After battling thyroid cancer and back surgery, Tarek is now healthy and looking forward to meeting his first ever baby boy
Credit: Thomas Pellicer

Nearly two years since Flip or Flop host Tarek El Moussa was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in June 2013 and had to fight for his life, the HGTV star is now happily welcoming a new life – a baby boy – with his wife and co-host Christina.

Apart from the difficulty of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the couple had been trying to conceive their second child for about a year.

“We found out Tarek had cancer, and we asked the doctor if that would affect our chances of having a child,” Christina tells PEOPLE. “They said that if you go through radiation, which Tarek had too, then you should not get pregnant from that sperm from six months to a year. So, right away, we did sperm banking and [tried] IVF.”

Conceiving wasn’t an easy task. After two failed attempts at IVF – including one resulting in a miscarriage at eight weeks – Christina changed doctors and tried one last time to conceive.

“I had to be super strict,” says Christina. “I had to do one full week in bed. For 13 weeks after that, I couldn’t go for a walk and couldn’t lift anything over a gallon of milk. We planned it during Christmas break so I wasn’t working. We did everything we could to make sure this one worked.”

This meant that during her first trimester, Christina couldn’t pick up her daughter Taylor at all. She couldn’t enlist help from her husband for that either, because he had unexpected back surgery from a bad golf swing. He was bedridden also. “[His recovery] was two months of sheer torture,” Christina says.

But somehow, they made it work. “We just had to tell her. She understood. She really wanted a sibling. So we kept telling her, ‘Mom is really trying to make a baby, and you have to understand that you have to get into the tub yourself and into the car seat,’ and she was actually really good about it.”

Taylor’s communication with her unborn brother was also something Christina and Tarek were proud of. “She talks to him in my tummy all the time,” says Christina. “She’ll say, ‘I love you, baby brother, am I being a nice big sister today? I’m not gonna change your poopy diaper,’ and today we were walking back up to our room, and Tarek said something jokingly to me and Taylor said, ‘Be nice to her, she’s pregnant.’ ”

At 20 weeks, Christina is most definitely pregnant and is now free from all the restrictions. “I can work out now,” says Christina. “I do yoga, walk and Pure Barre. I’m trying not to gain too much. I’ve only gained 10 lbs.”

Regardless of any weight gain, she is really enjoying Taylor’s interactions with the belly these days as well as Tarek’s excitement about having a boy.

“I’m going to raise him as a good man,” says Tarek. “I’m going to make him a superior athlete, make sure he gets good grades and hopefully plays college baseball.” No pressure!

“And he’s going to run the family business one day. He’s not going to go off on his own. I’m just kidding, it’s exciting to have a son and a daughter. The second he gets old enough, I’m going to step back from work and focus on raising them.”

Season 3 of Flip or Flop premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.