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Antonia Prebble’s family joy

In her own words, award-winning Westside actress Antonia Prebble shares some exciting news

What a night! A few months ago, when I was hosting the annual Women in Film and Television Awards in Auckland, I made not one, but two huge mistakes.

First, I accidentally read out the wrong biography for a winner who was standing right next to me on stage. That was pretty awkward. But then things got even worse when, shortly afterwards, I read out the winner of an award before the nominations were even announced.

It was like that La La Land moment at the Oscars, with me as Faye Dunaway. Fortunately, the audience was really positive and encouraging, but I was so embarrassed. I’ve been MC-ing events for years and I don’t usually make significant errors like that!

Then, a couple of days later, I was doing a voiceover session that I’ve been doing every week for ages. I usually rattle out everything I need to say in one go, but this time, I just couldn’t do it. It was like my mouth couldn’t keep up with my brain and I kept stumbling over the words. It was very disconcerting.

But despite the fog in my mind, I also felt kind of buzzy inside, like there was some kind of energetic shift in me. Then it dawned on me… Maybe I wasn’t losing it – maybe I had baby brain!

As soon as I could, I took a pregnancy test, which confirmed my fiancé Dan Musgrove and I were expecting a sibling for our 20-month-old son Freddie. Straight away, Dan poured himself a Little Creatures beer to celebrate our new little creature, while I had a sparkling water. It’s not quite the same as Champagne, but we were already feeling very bubbly!

Antonia says Dan is the perfect partner and Dad. “He absolutely shares the load with me in every way.”

From early on, Dan and I had always spoken about having two children – replacing ourselves in the world, as he says. He’s one of two and I’m from three, so we know how wonderful that sibling bond is and we wanted that for Freddie – and the timing felt really right.

Last time, I was eight weeks pregnant when our new home burnt down in a fire. We were homeless for months, living out of suitcases at different friends’ houses. I was also battling morning sickness, so it was a real challenge.

And then, of course, we had to navigate a massive insurance claim and renovations, and we were both filming Westside, which was a huge time and energy commitment, even with such a super-supportive cast and crew. It was a very stressful, testing time.

Thankfully, this pregnancy couldn’t be more different. We moved back into our house at the start of 2019 and Freddie turned one last July. Then in August, we wrapped on the final season of Westside, which really did feel like the closing of a significant chapter – after all, it’s where Dan and I got together, and obviously Freddie was a result of that!

Soon afterwards, I created my podcast, The Most Of It, which has been really rewarding as people seem to be getting a lot out of it, and I also started developing some new TV projects with Dan.

‘Then it dawns on me..Maybe I wasn’t losing it – maybe I had baby brain!’

I really love working together. I’m learning a lot from him and it feels like we’ve grown some extra connective tissue between us as a result, so it’s a cool time to bring another little person into the family.

In terms of morning sickness, I was still pretty bad until 14 weeks, but I was able to take what I learnt in my last pregnancy and bring it to the next level – and what that really meant was carbs and more carbs.

I’d wake up and have at least four pieces of toast for breakfast, then at 10.30am, I’d have two packets of two-minute noodles. For lunch, I’d have either plain rice or pasta, some toast for afternoon tea, then another rice or pasta meal for dinner.

So my diet was very yellow, but it really helped!

With Freddie, I was vomiting every day and, this time, it was only every week or so. Although there was that fun time I vomited so much that I burst all the capillaries in my eyelids, which was pretty intense – my eyelids looked like pincushions!

I also had the most intense fatigue. My internal engine would turn off around five o’clock each night and I’d need to be in bed by 7pm. It was like when you have the flu and it feels like you’ve got no energy in the very cells of your body. I’d never experienced anything like it.

Antonia and Dan are also Westside co-stars

I was so grateful to Dan, who really picked up the slack for those three months, waking up with Freddie in the night and early in the morning, and doing all the cooking because I just couldn’t face it.

Dan’s the best dad I know. He’s such a willing father and absolutely shares the load with me in every way. It makes it more fun and we really feel like a team when it comes to parenting. He’s very tuned into Freddie and what he needs.

Our son is a really chilled and affectionate child. He’ll go up to people in the park and hug them, and he has a bunny lamp in his room that he kisses every night before bed. He especially loves all of Dan’s friends. There’s something about the glamour of the older man – their names were among Freddie’s first words!

At 14 months, he started saying Mama and Dada, but just in the past few weeks, his vocabulary seems to have exploded. Yesterday, he said “happy” for the first time, which was so beautiful, and he loves to sing and dance to the Wiggles. He was absolutely mesmerised when we saw them live recently.

We’ve talked to Freddie about the new baby from early on and he often points to my tummy, but it’s hard to know what he understands. I mean, for me, it’s still quite an abstract concept that there’s a baby inside there, so for a 20-month-old, it’s probably much harder!

With Freddie, we’d planned on a natural birth, but I ended up having to get a Caesarean after a 12-hour labour. It was still a really positive experience, though, because we felt so looked after by our midwife and obstetrician. This time, I’ll try for a natural birth again, but ultimately, I’ll go with the flow.

Last time, with Freddie, I read heaps of parenting books, mainly because I was really interested and like learning about new things. But as I was reading about routines and settling techniques, I got a little hung up on ‘the right way’ of doing things, which,in retrospect, just caused me more stress!

So this time round, I’ll definitely have a more relaxed approach. Now I realise there’s nothing to get wrong as long as their needs are met and you’re loving them.

Because we’ll be managing Freddie as well, there will be an intensity that wasn’t there last time, but I’m hoping that the actual parenting of a newborn will feel easier because we’ve done it before.

Like, with Freddie, I found breastfeeding really hard at first, but I’m actually looking forward to it this time becauseI know it gets easier. It’s so reassuring having all that prior knowledge and experience.

Antonia would love for Freddie and the new baby to have a role in her wedding day

Plus, we’ll have an army of helpers, with Dan’s parents around and my mum coming up from Wellington for a month. We’re really lucky to have such supportive and capable family around us.

Meanwhile, after COVID derailed our plan to get married the summer just gone, our current thinking is that we’ll do it during the summer of 2022-23. We figure I’ll have finished breastfeeding by then, so I can celebrate with Champagne this time!

Dan and I have been together five years now, so a wedding might seem less relevant as time goes on, but as a marriage celebrant, I know how special they can be, and I’d love for Freddie and the new baby to have a role in the big day – our little one will be about a year and a half, so he or she could be a page boy or flower girl.

I’m really looking forward to our wedding because it won’t just be about Dan and me any more – it’ll be about celebrating this family that we’ve created and I can’t think of anything better than that.”

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