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Katrina Rore’s sweet surprise

The netball superstar can’t believe she’s about to become a mum of two

Well, this wasn’t the plan! Cradling her 36-week bump in her Rotorua home as she chats to Woman’s Day, Silver Ferns star Katrina Rore couldn’t be happier as she excitedly waits for the arrival of her second daughter.

But while having two children was always the dream for Katrina and husband Joel – already parents to 15-month-daughter Lilybud – the timing was, as Katrina says with trademark understatement, “a bit of a surprise”.

“We were shocked,” she nods. “We had such trouble conceiving Lily, so we just assumed it would be the same the second time around. Nope!”

Katrina, 35, and Joel initially struggled to get pregnant after being told she had low egg reserves and that she had trouble ovulating.

Katrina and Joel went big for Lily’s first birthday.

“We decided we wanted to have kids after the 2019 Netball World Cup,” Katrina explains. “And it just didn’t happen. We ended up going to a fertility clinic to check that everything was OK. Both myself and Joel got tested – that was quite entertaining – and we tried to figure out what was going on.”

While Katrina eventually ended up conceiving naturally and gave birth to Lily in May 2021, it was only when she started to feel “not quite right” this time around that she started to get suspicious.

She recalls, “It was two weeks to the start of the netball season… I took a test and I couldn’t believe it. Oh, s**t, here we go again!

“We were so shocked, but hey, it’s meant to be – and what a massive blessing. We legit feel so fortunate because it was so hard with Lily, so we were very much, ‘She’ll be right,’ with the whole contraception thing!

“I wasn’t ready to go back on to contraception after having a kid. I wanted my body to get right first… but watch out for that!” she laughs.

Now preparing for her role as mum to two under-twos – “God help me!” – Katrina, or Pole as she’s affectionately known in netball circles, is feeling every emotion under the sun.

It was the same when, comfy on her couch, she watched her Silver Ferns teammates power through to win a bronze medal at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“I actually thoroughly enjoyed watching it – I wasn’t upset that I wasn’t there,” she admits. “I mean, I think I was envious a little bit at times, especially when the girls got a medal! It’s an amazing feeling, the euphoria of winning and being around the team, so I missed that. But I really enjoyed it from home.”

Katrina’s happy to be a spectator these days.

It’s a niggly reality for all female athletes who have to try to time having children around pinnacle events or, in the recent high-profile case of tennis legend Serena Williams, retire early to be able to conceive.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Katrina nods. “But at the end of the day, sport is sport – you can’t put your life on hold for your job, you know?

“Having kids changes everything for everyone. But this time around, it’s different for me. When I was pregnant with Lily, I was in the gym all the time because that’s what I was used to. This time? Hardly at all. I don’t have the time or the energy. Although I suppose some of that is running around after a toddler!”

And when it comes to Lilybud, there’s a lot of running. Bursting with personality, Lily’s the apple of her parents’ eyes – and Katrina and Joel can’t wait for the two sisters to bond.

“I mean, she’ll probably try to poke her new sister’s eyes out and pull her hair for the first few weeks, but we’ll get there,” laughs Katrina.

“Lily’s a massive free spirit. She’s already her own person, which is really cool – it’s awesome having a kid with personality. She’s such a treat every day. There’s always something new. And the kid has a shoe fetish already. It’s something else – anywhere she sees shoes, she has to put them on, no matter how big or small they are!”

Lily, says Katrina, is that kid everyone seems to already know – and boy, does she make herself known!

“When I go places, like the library or playgroup, all the children and adults know her – everyone will yell out, ‘Hi, Lilybud!’ and I’m like, ‘Who are you?!” she chuckles.

“She’s a super-social kid. She’ll go up to anyone andsay hi. She’s very boisterous. At the moment, her favourite thing, apart from shoes, are monster trucks. She’s an absolute vibe.”

Having spent most of her netball career in Wellington, Katrina, Joel and Lilybud are now happy to call Rotorua home, with the couple having recently completed their first home build – although the sports star admits she’s already looking at upgrading to something a little bigger!

“I look around now and think, ‘The bedrooms are too small! We need an extra shed so I can have a gym and so I can put the car in the garage because with two kids and the rain…’ It’s stuff you’ve never had to think about before you have kids. And man, they come with so much stuff,” she says, shaking her head.

Becoming a parent definitely changes how you look at life – and both Katrina and Joel have noticed how much more they pay attention to their health now they have kids.

“Before children, you’re so ‘she’ll be right’ about everything – literally!” laughs Katrina. “But now it’s something that I think about constantly. I’ve turned into a massive worrywart, which is strange for me. I’ve never thought of so many things that could go wrong with my kids – or with us.”

It’s why Katrina jumped at the chance to help raise awareness of the Cancer Society’s annual street appeal – one that’s been deeply disrupted by COVID for the past two years.

“If Joel or myself are sick these days, we go and get it checked now, not wait it out like we used to,” she tells. “It’s almost too hard to even think about your kid growing up without you. I actually can’t comprehend it. I read something that really struck me the other day: ‘You’d do anything for your kids – you’d die for them, but will you be healthy for them?’

“The Cancer Society does so much good work – and, of course, you never really know when you yourself or someone you love will need them.”

Motherhood has changed Katrina’s “she’ll be right” attitude. The star admits, “I’ve turned into a massive worrywart!”

While she might not be able to hit the streets with gusto herself this year – baby Rore is due just a few days after Daffodil Day on Friday 26 August – Katrina will be supporting from afar as she gears up to welcome her little girl.

“I still can’t believe this has happened,” she smiles. “But we’re so pumped for it. Two under two? Let’s go!”

Flower Power

Daffodil Day symbolises hope for all New Zealanders impacted by cancer. Cancer doesn’t stop – and with your help, the Cancer Society won’t either. Daffodil Day street collections are happening on Friday 26 August. To find out more or to donate today, visit daffodilday.org.nz.

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