She’s battled breastfeeding problems, called in a baby whisperer as a result of sleepless nights with her baby in her bed, and juggled work with major house renovations – all in one year. But as Miriama Kamo watches her daughter Te Rerehua’s first few steps at the family’s rural hideaway on Waiheke Island near Auckland, the news and current affairs presenter says that despite any issues and exhaustion, it’s all been worth it. She’s loved her first year with the child she never thought she'd have.
“It’s a constant challenge to be the perfect mother, that’s for sure,” says Miriama (38), who battled endometriosis for years and suffered a miscarriage before giving birth to her daughter Te Rerehua – also known as Xavie – last August in a dramatic 49-hour labour.
“But one of the things about not knowing if you’ll ever have children is that you are so much more appreciative than you might otherwise have been. All the challenges and the difficult bits become just issues that you have to overcome, rather than a dreadful circumstance. When you’ve had some really hard moments, the rest just doesn’t seem to matter as much. Having Te Rerehua is like Christmas every day.”
Miri is far from over the hurdles of early parenthood. She is still breastfeeding Xavie, despite struggling with pain and infections for months. “Breastfeeding’s still not always comfortable, but I was absolutely determined to do it, and I’m hoping to carry on until she’s about 18 months old,” she says.
“Until I had Te Rerehua I had no clue that breastfeeding was a problem for so many women. It took a long time before I could feed her without excruciating pain, but now I love it. It’s exactly what people say, a wonderful way to bond.”
Despite the professional face she puts on while regularly fronting the Sunday programme and several TVNZ news programmes – including the flagship late night news – she’s also tired a lot of the time.
After initially sleeping through the night, Xavie is now waking regularly, which Miri says lured her and her partner, treaty negotiator Mike Dreaver (45), into a classic parenting trap – Xavie now sleeps in the bed with them.
“She’s slept with us every night for the past three weeks – we’ve actually called in Sharlene Poole, the baby whisperer, to get us back on track,” admits Miri, whose stepson, Mike’s son Sammy (12), also lives with the trio for half the week.
“We figured we’d got the sleeping thing sussed, but I think we got over-confident because suddenly, instead of waking at 7am, Te Rerehua started waking at 6am, then 5am, then 4am – we got to a point that she wasn’t waking early, she was waking in the middle of the night. Before we knew it, it was easier to feed her in bed and fall asleep, and her sleeping routine fell apart. It was us that mucked it up, not her!”
While Miri isn’t concerned about Xavie sleeping in her bed – she loves it in fact – she knows the routine won’t change until it’s fixed. Problem is, she doesn’t really want to do it. “Now Xavie has her own bedroom – and I’m dreading the first night we move her into it,” says Miri.
“It’s so lovely, sleeping with your baby, so I haven’t been very motivated to move her out. I know she’ll be fine – I’m pretty sure I’m going to be lying there, tossing and turning pathetically because she isn’t there with us!”
It’s yet another stepping stone in a busy year for the popular presenter. Te Rerehua’s first birthday on August 10 became a double celebration, with Miri’s parents officiating at her naming ceremony in Miri and Mike’s revamped house on the special day. “The house was filled with family and friends. It was a day that really drove home how lucky we are to have so many wonderful people in our lives and in our children’s lives. It was a fantastic day,” she says.
Miriama and Mike have also been busy creating a slice of paradise on Waiheke Island. “We wanted to find somewhere that wouldn’t involve spending hours in the car but was a different world to Auckland,” explains Miriama. And it is different – Miri and Mike have spent the past year building a unique home.
Their deck houses two yurts – Mongolian tents – which each comfortably contain a queen bed, sofas, bookcases and a dresser. Miri says the deck was built with blood, sweat and tears. “Mike bought me a circular saw, which I stupidly used while on my own out here once to cut decking – I nearly cut my leg off.”
Miri and Mike are hoping they will be able to share their hideaway with others. But for now, the getaway is somewhere for the family to relax, to watch Xavie grow – and hopefully one day, to bring a new baby. “It would be lovely to have another child, but we didn’t even know if we could have Te Rerehua. Without wanting to sound too Pollyanna about it all, I am loving my life right now,” says Miriama.
“If we do have another baby, that’s fantastic. But first we’re going to have to move this one into her own room – she’s not going to get a sibling if we can’t get her out of our bed!”
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