With this week’s Season 5 kick-off of Total Divas — the reality show that follows the WWE’s top female wrestlers (“divas”) — comes some slammin,’ out-of-the-ring drama, from a love triangle to catfights and a called-off wedding. But there’s a child-friendly plot in the mix, too, thanks to “Loca Latina” star Rosa Mendes (pictured above with fiancé Bobby Schubenski), who has found herself in a family way. Pregnant with a little girl she’ll name Jordan Elizabeth, Mendes, 36, a Vancouver native, spoke with Yahoo Parenting about how she’ll keep up with her physically demanding career, and why she made the drastic move from Newport Coast, Calif., to Pittsburgh, Penn.
You’re due in February! How are you feeling these days?
I felt so lucky, I was having a breeze and bragging to everyone, like, “I love being pregnant! I’m one of the lucky ones!” And now this third trimester has been so tough. I’m tired. But when I stay active, I feel a lot better. So I’m trying to keep on my feet and keep busy, but there are hot flashes and stuff. And it’s hard to bend over.
Have there been other pregnant WWE divas?
No, I’m the first in history that’s still working. And the WWE has supported me so much. Being in such a physical industry, I was worried it would affect my career, but no — when I told them, they congratulated me. It’s been such an empowering experience finding a new role for me in the company, which you’ll see on “Total Divas.” It keeps me away from the line of fire [but] still able to be part of the show and do what I love to do most. It’s been such an amazing experience. … My fiancé ordered a onesie from the WWE online shop that says: “Future Divas Champion.” It’s so cute, in pink. So she’s a little diva already.
The stars of “Total Divas.” Mendes is third from left. (Photo: NBC Universal)
Your fit body is such a huge part of your image and WWE career. Have the physical changes of pregnancy freaked you out?
Not at all, actually. I’ve been with the company for nine years, so I’ve always kept on a very strict diet and very strict workout regimen. It’s kind of nice that I can eat cheese, and stuff that I normally couldn’t before. Now, whatever I’ve been craving I’ve been eating, and I’ve been enjoying that part of the pregnancy so much. And I haven’t been doing squats at the gym because I was told by a specialist that it’s harmful. So it’s been nice to not be on the squat rack, to be honest! [Laughs] I used to do, like, Olympic weightlifting and lift very heavy. But I’ve changed my workout to doing more stepups and machines and cables … and doing cardio, but only 15 minutes.
How did you keep wrestling throughout early pregnancy?
Actually, I was valeting [managing], but even if you’re managing, you go into the ring before an event and work out. I was on the road at a live event, and I was a little late [with my period], so I took a pregnancy test and I saw that it was positive. So I didn’t make it to the show, and then I stayed home for about three months, because I didn’t want to tell anyone until I was sure that the pregnancy was totally healthy.
Mendes at 36 weeks. (Photo: Instagram)
How did you explain your absence?
I didn’t tell anyone anything. I just said that I had some things I needed to take care of.
For three months?
Yes. It was so hard, because I have really close friends in the company, but I had to keep it a secret because, you know, you tell one person and then that person tells another person. So people were just wondering what happened, you know? It was the hardest secret I have ever kept — for real. I told close family members, and that’s it. Then I did a WWE interview, and I got so many people texting me and congratulating me.
Have you always wanted to become a mother?
I love children and I’ve always wanted kids, but I didn’t know when I was going to be able to. I’ve been with the company a long time, and have so many goals I want to achieve in the company, so I wasn’t really preparing to have a child at that moment. But when it happened, I was very happy. I cried happy tears, and it was a beautiful feeling. I totally didn’t expect that. I’ve been reading and learning so much [about parenting], and I have a lot of respect for working mothers, too, like [WWE chief brand officer] Stephanie McMahon. Her children are bright and intelligent, and I just look at her and think: I want to be like that.
Mendes’s “Total Divas” glamour shot. (Photo: NBC Universal)
How will you manage motherhood and your career — as well as the new line of baby clothes you’re launching, Hoods Up Kids?
I moved to Pittsburgh, where we’re actually living with Bobby’s parents while our house is being built, believe it or not! We have five dogs here, because our two dogs came here and they have three, and now there’s a baby coming too. My family is spread out all over the world — Vancouver, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic — so I decided to move to Pittsburgh with Bobby and his family. I thought it would be good for [our daughter] to have a good support system, and for me to have a good support system.
How did you and Bobby meet?
We actually met through Paige [of the WWE]. She and Bobby are friends. It was funny — she’s like, ‘Come meet up with us,’ and I’m in Chipotle eating a burrito and there he is walking in! It was not the most attractive way for a guy to see you — eating a burrito — but it was literally love at first sight. I never believed in that kind of storybook thing, but he sat down and we were laughing and joking around, and then he came to see me perform the first day that I met him, which was really nerve-wracking. But I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him from the first moment I saw him.
The WWE onesie that awaits baby Jordan. (Photo: Instagram)
Your WWE character can be kind of crazy and mean. How much of your real personality is in there?
You know it’s good vs. evil in the WWE, so I love playing that character so much. I love performing. I’ve loved performing since I was a kid, so it’s just kind of like an escape. But I’m very down to earth — I’m Canadian and Costa Rican — but sometimes I still have that Latina temper, which is in my blood. That comes out once in a blue moon, so it’s not too far-fetched.
Might your daughter become a part of your character in some way?
I mean, that would be awesome, right? That would be great. I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t like to project. But I’m really excited, and I know everything’s going to work out well for me and my daughter and our little family. I just can’t wait to hold her and look at her beautiful face.
What will you tell your daughter if she decides she wants to go into the WWE when she grows up?
I actually would want her to become champion! Absolutely. I would support her 100 percent.
Watch E!’s “Total Divas” on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.