Sanya Richards-Ross recently revealed that she is pregnant with her second child.
Cameras for the Bravo series captured the Olympic track and field champion’s long journey to conceive baby No. 2, including the happy moment she learned when she was pregnant — something teased in the mid-season trailer that dropped earlier this month. But in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Richards-Ross reveals she miscarried nearly two months later.
“It was very traumatic,” recalls Richards-Ross, who shares son Aaron Jermaine, 6 next month, with husband and former NFL star Aaron Ross. “I was in New York and had a really bad miscarriage. I had to go to the hospital. I had to have a blood transfusion. It was very, very, very scary.”
“You already opened your heart to becoming a mom, so it was awful,” she adds. “Even just talking about it… it really was a difficult time.”
The painful loss provided Richards-Ross with a turning point, though. As RHOA viewers have seen, she’d been reluctant to have another child, after finally finding stability in the wake of a few years of significant changes in her life.
“I think a lot of women can relate to this too, but when you become a mom, you can sometimes question, ‘What’s my identity now going to be outside of the home?’ ” Richards-Ross says. “I had been an athlete, competing across the world while representing Team USA. Then, after retiring from sports and having a son, all these life changes hit Ross and I simultaneously. It was like a tornado hit our relationship for that 14 years prior to having our son was like a honeymoon at the time. And It was really overwhelming.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Aaron and I, we loved being parents,” Richards-Ross adds. “But all these years in, we had just gotten into a good rhythm where we finally figured out how we wanted to parent. We had that balance where we were communicating well again, I was finally working again… And so I was skeptical about having another child.”
The miscarriage “put everything in perspective for Richards-Ross,” she tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t realize until then how much I really wanted to become a mom again and how much of a blessing it is to be a mom. And I was like, ‘You know what? It’s family first, and all the other things that I love — which is work and all that stuff, it’s second. I know if I do this, if I focus on my family, all those things will come.'”
Richards-Ross was lucky enough to get pregnant again about a month later. “At my age, it’s considered a geriatric pregnancy, so I was nervous that the window has started to close. And after the miscarriage, I wasn’t ready to go through something like that again — that physical, mental, and emotional pain. But my doctor assure me that everything looks good, and sure enough, it worked.”
“I didn’t think it’d happen so quick again. But my husband, he prides himself. He’s like, ‘I never miss. Whenever you’re ready, I’m ready,’ ” she laughs.
She’s now four-months pregnant and due on December 25, 2023. “It’s going to be the best Christmas gift ever,” she laughs. “But I just couldn’t be happier and more clear about. I know I can do this. I’ve done it before. I have the support. I know what to expect. I’m so ready to meet this little one.”
Her son couldn’t be happier, even if he went through his own emotional journey to get there. “When I tell you my son was asking for this literally every day. ‘I want to be a big brother. I want to be a big brother.’ So he was over the moon when we shared with him that I was pregnant,” she recalls. “And then, we had to tell him we had lost the baby, which was the hardest part. He fell to his knees, and he was crying. That was really, really hard.”
“I told my husband, ‘I don’t know at what point in life you understand you will have disappointments along the way, but I hate that this had to be an example for him’ But when I got pregnant again, his reaction was so special,” Richards-Ross says. “He said, ‘God does answer prayers!’ And I could just see that joy and renewed faith in him, which made this all that much more powerful for me, in a way.”
As for the baby’s sex, Richards-Ross says she will be learning beforehand, and teased she might just drop the news at the RHOA reunion, which is taping Thursday.
In the meantime, she and the kids did a maternity shoot with photographer Erick Robinson, sharing the pictures with PEOPLE exclusively. They featured styling by Ryan Christopher, hair by Shari Gatewood, makeup by Mimi Johnson.
“I’ve never felt more beautiful,” Richards-Ross says. “Just so happy to have these pictures to mark this time in my life. It’s been a hard journey getting here, but I am so glad for the obstacles cause they made me that much stronger.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.