By People Staff
Updated March 29, 2010 12:00 AM
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Credit: Photo courtesy Ashly Costa

When viewers tuned in to the season 10 premiere of Dancing With the Stars last week, they saw a familiar face: Professional dancer Ashly Costa, who is paired with legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, returned to the ballroom for the first time since competing on season 3.

So where has Ashly, formerly known to DWTS fans as Ashly Del Grosso, been all this time?

“I got married and I had two babies,” the 27-year-old tells PEOPLE.

Getting back to work at the show has made Ashly, the only female pro who’s a mom, positively giddy. “Before Buzz and I went on, I was really emotional. The energy of the audience, the live orchestra playing and getting to show what I love to do … – you don’t have that every day,” she says. “I was so grateful to be back.”

It’s a little known fact that Ashly had the first-ever known ballroom romance in Dancing history. A production crew accompanied Ashly and her season 1 celebrity partner, New Kids On The Block’s Joey McIntyre, to rehearsals each day. “Michael Costa and I met on the show. He was my field producer that first season,” Ashly says, who adds, “Joey takes all the credit for getting us together.”

While she and McIntyre came in third place that season, her romance with Michael, who now works for Verizon, continued.

During Dancing’s third season, Ashly was paired with actor Harry Hamlin. “I hoped Harry and I would last a while longer on the show, but we were the third couple to be eliminated that season. All of a sudden, I had this big time span open so Michael and I got married and had our honeymoon,” Ashly says.

The couple moved to Massachusetts and their first son, Ammon, was born in July 2007. Two years later their second son, Enoch, was born. Last December the family bought a home in Utah, only to get a call soon after that Dancing wanted Ashly back. And how could she refuse?

“I was so excited. It’s fun for me to do what I love to do and then go home and be a stay-at-home mom,” Ashly says.

After Monday night’s show, Ashly rushed back to her trailer to be greeted by her boys. “This is an adventure for them. They love adventures,” she says. While she’s working in Los Angeles, her 18-year-old sister Averie “has been a huge help being my nanny” while Michael commutes every weekend to be with the family.

As for working with Buzz, “I’m so impressed with his motivation and his energy,” she says. “He practices a good four hours a day. I love his attitude.” –Monica Rizzo

Photo courtesy Ashly Costa