Camilla Luddington, 33, resident Dr. Jo Wilson on Grey’s Anatomy, has delivered—or, rather, pretended to deliver—so many babies on TV that in real life she says she feels somewhat prepared to give birth this April, when she’s due to welcome a daughter with her longtime boyfriend, actor Matthew Alan. “Mimicking childbirth on Grey’s has taken the mystery out of it,” she says, laughing. “Of course, we also deal with every worst-case scenario. I know everything that could go wrong, but I try to keep that separate.”
Despite her ability to compartmentalize work and life, acting out those dramatic story lines while expecting has given her a certain amount of pride. “All pregnant women are warriors,” she says. “It takes strength just to get up and go to work.” Between filming scenes, Luddington, who sometimes pulls 15-hour days on set, shares the surprising, scary, and funny highlights of her pregnancy.
“Once last year I felt faint before a scene, and someone joked, ‘Are you pregnant?’ And I thought, ‘Is that how you feel when you’re pregnant?’ Then, just before jumping back into Grey’s this year, I had that same sensation. I decided to take a pregnancy test, even though Matt and I had only just started trying. He didn’t want me to—he thought I’d be disappointed if it were negative. When it was positive, I came out of the bathroom and surprised him with it. I was very lucky to conceive the first time trying. I didn’t think it would happen that way.”
“My first trimester was tough. I felt lied to, because I always imagined myself as the type of pregnant woman who would do yoga and drink rejuvenating smoothies. Those plans went out the window. I couldn’t walk the dogs around the block without needing a nap, and I couldn’t eat anything other than bagels and cream cheese.”
“I asked Matt to pick up some Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which is pasteurized, on his way home. Well, he walks in with some other brand, and I had a huge meltdown. I was raging because I didn’t see ‘pasteurized’ on the label. Matt had to run to the store again. It was all so ridiculous.”
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“Two months in, despite feeling ill, I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to work out.’ Matt and I went to a private Pilates class, and afterward, in the parking lot, I threw up all over his feet. He was wearing flip-flops. After that, I said, ‘Okay, maybe I have to give myself a break.’ Only well into my second trimester did I slowly get back into exercise, doing Pilates maybe twice a week. It’s been a blessing to learn my limits.”
“I didn’t know abdominal pains were something that happened, and when they did, I was scared that something was wrong. I learned that it was round ligament pain, and now I don’t worry about it. I think, ‘Oh, she’s getting bigger!’”
“I know the baby can hear at this point, so we have jam sessions during my commute. I think she really loves Beyoncé—and I love her even more for that. Whenever Beyoncé plays, I feel her kick. I just can’t tell if it’s a ‘Yes! I love Beyoncé!’ kick or a ‘Please, God, stop singing along’ kick.”
“My character on the show, as of right now, is not pregnant, so I have to make sure I don’t rub my belly on camera. When I start rubbing, which I do mindlessly, the director points to her belly, and I know to stop. On Scandal, Kerry Washington is able to block her own belly with elaborate outfits and gorgeous bags. For me, there’s only so much you can do in scrubs, aside from carry an iPad. At some point, they’re going to need computer-generated imagery to fake things, and if they do, I’ve already asked them to give me amazing six-pack abs!”
“We have real doctors on the set, and I bug them so much about stuff. The other day, my stomach was lopsided. I was like, ‘Look! Is this okay?’ They told me I probably slept tilted to one side. So that night, I slept on the other side, and sure enough, the baby centered herself.”
“When I was a kid I had a rag doll named Lucy, whom I took everywhere with me. I lost her when I was 12. One day, Matt said, ‘I have a surprise for you,’ and Lucy was on my chair. He’d found one on eBay for our baby. Every time I see the doll, I just burst into tears.”
“I know you’re supposed to wait until you’re dilating to go to the hospital, but I don’t trust Los Angeles traffic. My worst nightmare is to have the baby on the highway. I’m hoping to have my two best friends in the room with us. Not only for me, but for Matt, too. They can catch him if he faints.”
“My mother passed away when I was 19. She always made me feel confident, and I’ve carried that feeling with me my entire life. It’s helped me in this industry, where people are sizing up your looks. Because of my mom, I don’t need to be validated by anybody else, and I want my daughter to have that, too.”
“I’m finding myself counting down the days until she’s here, not because I want it to go quickly, but I’m just so excited to meet her. I want to see her face and hold her in my arms. Even so, I keep telling her, ‘Stay in there! You have a while to cook!’”