Just weeks into the mothering game, Shay Mitchell already sounded like a seasoned pro.
As she kicked off her interview with Vogue, calling in from the L.A. home she's holed up in since daughter Atlas' arrival last month, she joked, "I got three hours of sleep last night, so it was a good one."
Beyond that and early battles with engorgement (read: breastfeeding problems) it's the ever-present mom guilt that lets her know she's well and truly made it to her new station in life. Even when you're prepared for it, that feeling that you're never doing quite enough or quite well enough for the person you'd literally lay down your life for? Forget sleep deprivation—that's easily the hardest lesson.
"There is a lot of stress and anxiety," she admitted of embarking on this new adventure with boyfriend Matte Babel. "I'd heard all these things from my friends saying, 'You're going to second guess a lot of things you do, you're going to feel guilty when you leave her.' [It's been all about] just taking the time to get ready and be by myself to [say,] 'Okay cool, now I can handle this, I've got this, so many people have done this before me, and so many people have felt the same way.'"
Much like everyone who has come before her, Mitchell's way looks ever so slightly different as she figures out the particulars of just how she'll parent. Without a traditional office job, the actress and entrepreneur isn't taking a traditional maternity leave, choosing to juggle the demands associated with her forthcoming Hulu comedy Dollface and work for her travel accessories brand Beis—plus all of the social media upkeep and YouTube videos that come with it.
But, of course, the job of keeping a tiny human alive takes center stage.
Most days, the 32-year-old shares, she finds herself simply staring in wonder at this person she created. "You reflect on how fast time passes when you're forced to slow down," she said. "The surprising thing is how much I enjoy this calmness."
At this stage, parenting mostly involves an endless cycle of feeding, changing and naps, mostly for the baby, sometimes for Mom and Dad. "When she's awake, we just kind of have a chill moment together," she said. "I've had to reprioritize my work time with her schedule, and that's been interesting for me. Before it was all about my schedule, now I work once she falls asleep."
That might mean some late-night sessions or pulling out the laptop in bed as Atlas is conked out in her Snoo. Though often Mitchell will take advantage of those moments to take a quick shower, feel like a human being.
"It's putting on a nice nightgown if I'm staying at home, which is most of the time now," she explained to Vogue. "As much as it is hard because you just want to put on that old T-shirt that's right next to the bed, I really do try, I have a shower, I put on a beautiful lotion and a nice robe, just something that makes me feel like myself; and then I can continue throughout the day."
Generally speaking her hours are wiled away inside the walls of her L.A. home feeding Atlas and nourishing herself with the Motherbees meals Pretty Little Liars pal Troian Bellisario recommended. But that's more about her never wanting to let go rather than being worried about anyone's thoughts on the matter.
Frankly, she was shocked that people got so worked up about her and Babel's decision to fete Drake at his 33rd birthday party Oct. 24. After initially joking that she left the newborn with her German shepherd-Lab mix Angel "and put water out for both of them" (and pointing out that just because her birth had been announced three days prior didn't mean she'd been born three days prior, the parents understandably wanting some time as a family before sharing with the world), she addressed the commotion head on with Vogue.
"It concerns me that people are so quick to pass judgment on others, especially without knowing any facts, and behind the protection of the screen," she said. "My daughter had been born for several weeks, and when Matte and I chose to take our night out, which was an hour and a half, it surprised me that people chose to be so reactive and aggressive and assume the absolute worst about us—and more so me."
Still, though she certainly wished "people would stop jumping to extreme conclusions about things that aren't their business," she's not about to let the mom shame get her down already. "Matte and I just choose to ignore it because we couldn't be happier right now," she explained. "For me, I'm going to do exactly what I feel is right for my family."
Because at this point Drake is family, at least tangentially responsible for Atlas' existence.
Back in January 2017, when photos of Babel began popping up on Mitchell's Snapchat and a source whispered to Entertainment Tonight that she was seeing the then-ET Canada reporter, she insisted she had nothing to hide—"When I am in a relationship and if things get out, then it gets out," she told FOX411. But she couldn't help reaching for a pretty little lie.
She and the 39-year-old were pals she insisted, having run in the same Canadian network for quite some time. "We've known each other for nine years," she said. "We knew each other in Toronto. Like Drake and all them, it's a Toronto crew. We're really, really awesome friends."
That much was technically true. Babel, a Wilfrid Laurier University grad, had played professional football in Europe for a spell and had taken the LSATs in preparation for law school when he landed in TV "by fluke," he said. "I never ever thought about being on TV. It never even crossed my mind."
But soon he found himself working as a VJ on Canada's Much Music channel, interviewing the likes of Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake, working as a correspondent on ET and even appearing in two episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation. That last gig would connect him with Drake and his assistant Ryan Silverstein, who up until 2014 was also Mitchell's boyfriend.
By 2017, though, that title definitively belonged to Babel, a fact that became more obvious when the Toronto native, who now works for management and entertainment company DreamCrew, joined Mitchell in New York City for February's fashion week.
"I, um... I'm having fun, you know," she stammered to Extra, when asked about her plus-one, though she wasn't going to get more descriptive than that. "Always private, always," she said, "always keep them guessing."
That continued as their raison d'être for the next several years.
While they more or less went Instagram official that April, Babel marking his love's birthday that year with a kissy face-emoji-laden tribute to "the one who makes me smile", they weren't about to become a red carpet-walking, interview-gushing, very online Hollywood pair.
After that first birthday shout-out, Mitchell made just two appearances on his Instagram feed in two years (one in which her face was obscured), until the pair revealed their baby news this June.
Since then, they've been out in a big way, sharing their pregnancy journey with episodes of their YouTube series Almost Ready, culminating with a peek at her 33-hour labor, a process Mitchel labeled "the most intense experience of my life." And Mitchell told Vogue she's eager to include her daughter in her future travel jaunts, suggesting we may get another peek at her in an upcoming Shaycation.
It would only be fitting considering how she got her moniker. "A close friend of ours was listing off names for her daughter that she had had a year and a half ago. Then she said Atlas and I looked at Matte, and he looked at me, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" she says of the label dovetailing with her love of international travel. "It's just the perfect name; from that day, we knew it was going to be Atlas."
But before baby's first passport will come baby's first holiday season. Mitchell, who dressed her daughter as "a little burrito" for Halloween, has her hands on the Christmas dress that she once wore. "To take the traditions that I've always had and now be able to extend them onto my own family is a blessing," she told the mag. "My Christmases were great before, but we had no young energy in the house before her being born. She's the first grandchild on both sides, and everybody's super-excited to celebrate with her."
That includes both family and the friends close enough to be considered kin. A bit of a baby boom among her group of hometown friends in the past year or two means Atlas has lots of willing playmates.
"It's been wonderful because my best friend who lives in Vancouver, she had her daughter last May, and I've watched her raise her. So now to have [our kids] be close in age is incredible," she told Vogue. "It's funny because all my friends have had little girls. When I found out that we were having ours, I was just super-excited [because] we are a close group of families, and hopefully our daughters will be another little close group of friends as well, growing up."