On CBS’s Unforgettable, Daya Vaidya plays Nina Inara, a street-smart detective. But in real life, Daya’s a mom to two-and-a-half year old Leela and pregnant with twin boys, due later this summer!
We chatted with Daya about her starring role as mom and how she is preparing to add to her family and juggle a successful career.
Don’t forget to tune into Unforgettable’s season finale tonight!
SRM: Congrats on your pregnancy with twin boys! What are some tricks you’ve used in your pregnancies to make it through the rough patches?
Daya Vaidya: Thank you! Each pregnancy is different. The key is to listen to your body. With my daughter I had to walk, walk, walk! I did that, prenatal yoga and stretched a lot. Only then did I feel great! With the twins, it’s totally different. I initially tried the same routine, but quickly learned my body didn’t want that this time. I felt exhausted and worn out. With this twin pregnancy, it’s all about rest. I have to lie down throughout my day or my body feels wrecked. I stretch and practice spinning babies techniques (www.spinningbabies.com), which helps make room in my uterus and pelvis, as well as moves the babies into the head-first position. I still walk, but nothing like before. I have mono-di twins, which means they’re identical and share a placenta. This makes them a high-risk pregnancy, so I really have to take it easy and not push too hard. Boy, is that difficult for me! I like to go, go, go.
SRM: Your daughter’s name, Leela, is beautiful. How did you come up with it? What is the naming process like this time around when you have to come up with two names?
Daya Vaidya: Leela is a Sanskrit name which means, “divine or mischievous play of the universe.” And let me tell you, Leela fits her name! My late father was East Indian and a huge influence in my life. He always used to talk to me about the idea and concept of ‘leela.’ My name, Daya, is also Sanskrit and both my husband and I love Sanskrit names, so when I was only five weeks pregnant I told my husband about the concept of ‘leela,’ and asked him if we had a girl, what he thought of that name. He loved it! Leela’s first name honors my dad and her middle name, Grace, honors Don’s mother, who is Jamaican and named Grace. When it came to the twins, we decided on possible names pretty early again. Don and I luckily have the same taste in names! We’re not announcing the boys’ names yet, but I will say that we are continuing the tradition of giving our children names that represent our family’s diversity.
SRM: You have a background in dance and theater. Do you share these passions with your daughter? Have you noticed any affinity for dance or drama in your daughter yet?
Daya Vaidya: That would be a big, huge YES! The girl came out of me dancing! I never tried to force anything on her, but it was pretty clear from day one that Leela Grace had some serious moves and was already a drama queen. She’s very expressive and at only two and a half, tends to “act out” her day. Whether it’s describing her day at pre-school, or telling me what she would like to eat and wear, she’s always moving, gesturing and creating stories. The minute a song comes on that she likes, her whole body starts wriggling, before jumping up and dancing all over the room. The great thing I’ve noticed is that she doesn’t seem to do this for attention, like my mother told me I did at three. She’s different—she gets lost in the music, story or whatever is moving her. It’s for no one but herself. I like that.
SRM: What’s the best tip or advice you can give a working mom who’s juggling her home life with her career?
Daya Vaidya: I don’t know if I’m the expert in this department. I’m certainly taking a crash course in time management before these twins come! But I will say, during the filming of Unforgettable, I had to make sure I was there for Leela, even when I was doing 15-hour work days. I found that it was important to find the little moments in the day. Sometimes I’d only have 15 minutes, but I made sure Don, Leela and I would sit together and connect. Whether it was playing a game, reading a story or eating together, I wanted to make sure we were all present with each other, and most of all, present as parents. If I was on set all day, I would Skype them and take Leela around work with my phone, explaining what ‘Mommy did at work.’ Technology sure has helped.
SRM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from another mom?
Daya Vaidya: Hmmm, that’s tough. I’ve received so much wonderful advice from other moms. But I would have to say the best advice comes from my own mom. I had many moments when Leela was first born, where I doubted myself and questioned every parenting decision we were making. My mom wasn’t pushy and was letting me ‘figure it out,’ so to speak. One night, when Leela was about three months old and wouldn’t stop crying for hours, my mom looked at me and said, “You’re an incredible mother and I feel so proud of the job you’re doing. Trust your instincts because you know exactly what to do.” I looked at her with swollen eyes and felt so grateful for those words. I just needed that encouragement. Her belief in me helped me believe in myself as a mother. She taught me to have confidence and compassion, two things I always try to lead with as a parent.
SRM: On a day off, what is your favorite activity to do with your family?
Daya Vaidya: In California, it is no question—the beach! I absolutely love the ocean and so does Leela. However, it’s been mostly winter while filming here in New York, so instead we found fun indoor places to visit: the museum, indoor pools and actually—restaurants. Our two-and-a-half-year-old seems to love restaurants! She’ll ask us regularly to go.
SRM: How are you planning to help your daughter adjust from being an only child to the oldest of three?
Daya Vaidya: We started right away. As soon as I found out I was pregnant we began talking to her about being a big sister. I explained to her that mommy has babies in her belly and that they belonged to her, too. We’ve tried to make her feel included with every step of this process: taking her to my doctor’s appointments, showing her ultra sound pictures, letting her feel my belly. She’s a very affectionate little girl, so the bigger my belly grows the more she’s begun hugging and kissing the babies. Once we found out they were boys, we got even more specific. So now she talks to her brothers every day and we discuss how she’s going to help mommy and daddy take care of them. She gets excited at this prospect. She announced to us last week that she’s going to teach them how to walk! We also tell her she’ll always be our special little girl. I’m hoping it will be a smooth transition.
SRM: What is the biggest challenge in being a mom to a daughter? What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge being a mom to sons?
Daya Vaidya: I’m not sure if this is because of gender, but my daughter definitely gives me a harder time than my husband. She tests me more; yet, with him she’s pretty angelic most of the time. I’ve heard this continues into the teenage years. With sons, I don’t know. They say boys are crazy about their mamas! So maybe this will be payback to my husband, who seems to have it real easy with our daughter.
SRM: Tell us what it was like to complete the first season of Unforgettable, move to NYC, and plan for two new additions!
Daya Vaidya: Totally nuts, surreal and incredible! It’s definitely been a roller coaster. We knew we wanted another child and sibling for Leela. I’m anal and a planner, so I had my calendar out figuring when I could time a pregnancy with the hiatus of the show. It turned out that month, midway into our season would be perfect timing. Cut to the worst morning sickness of my life, and discovering they’re twins all while filming 12-15 hours a day! I didn’t announce until the second trimester, so one of the assistants literally saved me during this pregnancy. She was one of the only people I told because I knew someone had to help me when I was about to be ill every five minutes. She had food, hard candies and a bucket ready at all times. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it.
Also, the wardrobe department was awesome! They went above and beyond, making sure I was comfortable and no belly bump was showing. When the rest of the cast and producers found out, I was truly moved by how supportive and encouraging everyone was. It made such a difference.