By Judy Kurtz
The email came as I was standing sardine-style among a horde of reporters in the back of the State Dining Room at the White House.
A celebrity-packed music education event had brought me to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and I was covering it for my “In the Know” gossip column in The Hill.
“Good news,” the email from read, “Your BHCG is 155 and the progesterone is 25.0. Great levels. Congratulations.”
It was official: I was pregnant.
As a gossip columnist, I’m used to writing about who’s expecting among Washington’s who’s who.
“McMorris Rodgers makes history with daughter’s birth,” blared one of my headlines, about the debut of the Washington Republican congresswoman’s newest addition. “Get ready for Chelsea Clinton Bump Watch 2014,” I declared in another story.
But now, here I was, letting the reality sink in that my first child was on the way. And for once, this gossip guru had to keep completely mum about some big news.
Covering the DC Super Bowl, pregnant
Not revealing the scoop wouldn’t have been a big deal, if so much of my job didn’t often involve snagging scoops while partygoers are guzzling drinks at fancy shindigs around Capitol Hill. And, just my luck, the biggest soiree of the year — the gossip world’s equivalent of the Super Bowl — was just a few weeks away.
Don’t get me wrong. Standing on your feet behind a cash register for 10 hours a day or waiting tables is a whole lot more physically demanding than covering the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner while pregnant. But running around in four-inch heels to nine different parties in a three-night span while trying not to do any damage to the growing fetus inside of you presents its own challenges.
The dinner, affectionately dubbed “nerd prom” by regular attendees, has morphed over the years into a nearly weeklong binge of stargazing, as A-listers (along with B-, C- and D-listers) descend on the nation’s capital to schmooze with the city’s politicians, VIPs and journalists.
And here I was smack in the middle of it, trying to squeeze into a series of dresses that were edging on way too snug on my seemingly rapidly expanding waistline.
There was one plus, I thought to myself as I headed to cover social scene queen Tammy Haddad’s garden brunch, which traditionally starts the Correspondents’ weekend festivities. My senses were heightened and my hormones were out of whack, as I tried to put my best brunch foot forward while secretly battling the fun of my first trimester.
I took my place along a rope line set up outside for reporters to interview celeb guests and waited. And waited. Hurrying up only to wait is pretty typical when you’re working red carpet events. But suddenly, standing wasn’t so easy.
It wasn’t hot outside, but I was starting to feel like I was about to melt.
“Just don’t pass out,” I told myself, as I quickly began to resemble a Creamsicle in a sauna. A slew of big names — Kevin Spacey, “Homeland’s” Morena Baccarin, Gerard Butler — started to whiz by, but I couldn’t think straight. I was about to become the story. I could see the headlines in my head already, “Gossip columnist goes berserk at brunch,” or “Reporter melts Wicked Witch-style in front of horrified brunch guests.”
But then I spotted Tony Goldwyn, the actor who plays a fictional president on the ABC show, “Scandal.”
I managed a question despite the psychodrama playing out in my head, asking him his pick for the 2016 presidential election.
Just like that, this preggo had her story: “ ‘Scandal’ president backs Clinton in 2016.”
I survived the brunch and eight additional soirees. As I was leaving one late-night WHCA shindig, I ran into a gossip columnist for another publication. We’re a small bunch, and for the most part, gossipers get along. I chatted about the parties, the A-listers in town, and all the action — leaving out the one thing I wanted to blurt out from the rooftops: “I’m pregnant!”
Surviving that weekend may have helped prep me for the oddball situations that a pregnant gossip columnist faces.