“I had bleeding from what’s called placenta previa [a complication when the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb and covers all or part of the opening of the cervix],” says Courtney. It was terrifying for a first-time mom, but luckily Courtney had Mario, 36, by her side the whole time. “He just kept telling me what a blessing I was, and the baby was, and how beautiful I looked (even when I didn’t!). He was there for me in every sense of the word.”
How did you tell Mario he was going to be a dad?
Oh, he hated how I told him! He wishes I had hidden something in his dessert or made a big production out of it. But it just kind of slipped out. I didn’t miss a period, but I didn’t feel like myself, so while he was working out I ran to CVS and bought a pregnancy test without telling him. I got the type that says “pregnant” or “not pregnant” because I didn’t want to read it wrong. When I looked at the results, I started to cry. And at that exact moment, Mario came upstairs and said, “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” And I just blurted out, “I’m pregnant!” He stared at me all sweaty in his gym clothes, like, “Are you sure?” Then he finally came over and gave me a kiss and said, “OK, I’m going to go run a little more.” We were both in shock. It didn’t settle in until we were at church that night, and he started rubbing my belly.
You come from an Italian Catholic family. How did your mom take the news you were having a baby with Mario without being married?
She was ecstatic. But there was a part of me that was like, “Uh-oh. If I tell her I’m pregnant, she’s going to know I had sex!”
Is it true you didn’t want to know whether you were having a boy or girl until you gave birth?
Well, Mario didn’t! He thought it was one of life’s greatest surprises and why should we find out early? At first, I struggled with that and when I went to see the doctor and saw the ultrasounds, I’d ask myself, “Is that a penis?” But I think not knowing made me push harder the day of the birth to find out whether I was having a boy or girl.
How did you decorate Gia’s nursery without knowing her sex?
I actually would have done it the same exact way for a boy. The nursery is very timeless, elegant and peaceful. It’s all antique silvers, a little bit of gold and some gray. Now I’ll add purple pillows and flowers. If I had a boy, I would have added greens and blues.
What kind of a mom do you think you’ll be?
I hope I’m just like my mom. She is such a strong, independent woman. She never put a hand on any of her kids, but she had a firm voice and taught us right from wrong. My brother, sister and I turned out wonderfully. We’ve never been into drugs, drinking, none of that. So I just want to do exactly what she did raising us. I hope I can make her proud.
And what do you think Mario’s going to be like as a dad?
He says he’s going to be strict, but I think he’s going to be the biggest pushover. With our dog, Julio, he’s always saying, “You have to be more firm.” But he lets the dog get away with everything. With our daughter, I can see him being even mushier.
What family traditions do you hope to pass down to Gia?
I definitely want her to learn Spanish, like Mario’s side of the family — even though I’ll have no idea what she’s saying. I’m already dreading the day where she curses me out in Spanish! From my side, I want to teach her my family’s [pasta] sauce recipe.
What made you and Mario decide to tape your journey as first-time parents for an upcoming VH1 reality show (with the working title Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby)?
Mario came up with the idea because he was trying to find books to read about becoming a father, and there really weren’t any out there. All the books were for moms. He thought it would be cool to document the journey and then be able to write a book about it and help other first-time fathers. So that’s really why we’ve done it. But I was a little nervous at first until he convinced me.
Why were you worried?
I’m a very private person, and having my first child is very personal. Obviously, I’m not going to do things right on the first try — it’s a learning experience. So to have that be documented for people to watch… I know there’s going to be a lot of criticism and judgment. That made me a little wary at first. But now I’m glad we did it. I think people will be able to learn from us.
You two aren’t worried about the reality TV show couple curse (Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Travis Barker and Shannon Moakler, Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea, etc)?
It’s definitely something that we talked about before we decided to do the show. But — you heard it here first — we will break that curse! We’re too strong and too happy to let a TV show break us up.