Just days before giving birth to daughter Lola on June 1, Denise Richards heads to breakfast with mom Joni and 15-month-old daughter Sam. But for the birth, estranged husband Charlie Sheen joined Richards in the delivery room of the Los Angeles hospital.
Earlier, Richards, 34, goes alone to an Encino hospital for a checkup. In her divorce from Sheen, 39, Richards is seeking full custody of her girls, while he’s asking for joint rights.
After filing for divorce on March 2, Richards had someone to lean on: Mom Joni, 51 (left, in L.A.), moved into the Encino home Richards had shared with Sheen. “My family has always been close,” the actress told London’s Mail on Sunday. “And that’s important to me.”
Richards, keeping an eye on her daughter’s baby steps in Santa Monica, “does such a fabulous job of mothering Sam,” Sheen has said. And though she’s seeking custody of the kids, Richards has requested visitation rights for dad. “Denise expects Charlie to be a part of their children’s lives,” says a Richards pal. “She’s not looking to cut ties with him as a father.”
Richards stayed active throughout her second pregnancy by power-walking with her personal trainer. While pregnant with Sam, “I was walking and doing light weights, easy stuff,” she told PEOPLE. The strategy paid off: Just months after Sam was born, Richards posed nude in Playboy.
Working mom: Richards gets primped in L.A. to shoot promotional photos for her new UPN drama, Sex, Lies amp Secrets, in which she plays the hot-tempered publicist Jolene. Weeks earlier, the actress finished filming the dark, David Mamet-penned indie movie Edmond, scheduled for release later this year.
Getting by with a little help from her friends – including Sheen’s onetime Spin City costar Heather Locklear – Richards celebrates her 34th birthday with dinner at The Ivy in Beverly Hills. The following day, she and Sheen reunited for Sam’s first birthday party. “They want to be good together in front of their daughter,” a source told PEOPLE.
The day after filing for divorce from Sheen, Richards heads to a business meeting in L.A. Later, the couple released a joint statement saying they were “deeply saddened by the recent events.” After rumors of infidelity surfaced, Sheen’s rep told PEOPLE, “He did not cheat. Sometimes marriages don’t work. It’s as simple as that.”
Showing no sign of discord, the couple hit the red carpet for the 2005 SAG Awards in L.A. (Sheen was nominated for a best actor award for his CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men, but did not win.) Richards told PEOPLE she and her husband planned to skip the after-party and head home for dinner with Sam. “We don’t get out much anymore,” she added.
A glowing Richards, who announced her pregnancy in December after vacationing in the Bahamas, swings with new big sister Sam in a Malibu playground. “Having Sam changes everything,” she told PEOPLE last year. “To see things through Sam’s eyes is really amazing.”
“I don’t have any regrets about the things I’ve done in my life,” Richards (in New York City) told Playboy last year. Now, she’s facing what could be her greatest challenge yet: life as a single, working mom with two young children. Says a source close to the actress, “She just wants to move on.”