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Jaquie Brown’s candid pregnancy confessions

TV’s Jaquie Brown reveals the horror and hilarity of having a baby.

Jaquie Brown makes her living out of seeing the funny side of life and is usually able to find the silver lining in every cloud. But the TV personality admits it was difficult to find much to smile about when she spent most of her pregnancy suffering from extreme morning sickness.

And it was hard to feel anything other than traumatised when, after a 40-hour labour, her newborn son Leo had to be taken to intensive care because he wasn’t breathing properly.

Even the self-confessed optimist struggled to be positive as she looked at her tiny boy hooked up to tubes and lying in an incubator. “It was a very traumatic couple of days,” recalls Jaquie now, a year after Leo’s birth. “There were lots of tears shed. Luckily, Leo’s a fighter and by the second day he had all his tubes removed and we could hold him. It was such a relief.”

Although it was incredibly scary at the time, Jaquie has since been able to find some silver linings. Not only did Leo being in intensive care mean Jaquie and her husband Guy were able to get two decent nights’ sleep before tackling the rigorous demands of life with a newborn, but it’s also enabled her to share the experience of what happens when childbirth doesn’t go to plan in a book she has written.

I’m Not Fat, I’m Pregnant! is a comprehensive guide to pregnancy from preconception right through to childbirth and  the first stages of parenthood, Jaquie (36) came up with the idea of writing it before she even got pregnant with Leo because she couldn’t find any books she felt she could relate to. “Nothing talked to me,” she says. “So I thought I’d write one myself.”

Along with information gathered from experts and anecdotes from other women who’ve been through pregnancy, Jaquie has also included her own pregnancy diary. Best known for her TV show, The Jaquie Brown Diaries, she has been brutally – and hilariously – honest about her own experiences and no subject is off limits.

She writes with her trademark – but I’m happy to open up irreverent humour on everything from constipation (or “angry poo” as she describes it), sore breasts and weight-gain through to the horror of feeling sick all day, every day for months.

Jaquie had hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe pregnancy nausea, and was so ill she ended up in hospital. “It was hideous,” she says. “I felt so revolting and the constant vomiting just wears you down.

There were times when I felt really low, really emotionally challenged. All I could do was throw up and cry into my pillow. “At least I had the book to do – writing was therapeutic.”

Jaquie says going through hyperemesis and other delights of pregnancy such as acne and heartburn was a good thing because she was able to write about them first-hand. “Pregnancy is portrayed in the media as this amazing thing – you have this beautiful bump, you glow, you give birth easily to this beautiful pink talcum powdered creature and you live happily ever after.  But it’s not like that.

I thought it was important to be open with other women.” That meant including some very intimate details about herself.

Normally intensely private about her personal life, Jaquie has put any inhibitions to one side because she cares so much about the book being honest.

“How could I talk about the most amazing experience of my life without including everything? People are going to know me inside and out – literally – but I’m happy to open up  because it’s good to talk about it. “I’m glad I had acne and heartburn and morning sickness. I’m glad I put on 20kg and struggled to lose it. I couldn’t get into my jeans for seven months.”

She adds with a grin, “But I did read through it the other day and think, ‘Oh my God, did I have to write so much about poo?’” Her labour – all 40 hours of it – and Leo’s birth were two subjects she didn’t infuse with humour. “I went into labour with an open mind and I was actually looking forward to the birth.

I thought my experience would be similar to my mum’s – she had her two babies fairly quickly. But it didn’t turn out that way.” She says she would have done whatever it took to get Leo out safely but in the end she didn’t need a Caesarean. Her delight at finally seeing her son turned to shock when it became apparent he had breathing problems, caused by fluid in his lungs.

“The last thing you expect is that it’s going to end up being a medical emergency. Seeing him in the incubator was heartbreaking.” Today, Leo is a happy and healthy one-year-old who’s just starting to walk on wobbly legs and takes a keen interest in everything going on around him.

Jaquie has been working on a humorous TV show about motherhood, which will screen later this year, but has otherwise been able to spend lots of time with her gorgeous son. So far she’s found motherhood to be smoother sailing than pregnancy and childbirth.

It still has its challenges, but at least she had no problems with breastfeeding or any postnatal depression. “I’ve cried a lot but it has been from love and tiredness.

Little things like TV programmes have set me off, but it wasn’t the baby blues. In fact, a year on, I think I’m still on a high from not having morning sickness any more.”

She says everything she went through was worth it because she now has a son she utterly adores – and she’s prepared to do it all again so Leo can have a brother or sister. “Once you’ve had the baby you know what the rewards are, but while you’re still pregnant it’s all about you.

When I read back over my diary it really was a terrible time but I’ve pretty much forgotten that now I have Leo. “I had no idea how amazing he would be. He’s this wonderful little person who has brought so much joy to our lives.

Babies open up your eyes and your heart and you see the world differently. It feels like there was a part of me missing before that I didn’t even know was missing. Now that Leo’s here, I feel complete.”

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