04/21/2006 AT 2:00 PM ET
After winning the second season of Dancing with the Stars, Drew Lachey got an even better prize a month later – on March 23, he and wife Lea welcomed baby Isabella Claire into the world. Now Lachey, 29, is keeping tempo around the house, changing diapers and snapping photos of his little girl. Tonight, though, he’ll take a break from dad duty to co-host the Miss USA Pageant on NBC with Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell. PEOPLE caught up with the busy Lachey, who filled us in on adjusting to fatherhood and the new girl in his life.
With Lea, Isabella and Miss USA, you are just surrounded by women!
I know! It’s not a bad life right now.
Is it hard to be away from home ?
Absolutely. When I left, Isabella was awake and on the couch and playing. She’s so young, you know, you go through your mind, “Wow, is she going to remember me when I come home?” It was pulling at my heartstrings to leave.
How will you keep in touch while away?
Isabella actually emailed me herself last night! She sent me an email saying, “Hi, Dad! How are you doing?” with a picture of herself. So I get constant updates and emails. I have to know what’s going on with her – if she’s spitting up a lot or if she’s coughing, I need to know all that stuff so I can worry about it.
Are you a role model dad?
I don’t think about it. I just do what’s right for my family and me, and if other people can take something away from it, more power to you. But at the end of the day, I just need to look in the mirror and be able to say I did right by my wife and my child, and ultimately that’s my biggest job in life.
Do you have a future Miss USA in your hands?
Who knows? She can do whatever she wants to do in life, as long as it doesn’t require a pole!