June 11, 2012 12:00 PM

Maxwell Drew Johnson wakes up from a nap and begins to fuss on a warm spring evening in L.A. But before the whimpering turns into crying, Jessica Simpson springs into action. Wearing a long flowing dress and an enormous smile, she cradles her 3-week-old daughter, curls up on a love seat in her shady backyard and gets ready for the baby’s 6 p.m. feeding. Gone is any trace of vanity—”I’m less concerned about how my hair looks or if my gut is showing,” she says—as well as any evidence of the old trademark ditziness. Since she gave birth on May 1, “my life has completely changed,” says Simpson, 31. “She’s my career at the moment. I know I was always meant to be a mom, and I think I’m doing a really good job. I’m the most aware I’ve ever been.”

Luckily, Simpson says that “Maxi,” or “Max,” makes things easy. Breastfeeding is no problem, as “she latched on at the very beginning.” Neither is guesswork. Simpson has been able to keep the baby on a strict schedule, and adds, “It’s the first time I’ve ever kept to a schedule in my life! I’m always making sure she’s had as many poops as she’s supposed to have and that she’s being fed at the exact time she’s supposed to be fed.” And while the baby inherited her mom’s eyes and bottom lip, “she’s very calm, much like Eric,” says Simpson of her “super dad” fiancé, 32.

Because of her size—9 lbs. 13 oz.— Maxwell arrived by cesarean section two weeks early, causing one nurse to exclaim, “Whoa, she is a chunk!” “There was a tarp up, but seeing everything happen through Eric’s face was a moment I’ll never forget,” Simpson says. “He was holding her hand and mine, so immediately we wanted that family bond. It was emotional.”

Johnson was touched by the experience too. “When you have your own kid, it’s crazy,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s such an intense love, and so natural.”

For the former NFL player, who Simpson says is “the quickest diaper changer,” the attachment came before Maxwell was born. After an ultrasound revealed that the baby had long fingers, the daddy-to-be ran out to buy her an upright piano so that one day she could learn to play. And there was a present for Jessica too. Just in time for Mother’s Day, Johnson designed a diamond locket featuring Maxwell’s birthstone, an emerald, and an insignia that represents the baby’s nickname, Moonface. (“She came out looking like the moon,” explains Simpson.) He also made matching necklaces for Simpson’s sister Ashlee, Maxwell’s grandmothers, and her godmother, Simpson’s best friend Cacee Cobb. “He has found his calling,” says Simpson. “Maxwell’s definitely going to be a daddy’s girl!”

Although Simpson and Johnson hired a night nurse, the new mom wakes up every three hours to breastfeed the baby. “Nursing is a full-on job,” she says. “Sometimes I worry she’s not getting enough, but it’s been an amazing experience. It’s my time with her when I sing her lullabies—one of my favorites is ‘You Are My Sunshine’—make up crazy stories and talk about life.”

She also uses feeding time to pepper her nurse with parenting questions, especially now that she’s largely sworn off the Internet. “Googling is a very scary thing,” Simpson says with a laugh. “If I Google a rash, I freak myself out by the things I read.” Other sources of support? Ashlee, who became a mom 3½ years ago to son Bronx, and of course her mother, Tina, who visits with Maxwell “all the time.” “Jessica has wanted to be a mother since she was 16 years old,” Tina says. “She’s a natural!”

To stay healthy, Simpson has been juicing (her favorite is a kale, spinach, apple, ginger, romaine, celery and carrot combo) and eating simple meals such as shrimp with sauteed spring veggies and quinoa. Following doctor’s orders, she has put off exercising until she fully recovers from her C-section, although, she admits with a laugh, “I’ve kind of broken one rule. I think I have the sexiest man in the world. So that’s the rule I break.”

Once physical activity is officially allowed, she’s anxious to get back to her pre-baby weight. “After you have your baby it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what happened to my body?’ ” she says. “This is not me!” So she partnered with Weight Watchers, a group with whom she’d planned to work even before she learned she was expecting. “It would be nice to feel comfortable in a bikini, but that’s not my goal,” she says. “I just want to fit into jeans!”

She has a big reason to feel motivated: Simpson “can’t wait” to marry Johnson and wants “to feel really great in a wedding dress.” “It’s going to be one of the most amazing weddings of all time,” she promises, adding she’ll carry Maxwell down the aisle. “I’d love to do it before the end of this year, but you just never know. I haven’t set a date yet.”

She’s also looking forward to expanding her family—eventually. “I really want to give Maxwell all of the attention, love and time that I possibly can, and when I feel like it’s the right time to bring another little one into the family, I will,” she says. “Having babies back-to-back has to be so hard, but I won’t wait too long!”

For now, Simpson is enjoying her new life at home, catching up on Grey’s Anatomy—while Maxwell snoozes in a nearby Moses basket—and falling asleep to “Zen yoga music” with her fiancé. “Seeing Eric with Maxwell,” she says, “is everything I’ve ever dreamed of: a daughter and the man of my dreams. It’s the most beautiful picture, and I’m in the best place.”

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