Maria Menounos struggled for years to be a mom. Now she says daughter Athena 'is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me.'

New mom Maria Menounos opens up about motherhood and manifestation. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images)
New mom Maria Menounos opens up about motherhood and manifestation. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.

TV personality and podcast host Maria Menounos has always been open and honest about her health struggles, which have included a brain tumor, Type 1 diabetes, infertility and, most recently, pancreatic cancer. After being diagnosed in January, Menounos successfully had her tumor removed just months before she and husband Kevin Undergaro welcomed daughter Athena via a surrogate this June.

Through it all, the TV star says the practice of manifesting helped keep her eye on the prize.

“Manifesting is a big part of my life, and before I knew what manifesting was I was doing it. I just didn’t have the label or the title,” Menounos tells Yahoo Life. “When I was thinking about Athena being born, I would feel the feelings of me catching her, me putting her on my skin, me hugging her and holding her, my dad walking with her hand-in-hand as she got older and older.”

Fittingly, the 45-year-old new mom is teaming up with RXBAR to showcase the power of manifesting. Together they've created a limited-edition ManifX bar with customizable wrappers where consumers of the protein snacks can write down daily goals.

“A lot of people don’t know how to manifest,” Menounos adds. “This is a great entry way. Writing it down is super-important, thinking it, feeling it, believing it. Manifesting isn’t just kind of saying what you want and sitting on the couch. You have to still put in the work. I still have to go into the gym and do the work so I can get strong and lift my big girl out of that crib.”

After a long struggle with infertility, Menounos is happily settling into motherhood.

“I was always secretly scared [to be a mom], but she’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Menounos says of baby girl Athena. “She’s lit up our house with so much joy. I didn’t know I would want to be a mom on this level, where I want to be with her 24/7.”

While her daughter is her top priority right now, Menounos remains dedicated to helping others on their own health journeys through her podcast Heal Squad, where her guests include doctors, healers and experts in the wellness community. The podcast, she says, has connected her to countless strangers who have reached out after seeing similarities between her symptoms and what they or their loved ones were experiencing. One was a Kansas City cheerleader. Another was a random woman who approached Menounos in a restaurant and told her that listening to the podcast saved her life.

“I hear it all the time. I’m so grateful,” Menounos says, growing emotional. “Although these challenging health issues have come, they have pushed me toward my mission to help people with their health. Healing is possible from everything.”