — she has all these wonderful, incredible qualities to her that I just marvel at. I keep falling in love with her every single day with each new thing she does. I have to constantly refrain from saying, “You know what Rain did today?” to my castmates so they don’t get sick of me.

That said, being a new mom was a bit of trial and error for me. I learned pretty early on that if I didn’t get her nap in or enough good food in her every three hours or so, these amazing qualities — her incredible personality — didn’t get to show. They’d be hidden under a cranky, tired, sensitive girl.

When her food and sleep are in, we have amazing days filled with so much happiness. If they’re out, and she missed her nap because I tried to wing it …

All of a sudden we’re in line at the grocery store — Mama’s trying to pay for the food and Rain is crying and trying to get out of the cart. I feel like, “Oh no, I’m that mom?” and find myself telling the cashier (who could care less!) that she didn’t get her nap. Thank God for you moms out there who share those knowing looks with me when something like that happens — you understand!

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that that’s my job. Making sure Rain’s basics are in, no matter what, is most important – and then we can build from there. This may be a no-brainer for you seasoned moms out there, but for me it was a revelation! Next we’re tackling losing the bottle. Wish me luck! 🙂

I still can’t believe it’s already been almost two years since I gave birth. Everyone told me “it goes so fast” – and I got so tired of hearing that. But wow! They were right.

The only thing that didn’t “go so fast” was my body. I had to have an emergency c-section and I gotta say between that and learning how to breastfeed, I didn’t ever think my body would be normal again. However, let’s face it — I’m an actress and the 40 lbs. I gained during my pregnancy had to go!

I’m not one of those women who had the weight just fall off. I had to work at it through good old-fashioned diet and exercise (and skipping the cookies and being hungry once in a while). About a year later, I was close to being back to my old self — which was good, because this Sunday’s episode was particularly stressful for me.

I was informed — thankfully ahead of time — that my character was throwing a pool party … in … a … bikini! I’m sorry — what?! They do know we’re not all in our 20s here, right? I mean, it’s one thing to look good in clothes, but a bikini has no mercy!

So in preparation for this episode, I tightened it all up. No cookies, no cheating, lots of workouts and self-discipline. And I rocked the bikini! Yay mama! However, the second we wrapped I was out for pizza — and ate every single bite thankyouverymuch! You can even see us video blogging about this episode here.

Marisol as Sarah in The Gates – Twentieth Century Fox

In closing, anyone who tells you that working and being a mom is easy is lying. It’s tough. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Being a mom is like having my heart walk around on the outside of my body. When Rain greets me at the door as I come home from work — running towards me and wrapping her arms around my legs screaming, “Hi Mama!” – nothing else matters. I love being a mom.

Thanks for reading! In my next blog, I’ll share with you how I’ve kept us entertained out here in Shreveport for the past five months. Who knew you could happily kill a whole afternoon at Target? In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter and keep up with me on Facebook, or you can check out The Gates — it airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.

To all you wonderful moms out there, I love you so much! Moms rock!

— Marisol Nichols

Marisol’s response to comments:

Hi mamas!

Thank you so much for your concern for Rain. I love how fierce a protective mom can be! Here is the information on rear-facing vs. forward-facing according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Toddlers – Age 1 & 20 lbs to Age 4 & 40 lbs.

When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Always read the child seat instruction manual. Each manufacturer provides specific instructions regarding proper use and installation of their child seats. Here’s the link to the Graco website and what they say about it:

Finally, the car seat that parents have been searching for is here. Our Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat helps keep your child secure in a 5-point harness, from 20-65 lbs. When she’s ready, it converts to a belt-positioning booster from 30-100 lbs. And as she continues to grow, the Nautilus grows with her, transitioning into either a Highback or Backless booster for a comfortable fit up to 100 lbs. Extensively crash tested, including side-impact testing, outfitted with reinforced steel and thoroughly designed with plush comfort features, this 3-in-1 car seat will last your little travel companion well into childhood.

And lastly, no, we were not driving while I was taking a picture of my little cutie pie! 🙂

Go mamas!

xo, Marisol Nichols

A warm welcome to Marisol! What questions do you have for her? What topics would you like her to blog about in the future?

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