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NBC News' Julia Ainsley: What it's been like reporting from the border while pregnant

The NBC News correspondent reveals she is expecting a baby girl this fall and reflects on her experience covering immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border during this time.
NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley speaks with migrants at the southern border in July 2021.
"The experience of speaking to those mothers did have a deeper emotional impact on me," says Julia Ainsley.Courtesy Julia Ainsley

NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley is getting ready for two under two! The reporter told “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski that she is expecting another baby girl this November.

Ainsley was thrilled and surprised to learn she and her husband Newman were expecting another baby, who will join daughter Mary Wells.Courtesy Julia Ainsley

Ainsley, who covers national security and justice for the network, discusses how this pregnancy has been different from her first – she had daughter Mary Wells in Jan. 2020 – and what it has been like reporting from the southern border while pregnant.

Here are some of the highlights from Brzezinski’s conversation with Ainsley:

Brzezinski: First of all, how are you feeling?

Ainsley: I’m very happy to report that I’m feeling much better this time around! My first pregnancy, as you know, was very nauseating. I certainly had bouts of sickness during the first trimester (luckily, off air this time), but I was able to manage it.

I think the hardest thing about being pregnant with your second child when your first is still so young – Mary Wells is 19 months – has been finding the energy to keep up with your little one. My toddler had just started walking when I found out I was pregnant, so it meant lots of chasing her around, starting every morning at 5:30 or 6 a.m.

NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley with daughter Mary Wells and husband Newman.Courtesy Julia Ainsley

My husband Newman was great about taking her on morning outings so I could get rest, but then I felt like I was missing out! I guess that’s just a little preview of what it will be like to be a working mother of two — lots of things pulling me in different directions, but all things I love to do!

Brzezinski: What are your feelings about balancing everything?

Ainsley: I think finding balance is going to be an added challenge this time around, especially because so much of Mary Wells’ early days were spent during Covid-19 shutdowns, when we had so much time at home. I didn’t have to spend a night away from her until she was 17 months old. I have a feeling that won’t be the case with the next baby (God and Delta variant willing.)

When I did eventually travel, I went to the U.S.-Mexico border to cover immigration. I thought I would feel incredibly guilty and anxious being away from Mary Wells. Instead, I found myself feeling so grateful for my support system of family and friends.

Pictures of Mary Wells popping bubbles and laughing would come up on my phone while I was interviewing mothers who had left everything behind in Central America, carrying only their sleeping children over their shoulders.

NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley speaks to Deputy Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz at the U.S.-Mexico border in July.Courtesy Julia Ainsley

I’ve always prided myself on staying objective in reporting, but the experience of speaking to those mothers did have a deeper emotional impact on me this time and left me feeling so grateful for everything we have and what we are able to give our children. From that perspective, nothing I am doing is really that hard.

Brzezinski: What was the reaction from you and your husband when you found out you were pregnant?

Ainsley: To be honest, we were both shocked and thrilled at the same time! Mary Wells was a long-awaited answer to our prayers. This baby seemed to take us a bit more by surprise!

But we are so excited to grow our family and for Mary Wells to have a sister so close to her age. I’m incredibly close with my sister and I hope Mary Wells and her new sister will have the chance to bond like we did. This time around, we’re feeling calm and more prepared as we get ready to grow our family. Plus, we still have the baby bottles and swaddles ready to go!

Brzezinski: How do you feel about doing your job pregnant?

Ainsley: It hasn’t held me back so far! I was a little nauseous on my first trip to the border this year, but my amazing producer packed our truck full of snacks and Gatorade, so I did just fine.

"I’ve found myself being defensive when anyone questions my ability to work while pregnant," said Ainsley, who has been covering immigration at the southern border over the past few months.Courtesy Julia Ainsley

I am probably a little more tired, but that might have something to do with cutting out caffeine while my toddler insists on midnight dog petting sessions! I know each woman and each pregnancy is different, but if anything, I’ve found myself being defensive when anyone questions my ability to work while pregnant. I think we should let each woman determine her own limits.

Brzezinski: How cool is it that you’re going to be a mom of two who can set such an incredible example doing your job?

Ainsley: That’s very kind of you to say! I hope they do take an interest in my career one day, not because I think they need to go into journalism, but because I want them to be able to discern what lights them up and makes them curious about the world.

I also want my girls to know that you don’t have to be perfect at everything to succeed in something. They’ll certainly know at an early age that their mother is no pro in the kitchen, her handwriting is worse than theirs and she’s generally uncoordinated. But I hope they’ll also learn from me the importance of venturing outside your comfort zone and putting your whole heart into something you care about.