|Alison Dyer for PEOPLE for use on CBB|
It’s no wonder Constance Marie is glowing with happiness. It took the actress over three years — including three attempts using the fertility drug Clomid in combination with intrauterine insemination and two failed efforts at in vitro fertilization — before reaching her goal of becoming a mother.
“She’s the sweetest pie and a big sleeper,” says Constance, 43, of daughter Luna Marie, named because “when she was born, she liked to be awake at night.” After undergoing a c-section on February 5th, the actress is “still in shock” at becoming a mom. “We waited so long for her, she can boss me around as much as she wants!”
Constance, best known for her role as George Lopez’s wife on The George Lopez Show, is eager to talk candidly about her experience.
“I was 38 ½ years old when we started trying to have a baby,” says Constance, whose fiancé is yoga coach Kent Katich, 45. “I thought it would be no problem, but the 3 ½ years it took us was the most difficult period of my life. It was a devastating journey, both physically and emotionally.”
After going the natural route for a year — “we thought ‘Great, we’ll get to have lots of sex!'” — Constance was thrilled when she finally became pregnant. But the first ultrasound revealed that the fetus had no heartbeat. “You’re feeling so much hope,” she says. “Then your heart sinks, and your hope drops.”
After a second miscarriage a few months later — “it was hard to go to work and be funny,” she recalls — Constance began using the fertility drug Clomid combined with intrauterine insemination, but still had no luck.
The couple eventually turned to in vitro fertilization. “For us, it was one step at a time down a long road of dealing with fertility issues,” she says about resorting to IVF. “It was not an easy decision. I don’t think anyone rushes into IVF.” The ovulation stimulants took their toll on Constance, she found. “It really affected my mood,” she remembers. “One time during an argument I screamed so loud it actually scared me. I thought, ‘Wow, I need a time-out!'”
A third attempt at IVF combined with acupuncture proved successful. “After a while, my normal attitude was that it wasn’t going to work out,” she says.
“When I finally got pregnant the third time [with Luna], I didn’t quite believe it. After three years of peeing on little sticks, I skipped the home pregnancy tests and waited until I got to the doctor to do a blood test. Only then did I believe it! When we saw the heartbeat it felt like a miracle. I feel so blessed. It was worth every moment.”
Now, Constance wants to share her experience in order to help other women, because she says she wishes others had been as candid.
“When we started trying, I thought it would be no problem. You read about high-profile people having babies later in life all the time, and you think,’ Why is it not working for me?’ But I realized there is a whole subculture that’s very quiet. Everyone’s decision is private, and I respect that, but I needed to share my experience. I’m very supportive of women getting to a place in life when it’s right for them to start a family. It’s important for women to take their time to come into their own. I only want to say we might not have as much time as we think we have.”
– Ulrica Wihlborg
On Monday, CBB will launch an exclusive gallery of Luna’s nursery, as well as family photos — be sure to check back!