Shay Mitchell, Entrepreneur, Actress, And Founder of BÉIS, Shares Her Journey To Motherhood, The ONE Thing She Is Craving, And How She Plans To Run Her Business After Baby
With a glittering career as an actress (see ‘You,’ ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and most imminently, ‘Dollface’), this stunning entrepreneur and founder of multimillion dollar travel and accessories lifestyle brand, BÉIS, plus YouTube star of ‘Almost Ready’ (a video diary of her pregnancy journey, def tune in!), has a ‘little Shay’ on the way. And, if you don’t know, now you know…this magnetic multifaceted mama-to-be is a total powerhouse.
Nearing the end of her pregnancy, Shay shares how she emotionally made it through the isolation of the first six months, why she gives mad-cred to working while pregnant (with zero plans to stop), and what’s next for BÉIS (mamas, get ready!). Plus, did someone say 7-Eleven Slurpee? @shaymitchell
Current state of mind?
We got good news today! I went to the doctor, and she’s flipped head down, which is such a relief! Having her face in the right direction lowers our risk of a C-section. Don’t get me wrong, I’m down to do whatever is best for her, but I’d love to avoid a C-section (if possible); I’ve never so much as had a broken bone, so the idea surgery scares me, plus the recovery time on a vaginal delivery is generally far less!
Physically, how are you feeling?
For months, my hands have been extremely swollen with constant pins and needles. Other than that though, I feel great. I have been super lucky in that I didn’t have a lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms (outside of my mental struggles) such as morning sickness or wild cravings. I know some women that are reading this who did have intense nausea or physical symptoms will be like, “wow, F-you,” but that’s the way it has been for me. Physically, I have been very fortunate.
Emotionally, how did you deal with keeping your pregnancy a secret?
The first five months of this pregnancy were super isolating, and I went through a severe depression. I previously had a miscarriage and that experience gave me anxiety about sharing the news of this pregnancy with anyone outside of our parents. With the first pregnancy, I was elated and told everyone at eight weeks. However, I wanted to be sure that this second pregnancy would be viable before shouting it from the rooftops, so I hid it for nearly six months and became very anti-social. Usually, I’m incredibly active and outgoing, but instead, I mainly stayed home to avoid stares and questions. I was extremely lonely.
On top of that, I was gaining weight without having a noticeable bump. I became paranoid that my team was giving me the side-eye (not knowing I was pregnant) and thinking I should hit the gym — which added to my loneliness. I think it’s really interesting that prepartum depression or feelings of isolation in pregnancy are not more vastly discussed…feeling that I was alone in my depression compounded my state of mind, but have found since sharing the news publicly that many women feel as I did…pregnancy can be a hard time, especially if you’re having to hide it. After I came out publicly, I felt an enormous wave of relief and was finally able to start enjoying the pregnancy.
How did you heal from your miscarriage?
I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. To follow a miscarriage with a healthy pregnancy generally means the first fetus was not viable. As difficult as that was to wrap my head around when I was going through it, I tried to remind myself there was a reason the pregnancy didn’t come to term.
Sharing my struggles also helped me heal. As a community of women, we’re getting better about speaking up, discussing our challenges, and shedding light on fertility issues. There shouldn’t be any shame in miscarriage. The support I received from other women when I was trying to recover was so powerful! While everyone’s experiences are unique, we can all benefit from hearing other women’s stories.
We’re obsessed with ‘Almost Ready!’ Why did you decide to launch this series?
I started my YouTube series, ‘Almost Ready’ as a way to depict the imperfectness of pregnancy, and to be as honest as possible throughout the entire experience. I didn’t want to post a perfectly curated photo with an idealistic caption…it wouldn’t have done this experience justice and I would have felt like a fraud because you can’t sum up the transformation into motherhood with a few perfect images. Instead, I wanted to approach this as a true journey…with everyone. Over the past nine months, there’s been a lot of awesome things and equally not-so-awesome things…it’s all there. To be authentic and relatable I feel that we have to share the good with the bad. Showcasing the real experience has been liberating for me, and hopefully it will help other women feel less alone or self-conscious in their journey.
On filming ‘Dollface’ throughout the pregnancy?
I was cast on ‘Dollface’ when I was in Tokyo with my family at nearly 13 weeks pregnant. Since I knew that we would be done filming before I popped, I agreed to do the show. Honestly, it was the best thing I could have done. Every day I was surrounded by an incredible cast of amazing women that kept me inspired and motivated. In the final month of filming, I came out about my pregnancy to the cast and crew — joking that I wasn’t simply “bulking up” because of the craft table (although I indeed spent a lot of time there!). Just after we wrapped, I went public with the news.
What was that like to share the news publicly?
Total relief. Fortunately, I was able to come out on my terms in exactly the way that I wanted. I was a little nervous that at some point a photo would be released before I was ready to talk about the pregnancy. I’m so happy it all worked out as I had hoped.