Over the years, Nikki Bella has deployed more than a few secret weapons.
There's the Alabama Slam, the Bella Buster and, of course, her signature finisher, the Rack Attack, involving hoisting an opponent onto her shoulders and then slamming to her knees to send hem flailing.
But for the past few months, her go-to move has been as simple as walking next door. Now some 27 weeks into her first pregnancy, whenever the retired WWE superstar finds herself wondering about a new development (her latest: should my feet really be swelling so much so soon?) she turns to twin sister Brie Bella, currently expecting her second.
"I don't read as many books as I know first-time moms do, because I just ask Brie everything," she shared during a chat with Daily Pop's Carissa Culiner last month. "Anything that I feel weird or doesn't seem right or what I should I be doing...I just go straight out to Brie all the time."
A girl's gotta have her tag team partner. Because while fiancé Artem Chigventsev is undoubtedly the person the 36-year-old is meant to do life with, the guy that let's her "fully live in my truth," as she put it to E! News, Brie is her literal day one.
In their three-and-a-half decades together, the identical twins have been teammates in the ring (they are set to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at some point this year), on the air (with both their E! reality show Total Bellas and The Bellas Podcast) and in business, their new memoir, Incomparable, coming on the heels of their successful clothing line Birdiebee and wine label Belle Radici.
Now they're they riding out twin pregnancies—their late July, early August due dates mere days apart—in neighboring Arizona pads with matching symptoms and cravings for tuna fish.
And having someone who's been there, done that feels even more crucial at a time when the displaced Angeleno has more to worry about than heartburn and readying herself for sleep deprivation.
The current shelter-in-place means she's had to eliminate some in-person appointments (with Brie's doctor, of course) and ditch the birthing classes she and the former Dancing With the Stars pro had been planning to take. And if she's being totally honest, she's not thrilled about having to go to a hospital to give birth later this summer. "I don't want to be there and I don't want to go," she shared on E!'s Daily Pop. "It's been difficult."
But when those moments of uncertainty come over her, she's got her gal, already mom to nearly 3-year-old Birdie Joe Danielson, in her corner. "I've been having a hard time with it because it is my first," she said, "but Brie keeps telling me that it's OK."
So, yeah, it hasn't been the easiest of pregnancies.
Some six months in, Nikki has already battled weeks of morning sickness ("I feel like I literally have a hangover every day and it's crazy because I'm not going out and partying," she told People of her first trimester) and a bout of influenza B that knocked her off her feet.
"I have never been that sick before in my entire life," she revealed on their podcast in March. "I mean, it was worse than getting neck surgery, breaking my leg and getting a rod put into my shin...my body's never gone through that pain of Influenza B. And being pregnant on top of it."
And that was nothing compared to learning the coronavirus pandemic had put the kibosh on all the blue- and pink-hued activities she'd been envisioning.
"I imagined getting pregnant forever and I had to cancel my baby shower," she lamented to People. "Anything fun that you do that you get so excited for your first time pregnant, I had to cancel, and that really bummed me out. Just going to classes with Artem, and now we're going to do everything online, or even going out and shopping for a baby and grabbing lunch. Just everything we do is from the computer."
She's still holding out hope she'll be able to squeeze in a last-minute shower later this summer, she continued, "But it's been hard not getting all those first things."
Not that there haven't been so many thrilling moments along the way.
That first ultrasound, of course, she and the 37-year-old Russia native marveling at their tiny dancer. "Oh my goodness you guys, our baby, I know everyone feels this way, which you should, is so cute and it's like, babies are already getting personalities," she gushed during a February podcast. "Like, our baby was flexing for us and then you get so proud right, I'm going to brag. Our doctor was like, 'I can't believe the fat already around the arm.'"
Mom's upper body strength, with Dad's agile limbs, as it turns out: "The legs that just keep pushing against my uterus, they look like long dancer legs," she continued. "Our baby, every time I stare at it, I'm like, 'This is Artem's mini.'"
When they're not debating whose eyes their offspring will have, they're tossing around monikers that honor both his upbringing (in Russia, it's common to use the father's name as a baby's middle name) and her Mexican and Italian background. "The problem is if you mix cultures...if [a person's whole name] stays completely Russian from the beginning to the end, then it flows," Chigventsev explained on a February podcast. "But when you put like, an American name with the last name of a Russian and then a made-up middle name, it just becomes like, an extreme hybrid of names, that I dunno if it's gonna work."
Thankfully they're in lockstep when it comes to choosing her sister and brother-in-law Daniel Bryan as godparents. "I was telling Artem—we were talking about godparents—and I'm like, you know what?" Nikki recounted on a March podcast. '"I know they never really pick spouses—usually you do, like, brothers and sisters—but I want Brie and Bryan as our baby's godparents because of how you guys raised Birdie...and Artem agreed."
After all, their growing quarantine crew has carved out a pretty enjoyable existence in the Arizona suburbs complete with sunset bike rides (masked, of course), joint appointments and home-cooked meals.
"We've spent a lot of time together," Brie detailed during a March appearance on The Talk. "We cook dinner most nights together. We have coffee every morning together."
So yeah, her feet have never been more swollen and she's not entirely sure how she's going to manage to walk for the next 13 or so weeks, but she wouldn't want to be in anyone else's shoes.
"Brie used to tell me, 'Nicole, when you're pregnant, you'll get high fives because they're not going to believe that you can still hike pregnant.' And I was excited for the high five and now we go when [there's] no one out there, so it's like I'm high-fiving air," she lamented to People. Either way, though, "I'm like, 'Okay, I'm still doing it.'"
That, of course, is the takeaway, with or without the joint babymoon she and Brie had been planning. She's still doing the damn thing and her ultimate happy ending remains in view, far better than any championship belt.
"My baby and I are healthy. I feel so grateful for that because of what the world is going through and the people that are dying and struggling, but obviously this is not what I imagined," she told People.
Though, frankly, she couldn't have predicted any of this—stunned to discover she was expecting mere weeks after Chigventsev's Parisian proposal—and it's all been pretty freaking great. "I was definitely shocked when I found out," she shared in her January Instagram pregnancy announcement. "And so nervous! I wasn't expecting it and felt I wasn't ready but this journey of life is unpredictable. I thank God every day and night for bringing this amazing blessing and miracle into my life! I am already SO IN LOVE!!"
Reaching her happy ending, that was the hard part. The celebrations can always come later.
Catch up on all Total Bellas episodes here.