When Kendra Wilkinson was relaxing at home one night in late June with husband Hank Baskett and their 5-week-old daughter, Alijah Mary, she had no idea that her world was about to be completely shattered.
And then the phone rang.
“My agent calls, asking, ‘Is Hank around you right now?’ ” the reality star, 29, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “I was playing around and said, ‘No.’ Hank leaned in and I said, ‘Why? What’s going on?’ ” Then her agent dropped the bomb: A rumor was floating around that Baskett, 32, had not only cheated on his wife of five years – but did it with a transsexual model.
“I just asked, ‘Hank, did anything happen?’ ” Wilkinson recalled. “He said, ‘No, are you kidding me? This is insane!’ So I believed him.
Less than 24 hours later, the story hit the tabloids. Wilkinson booted her husband out while she remained behind in their Los Angeles-area home, caring for their newborn daughter. Their 4½-year-old son, Hank IV, joined Baskett at his parents’ home in New Mexico to escape the media glare. Yet all the while, the cameras for the couple’s reality show, WE TV’s Kendra on Top, rolled, filming everything that occurred between them, including a massive fight that followed.
Wilkinson never considered turning the cameras off.
“I agreed to shoot the show because being alone at the moment was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” Kendra says. “The producers came to me, and were hugging and holding me. They asked, ‘Do you want to film this?’ I said, ‘Bring the cameras to me … I can’t be alone right now.’ ”
Though Kendra on Top‘s new season is about to premiere on Oct. 3, thrusting both her and the scandal back into the spotlight, Wilkinson has maintained a relatively low profile for the past three months, choosing to remain off social media and not give any interviews until now – especially since she still doesn’t know where things stand with her and Baskett. (He continues to maintain to his wife that the scandal isn’t true.)
“I really don’t know what to believe,” Wilkinson admits. “But this is real life. This is really what’s happening. It’s been the hardest four months of my life.”
For more from Wilkinson on the state of her relationship with Baskett, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday