Makeup by Rebecca Borman | Hair by Dora Smagler. Styled by Fran Taylor; wardrobe supervision by Ashley Alderfer Kaufman | Photo assistance by Liz Sanders.
For any expectant couple, that first ultrasound visit is always an emotional one—you’re nervous about your baby’s health, yet so excited to learn more about the little person-to-be.
For Abby Huntsman—a television personality and journalist known for her current role as a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” as well as her past stints as a host on MSNBC and Fox News—she arrived at her OB-GYN’s office at the start of her second pregnancy (her daughter Isabel is 18 months old) with a distinct feeling that something was unusual, compared to how her first trimester had felt the first time around.
“When we went for the ultrasound, I knew I had been feeling double the sick that I had been with Isabel—and I was pretty sick with her—and I thought: ‘Something seems different and off,’” she recalls. “I was almost nervous that something was wrong.”
Well, it turns out that her maternal instincts telling her that something was different were spot on: Huntsman was, in fact, expecting twins. Much to her and her husband Jeffrey Livingston’s surprise, that “double” feeling turned out to be two babies.
“My OB-GYN [checked], and she just looked at me and held up two fingers. My honest reaction was that I started bawling. I was so scared…that’s my real, honest answer. My husband comforted me in the moment, and [my OB-GYN] left the room. He was like: ‘We will make the most of this and it’s going to be wonderful,’” Huntsman recalls. “Then the doctor came back in and my husband started loosening his tie, like: ‘I’m not doing very well!’ So, he starts to pass out—he got through it to help me out, but then he had his moment. The doctor had to him sit down and bring another doctor in, and they brought in cool towels and a box of chocolates because he was fainting—and I’m there with my feet in the straps like: ‘What is going on?’”
Of course, after the initial reaction of “total shock,” Huntsman and her hubby have settled into feeling joy and excitement about their twins—one boy and one girl—who are set to join the couple in June. “It was a lot [at first], but, really now, we’re just so excited and we’re so blessed and we’re so lucky,” she gushes.
The fact that Huntsman, 32, is so at ease with recounting that emotional, and somewhat chaotic, moment from her OB’s office is part and parcel of what makes her such a great addition to the diverse sorority of women currently co-hosting “The View” (which includes Sunny Hostin, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Meghan McCain). The show keeps it real and Huntsman’s attitude about work, life, and motherhood are right in line with that philosophy.
“Every single chair [on “The View] is completely different. We’re different ages, we have totally different personalities, and our interests are different. So, we go out there—and we have totally different lives [and backgrounds]—and we bond over the things that are most important in life, and that is family and loyalty and being a good person,” Huntsman—whose father is Ambassador to Russia (and former Ambassador to China, Governor of Utah, and 2012 Presidential candidate) Jon Huntsman—explains.
We caught up with the Utah-bred Huntsman this spring after a morning taping of “The View” at ABC’s studio near Columbus Circle—she happily wore her Allbirds slippers and gave us the deets on her surprise on-air baby shower from two days prior and the backstage shower with fellow ABC mama Sara Haines that had gone down the day before—about all things twins, TV news, and her super-sweet children’s book.
The obvious big news for you right now is that you’re expecting twins! How has the pregnancy
I feel so lucky, because everything has been good and everything has been healthy. But this one has been a lot different from my first one—you feel that it’s two! Not just with anxieties, because you feel that with one…but also there’s just so much more to be excited about. And physically I just really feel it! I laugh because I describe myself right now as a 90-year-old woman. Even going to the coffee shop with my husband just around the corner, I have to hold on to his arm and he has to basically walk me there—and that’s okay!
Your daughter Isabel is 1.5—what is she like right now?
It’s such a fun phase…she loves to dance—I just put music on my phone and she goes ballistic. After the show, it’s so refreshing, because whatever happened that day or whatever bad tweet I received, I get home and I’m so happy to be with her. It puts life in perspective. She’s experiencing things for the first time so I feel like I’m living through her again. She also has a very strong-willed personality, so I have my moments!
How much does she grasp about what’s about to happen?
She pokes my tummy, because she thinks I look funny. But she has no clue—I think that’s the hard part. I call her my little princess—she’s spoiled—I don’t think she knows what’s about to happen. Then I start to get emotional that I’m going to lose what I have with her. My mom, who had seven kids, warned me about this. She said: “This is going to happen,”—because I’m No. 2—“When I was pregnant with you I was so emotional about losing what I had with [your older sister] and you don’t think you can love another child the way that you do with your first one, but then you just do!” This is the period where I’m like: “It’s all going to change, but I’m so happy right now with Isabel and we have such a good relationship!”
