A few years ago, I got the rare opportunity to sit with Mayor Steven Fulop for a personal interview where he revealed to me exclusively that him and his girlfriend at the time, Jaclyn, were moving in together. A few weeks later, I met Jaclyn at a local event and we hit it off right away. Jaclyn is a bad ass boss lady who owns a successful the physical therapy practice Exchange Physical Therapy Group. She has two locations, one in Jersey City and one in Weehawken, with a third one in the works. On top of that, she is an animal activist and recently raised over 125K for the Liberty Humane Society. Jaclyn is absolutely stunning, intelligent, funny and extremely down to earth. I always say that the Mayor really lucked out getting a woman like her. She is the whole package.
In the last few years I’ve known Jaclyn and Steve, I’ve seen firsthand the love they have for each other. They are best friends and each others biggest fans and it’s a beautiful thing.
Since my interview a few years ago, the couple bought a home in the Heights, got engaged, got married and most recently announced they are expecting a baby boy. I couldn’t be more excited for them.
Jaclyn had shared with me her struggles with getting pregnant. She revealed that she had a devastating miscarriage a year ago and wanted to share her story as it is an issue many women face today. Including myself. Not many know this, but it took me over a year to conceive my little mini. So this topic is close to my heart, as well.
I called Jaclyn and asked her all my burning questions about her and Steve’s love story and their plans for the future.
Congrats Jaclyn! How was the big reveal?
Steve wanted a private baby reveal with the family. It was nice, we got a cake from Cocoa Bakery and brought it to Rhode Island. His parents joined us and we did it at a restaurant in Newport, which was fun.
I want to start at the beginning. What’s the story behind you and Steve? How did you meet?
We met in 2013. Danny Rivera was a patient of ours so he asked Drew and I if he could bring Steven to do a meet and greet with our patients. I had no idea who he was. Drew was really excited but I didn’t want to close the clinic early for this. Drew wanted me to pass out flyers to local businesses with Steve’s face on it. I didn’t, I left them in my car. That was suppose to bring more people in to meet Steve. When Steve came in, he said it was the most awkward meet & greet he’s ever been to because there was no one there! It was Drew and I, his staff, and Drew’s wife. It was really awkward, but he came back the following week. He came in and Drew thought he was there to see him, but he asked for me.
I happen to be out at the time so Steve wrote me a letter which asked if I would go on a date with him that weekend. You could tell he was nervous because the letter had acouple mistakes in it where he crossed words out.
He asked you out via letter? That’s so cute.
Yeah! And it said, “If yes, email” and then he left his email and phone number, and then “If no, snail mail.” It was really cute. I came back in and opened the letter, and I’m actually thankful I was gone and so was he. He was like, “That’s so uncharacteristic of me to walk in there and ask you out to your face.” Then we went out.
When you met him for the first time, were you into him?
Dating for me is very weird. I don’t like dating. I don’t really like anybody romantically that I don’t know for a while. I thought he was a nice guy, but I didn’t like him right away. I would probably say I started liking him on the third or fourth date. I had to get to know him first. He took me out to a restaurant in New York called Palma for our first date. It was really nice, he hired someone to drive his car and drive us into the city. It wasn’t until the third or fourth date when I thought I could possibly see a future with him.
How was it, dating someone in politics?
It was a little strange for me at first because I lived in Hoboken and never followed any of the local politics. I voted and that was about it. It was interesting, but we only hung out once a week for a long time. It’s not like I would go to every single thing he had, but I remember his phone just having hundreds of texts. It was new to me because I had never seen anyone in that role before, but I slowly got to learn what was going on in the area. To me, it was new but I liked it.
How long did you guys date before moving in together?
We dated for two years before he asked me to move in. Then he proposed 6 months later.
How did he propose?
It was a Sunday morning. I was taken totally off-guard. We were building the house on Ogden, it was under some renovations, and he said we were meeting the contractor at the house to go over a couple of things. We were upstairs on our balcony and he proposed. He took me out to brunch at Light Horse Tavern and when I walked in, my parents were there with his family.
That’s so cute! How about your wedding?
We got married in New Hope at the Hotel du Village in July 2016. It was a pretty big wedding, maybe 250 people. We were in the middle of a heat wave, so it was really hot when we got married.
You also own a business. Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you started.
