Chyler Leigh calls half an hour late for her interview, bubbling over with apologies. The Grey's Anatomy star has spent the morning keeping an eye on her 3-year-old daughter, Taelyn, who's home from preschool with a fever. Most moms might not have even noticed the little girl's slight temperature spike -- a bit over 99 degrees -- the night before. But Taelyn suffers from febrile seizures, so Leigh must be extra vigilant.
"The first time it happened, I was at home and had no idea what was going on," Leigh recalls. "Most seizures end after a few minutes, but hers went on for 25 minutes. We got an ambulance and went to the emergency room, and she was fine. It was a virus, and the fever just spiked too high too fast. But it's scary. Any time she's warm, we watch her."
The busy mom of three has plenty of experience managing childhood health crises. Leigh's 6-year-old, Noah, has logged his share of ER visits: "He busted his chin on the ground when he decided he wanted to slide like a penguin. He smacked his head on the ground when he was trying to spin and got his pants stuck under his feet and wound up with a huge goose egg that looked like his brains were coming out," she recalls. "Taelyn fell off the play equipment at school and hit her nose on a metal chair. She had blood coming down her nose -- she looked like a Klingon."
When baby Anniston joined the clan in May 2009, Leigh and her husband, actor Nathan West, had a full house. With her Grey's storyline as Meredith Grey's half-sister, Lexie, heating up, Leigh confesses that her hectic schedule sometimes has her feeling like "the oldest 27-year-old on the planet. I work, and I'm a full-time mom, and it's hard for me to sit down and relax because it's like, crap, there's something I'm forgetting!"
To survive with a brood of three, Leigh swears by organization. "Nathan and I sit down on the weekends, and we go through all our appointments and whatever we have to get done that week, and plan our strategy," she says. "If I'm available in the morning one day and he is in the afternoon, then I'll take the kids to school that day. There will always be the occasional wrench thrown in, but when you plan ahead, you're better able to handle stuff like that."
The Importance of Date Nights
Now that they've had almost a year to adjust to baby Anniston and Leigh's mother-in-law has moved in with the family, Leigh and West can finally get back to another vital part of their parenting strategy: date night. "Even though you're parents, you're still a couple. You need to take time and be together, talk about your dreams and plans, and just be in love."
No babies are in the future for her character on Grey's Anatomy, Leigh says -- although she still laments an episode shot while she was almost six months pregnant and the show was supposedly trying to hide her burgeoning belly. "They had me running down the hallway for our intern race, and you could see my stomach bouncing. I'm like, 'Why are you shooting me full-length with this belly?'"
Other than the "no baby" promise, Leigh can't reveal much about her upcoming season. "Everybody always says, 'Oh, you have to watch this season -- I can't tell you what's coming up, but it'll be great.' But it's true," she insists. "I do have some great stuff coming up, and big surprises and big changes for my character. I'm very excited about it. My job is great, my family is great -- life is good!"