You’re one of seven siblings! Are you excited for Isabel to be a big sister?
I’m so excited for her to get siblings. I think it’s so important for people to have siblings. It’s a constant friend and it helps you learn that it’s not all about you all the time, and you have to share. I’m sure there will be a lot of fighting—three kids under 18 months—it’s going to be chaos.
You have a dog too—as your social media followers know—a Golden Retriever named George (@golden.george on the ‘Gram). Do you think he senses that more babies are coming?
I do actually! With both pregnancies, he found a way to lay on my stomach, which he doesn’t normally do—and he did it very early on, before I was showing. I looked it up and dogs can smell hormones. They know when something’s up—which is just classic dog, I feel like they’re so much smarter than we give them credit for. He had a rough time when I brought Isabel home, because he was the baby, and he pouted for a few months. But now they’re best friends because he gets all of her scraps and food. He will benefit in the end and he will love it, but he definitely knows that something’s up.
You mentioned that just physically, you’re really feeling this pregnancy with twins. But you’re still working at “The View.” How has that been?
It was hard the first three months because I was so nauseous and so sick, but I couldn’t tell anybody yet, and I still had to go out on TV every day… My goal was to get through a show without puking and if I could do that, then that was a success. Then, once I was able to tell the whole team, it’s been so much fun. They’re going through the journey with me, our viewers are going through it with me, and I have received so many nice notes and messages from other moms—whether they’re giving me advice or just cheering me on, which is wonderful. And I love the distraction—I come in every day and it keeps me busy—because otherwise I would be sitting in bed all day, worried about what’s to come. We’ll see how long I can go—this pregnancy has been hard on me. But I really want to work every day that I can…I feel like the luckiest woman in the word. I get to be a mom and do what I love.
It seems like the group of co-hosts on “The View” right now has a great dynamic.
We can disagree on a lot of things but, I think you’re right, [we are a good group]. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs on this show. Meghan McCain lost her dad [Senator John McCain] last year and we come together during those times. Whether it’s my pregnancy—and they’ve been wonderful—or Whoopi getting sick [Editor’s Note: Whoopi had been ill with pneumonia and absent from the show at the time; she is back on air currently], it’s real life stuff. We live our public life in front of everybody else and having each other there for support is like having a sorority. It makes it that much easier to do what we do—because it’s not always easy to be so public.
You and Meghan McCain are both from prominent political families, yet you’re both forging your own identities as modern women; I think that brings an interesting perspective to the show, given how divided the country is.
I just said goodbye to my brother this morning—he’s a fighter pilot and he just left for the year [Editor’s note: Huntsman currently has two brothers serving in the US Navy]—and he sent me this note in the mail this morning and it finally hit me and I was just a wreck. But I called Meghan and she walked me through the first time that she said goodbye to her brothers [in the military] and she made me laugh. In those moments, you can bond with different women on the show about different things—Sunny has been really helpful with mommy-hood things because she’s been through it—but it’s like a sisterhood and it makes you feel great to have that.
Service and giving back are themes in your children’s book, Who Will I Be?—tell me about that project.
When I got pregnant with Isabel, I was saying to my husband that I was so worried about bringing a child into this world because, as you said, we’re so divided. I was raised on service and we’re losing a bit of that. With social media and it [being] a “me, me, me” culture, how do we do it right? How do we raise our children right? [My husband] said: “Why don’t you write a book that you can read to our kids about service and doing something good with their life?” That’s when I started to come up with the story, where Isabel, my daughter, is the girl in it—and it just takes you on a journey of what it means to give back and make a difference and do something with your life that makes a difference. It was really something that I was passionate about.
Between “The View,” your passion projects, motherhood, and your pregnancy, how do you make the work-life balance equation work for you?
You realize, sometimes, that you are stretched a bit thin, but I love being able to do all of it. The way that I survive is that I have to shut off all social media when I get home. If I want to post something, I’ll post it, but I do not read anything anymore. When I started at “The View,” I did [read comments on social media], and my husband said: “You’re going to drive yourself insane—you’ll rethink everything you said on the show and wish there was a better way you could have said it, and you’re not going to survive.” About three weeks in, I completely cut it off, cold turkey, and I realized that I’m so much more present with my daughter when I get home, I don’t think about it, I’m happier, and I don’t even know what anyone’s saying. And I’m more myself out there on the show because I don’t care. That’s the best advice I can give anyone—whether you’re in television or not in the public eye. Just shutting it off sometimes and focusing on what’s in front of you—stopping to smell the roses, as my grandma often used to say—it’s a good reminder.
To catch Abby Huntsman on “The View,” visit abc.go.com/shows/the-view!