Sarah Michelle Gellar: Motherhood Was Worth the Wait

11/06/2009 at 03:15 PM EST

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Motherhood Was Worth the Wait
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Claire Greenway/Getty
Sarah Michelle Gellar, adored as the star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., know what everyone has been thinking: What took so long?

"I always say, the minute you start dating someone, people ask, 'When are you getting engaged?' And the minute you get engaged, they ask, 'When are you getting married?' " a bemused Gellar tells PEOPLE. "And then the minute you get married, they ask, 'When are you having a baby?' "

Gellar, 32, and Prinze Jr., 33, – who stars in the upcoming season of 24 – took seven years before answering that last question, as evidenced by the Sept. 19 arrival of daughter Charlotte Grace.

"Becoming a parent is the most selfless act, and you need to be at a point in your life where you can give up anything and everything for a child," Gellar says waiting before starting a family. "I don't know if you know how to that when you're in your 20s."

Her husband concurs: "I'm so happy we didn't have kids in our 20s – I just didn't know a thing. You have so much more patience in your 30s, and I feel like I appreciate this so much more."

Charlotte, according to her mom and dad, was well worth the wait. "Every day I look at her and I am in awe," says Gellar. Of course, the new mother knows what's coming next. "The minute you have a baby, everyone asks, 'When are you going to have another one?' "

For more from the new parents, including how parenthood has changed them and what Charlotte's delivery was like, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

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