Lauren Akins was having a pray-to-Jesus kind of morning: Repairmen were ringing the doorbell, the dogs were barking, her newborn was hungry and crying, the TV wasn’t working, her husband was out and her toddler was screaming because she couldn’t watch The Aristocats.
“That was my moment of, ‘Oh, sweet, sweet Jesus, just give me some help!’ ” Lauren says with a laugh in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “There are moments where I’m definitely like, ‘Well, this isn’t pretty.’ “
And yet, as chaotic as life is these days for Lauren and her country star husband Thomas Rhett — who are featured this week in an adorable PEOPLE photo spread with their girls, shot by Julie Paisley — they wouldn’t have it any other way.
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From the time the couple learned that Lauren was pregnant (a big surprise since they had struggled to conceive) right in the midst of trying to adopt Willa Gray, they knew 2017 would be no ordinary year. “The blessings around us are incredible,” Lauren said at the time. “We feel like it’s all part of the plan.”
The couple spent nearly a year flying back and forth to Uganda before Willa Gray’s adoption was approved — and by that point Lauren, 27, was six months pregnant and not allowed to fly, so her parents brought the toddler home to Nashville. The crash course in parenting was a challenge for Mom and Dad, but for the strong little girl who had been orphaned as a newborn? Not so much.
“You almost couldn’t tell that she ever lived anywhere else,” says Thomas Rhett, 27. “She’s such a go-with-the-flow child.”
“When she came home from Uganda, she didn’t skip a beat. She rocked it!” Lauren says. “Going from Uganda to America, nothing. Having a baby sister? World changing! She’s been very emotional.”
- Watch the full episode of PEOPLE Features: Thomas Rhett – Meet My Baby Girls, available now on the PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to people.com/PEN or download the PEN app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device.
Sharing Mom is one of the toughest adjustments. “Ada’s literally attached to me most times of the day,” says Lauren. “So Willa Gray is constantly saying, ‘Hold you? Hold you?’ and she wants me to pick her up. That has been the hardest part for her.”
Since bringing Ada home from the hospital, Thomas Rhett has had down time between shows and he’s taken on Willa duty, playing with her and taking her on car rides to give Lauren a break while Ada nurses.
And, notes Lauren, “we have the best family on the planet — sisters and moms and brothers and dads and stepdads have all helped.”
RELATED VIDEO: Thomas Rhett and Wife Lauren Akins Welcome Second Daughter
But even with a circle of support, life with two under 2 can be overwhelming, especially now that the singer is facing an upcoming promo tour when his new album, Life Changes, is released Sept. 8.
“Honestly, the other day we were driving in the car somewhere and Thomas Rhett was like, ‘What are we doing? Are we going to be okay?’ And I was like, ‘…Yes?’ ” Lauren says.
There have already been signs that, despite the tears and tantrums and lack of sleep, they’re going to be more than okay.
“That first morning we were all home, we were all together in a room, both girls, both dogs, both of us and we were just chilling and I was like, ‘This is what we’ve been preparing for for over a year,’ ” Lauren says. “We finally got there. And look how beautiful our girls are. It brought me so much peace and happiness.”
For more on Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins’ new life as parents of two, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.