Nearly two weeks after giving birth, actress Essence Atkins, 39, says motherhood is the most ‘astonishing’ thing she’s ever experienced.

“I’ll have these moments where I look at [my son] and I just can’t believe he’s mine,” she tells

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Currently recovering at home from an emergency C-section, the “Are We There Yet?” star adds that the birth of son Varro Blair Mendez on Christmas morning was both amazing, and stressful. She went through 40 hours of labor, and Varro was born with his chord wrapped around his ankle, twice. “We’ve been though a lot,” she says.

“You go through all this suffering, but at the end of it, look what God gives you.”

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For his part, baby Varro is a champ at breastfeeding. “He knew what to do from the moment they put him on me,” jokes Atkins.

Channeling her husband Jaime Mendez’s Latin roots, Varro’s first name is a Latin surname meaning “durable and strong.” The name Blair is one Atkins chose in honor of Mendez’s college friend of the same name who died a month before the two met on online dating site

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Next up for Varro is meeting his celebrity auntie, ESSENCE February cover girl, Gabrielle Union, one of Atkins’ closest friends. “She’s been checking up on me everyday, and I’ve been sending her photos of the baby,” she chuckles. “Its funny, Dwyane [Wade] checks on Jaime, and Gabrielle checks in on me.”

Atkins says she’s been most surprised by the outpouring of love from fans on social media. “People are usually so derogatory towards celebrities on social media. But this is one of the times where I just feel nothing but love. I’m grateful.”


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