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Ali Pugh’s sweet baby news

The star spills her Breakfast secret
Ali Pugh's sweet baby news

As a journalist, keeping news to herself doesn’t come naturally to Ali Pugh. But for a very

long time, the stunning TVNZ Breakfast presenter has been hiding a very big secret.

From her increasingly looser outfits to strategically placed laptops and newspapers on the table, even the most eagle-eyed Breakfast viewers wouldn’t have noticed a wee bump slowly but surely growing – or the pile of muesli bar wrappers and banana skins hidden just out of shot on the couch next to her.

But finally the stunning TV One star is ready to share her happy news: She’s pregnant and not only that – she’s already 20 weeks along!

Showing off her tiny bump proudly for the first time, Ali grins as she sheds the baggy poncho she arrived in at our exclusive Woman’s Day photo shoot and places a protective hand on her belly.

“Do you think you just all of a sudden pop out, maybe?” asks the soon-to-be first-time mum peering down at her small bump.

“I have no idea. I guess I’ll find out. I could be the size of a house next week!”

It hasn’t been an easy secret for Ali and her fiancé, musician Jo Barus, to keep. For five months, just making it onto the Breakfast couch every morning has been a challenge. There was the constant nausea, the dizziness, the fainting at work – she was even admitted to hospital a month ago with acute migraines.

“I don’t want to complain, though. I mean, it’s not like I was as sick as Kate Middleton or anything!” Ali adds hastily, referring to the Duchess of Cambridge’s two battles with severe morning sickness.

“But weeks seven through to 17 weren’t great. And it was hard, because it wasn’t like I could tell people why I was so poorly. But a few people probably cottoned on after the fainting.”

With so much of her life in the public eye, Ali, 29, and Jo, 40, made the decision to keep their happy news under wraps for as long as possible, so they could experience pregnancy like every other couple.

“As soon as it became public, I knew it would become everyone else’s business,” she shrugs. “So we thought, ‘Let’s just have it as our thing for a while.’ But I’m really happy to be sharing the news now.”

Apart from family members, close friends and just a handful of colleagues – including co host Rawdon Christie, who couldn’t help but notice Ali running to the bathroom during ad breaks, and weatherman Sam Wallace, who, most perceptively, noticed her body wasn’t quite as svelte as normal – no-one knew she was pregnant.

“This story is probably going to come as a big surprise to a lot of people. But we are so excited. So, so excited. We were trying for a baby for six months before we fell pregnant.”

But even finding out they were expecting was fraught with complications, reveals Ali, who somehow sensed something was different with her body after only 10 days.

“I just had a weird feeling,” she explains. “Whether that was in my imagination or not – which it very well may have been – I don’t know. So I did a home pregnancy test and it came up positive, but with a very, very light line. I called Jo and he’s like, ‘Nah, you’re dreaming. It’s not how this works!’”

A trip to the doctor’s the next day seemed to confirm Jo’s suspicions, with the second test returning a negative result.

“I was gutted. Absolutely gutted,” Ali remembers. “Even though it would only have been a matter of days along.”

But just to make absolutely sure, Ali’s doctor ordered a blood test and a few days later, as she was sitting in the office of TVNZ’s wardrobe stylist, her phone buzzed with the good news: “You’re pregnant!”

“Actually,” laughs Ali, “our stylist Clifton found out before Jo did! The doctor said to me, ‘This is going to be the world’s longest pregnancy for you – you’re only two weeks along.’

“I called Jo again and said, ‘So, about that negative test. Yup, it was wrong. We’re pregnant!’

He was thrilled. He came home that night with a huge bunch of flowers, a pink potted plant, a blue potted plant and a big sign that said, ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’” she grins. “It was the sweetest thing. He’s wanted to be a dad for years.”

Now at the halfway mark, Ali is finally enjoying her pregnancy – and it really does suit her, with the bubbly Cantabrian radiating a happy glow during our photo shoot.

“Nah, that’s just thanks to the two make-up sessions I’ve already had today,” she laughs, her nose crinkling as she bats away the compliment.

Her pregnancy body is starting to come into its own. Although she’s still incredibly tiny, she reckons her hips and thighs went sideways freakishly fast.

“I was only a few weeks in and I couldn’t pull my pants up!” she exclaims. “It was a bit disturbing, actually, because I didn’t have a tummy yet, but I was already going outwards.”

Standing up and snapping the elasticated waistband of her jeans with a flourish, she adds, “But how great are maternity pants? Seriously, I highly recommend them for everyday wear. They’re so comfy!”

Ali hasn’t had any cravings, apart from the muesli she now makes herself after being horrified at hearing how much sugar is in cereal.

“It’s yum. I’ll give you the recipe – half of TVNZ does it now. But I was worried because the doctor was telling me how some women crave dirt and coal. Luckily, I haven’t had to send Jo out to the garden yet.”

But Ali admits her fiancé, who plays bass guitar for Kiwi music legend Dave Dobbyn, was on dinner duty for quite a few weeks because the smell of cooking and oil turned her stomach.

Jo is determined their bub will be a musician and has taken to putting his headphones on Ali’s tummy to play the baby songs. “But it’s a weird mix of Frank Sinatra and someone called Steely Dan,” says Ali, frowning.

Big-day hitch

Their happy news has meant a halt in wedding preparations, with the planning firmly on the backburner until next year. While the order of events isn’t traditional, Ali and Jo couldn’t care less.

“We were trying for so long, so we were realistic in thinking this could happen,” she says.

They will find out the baby’s gender in the next few weeks – “There are enough surprises that happen on that day, thank you very much!” – and while Ali says she’s happy either way, Jo really wants a little boy.

Meanwhile, Ali is trying not to think about the birth. Having watched her sister Penny deliver her first child, she knows what she’s in for, yet despite this, Ali’s still aiming for a natural birth. “But by natural, I still mean with drugs!” she laughs.

She and Jo will be relocating back to her hometown of Christchurch for the birth, so they can be around both sets of grandparents.

But don’t fret, Breakfast fans – Ali will be back on the couch after she’s delivered her bundle of joy, although she’s not putting a timeline on her return.

Impending motherhood has changed her attitude to work, she confesses. While Ali still loves her job, her career has become less important than it used to be.

“I’ve always wanted to be a mum,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to being able to talk to Pippa [Wetzell] and Toni [Street] about how they juggled a newborn and still did the crazy Breakfast hours.”

And there’s one more question the hard-nosed journalist has been dying to ask at work – have any viewers noticed her burgeoning bump?

“But I haven’t been able to find out because I couldn’t ask the girls who look at the inbox, could I?” she exclaims. “I’d love to know. But I guess it’s going to be pretty obvious soon! And I can’t wait.”

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