Daniela talks Motherhood and things she learned to FitPregnancy:
NCIS: Los Angeles star Daniela Ruah, who’s expecting her second child this month, reveals the similarities between playing a top crime-fighter and being a mom. Which of her roles is more badass? From what we can tell, it’s a toss-up!
If you’re among the 8.6 million NCIS: Los Angeles viewers who tune in every week, you may have noticed that special agent Kensi Blye has been spending a lot less time this season taking down bad guys with her bare hands and a lot more time surveying scenes from her car. That’s because Daniela Ruah, the 32-year-old actress who plays Blye, is pregnant with her second child, and the writers chose not to include her growing belly in the story line. “When I was pregnant with my son [River, 2], they sent my character to Afghanistan, where I wore a burka and a bulletproof vest,” she says, laughing. “Luckily, my belly doesn’t seem to get big until the very end.”
Though there’s no mention of her expecting on-screen, behind the scenes, her castmates couldn’t be more excited for her. “I have an amazing support system at work,” says Ruah, adding that most of her costars have kids of their own. Chris O’Donnell has five, LL Cool J has four, and Eric Olsen has one and another on the way too. What’s more, some costars actually are family. Ruah is married to Olsen’s older brother, David, a former U.S. Navy Seal and stuntman on the show, which means she works all day with both her husband and brother-in-law. For Ruah, that’s not the only way her on-screen life and real one merge. All that she’s learned from playing a toughie on TV for eight years has helped her through motherhood in unexpected ways. Ruah takes a break from shooting to share her most helpful lessons.
Go on, despite setbacks
“Last October, I had a miscarriage at 9 weeks. Something like that hits you physically, emotionally, and psychologically, but my doctor said, ‘Even if you sat on my table the whole time, this still would’ve happened. You have to try again.’ So that’s what we did, and I got pregnant on our second try. Nature is a beautiful thing—it does what it needs to do when it needs to do it.”
Respect your partner
Or, at least, apologize when you need to. “You know when you’re being an idiot and you just can’t bring yourself to stop? During my first trimester, I became my own evil twin. I was awful to my husband. I’d receive his nice gestures as a war attack. One day I said to him—get this!—‘It’s not your face. It’s just everything you say.’ I feel super sorry for what he went through. But by the time I entered my second trimester, I was feeling much less hormonal.”
“We work 12- to 14-hour days on set, and I’m used to it, but I was so super drowsy during the first trimester. It was like I was narcoleptic. Even if we had a 15-minute break for the crew to relight a scene, I’d lie down on a couch and go to sleep.”
Be ready for surprises
“David wanted to tell me whether we were having a boy or a girl this time, since I got to surprise him last time. So I went for the blood test, and a week later, he told me the doctor still hadn’t called. Then, one day, I was trying to put River down for a nap, and I handed him to Dave and said, ‘You try.’ Next thing I know, Dave and River are standing in front of me wearing pink dresses and wigs. My first thought was, ‘Why aren’t you putting him down? Now he’s going to be too excited to nap!’ Then I realized that they were telling me we were having a girl. I just sat and started crying, and Dave hugged me. I’d always hoped to have one of each.”
Have an open mind
“With River’s birth, nothing went according to plan. My water broke three weeks early, and after 12 hours of labor and Pitocin, I was in incredible pain and still only one-centimeter dilated. I wanted to try to do it without drugs, so the moment I requested an epidural, I was mad at myself. But as soon as I got it, I dilated to 10 centimeters in 90 minutes. It was awesome. This time, I’m going to try to go again without an epidural, but I won’t be mad at myself if I need one.
Holler for help
“After River was born, I remember being in the bedroom by myself, overwhelmed because he wasn’t latching well, and I yelled, ‘Dave, I need help! Can you get in here?’ Suddenly my husband, my mom, and my in-laws were all in the doorway. I just melted into tears. It really does take a village.”
Seize the moment
“I plan on breastfeeding like I did for River. On set, I fed him and pumped. One day, we were behind schedule, so I put a hoodie over my pump and went to rehearsal. There was that ‘wah-wah-wah’ sound, and everybody was like, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘I’m pumping,’ and that was it. They were unfazed. You do what you have to do.”
Embrace your power
“I like being pregnant—feeling the baby moving, acknowledging the miracle that we’re capable of producing a whole other being from scratch. I feel more like a woman than ever before. There’s just an all-around sensation of power.”