Lilliana Vazquez is pregnant!
After six years of infertility treatments, the Latina E! host, 40, is expecting her first baby with husband Patrick McGrath, PEOPLE can exclusively reveal. And she's ecstatic!
"It was just complete and over the top elation," she tells PEOPLE as she shares the news. "I don't think it's a feeling I'd ever really felt before."
It was a long process getting to her positive pregnancy test. Vazquez started her in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination journey back in 2005. Ever since, Vazquez and McGrath had gotten used to experiencing loss, but today they're excited to welcome their first baby this summer.
Despite the pandemic and a professional upset after E! canceled her show — "The biggest professional disappointment and heartache that I've ever gone through," she says — Vazquez and McGrath decided to go forward with focusing on becoming parents.
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"I took inventory of the things that I valued, that my husband and I prioritized, and it was being parents. We just wanted to be parents," she says. "We put that intention out there and I said, 'Let's just, let's do it. Let's go for it.' "
So they did. And several weeks after a treatment last year, they got the news that there was a heart beating in her belly. "I thought it was a prank call," she says with a laugh. "I'm 40 years old and I'm pregnant for the first time, and so I think when you've experienced so much loss… it hardens you and it makes you so scared."
"It's heartbreaking to say, but for the first trimester every day, I was like, 'Is today the last day I'm going to be pregnant?' " she adds. "It took a long time for me to get out of that phase to feel like, 'Okay, Lilliana, you can't be afraid. You have to let this feel like what it is, which is a miracle.' "
And it indeed is, after years of struggle and feeling like giving up, an atypical experience for the tenacious TV personality, she's ready to welcome her first child.
"I do not take no for an answer. So you can imagine, for me to finally say, 'I can't do this anymore,' how broken I was and how beat down I was, for me to actually stop. Because stop and slow are not in my vocabulary. They do not exist," she says. "I physically couldn't do it anymore. I didn't recognize myself. Hormones make you crazy. It created a real division between my husband and I."
"We've been married for 13 years, and as much as they go through this with you, physically you go through this alone. And he can be as empathetic and as supportive as he can be, but at the end of the day, those shots go in your stomach. You're the one that has to carry the physical burden of putting your body through that," she adds. "And I think that's the point that I hit many times, but you know that little immigrant girl, that mentality when you grow up with your parents and you see them struggle so hard. You're like, 'No, I can do this. Look at what they did.' "
Today, she's nearing six months into her pregnancy, craving oranges at all hours of the day and eating a ton of jicama with Tajín. ("I mean the baby's Mexican, I don't know what to tell you," she jokes.) And she's preparing to "accept this gift however it comes."
As for the baby's sex, they'll be waiting until birth to find out — even if she has her suspicions. (Her friends think it's a boy.) And she's also excited to showcase her baby's two cultures via their name.
"It's really important to me that the baby understands that they are a part of two beautiful cultures, and that is the Latina side of me and my husband's background, which is Irish," she says.
"So the last name will be McGrath, which is as Irish as they come. And their first name [will] reflect my side of the baby's cultural makeup, so the name will be a Spanish name."
As she awaits her little "miracle," Vazquez is also reflecting on the "isolating" feeling of being a Latina going through infertility struggles. She says that oftentimes Latinas are stereotyped as being fertile when in actuality Latinas' fertility rate has dropped 31 percent from 2006 to 2017, according to Child Trends.
"We're not creating a space for people to feel comfortable and we're not creating access to these resources and this education. And I think that's really important," she says.
So to help defeat that stigma, Vazquez is working with Kindbody — an organization that specializes in women's reproductive health — to help a dozen Latinas receive a free full fertility assessment.
"I actually reached out and said 'Listen, Latinas are so under-serviced when it comes to reproductive health. Help me educate this incredible group of women that are choosing education and profession over family planning at this phase in their life,' " she says. "I just want them to understand what their options are. I mean, I took it in 2005 and I'm pregnant in 2021."
"If I had not taken that test, could I ever have realized this dream? I don't know," she says. "But that information was such a pivotal moment in my life."
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