Maria Menounos is over the moon after welcoming her first child, a baby girl, via surrogate last month.
In an Us Weekly story published Wednesday, Menounos, a former E! News correspondent, talked about her “miracle baby,” Athena Alexandra, and explained what it’s like to finally be a mom after a 10-year struggle with infertility and several serious health issues.
“[It’s] better than I could’ve ever imagined,” the “Extra!” host told the magazine. It’s euphoric. For so long, I’ve felt something’s been missing. I’d go to kids’ birthday parties, and I’d be a little sad because I wanted my own family. And now I feel so grounded, like I finally know where I belong.”
Menounos also described the “magical experience” she had with her surrogate, whom she thanked for giving her and her husband, TV producer Keven Undergaro, “the greatest gift ever.”
Menounos and Undergaro initially tried to get pregnant by way of in vitro fertilization, but she was advised against carrying a baby after she overcame a benign brain tumor in 2017.
It took them several years to find the right surrogate, and late last year they learned were expecting — just before Menounos was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer.
In February, she underwent a “super painful” surgery to remove parts of her pancreas, as well as her spleen, 17 lymph nodes and a fibroid that she said was “the size of a baby.”
“I have a C-section scar, basically, even though I never had a baby,” Menounos joked. “I gave birth in a different way!”
Athena was born in Milwaukee on June 23, and Menounos got to be there for her arrival, which she called “the most special moment of my life.”
Menonous remembered meeting her daughter, telling Us: “The doctor literally grabbed her and lifted her onto me. I sat with her on my chest, and Keven and I kept looking at each other like, ‘Oh, my God.’ It was just pure joy.”
Despite facing a year full of “trauma, stress [and] crisis,” the TV host struck an optimistic tone when she went public about her cancer battle in May.
“I’m so grateful and so lucky,” she told People magazine at the time. God granted me a miracle. I’m going to appreciate having [my baby] in my life so much more than I would have before this journey.”
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