Baby Boy Joy!
July 22, 2008
WEIGHT 8 lbs. 7 oz.
Forgive first-time mom Marissa Jaret Winokur for tearing up when she talks about her newborn son Zev's smile or his nose or his tiny fingers that curl up into a bite-size fist. "My friends don't want to come over anymore because all I do is cry," she gushes. "When he sleeps on my chest it's like I'm on some crazy drug. It's beautiful." And of course, even the baby's less delicate moments get the new mom, 35, excited. "We cheer when he poops," she says of 10-week-old Zev, whose diapers are better changed by Dad, writer Judah Miller, 34, than Mom. "I have been peed on so many times," she confesses.
Diaper disasters aside, the Tony award-winning Hairspray actress and Dancing with the Stars fan favorite is loving every minute of a life she didn't dare dream about when she was battling cervical cancer seven years ago. Winokur underwent a radical hysterectomy, though doctors were able to preserve her ovaries. Still, she admits, kids were not on her radar at the time. It wasn't until after she and Miller married in October 2006 that Winokur began to yearn for motherhood. The couple found a surrogate mother who lived within driving distance of their three-bedroom North Hollywood home, and last November an embryo from Winokur's egg and Miller's sperm was transplanted into the surrogate's uterus. "I was as involved as I could be with the baby," says Winokur. "I went to all the doctor appointments and I talked to my surrogate every day." Winokur also busied herself during the pregnancy by concentrating on her DWTS gig. In the weeks before Zev's arrival, however, Winokur "was going stir crazy. I ate so many bags of Doritos waiting for this baby to come!"
When he did come, Winokur, Miller, the surrogate and her husband were all in the delivery room "breathing together" during the 12-hour labor. "It was a real family event," says Winokur. "We will be friends forever." Within hours of Zev's arrival, Winokur could already see personality traits emerge. "He's like Judah—he's a thinker. He's confident and serious." At home, Zev has settled into his animal-themed room, which "has nicer furniture than we do," Winokur quips. (The room includes a white, walnut wood changing table that will convert into a bar for Mom and Dad when Zev is through with it.) Outside, Zev's favorite place to nap is the pool-side cabana, where the overhead ceiling fans create a soothing whir. "I have a saying: 'When in doubt, take him out,'" Winokur says. "He loves the water. I love giving him a bath in the sink. I can't wait until I can take him in the pool."
"Zev makes the house feel different," Miller observes. "He makes it feel warm and friendly. I love watching Marissa with him; he makes her more calm than I've ever seen her in my life." Winokur hasn't let go of all her frenetic energy, however. "I ask people, 'Will I ever stop worrying?' And they go, 'No,' and that's not what I want to hear!" Winokur says, noting that her first post-baby movie date with Miller was a disaster. "I kept texting the babysitter, 'Does he miss us? Is he okay?'" As the permanence of motherhood sinks in, so does the enormity of her good fortune. "If I didn't have cancer, I might have been able to carry a baby myself," Winokur muses. "But then, I wouldn't have this baby. So how can I ever feel bad about having cancer? Because of that, I now have Zev."