When Jillian Michaels set out to adopt a child, she knew she was in for a long journey that would be painful at times. But witnessing her partner Heidi Rhoades deliver their son, Phoenix, earlier this month was unbearable.
“The whole thing about Phoenix being born was hard,” says Michaels, 38, who opens up about her new family in the latest issue of PEOPLE.
Initially, Rhoades had planned on natural childbirth. But after 27 hours of labor, doctors informed the petite mom-to-be that they would have to deliver the baby via cesarean section. A helpless Michaels could only stand by and offer support.
“Watching her was awful,” Michaels says. “You can’t relieve the person. You can’t do it for them. You just have to stand there and watch.”
But soon after the 9 lb., 22-inch baby boy was delivered in the wee hours of May 3, Michaels sprang into action.
“Because I had the c-section, she had to jump in and do everything with Phoenix,” Rhoades, 31, tells PEOPLE. “She’s an amazing mom.”
Four days after Phoenix’s arrival, Michaels left on a flight to Haiti to bring home her daughter Lukensia.
“We were both sobbing hysterically,” says Michaels, who will legally adopt Phoenix, while Rhoades will legally adopt Lu. “Our son was only four days old, but our daughter needed to come home.”
For details on Michaels’s new life as a mom and to see more images from our exclusive family photo shoot, pick up the June 4 issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
– Monica Rizzo