Former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Maria Menounos recently became a mother for the first time. The journey to having a child was a difficult one for Menounos and her husband, Keven Undergaro, and ultimately, their daughter was welcomed via a surrogate. Now that she has had a couple of months with her daughter, Athena, the DWTS star is opening up about how much she loves her new role.
Here’s what you need to know:
Maria Menounos Treasures Athena’s Morning Smiles
Menounos chatted with E! News about life with Athena. “That smile every morning. I could light up an entire nation with my joy from her one little smile,” the former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant admitted. “Actually, it’s a big smile. This house might catch fire someday from all the happiness and light she sparks,” Menounos added.
News of the surrogacy emerged in February, and that exciting development came after years of trying various methods to expand their family. Menounos and Undergaro tried to conceive naturally, and also they tried IVF, following any path that could potentially help them have a child.
Not only was the process of having a baby more difficult than expected, but Menounos also faced a shocking medical diagnosis a few months before her baby was born. In May, she revealed she had received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in January. She feared she may not even meet her daughter, but now, the “Dancing with the Stars” alum is cancer-free.
Eventually, the couple was successful in connecting with a surrogate, but that journey was difficult too. In July 2021, Menounos explained in an episode of her YouTube series “Better Together” that they faced unexpected challenges in finding the right person to carry their baby. Despite the numerous obstacles and delays, Athena arrived on June 23.
The DWTS Alum Is Fully Focused on Enjoying Athena
Menounos makes it clear the struggles were worth it. “She’s everything. And, yeah, I would do anything for her,” the “Dancing with the Stars” alum told E! News.
“She’s changed all my priorities. She’s made me just see what’s important in life and that’s family and health,” Menounos explained. She added, “And yes, career and all of those things are great, but not at the expense of all the other stuff.”
For now, Athena and motherhood are Menounos’ main focus. “I’m with her here at every moment and I’m soaking it in and I’m enjoying it,” she detailed. She knows there are plenty of developments to look forward to as Athena grows, but, “Right now I’m just enjoying her here.”
Focusing on Athena is no hardship, though. Menounos told People, “She’s so happy and giggly and smiley. And I’m just madly in love. It’s crazy.” She gushed, “It’s been heaven. Heaven, heaven, heaven. She’s such a smiley, happy baby.”
Menounos admits there can be moments where she doubts herself as a mother, but she reminds herself “I just have to take care of her,” and “be present.” The former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant explained, “So I’m getting used to the fact that I might miss the UPS driver at the door. So what? What’s going to happen? She needs me. That’s what I need to do.”
Stacy Carey has been a freelance writer focusing on reality television and celebrity news for more than a decade. She is a Heavy contributor for The Bachelor, Hallmark and Dancing With the Stars. More about Stacy Carey