Jennifer Garner knew she was pregnant for the first time despite her doctor telling her otherwise.
The 46-year-old actress—who is mom to Violet, 12, Seraphina, 9, and Samuel, 6—co-hosted The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s annual Mother’s Day episode on Thursday. And seeing as the audience was full of full of first-time expectant mothers, DeGeneres couldn’t help but ask Garner to recall the moment she learned she was pregnant with her first.
Turns out, Garner’s maternal instinct was immediate. Though her at-home-pregnancy test was “so faint” that she couldn’t quite tell and a doctor definitively told her “you’re not pregnant” after giving her a “proper test” later that day, Garner said she woke up that morning and “just knew.”
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I am. I’m telling you I am,’ ” she remembered telling her doctor, adding that she changed physicians soon thereafter. “So Violet’s 12, and I don’t use that doctor anymore, but I have her so I won!"
Happy as she was to be right, Garner’s first pregnancy—and her following two—were not at all easy. “Every one I was more nauseous,” she said. “Each kid it was worse and worse.”
“With Sera, my middle daughter, I had to listen to Yo-Yo Ma at night,” she added. “It got worse throughout the day. It wasn’t like in the morning and then I was fine. As the day went on, it was worse. For some reason Yo-Yo Ma got me through,” she dished. “I would lie there in the bed, just waiting and hoping I would fall asleep. It’s crazy, you do crazy things.”
By the time her pregnancy with Samuel came along, Garner had all but given up. “Forget it, it was like Happy Meals,” she said. “It’s just gross. It’s just gross what you do.”
The Alias alum, who co-parents her daughters with ex Ben Affleck, also didn’t love how her body changed throughout.
“One of the things for me being pregnant is … I carried a baby in the back as much as I did in the front,” she joked. “So I’d catch myself in the mirror and be like, ‘Ah! What is that? So big, oh my God — there’s another thing growing back there!’ ”
Still, Garner wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything. “I love being a mom. I really do,” she said, later premiering a hilarious music video she recorded to expresses the ups and downs of carrying a child.
And her advice for the expectant moms in the audience was equally practical.
“Here’s the thing you guys. You will get your bodies back; you will get your lives back; you can still travel; you can still have fun; you can still go back to work or not; you can breastfeed or not; you will be best friends with your kid and then someday you’re going to realize you’re actually angry with them and that’s okay; and you’re going to be great, because it’s your experience and your baby and your body and it’s going to happen the way you want it to because you’re starting your families,” she said.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show airs weekdays (check local listings).