Anchor Sally Thorner discovers the pleasures of motherhood with birth of her son Everett

May 12, 1991|By Mary Corey

No one could ever accuse Everett Thorner Rosenfeld of being a publicity hound.

There he sleeps on a spring afternoon, curled up on a blanket in the backyard of his Brooklandville home, while his mother, WMAR-TV anchor Sally Thorner, tries everything from pacifiers to rattles to the lighthearted threat of ice cubes to arouse him for a photo session.

"Oh, Ev, you are breaking all records here," she says as she lies on her back and playfully lifts him up. "Just one for the camera?"

But if he refuses to comply, perhaps it's because Everett -- or E. T. as Ms. Thorner humorously introduces him -- knows he can rest easy in his new home.

His plush nursery, after all, was decorated by interior designer Alexander Baer and features nearly every childhood toy imaginable -- from Babar to Snoopy. The family dog Minnie, a cocker spaniel who relaxes under a shady tree, has taken to believing he's hers. And then there are his dad, Dr. Brian Rosenfeld, a Hopkins anesthesiologist, and his mom, a newscaster known for her composure, who's cooing at him like a lovestruck teen-ager and eagerly showing off his spit-up on her shirt.

While he's only been around for a month, there's little doubt that his presence -- and motherhood in general -- has changed Sally Thorner.

"All my dreams star him," she says as she plants a kiss on the baby's cheek. "There are no work dreams, there are no falling-off-a-cliff kind of anxiety dreams. They are all just revolving around Baby Everett.

"I used to be very Type A. I guess now maybe I'm an A minus. I can sit on this blanket and stare at him for hours and be content with that."

In many ways, Ms. Thorner is part of a larger trend among newswomen -- including Deborah Norville, Meredith Vieira and Katherine Couric -- who are creating their own baby boom in the business.

"We're women who have been on the career track," she says. "We know it's now or never."

Her appreciation for motherhood increased after her uncomplicated pregnancy turned into a tense delivery April 2. During the first 10 hours of labor, things appeared routine. She and her husband listened to James Taylor music as they put their Lamaze training into action. But when her obstetrician discovered the baby was facing backward and lodged against her pelvic bone, she was rushed into the operating room for a Caesarean section.

"When they lifted Ev out of my tummy, they brought him to us both and we cried," she says, her voice trembling as she looks at the baby. "Since then, there haven't been very many tears."

Not unlike many women who have C-sections, Ms. Thorner has faced a slower recovery -- both physically and emotionally -- because of the surgery.

"I'm such a control freak," she says. "I really was sure -- we were both sure -- that this was going to be, not a breeze, but normal for lack of a better word. . . . I felt that somehow I was a failure because I didn't have a vaginal birth. That's one of the reasons I haven't gone out of the house in a month. I've been determined to get the breast-feeding down. I was determined that for the rest of this I was going to be as good a mom as possible."

Yet, Ms. Thorner is acutely aware how lucky she was to conceive just a month after marrying Dr. Rosenfeld, especially since she was considered "high risk" at age 35.

"We really wanted a family and didn't have the luxury of waiting," she says. "I would have loved to be married to him a little longer before we got pregnant . . . but I wanted even more to have a family with him."

When she was 10 weeks pregnant, they found out the sex of the baby and quickly decided to name him after Ms. Thorner's father, a March of Dimes fund-raiser who died 10 years ago. Her mother, who is wheelchair-bound because of Parkinson's disease, was the first person Ms. Thorner called when the baby was born.

The joy of Everett's birth has been tempered by her concern for her mother, who lives in Baltimore.

"That's the only heartbreak in my life," she says. "She can't enjoy the baby as much as I wish she could. She still enjoys him plenty, but that's probably the only source of happiness in her life right now. I'm glad to be able to share that with her, but I wish she were able to bop on over in the morning for coffee while I'm breast-feeding."

Channel 2 fans may already have caught a glimpse of Ms. Thorner and her family in her hospital room on April 3, the day after Everett was born. The station sent over a crew for a short televised segment during the news.

"We're doing what we feel we owe our viewers," she explains of her decision to debut her day-old son. "I share as much as I think they are interested in, but I refrained from exploiting the pregnancy. And I certainly don't want to exploit him now that he's here."

Letters, cards and presents continue to pour into the station. Some wish her well, others offer advice and another group from pregnant women asks to compare notes.

"I've only gotten one nasty letter. I remember it verbatim because I'm very thin-skinned anyway, and I took this one to heart. He was criticizing me for working so late in my pregnancy and [asking] what kind of a mother was I going to be," she says.

Her career will resume in July, when she returns to WMAR-TV to co-anchor the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. (A live-in nanny will stay with Everett during the week.)

If her son's reluctance to smile -- or even open his eyes -- for the camera dims his own chances for a career in broadcast journalism, that's just fine by his mother.

"I have no hopes for him following in my footsteps," she says. "He can be anything he wants. . . . Any kind of a doctor he wants."

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