There's a smile in Giuliana Rancic's voice when she talks about
her son, Duke. It's different from the way she asks a red carpet
celebrity who they're wearing or how she introduces a breaking
story on E! News.
She sounds, in short, like a proud mom.
"There hasn't been anything that's not a highlight," she says
about Duke's first nine months. "He's such a blessing."
Fans of Rancic, the co-anchor of E! News, and her husband, Bill,
an entrepreneur who won the first season of "The Apprentice," know
their story. The couple publicly faced infertility, including two
failed in vitro fertilization attempts, on their Style Network
reality show, "Giuliana & Bill," before deciding to have a baby
via a gestational carrier. Edward Duke Rancic, Duke for short, was
born Aug. 29, 2012.
In October 2011, Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer,
undergoing a lumpectomy and a double mastectomy.
"In one year, I had the darkest moment of my life- a diagnosis
of cancer-and then the brightest moment of my life-Duke's arrival,"
Rancic says. "Your darkest day can become your brightest before you
know it. Life is funny that way."
And now that Duke is here, she says her past struggles have made
her a better mom: stronger, grateful, more resilient.
"My tolerance might just be a tad higher for crying and
screaming in the middle of the night," she says with a laugh. "We
struggled for so long that we don't take it for granted."
Through their show, they were able to share the reality of
infertility. She encourages couples trying to start a family not to
give up and to do their research into the options that are
"I thought my dreams of having a baby were shattered, and then
surrogacy came our way," she says. "It all worked out in the
Now that she's on the other side, the new mom delights in all
the things parents love-especially when her baby reaches for her.
And she freely admits that she and Bill already think little Duke
is a genius.
"He has such a cute personality," she says, just before he comes
into the room and she dissolves into adoring babytalk. "He's such a
boy, and he's just like his daddy."
But even with so much time to prepare, she has been surprised by
something many new moms deal with: guilt. In particular, the guilt
of being away from her son when she goes to work. Even the littlest
things, like a video of Bill and Duke playing at the park, make her
heart ache to be home with her family.
"Before it happened, working moms would tell me how hard it was,
but I never really believed it or understood what they meant," she
says. "I get it now."
Her strategy is to stay 100 percent focused and committed to
whatever she's doing at the time, whether it's being home with
Duke, on the set, or behind the scenes at RPM Italian Restaurant,
which the Rancics partially own.
She and Bill also take time for date nights, making sure they
"check in" about things that are bothering them in their marriage
or what's going well.
And she loves seeing her two guys together, especially because
it's brought out another side of her husband.
"Bill is adorable and so nurturing," she says. "There's nothing
sexier than a good dad."
Since Duke's arrival, they have been spending more time around
Chicago, Bill's hometown, and plan to raise Duke away from the
"superficial" nature of Los Angeles.
"We have people here who care about us as real people and not
about what job we have," Rancic says. "We want to raise him in a
place with values and morals."
The whole family enjoys strolling along Michigan Avenue and
exploring the Gold Coast and already has made a trip to Lincoln
Park Zoo. Rancic says she's looking forward to introducing her son
to some of the mainstays of life here, including Navy Pier,
Millennium Park, Notebaert Nature Museum, and Chicago Children's
She's also using her mommy status to engage with some new
projects, including Healthing Coast to Coast, an initiative with
Lysol that encourages families to go beyond cleaning and focus on
implementing healthy routines and good hygiene, whether it's
disinfecting countertops, getting a yearly physical, or making sure
the car seat is installed properly.
Rancic, who admits to carrying wipes and sprays to disinfect her
seat on airplane flights, says it's about doing the "little things"
to make sure your family is healthy and protected. She's proud to
say that Duke has yet to have even a runny nose or cold.
"There's a lot we can't control when it comes to germs," she
says, "but what we can control, we might as well try."
After all, she's got some pretty precious cargo to protect. And
when it comes to her son, whatever big dreams she might have for
him are overshadowed by her ultimate goal: "Watching him grow and
Because when it comes down to it, Giuliana Rancic isn't a TV
star or a restaurateur or a celebrity spokesperson. In the end,
she's just a proud mom.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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