She craves pickles and ice cream (really!); he good-naturedly shrugs at his wife’s hormonal meltdowns. Yes, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline are having a baby—and life, they say, has never been sweeter. Seeing their baby’s image in a sonogram for the first time, “I was speechless,” says Spears, 23, who is due this fall. “You know, you can’t really say anything. I was emotional. I think it’s the best feeling in the world.” Beyond battling “horrible” morning sickness, the mom-to-be says she is reveling in her second-trimester curves and embracing the emotional roller coaster. “I find being pregnant empowering,” she says. “I think it brings out a pure side of you, and I think that’s cool.” Says Federline: “I think she’s a cute little mama.” As for the expectant dad, “he’s kind of following along with me,” says Spears. “He’s getting a little belly, too!” The couple, who married last September, spoke with PEOPLE Los Angeles associate bureau chief Michael Fleeman about baby names, nesting instincts and their hotter-than-ever love life.
What’s been the biggest change for you since learning you were pregnant?
Britney: My hormones are going crazy. I’m very emotional sometimes. I’m really in nesting mode. It kind of sucks because we’re renovating and we’re about to be kicked out because they’re going to have to come inside and elevate the ceilings and stuff like that.
Any memorable hormones-gone-crazy moments?
B: I’ll be watching a movie and instead of crying at the sad part, I’ll cry through the whole movie. 50 First Dates, for instance, and Father of the Bride Part 2—you know, movies that you’re supposed to cry during but I think I take it to the extreme.
Kevin, how do you react to the hormonal craziness?
Kevin: I laugh.
B: He cries sometimes too! The movie we were just watching was 50 First Dates and he was crying at the end of it too.
K: No, I was crying because she was telling me that I smelled and I needed to take a shower. [Both laugh.]
Let’s pop the big question: boy or girl?
K: We don’t know yet.
Did you choose not to find out?
K: Yeah, we made that decision not to want to know.
K: Well, we’ll find out later on. It just isn’t time for us to find out yet.
B: I just want a healthy baby, really. The closer it gets, we can find out.
Picked any names yet?
B: I have a couple of names from when I was little that I always really liked for girls and for boys, but I haven’t really thought of The Name yet.
No Kevin Jr.? Can you do a Britney Jr.?
K: You cannot.
Britney, any cravings?
B: I like pickles and ice cream at night. I still kind of like my tuna. I’ll eat tuna fish with cheese. That hasn’t changed. The one thing that has changed in an obvious way is the pickles and ice cream.
You eat them together?
B: Yes, it’s really weird.
Kevin, do you run out and get this stuff? Can you watch her eat it?
K: I laugh. Yeah, I go out and get it. I try to keep her healthy, keep my baby healthy. I cook breakfast in the morning.
B: His pancakes are better than my mom’s.
Kevin, do you feel like you’ve changed during Britney’s pregnancy?
B: He’s gotten more sensitive toward me.
K: Yeah, knowing that I’ve got to be there more for her. There come times where I have to take care of her a little more. I normally do it anyway. I just know that I’ve got to step it up a little bit.
B: He’s really, really sweet. He already does it. He doesn’t even realize it.
Have you made any plans for when you have the baby? In the hospital? At home?
K: I want to go away to a private island that has the best doctors in the world and not have to see anybody. B: But that’s not a reality.
Britney, how did you tell Kevin that you were pregnant?
K: Over the phone.
B: Over the phone? I thought—[They talk privately.] We were here in L.A., and I had done several tests because I was expecting something. I just told him. We were really excited.
So this pregnancy was part of the plan?
K: It wasn’t an accident. Definitely not.
How did you share the baby news with your family?
B: I went home and I told my little sister [Jamie Lynn, 14], and she freaked out. She went, “Oh, my God!” She said that she kind of expected it, because we’re so close, so she can sense things like that.
Did you celebrate the night you found out?
K: And every night since. [They laugh.]
Which invites the question: Is the sex different?
B: I think it’s better.
K: Why, there you go.
B: I think it’s better than it was before. I think it’s the best. Sex is crazy good. K: Hey, I feel the same way.
Do the hormones also swing the other way?
B: I’ve lost my temper like twice. I just get really mad. It’s more of a stubborn attitude. It’s silly.
K: Like Elmer Fudd in those old cartoons, where his face just gets red and steam comes out of his ears.
B: Poor guy.
Kevin, when you look at Britney now, what goes through your mind?
K: Sexy mama!
B: Aaaaaah, you’re supposed to say that, baby.
K: I’m not supposed to say anything. I like it. It’s kind of like a turn-on knowing that she’s having my child.
How are you feeling physically?
B: It changes daily. Some days, my body is so tired for no reason and I just want to sleep. And then there are some days that are workout days. I still work out and stuff, but when you have something inside you, I don’t go at my pace anymore. I just listen to my body.
Tell us about your brief hospital stay in Florida in April.
B: Everything is totally fine. There was just a little bit of bleeding, but we went there, and everything was fine.
Were you scared at the time?
B: Oh God, yes. I didn’t know what was going on.
How did you react, Kevin?
B: He was more scared than probably I was. I was pretty scared, but I knew that everything would be okay. I was just trying to reassure him.
K: I was scared, man. You kind of don’t know what’s going on until you get the A-okay from the doctor.
Did you have any morning sickness initially?
B: Oh yeah, it was horrible.
B: Yeah. I still do sometimes, but it’s not as bad.
Do you miss touring?
B: Hell, no! I love being at my home here. It’s great. It’s going to be like a theme park when it’s all done.
Any plans to go back to work?
B: I really do love what I do. But the pace I was going at was ridiculous. I’m going to take time out with my baby, of course. I’m sure there’s going to come a time when I get back to work again, but it’ll be a totally different way of life than it was before.
Have you thought about getting back into shape after the baby?
B: Oh yeah, definitely. My mom said that after she had my brother [Bryan, 28]—that was her first child—that was the best her body had ever looked. She said having a child inspired her. Hopefully I’ll take on the same thing.
Britney, has spending time with Kevin’s kids [Kori, almost 3, and Kaleb, 11 months] prepared you in some way?
B: I love being around kids. At one point I wanted to quit and just be a dance teacher. But I think having your own child is completely different. As much as I have been around them, it has helped me a little bit. There’s just the familiarity of having his child with us. It just puts you in that frame of mind of motherhood.
How has Kevin changed?
B: I think our love is growing. It sounds clichéd and cheesy, but it’s true.
Any thoughts of putting your child in the business?
In unison: Hell, no!
B: We think a child can go to school, go to college, and when they’re old enough to make their own decision, they can.
Do you want more kids?
B: I want three kids, yeah.
Picture your child reading this 10 years from now. What message do you want to send?
K: I want my kids to know that I love them.
B: I just want them to know what a miracle and a change they’re going to bring to our lives and how excited we are. They’re going to make a huge difference in our lives. It’s awesome. It’s a miracle.