updated 05/31/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/31/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT
MAY 8, 2010
Five weeks before her due date, Bethenny Frankel woke up her husband, Jason Hoppy, and announced it was time to go to the hospital-and fast. Unprepared and unpacked, they ran out the door carrying their belongings in plastic bags from their local drugstore.
For the Real Housewives of New York City star, it was hardly a camera-ready moment. But real life provided a sweet surprise some 26 hours later, when the couple's daughter Bryn Casey Hoppy, a tiny 4 lbs. 12 oz., was born via C-section. The baby spent four days in the ICU before coming home, healthy and happy. (She is named for Hoppy's older brother Bryan, who died in a car accident 19 years ago.) "It's miraculous," says Frankel, 39. "I'd barely even held a baby before. I didn't have that maternal instinct ... until now."
It's been quite a turnaround for the acerbic TV star. "I was beyond driven," says Frankel, cradling her 1-week-old. "I had never slowed down for a guy before." That changed when she met Hoppy, 38, a low-key businessman, at a Manhattan nightclub in 2008. "We were both players," she admits, but within months, things got serious. In October 2009 he proposed and they learned she was pregnant; the couple wed this past March. Now the party of three is settling in at their downtown Manhattan apartment. "We didn't know anything about kids," says Frankel. "Now we can't believe we could have possibly missed this."