Kathy Kmonicek/Invision/AP for Carousel Designs
Kathy Kmonicek/Invision/AP for Carousel Designs
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Melissa Joan Hart is infanticipating big time in the weeks before her September due date.

“I just don’t like being pregnant,” the Melissa and Joey star, 36, tells me this week during the Operation Shower/Birdies For The Brave event hosted by Barclays and Carousel Designs at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.

“I don’t like not being able to use my body — not being able to bend over, not being able to roll over in bed very easily, having to go to the bathroom all the time, and not being able to wear shoes because my feet are swollen. Just the whole thing is awkward and difficult.”

In a few weeks, everything will change. The excitement is high as she prepares to welcome her third child, whose sex is unknown, with hubby Mark Wilkerson and sons Mason, 6, and Braydon, 4.

“I’m doing the normal nesting thing. Painting rooms, wallpaper, washing all the gear. Taking a few trips to Babies R Us. The diapers are all stacked up and ready to go. The gear is pretty much all clean — I just have a few more things to get, and a few more things to clean in the house, and then I’ll be ready.”

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Lucky for Melissa, her husband and sons are helping her out in every way.

“He’s being great. Little things, like when I see all these moms here at the event, when their husbands are deployed and not here, they can’t even help them off the couch at the end of the night when they’re trying to get up and go to bed. Or he’ll grab me a glass of water — he’s spoiling me in the little ways that I wouldn’t normally ask him to, but I just can’t do these things for myself right now. “

She adds, “I can’t climb up on a counter. I’m so short that if I need something on the top shelf, I climb up on the counter, but I can’t do that now because I risk falling. It’s hard to bend over and pick things up. It’s hard to do everything, but he has been my little helper. And my little boys have been doing the same.”

For the first time, Melissa and Mark have decided to make it a delivery surprise, waiting to find out the sex of their child until he/she’s born.

“I’ve never done it before. It was a little difficult in the beginning, when they’re doing ultrasounds, but then it gets easier, actually, and it gets exciting. I have one more ultrasound, and I really hope they don’t blow it, like, two weeks before the baby is born. [laughs] That would stink to have gone all this way, and find out right before I deliver, because the whole point is that I just don’t want to know when I deliver.”

She continues, “In the beginning, there were moments, lying on the table when they’re ultrasounding me, and I could’ve easily said ‘what’s the sex?’ and found out, and put all my questions and everyone else’s questions to rest, but I really wanted to try it this way, and I’m really glad that I did.”

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Still, she may have a little spoiler in the house.

“The little one [Braydon] is absolutely sure that it’s a boy. He keeps telling me ‘no mom, it’s a boy.’ He is so adamant about it.”

Bonus points for intuition if he’s right!

Of course, she considers herself more secure having been through the delivery process twice before.

“I’m more excited because I’m not nearly as scared.”

And she’s taking great care to make sure the baby has a name that works for him/her.

“We have three names for each sex, and when we meet the baby – we don’t like to give it a name until we meet it. It’s a little bit superstition, and it’s like ‘what if that name doesn’t go with that face?’”

Thoughtful Melissa is mindful about the moniker she chooses.

“It’s a really big deal to name your child. It’s what they are known as for the rest of their lives, whether on paper or person-to-person or by themselves. It’s not something to be taken lightly. I really like to give it a lot of thought, and see the baby before.”

Still, she adds, “We’re so torn on names right now that, if this is a girl, it might go for a few days without a name. [laughs] Just because we have so many names we love, but I don’t have a strong feeling one way or another, so I feel like the baby’s going to dictate that.”

The baby-to-be can count himself/herself lucky because Melissa’s family sounds like a fun one to join.

“We like our traditions,” she says. “We always spend Fourth of July at our house in Lake Tahoe. That’s one of our absolute favorite things. Actually, this baby was planned around this tradition, so that way I didn’t have to break it. Going there for seven years now on the Fourth of July and being on the lake, and with our friends, our boat and our house, it’s such a wonderful, magical time in our lives that we didn’t want to miss it.”

She continues, “Last year, when we were planning the baby, we decided to hold off a little on conceiving so that we could make sure we could make it to that trip. I wanted to have this baby in July for work purposes, but I didn’t want to miss that trip, so we pushed it to sometime in September so we could still enjoy that time. It’s just one of those times that’s just priceless, when the family gets together and we’re snuggled up on the beach, watching the fireworks and hanging out in town all week – sitting on the beach, riding around on the boat, going to the parade – and the town really does it right, so it’s been wonderful.”

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Just yesterday her son Mason started first grade. He’s taking the school bus, and his dad was there to capture the moment.

“Mark is the best dad I’ve ever seen,” she gushes. “He does everything. He doesn’t want to miss a moment in their lives. He wants to be there for every bath; he wants to be there for every meal. He wants to be there for every Little League game, every school concert, everything. He is so hands-on, and so wonderful, and I couldn’t do this without him. I couldn’t work, and do this without him.”

In 2010, Melissa told me she’d like to have Irish twins for her third and fourth children. Does she still feel the same?

“I would, but this pregnancy has been a little tough, so if this baby is easy on me, it might convince me to go again. If I go a fourth time, it might get easier. I don’t know if I can do it. It’ll take a little while to figure that out.”

Until baby #3 arrives, however, Melissa has work to do.

“I have a book coming out next September, so I’ve been busy,” she says. “It’s called Melissa Explains It All — a memoir. It’s been crazy trying to get these stories out. I’m up on my computer every night until about midnight trying to get this done before baby comes.”

And her youngest, Braydon, can enjoy being babied.

"He just got his tonsils out last week, and it’s breaking my heart. He has a little Chipmunk voice now – his voice went up two octaves. He used to have a grumbly little voice, and now he has this high-pitched Chipmunk voice."

Melissa Joan Hart teamed up with Barclays and Carousel Designs to host an Operation Shower/Birdies For The Brave baby shower for 40 deserving military moms and mom-to-be, who are separated from their husbands who are serving overseas.

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