Aili Nahas
March 29, 2018 05:40 PM

These days, Tyra Banks‘ favorite weekend activity is brunch with her mom and 2-year-old son York. It’s a simple pleasure — but one she’ll never take for granted.

“Everything that happened all got me to this,” the America’s Next Top Model host and creator tells PEOPLE for this week’s issue of her heartbreaking journey to have York. “It was meant to be.”

Banks — who’s set to release a new memoir, Perfect Is Boring, written with her mom Carolyn London — initially tried “for a while” to get pregnant with her then-boyfriend, photographer Erik Asla.

The pair eventually turned to in vitro fertilization, suffering through a year of failed attempts. “It was emotional,” admits Banks, 44.

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Tyra Banks and her mom, Carolyn London, with Banks' son York
Instagram/Tyra Banks

RELATED GALLERY: Famous Families Who’ve Welcomed Children Through Surrogacy

Adds London, 72, “It hurt me so much to watch her struggle through that. She set up a nursery and in the bathroom she put a tile in the floor that said, ‘Mommy Already Loves You.’ And then she found out the IVF had failed. It ripped my heart out.”

Ultimately, the couple turned to surrogacy. “There are so many stages,” says Banks of the process. “It’s like, ‘Okay, it’s a healthy embryo. Okay, it’s month one.’ I was just constantly living on edge until I held him for the first time.”

RELATED VIDEO: Tyra Banks Reveals She Doesn’t Want Her Son to Model: “Male Model, Where Does That Lead You?”

Recalls London, “I couldn’t believe it! I kept saying, ‘You have a baby!’ ”

For more from Tyra Banks, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Tyra Banks and her mom, Carolyn London
Brian Bowen Smith

RELATED: Tyra Banks Says Son York, 2, Is “Really Smart” — and Speaks Spanish, Norwegian and English!

Now, Banks, who split from Asla in October but shares parenting duties with him, is relishing every minute with her “very verbal” son.

“The way she communicates with York blows me away,” says London of her model daughter. “She’s amazing.”

Perfect is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss is out April 3, and available for pre-order now on amazon.com.

For more from Tyra Banks, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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