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'It changes you': BTN anchor Jana Shortal on becoming a first-time parent

BTN reporter and anchor Kent Erdahl checked in with Jana Shortal Tuesday to talk newlyweds, new parenthood and the new sense of self that comes with having a child.

MINNEAPOLIS — Breaking the News reporter and anchor Kent Erdahl checked in with BTN's Jana Shortal Tuesday to talk newly weds, new parenthood and the new sense of self that comes with having a child.

Read their full conversation below:

Kent Erdahl: You like to call Breaking the News your "baby," and your baby is 6 years old today — but you're kind of preoccupied with another baby right now.

Jana Shortal: Yeah, I thought I was only going to have one kid. One of the things Breaking the News has allowed me to do is interview kids. People always said, "Oh, you're so good with kids, and Obadiah, and you should have kids." I was always like, "I come here to interview your kids." But look what happened. I think it's all the viewers of Breaking the News; it's their kids' fault that I became a parent. (laughing) They charmed me into it.

Kent: Speaking of all those people on the other side of the screen — that other family — I think I speak for all of them in saying: We just really want to talk about your new baby. How is Isaac doing?

Jana: (Holds up a sign with the word 'Help!')

Kent: You came prepared.

Jana: How is Isaac doing? Well, everyone who watches BTN is considered a friend, so everyone who watches Breaking the News can call him Zeke — or they can call him Issac. He is a little bit hilarious, wildly unpredictable, has my number for sure, really doesn't like when I wear glasses while I try to burp him; that is a disaster. He also really, really likes to go pee when I take the diaper off. It's uncanny.

Kent: Classic.

Jana: His comedic timing is something else. I think he's smiling already, but I'm not sure. It could just be gas. (Laughing) To be honest, I'm just so grateful that he and my wife are healthy.

Kent: So how is your wife, Laura, doing?

Jana: I mean, I think she should be asked that question without me present to get the truth, and then get a second source. (Laughing) She's a champion. It's funny, we never talked about — before he was born — what kind of parents we would be because we're newlyweds. Like, it's all happening at the same time. It has been an honor to watch her parent him.

Kent: Anything that's struck you about parenthood that you just weren't prepared for?

Jana: I think your world gets really small, and then big at the same time. You get fiercely protective. I didn't expect the level of... ache, almost. For someone who is snarky and standoffish like myself, someone who is a workaholic and would prefer to not have feelings like that, that's the feeling (I didn't expect)... like I miss him when he's napping.

Kent: When you come back, how do you think Zeke will change you and change the show?

Jana: I mean, he's probably going to be a guest contributor. I've joked that I could just wear him. I'm still practicing on that and doing some lower back exercises, not quite ready. (Laughing)

Kent: Ratings would shoot up.

Jana: In a way, I'm not lying. It's going to be hard [going back to work]. I'm sure. You've gone through it. I mean, the thing about Breaking the News is we have basically been a cast of characters that all has been introduced to parenting throughout our six-year history. From my first co-host, Rena; Chris, I think, had one of his many kids during the run; producer Nikki had her first child with COVID; you had your first child during COVID; Sharon doesn't have any kids that I know about, but a lot of us have become first-time parents on this show and I think that it's cool to talk about that. It changes you.

But here's the thing, I have never not worked this long in 25 years, so I do miss talking about our community, even when it's hard. I hope that [Zeke] understands that that's where I'm going and that's what I'm going to do. I hope he understands that there's a small part of him that A.) Is more excited to hang out with his mom and B.) Is proud that he's a part of this little family.

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