March 04, 2011 04:00 PM

Contestants face many obstacles on ABC’s Wipeout, from Big Balls to the final Wipeout Zone, to earn their $50,000 prize. For co-host John Henson and his wife, comedienne Jill Benjamin, learning about the pending birth of their first child was a reward unto itself.

“I lost my mother five weeks before the wedding [in June] after a very prolonged illness,” Henson tells PEOPLE. “We were planning on having a honeymoon baby and after we lost my mom, it was one of those moments where my wife and I talked and said, ‘Gee, life is short and you’re not promised tomorrow, and what different does five weeks make?'”

So the couple started trying and “Sure enough, first time out of the box, we got pregnant,” Henson, 42, says, “and I would really like to think my mom had a hand in that.”

Henson and Benjamin are expecting a son to arrive this month. “We are so excited,” he says.

Josh Meyers


Even more fortunate, Henson and Benjamin first found out the good news on the eve of their honeymoon trip. “My wife said, ‘Geez, maybe we should take a test just to be safe because we are going to be celebrating and having some cocktails,'” Henson explains. “She got out of the bathroom and went, ‘Umm.’ This was about four hours before we were to leave.”

Henson adds, “As I like to say, you know you are having a good day when going to Bora Bora is the second best thing that day!”

Now, in between filming Wipeout, Henson has been preparing the nursery with Benjamin with as much attention to detail as their circus-themed wedding reception, where they handcrafted the decorations.

“This is what happens when comedians breed,” Henson jokes of his and Benjamin’s colorful room with a tux and top hat over the crib, contributed by friends. “When you give two people in comedy the budget to do a nursery, it’s not going to come out normal.”

But, Henson says, “We thought, ‘Let’s get the kid going early, because while other kids watch Baby Einstein, our kid is going to be watching old Nichols and May routines and work on his timing!”

— Cynthia Wang

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