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Meet the mama: Teri Polo

Teri Polo, Ben Stiller’s sweet fiancée in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, is chatty and exuberant as we discuss her pregnancy, and more than just a little excited. And for good reason: It’s her due date, and she’s in labor. “This is all very funny because I am actually having contractions,” she laughs, during this 2002 interview.

Admittedly, it’s early labor — but what better way to spend the last hours of pregnancy than by reminiscing about these past nine amazing months? Tomorrow, her whole world will change.

“I had no effacement or dilation up until [last week], and we thought the baby was just going nowhere soon. We decided to induce and were going to go to the hospital tomorrow morning. But I woke up this morning with contractions!”

So just who is Teri Polo? She’s a Hollywood mama who’s talented (an actress who’s starred with John Travolta, Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, among others). She’s beautiful (a model at 17). She’s graceful (studied ballet for 11 years). When she’s not pregnant, she’s petite and skinny and all those things you love to hate. But hating anything about her is impossible, because she’s also warm and personable — and so clearly loving every minute of this pregnancy.

The best part of pregnancy
“My favorite part of pregnancy has been feeling my little boy move and squirm and make my belly look like I have an alien in there,” she says. “Feeling his little feet and legs and arms and especially his little butt move has been an absolute joy!

“The absolute truth is that I have had the easiest pregnancy,” she says. “I have absolutely nothing to complain about at all. I had no morning sickness, I’ve been sleeping all the way through, and I was never really uncomfortable up until these last few days. I truly have had the ideal pregnancy. It’s been very easy, and I have been so happy and content all the way through. It’s as if the hormones are actually balancing [me], more than making me crazy.” With a laugh, she adds, “I know, hard to believe but true. Best thing I ever did — except marry my husband!”

Getting pregnant was no problem for this 33-year-old and her husband, photographer Tony Moore. “My husband and I had only been trying for a few weeks,” she says. “He was at work, and on a whim, I went to the drugstore late on a Sunday night and bought a test. I went home and tested myself, and it read positive. I immediately got in the car and drove to where my husband was working and showed him the stick. We took the second test the next morning, and it read positive. So I went to the doctor’s that afternoon, and that evening he called to confirm I was pregnant. I can’t believe I called my husband on the phone to tell him, but I was just so excited! We were absolutely elated and thrilled.”

The timing of her pregnancy was also ideal. “I worked through the beginning of the second trimester on a movie, Beyond Borders, with Angelina Jolie. She was about to adopt her little boy at the same time, so we had a great time discussing things.”

Fatigue made the first three months tough. “I slept through most of my first trimester — that was exhausting,” she says. “But luckily, I had an energy boost for the second and was able to work for about a month and a half.” When her last project ended halfway through her pregnancy, Teri stopped working. “I haven’t been on auditions or anything since, and I’m loving every minute of my freedom! I am starting to get the bug to work again, but I will take at least two to three months with my boy before going back to work.

Tasty treats
“The most difficult part of pregnancy was at about 20 weeks or so when I went to the doctor and he told me I was putting on too much weight too fast. I then had to go home and completely redo my diet, and my body was not happy!” She laughs, “It sort of rebelled and wanted to know what happened to all of the good stuff, like late-night doughnuts and Fluffernutter sandwiches and all the fresh fruit I was eating!” Teri couldn’t get enough fruit, she says. “I thought I was being so good eating lots and lots of fresh fruit; I was craving it! But your body can’t break down sugar when you are pregnant like it can when you are not, so I was just loaded up on sugar. I was lucky I didn’t have problems with gestational diabetes.”

She says that her cravings have never been really weird, but she’s had some very specific desires: “I absolutely had to have caesar salad with chicken and lemonade. The best salad was from California Pizza Kitchen. They have the best caesar dressing!”

And like many of us, she suffers from a common pregnancy discomfort: tummy troubles. “I’ve had a hard time with acid reflux or indigestion. That was really unpleasant,” she says.

Physically fine
Contrary to the movie star stereotype, Teri’s not working out for hours every day in order to slip into a sleek evening gown two weeks postpartum. “The only way I am keeping in shape is eating better, so I don’t put on the weight. And I’m stretching whenever possible,” she says. “I met my husband at the gym, but for some reason, I have not felt the need or want to keep it up during pregnancy. In the beginning, I walked around my neighborhood every day, but I soon gave that up too.”

Workouts aside, her body has transformed in ways she didn’t quite expect. “The most noticeable change in my body is in my breasts. They have become enormous,” she says. “I now know that the grass is never greener. Even my friends are astonished. I hope they return to their normal state of smallness. My belly, on the other hand, has stayed fairly small. People think I am only seven months, and my husband says I don’t look pregnant at all from behind. Isn’t he sweet?” she smiles. “I love the changes to my body and love the way it looks, although at the end of the journey, here I am, pretty much over it and ready for birth and little tee shirts that don’t ride up over my belly.”

Looking ahead
So what’s ahead for Teri? “The next step for me is spending time with my new family for the next two or three months, and then finding work before the end of the year. I hope to begin work on the sequel to Meet the Parents sometime next year [2003]. Both Ben Stiller and I will have babies to take care of: He and his wife Christine had a baby girl this spring.”

At the moment, Teri’s not really thinking too far into the future. She’s just waiting for those demanding but delicious first days of parenthood. “For now,” she says, “I am giving myself permission to be tired and worn down with the glorious gift of a newborn.”

Update: Teri’s son Griffin was born in August, 2002.

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