03/10/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
By the time she was expecting her third child, Kelly Ripa
"was an old hand at being pregnant," says her Live With Regis and Kelly
executive producer Michael Gelman. As a result, the talk show host "was a trouper, and she worked until the last minute." As it turns out, Ripa hasn't stopped working. Minutes after giving birth on Feb. 24 (three days after her final Live
appearance), she tried to call the show, which was finishing that day's broadcast, to share the news. However, as she told Regis Philbin on Live
the next day, "they wouldn't let me make a phone call from the OR."
Those pesky hospital regulations did little to dampen Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos's joy as the couple welcomed son Joaquin into their lives. Born by cesarean section in a New York City hospital, the 8-lb. 5-oz. boy "looks cute as can be," says Gelman. "Kelly is very happy. There were no problems in the birth, and she feels good to have it over with. And Mark is thrilled beyond belief." (Consuelos, who nearly fainted during one of Ripa's deliveries, "almost lost it" this time when he heard the word "scissors" and had to sit down, reported his wife.) As for Philbin's reaction, "I hate to say this," joked Ripa's cohost after seeing Joaquin's photo, "but the kid does look like me!"
Consuelos, 31, and Ripa, 32, met on the set of All My Children
and married in 1996, a year before their characters tied the knot onscreen. Ripa, who joined Live
in 2001, won't return from maternity leave until May. (As during her '01 baby hiatus, Live will employ guest hosts like Philbin's wife, Joy, to keep Ripa's seat warm.) For now, she'll unwind with Consuelos, Joaquin and their other children, Michael, 5, and Lola, 20 months, in the family's New York City home. "Michael is especially looking forward to having the new baby," says Gelman. "He can have the whole big-brother thing going on."
First, though, their parents have to settle on Joaquin's middle name. "I'm open to suggestions," Ripa told Philbin, adding that their choice might have a familiar ring. "Regis is not out of the running!"