Spy Kids star Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) is all grown up and having a baby. She shares with us the happiest parts of her conceiving journey—and a few of the tough ones too. See if you can relate.
Somewhere between starring on Nashville and competing on Dancing With the Stars, actress Alexa PenaVega (you knew her as Alexa Vega when she was in the Spy Kids films), 28, decided it was baby time. She and her husband, Carlos PenaVega, 27 (of Big Time Rush fame), tried. And tried. And tried some more, but it just wasn’t happening. “You hear about women who get accidentally pregnant, and I kept thinking, ‘Accidentally? This is hard!’” she says. The couple, who famously combined his last name, Pena, with her last name, Vega, persevered. After almost a year of trying (meaning, in addition to the obvious: taking her temperature, tracking her period, and using an ovulation kit), it finally worked. Their son, whom they plan to name Ocean King PenaVega, is due in November, and the parents-to-be are documenting the pregnancy via a series of adorable YouTube videos called “Lex & Los.” When you watch them, you can feel the joy radiating through the screen, just as you do when PenaVega talks about her pregnancy.
When you want a baby, the timing is always right.
“Carlos and I wanted kids for a while, but this industry does not make it easy for you to be pregnant. We travel so much for work. Plus, we wanted to be in a good place financially. But we realized that the ‘perfect time’ doesn’t exist. So, about six months before I was scheduled to go on Dancing With the Stars, I had my IUD removed and said, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’”
Guilt will do you no good.
“We tried to get pregnant for a good six months without luck. When it’s not working, you think, ‘Is there something wrong with me?’ I struggled with an eating disorder when I was younger. It was a big part of my life, and I was worried that I wasn’t getting pregnant because of some long-term damage from what I’d put my body through. Even though my doctor said I was healthy, I felt so guilty about it. It’s such an emotional ride, and you blame yourself for everything. What brought me peace was my faith in knowing that it would happen when it was supposed to happen.”
The sex only gets better.
“I started using an ovulation kit that gives you a happy face when it’s a good time to try. Carlos was rehearsing for Grease: Live at the time, and I’d text him, ‘Baby, you need to get home now.’ I found there’s such a difference between having sex when you’re trying for a kid and when you aren’t. For us, sex became so much more intimate, beautiful, and passionate when we were trying. Suddenly the realization hits you: ‘Oh my God, we could be starting another life!’ That brought us so much closer. Of course, once I got pregnant, I felt so bad for him, because between the puking and exhaustion, I was just done. Carlos kept saying, ‘I can’t wait for that horny state to kick in.’ He hasn’t read any of the books, but he knew about the horny state! Now, in my third trimester, I’m finally getting riled up again.”
Even if you’ve been trying, finding out is a surprise.
“After a vacation I took a pregnancy test and then tried not to look at it, because I’d seen so many negative ones already. But this time it said ‘Pregnant.’ I just stared at myself in the mirror, and then I started pacing back and forth. Even though we wanted it for so long, I thought, ‘Oh my God, are we ready?’ Carlos was getting bags out of our car, and I ran outside and called him—not like ‘Babe!’ but more [guttural] like ‘Carlooooos!’ He looked up, and I blurted out, ‘I’m pregnant!’ There was nothing sweet or romantic about it. And he did not believe me. He literally started looking around for cameras.”
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Morning sickness isn’t forever, but it’s dramatic.
“I had a really tough time in my first trimester. Everything made me queasy, and I’d throw up at least twice a day. Nothing helped, so I tried to just suck it up. During my ninth week, I got picked for jury duty. Nobody knew I was pregnant, of course, and as I’m sitting in the jury box, listening to the case, I stood up and threw up everywhere. They had to clear the entire court room. Needless to say, I got dismissed from the trial. Finally, when my second trimester started, it was like somebody flipped a switch and that whole part was over. I’ve felt amazing ever since.”
Fatigue lifts too.
“Nobody talks about pregnancy fatigue, but it hit me so hard at week five. I’d wake up and fall asleep again in the breakfast nook. Now, my energy is back to normal. I’m even able to go to the gym again. Carlos and I try to go together every day for an hour. I do a mile or two on the elliptical, then squats and lunges, and some superlight weights.”
Bonding takes time.
“Women told me how connected they felt to their baby. I wanted to feel that way too, but I didn’t at first, and it was really getting me down. We’d get the ultrasound pictures, and they just didn’t feel real. I even thought, ‘Could I have prenatal depression?’ But now, at 29 weeks, I finally get it. It wasn’t until I could really feel my son move that I understood what everyone else was talking about.”
Don’t let your mind get too far ahead of itself!
“We were so convinced that we were having a girl that we picked out a name and called the baby that. Big mistake. I’d focused on what I thought was a little girl in my tummy, and when the doctor told us it was a boy, I felt a little crushed, like she just disappeared. Of course, now I’m so in love with my son that I’d feel robbed if it were a girl. But I wish I would’ve held off on allowing myself to get attached in the first place.”
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The baby’s coming out one way or another.
“I’d like to have a natural birth, but I don’t know how I’m going to feel on the actual day. I might get an epidural after five minutes. That’s why I don’t want to have any birth plan set in stone. You never know how your body will react to labor.”
Visitors are up to you.
“Carlos will be with me during the delivery. And while we love our families, we’ve already told them that we don’t want any visitors at the hospital. This is our new family and a special moment for my husband and me to share.”
You’ll love your baby before you even meet.
“My baby is moving all the time; I wonder when he actually sleeps. I discovered I can play little games with him. He chases my hand around my belly: I push my hand on it, and he kicks it off. I wish I could explain how my heart feels when we play that.”