Jeannie Mai Says She 'Freaked Out' After Giving Birth Because of 'Treacherous' Postpartum Anxiety (Exclusive)
By Zach Seemayer
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After welcoming her first child in January, Jeannie Mai says she feels so happy to welcome motherhood and embrace "the gift" of getting to see her baby girl learn and grow and thrive, but notes it's been a long journey getting to this point. The Holey Moley star shared how she dealt with postpartum anxiety.
Mai sat down with ET's Kevin Frazier on Monday and opened up about how her worries and concerns about having a baby -- which she experienced while pregnant -- transformed into a feeling of gratitude and unmitigated love with her baby's arrival.
"I honestly can say that the whole time I was pregnant I was nervous because I was like I almost feel like I don't deserve this beautiful privilege," Mai recalled. "I honestly got a lot of anxiety because I thought, for somebody who said their whole life that they didn't wanna be a mom and here this gift was being given to me, I felt like, 'Don't put yourself in risky situations, like don't get on a plane or -- you are the one to have this taken away from you, because you didn't appreciate it when you had the choice.'"
"So now, I am beyond grateful," she added. "Because I cannot believe, as every parent can tell you, how much a child changes your life. And I like myself better. I like myself better as a mom."
The 43-year-old TV personality and her husband, Jeezy, welcomed their baby daughter -- Monaco Mai Jenkins -- in January, and she says she's just been enjoying seeing her learn and develop every day.
"I love being a mom. I am so touched with the gift of getting her to open her arms... teaching her to lift her arms and teaching her to register communication with me, it's everything," she shared. "Teaching her, all of the sudden, to dance,? Like, I dance with her, she dances, and then she smiles. Watching human emotion from a face that just started out like, 'What are we doing here?' and then, now, getting her to smile -- it's been amazing."
Mai said, however, that the only part she could have "done without" was the postpartum anxiety. While she explained how the hospital prepared her extensively for the possibility of postpartum depression, she struggled with intense anxiety after giving birth.
"Honestly, it was treacherous, because nobody told me that there's postpartum anxiety," Mai said. "I was happy being a mom I was excited, but I was intensely worried."
"The day Monaco was born, I freaked out. I shut everything down. We were like, 'No cameras, no nothing!' Because I was so afraid of the internet and the people," she continued. "And then, what if someone says something about her that I can't handle? And I'm not being Jeannie Mai Jenkins, the way I should be, you know, polite the way you know me. Like, what if I go ham on somebody?"
"For me, it was staying up awake at night wondering and worrying about the weirdest things," Mai recalled. "And then, if I'm around a group of people, I would think I was hearing stuff that people were saying about me, but it was my own head manifesting things."
Mai said she's since seen a psychologist and spoken with other parents, and it's helped quite a bit, but still can be challenging at times.
Reflecting on her relationship with Jeezy, Mai explained that it's the things that make them different from other couples that have proven to be their greatest strength.
"I mean, the great thing about our love is we have flaws but we embrace working through them," she said. "I've never had that with somebody before."
"And being imperfectly perfect made it much more exciting. There wasn't anything about it that was white picket fence, you know? Expecting everything to be perfect," she added. "Jeezy and I are a team... no matter what comes at us."
While Mai has her hands full with her adorable baby girl, she can also be seen on ABC's extreme mini-golf competition series Holey Moley, where she serves as a roving reporter on the course, interviewing contestants and introducing different themed mini-golf holes alongside the show's sport-casting commentators, Joe Tessitore and comedian Rob Riggle.
For Mai, the beauty of Holey Moley is its ability to bring people down a notch in a fun way.
"I think for every adult out there you need to have something that reminds you you ain't got it all," Mai shared. "Like, you still could be laughed at. And Holey Moley is that humbling moment in everybody's life where you're like, 'Oh my gosh, wtf, like, can I really be going through this?'"
The show's fourth season just kicked off earlier this month, and Mai explained, for those who have never seen it, that the show is "an intense, high-octane, crazier, bigger-than-life golf course that has nothing to do with golf."
Blending the obstacle course elements of shows like Wipe Out with good, old-fashioned mini-golf fun, Holey Moley has become a hit for the network, and Mai says she thinks the popularity is because "Americans want an excuse to go and play."