I became a physical therapist in 2008, and I moved to New Jersey in 2010. I started as a traveling physical therapist. I originally was going to take 13 weeks stints. The first was in New Jersey, the second was in Florida. I was going to travel around the United States. That was the plan, but then the company placed me in Jersey City randomly and I had a few friends who lived in Hoboken. I moved in with them, worked in Jersey City and liked it, and I signed for another 13 weeks there. They told me that after 26 weeks, I can’t be a traveler anymore so I’d have to sign on permanently or go to a different city. I fell in love with Jersey City and Hoboken at that time, so I decided to stay. I worked at a bunch of physical therapy clinics in the area. I was unhappy working because I came from somewhere in Rhode Island where it was one-on-one physical therapy, and this place wanted me to see 20-30 people a day by myself with no help. It was overwhelming, and I knew I needed to open my own business. I met Drew and, within a few months, we were talking about opening our own space. We found a space, opened Exchange Place Therapy Group, and last year we decided that we can do a second one so we opened in Weehawken. Now we’re opening a third location in Newark.
That’s amazing. The Mayor always jokes about you being the breadwinner in the relationship. Is that true?
Oh yeah, definitely. I always say to him, “Did you ever think you were going to marry a sugar mama?”
So tell us a little bit more about getting pregnant and I know you shared with me that you had some difficulties.
I always thought that once you started trying, it happened right away. It took about 6 months, which is completely normal. We were so excited. We heard the heartbeat two or three times, which is the most beautiful sound you could ever hear. I was picking out names and I was feeling very maternal. We told our family, and then when it came around to 12 weeks, we told our friends and I told my coworkers. We went to find out the sex around week 14, they decided to do an ultrasound, and there was no heartbeat. We were devastated. There’s no reason as to why that happened because they told me the chromosome test looked great.
I know I had a virus in my system called CMV and 95% of people get it when they’re children, and I never had it before. When they ran all the tests, they contributed the miscarriage to that. But we don’t really know for sure. Sometimes, things just happen.
How did you recover from that?
The first two weeks, I was completely devastated. I shut myself in my house and didn’t want to see anybody. I started working on a vision board for what I wanted for my future. I started to pick myself up and really threw myself into work at that point. The second clinic had just opened, so I put all my energy into making that great and setting policies and procedures that I never did before. That’s when I decided I wanted to open a third clinic. Work was really my therapy to keep myself busy, and also the spay & neuter program I did for Liberty Humane. The more that I spoke to people, the more I realized how common it is. I just kept busy and realized it does happen. This April, we found out that I was expecting again.
Yay! And you revealed that you’re having a baby boy. Did you have a feeling you were having a boy?
I honestly thought I was having a girl the whole time! It took me by surprise.
What was Steve’s reaction?
He’s so excited. He would always tell me he didn’t care what the sex of the baby is, as long as it’s healthy that’s all that really matters.
How many kids do you guys want to have?
I definitely want another one. I would like to have three, but I don’t know because I haven’t even had one. Definitely two, but I’ll hope for three.
What’s your due date?
January 2nd, possible a New Year’s baby. A Capricorn.
That’s really exciting. Are you doing anything to prepare for the baby?
I just bought a crib this weekend, and I’ll probably start doing the nursery as it gets closer.
Any weird cravings?
I haven’t had any weird cravings, actually. I’ve been trying to eat super healthy, hopefully I stay on this trajectory.
So what do you guys like to do on date nights?
Because Steve’s schedule is so busy, my favorite thing to do is honestly just staying at home with our dog Chloe, find a good series on Netflix/Hulu and ordering food in. Thats what I prefer because we can relax. If not, we usually go out to dinner somewhere local in Jersey City or in NYC.
What are you guys currently watching?
There’s Castle Rock, which is on Hulu. It’s a Stephen King series that’s really good. We just finished Handmaid’s Tale, which we love. We watched The Bachelorette, of course. We actually watch a lot of Dateline and 48 Hours.
Where do you guys like to go eat?
I love the Cellar335, Mathew’s, The Kitchen Step, Talde, and Fox & Crow.
Are you excited to raise your son in Jersey City?
Yeah! We’re excited. We plan on staying here. I don’t ever picture myself moving out to the suburbs.
And you guys live in the Heights, which is super family-friendly. How do you plan on balancing motherhood and being a boss lady?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out now, especially with the third clinic opening. I’ll take three months off or so, but it’s good that I’m in charge of my own business because I have the flexibility to make my own schedule. I feel blessed that I’m able to do that. I think, like anybody else, I’ll need some help so I can go back to work. I’m trying to get as much stuff done as I can for the Newark clinic now.
Anything else you want people to know?
I know it sounds corny and I don’t know if I said it but Steve has been such a strong support system for me. Especially during the challenging times. I think that brought us even closer together and I really feel so lucky to have married my bestfriend and soulmate.