From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Luna Marie Katich
Born: Feb. 5, 2009
Weight: 8 lbs. 13 oz.

Actress Constance Marie's sunny home in Santa Monica displays none of the signs often associated with first-time parenthood: There are no pacifiers underfoot, no piles of onesies waiting to be washed and definitely no anxious parents desperate to soothe their newborn. Instead, clean cloth diapers are folded in neat piles, sterilized pacifiers sit in a gleaming bowl, and 5-week-old Luna Marie is happily snoozing to soft reggae music playing on the stereo. And the parents? Endless smiles mixed with disbelief. "I'm still in shock," says Marie, 43, who gave birth on Feb. 5 via C-section. "I can't believe this is my daughter."

It's no wonder Marie, best known as George Lopez's long-suffering spouse on the George Lopez show, and her fiancé, yoga coach Kent Katich, 45, don't take parenthood for granted. It took more than three years, two miscarriages and numerous fertility treatments before they reached this moment. "It was a devastating journey, both physically and emotionally," says Marie.

The first year, the couple went the old-fashioned route. "We thought, 'Great, we'll get to have lots of sex!'" says Marie. After more than a year with no success, Marie 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, Marie began using the fertility drug Clomid, combined with intrauterine insemination, but still had no luck.

Marie is open about the experience, she says now, because 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? What's wrong with me?'" she says. "But I realized there's a whole subculture [among those who have fertility treatments] that's very quiet. Everyone's decision is private, and I respect that, but I needed to share my experience.... 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."

Finally, the couple turned to in vitro fertilization. "It was not an easy decision," says Marie. "I don't think anyone rushes into IVF." Over the next few months, Marie injected herself daily with ovulation stimulants. "It really affected my mood," she says. "One time during an argument, I screamed so loud it actually scared me. I thought, 'Wow, I need a time-out!'" The third round of IVF, which Marie combined with acupuncture, worked. "When we saw the heartbeat, we almost didn't believe it," she says. "It felt like a miracle."

Those feelings still hold true. "I feel so blessed," says Marie, who has lost 30 of the 40 lbs. she gained during pregnancy. "It was worth every moment. Somehow I always knew that just because it didn't work out at first, that didn't mean it wasn't going to work at all."