Rah Ali says there's "nothing that has gotten my time or attention outside of preparing for our baby and keeping the energy around me pure and positive"

By Jen Juneau and Anya Leon
August 17, 2020 01:20 PM
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Rah Ali's pregnancy announcement
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Rah Ali's rainbow baby is on the way!

The former Love & Hip Hop: New York star, 36, is expecting a daughter with her husband, a little over a year after she suffered a tragic pregnancy loss at five months gestation.

"I'm so overwhelmed with joy that it's a challenge even finding the words to express how thankful I am," Ali tells PEOPLE exclusively of her pregnancy, sharing a trio of stunning maternity shots.

And while being pregnant amid the ongoing novel COVID-19 pandemic presents its own set of unique challenges, the mother-to-be says her priority is her little one on the way.

"Despite constantly micromanaging my family to be sure they stay safe during this health crisis, there's absolutely nothing that has gotten my time or attention outside of preparing for our baby and keeping the energy around me pure and positive," she says. "I'm a living testament to the phrase, 'Don't sweat the small stuff.' "

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Rah Ali's pregnancy announcement
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Ali "found out so early" that she was expecting this time around, joking that she had to be "about 5 minutes pregnant" when she learned the good news.

"I really felt it. I texted my friend a few weeks later and asked her to stop at the store and get me a test, and when those lines popped up I said, 'I knew it, I knew it,' " she recalls, laughing.

And later, when her doctor told her she was expecting a baby girl again with her husband, "I started screaming," she shares with PEOPLE.

"I'm talking really screaming," Ali continues, adding with a laugh, "I asked him over and over if he was sure. He said, 'Yes, Rah, it's the results from your blood work ... I'm sure.' "

Rah Ali's pregnancy announcement
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RELATED VIDEO: Mom Honors Stillborn Daughter with Glittering Maternity Shoot for Her Rainbow Baby

Ali opened up to PEOPLE last June about suffering the loss of her unborn daughter at five months pregnant, when she was forced into labor after her cervix had opened and her water broke.

"When you're pregnant with your first child, it's a whole mental thing just knowing that you're going to deliver," she said at the time. "Every day you count down and see [your due date] getting closer and closer. At five months, I hadn't even come to the realization that it was going to happen. It was the worst experience of my life."

"Every single day, I would get up and feel her kicking and I would talk to her," Ali added of her baby girl, whom she named Sanaa. "I would say, 'What are we eating this morning?' Or, 'Okay, you're getting agitated and feisty. I know you're hungry and I'm going to eat something.' "

"Our bond was so strong," the reality star shared. "Maybe because God knew I would never be able to experience it … I just felt so connected to her."