|Courtesy Catherine Bell|
With the fourth season of Army Wives premiering at 10 p.m. Sunday on Lifetime, as well as a baby on the way, Catherine Bell is a busy woman!
The former JAG star, 41, sat down with PEOPLE Moms & Babies to tell us about the latest with her character Denise, her 7-year-old daughter Gemma and her new son, due to arrive in August.
What can we expect from the premiere of Army Wives Sunday night?
Oh my goodness — some intense drama. Very emotional! A lot of things are revealed, which of course I can’t say.
We had several big, big cliffhangers last year, so a lot of questions are going to be answered in the first episode, right off the bat. The aftereffects of what’s happened — I cry a lot in the first five episodes!
Then things start looking up for Denise — she gets back into the relationship with her husband and her friends and starts enjoying life again. Maybe riding a motorcycle again!
We’re a third of the way through shooting this season, so I’ll be filming until I’m eight months pregnant.
You left Los Angeles for Charleston, S.C., where Army Wives is filmed, a few years ago. Can you tell us about the differences in raising a family in each place?
I love it. It was such a no-brainer for us. My husband [Adam Beason] is a writer so he gets to travel with me and we all went together. At first we would go back to L.A. in between, but found that we really were drawn more to Charleston.
It’s such a great place to raise a family. There’s things to do with the kids every single weekend — people are all about that. They’re about going boating and inviting other families along, hanging out in the park.
It’s a more laid-back pace of life. I’ve lived in L.A. my whole life and I’ve never had a neighbor come say hi when we moved in, or bring a plate of homemade cookies or cake. And that happened — three people came over the first day — “Here’s our number if you need anything, if you want us to take your daughter to school — our kids go to the same one…” I was like, “What?! This is so neat!”
My parents just sold their house after living in L.A. for 40 years and moved to Charleston and it’s great. I’m here [in N.Y.C.] for four days and my daughter’s staying with them. I’ve got the baby coming and I’m so glad my mom is there.
Yes, the baby! You have a son coming in August?
Yes, in between my birthday and my husband’s birthday. I’m the 14th and Adam’s the 25th [and I have to schedule a c-section], so somewhere in the middle!
Have you noticed a difference between being pregnant in your 30s versus your 40s?
Totally. Sadly. Yes. I didn’t even feel pregnant when I was expecting Gemma. I was working on JAG, doing 18-hour days and totally fine. With this one, I’m tired, I need to lie down, I need to nap. Definitely different!
The first trimester was hard — I didn’t have morning sickness with my daughter at all but I have with my son. For three weeks I was just nauseous all day, which was brutal. For three months I had this exhaustion that was beyond anything I’d ever felt. It was like, “I’m going to fall over. If I don’t sit down, I’m going to faint.” Gemma’s understanding though. When I really can’t play with her, she’s like, “You’re pregnant Mom. You sit down.” She’ll bring me things — it’s really cute.
I’m dreading [being pregnant all summer], especially in Charleston. The humidity is insane. I’ll be eight months pregnant in July and delivering in August. I think we’ll just need to rent a beach house. I’ll be a beached whale with my feet in the water, drinking sweet tea and lemonade.
What does Gemma think about becoming a big sister?
She wanted a girl so badly. She’s been begging us for a sister for two years. So when we found out it was a boy, I was like, “Oh my God, how am I going to tell her?”
I got a ‘It’s a boy’ balloon, blue cupcakes, blue lollipops, all this stuff. I had her close her eyes and we gave her the balloon. She opened her eyes, saw it and her face just dropped. She read [the balloon] three times and she looked at me and said, “It’s a boy?” and I swear she started crying! I didn’t expect tears!
My husband and I just let her cry for a minute and she said, “I’m so sorry I’m crying, I just really wanted a sister.” I said, “I understand,” acknowledged it and let her have her feelings, and within five minutes she was excited about a baby boy.
She’s so excited. I’m really thrilled, because I hear a lot of kids aren’t too excited about babies coming. She kisses and talks to my belly all the time — it’s so cute. She makes things for him, and has toys set aside that she’s going to share with him. She even said that she might watch Elmo for a few minutes with him. She’s seven years older so I’m hoping there won’t be a lot of rivalry.
What’s Gemma’s personality like?
She is a hoot. My husband has a great sense of humor and Gemma totally got it. She’s funny and sarcastic. She’ll make a joke and you’re not sure if she’s serious, and then she’ll wink at you. Very fun-loving; she’s a very happy girl. Loves school, she’s in first grade and she absolutely loves it.
She’s an adventurous little girl, just like me. She loves going fast — rollercoasters, in the car and on the boat. If we’re just cruising in the boat, she’s so bored. She waits until we get into the open water, sits right in the front and goes, “Woo-hoo!” I’m like, “Yep, that’s my kid.”
– Sarah Michaud