"I thought I knew love before, but I've never felt anything like this," the actress says about baby Nahla

By Lesley Messer
Updated February 09, 2009 01:00 PM

She just wrapped her latest movie, Frankie and Alice, and Halle Berry is happy settling back into her favorite role of all: mom to her 11-month-old daughter Nahla.

“When I looked at the stick and saw I was pregnant … I was so happy,” Berry tells Essence in its March issue, which hits newsstands Feb. 17. “I thought I knew love before, but I’ve never felt anything like this.”

And while she still adores her career, the Oscar-winner says, “A film has to be really special for me to leave the house. I have to love it. I mean really, really love it.”

Berry also gushes to the magazine about another big love in her life: Nahla’s dad Gabriel Aubry. “I feel more married now than I did in any of my actual marriages,” she says of her three-year relationship with the model. “We live the truth of that and that’s more important than a piece of paper.”

And while she’s hesitant to say that they ll be together forever, she adds, “All I know is that at this moment, it feels fantastic.”

Next up for Berry: a romantic comedy based on the novel Nappily Ever After, for which she plans to go bald. “I’m shaving it off!” she exclaims. “I know. Here comes the controversy, but … it’ll grow back – I hope!”

Either way, Berry says that she can handle any media criticism – but the most important thing to her now is Nahla’s approval.

“I don’t want my daughter to look back at my work and think, ‘Mom sold out,’ ” she says. “I want to leave a legacy that she can be proud of.”