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Toni Marsh’s miracle baby joy

Former TV presenter Toni Marsh says motherhood is her favourite job.
Toni Marsh

She was one of our most loved weather presenters, bubbly in nature and a little husky of voice. So not surprisingly, when Toni Marsh bade farewell to her television audience four years ago, her absence was keenly felt.

Embracing a quieter life away from the glare she lived under as the popular TV3 broadcaster who regularly topped New Zealand’s sexiest woman lists, Toni took on the biggest role of her life – that of a full-time mum.

Since stepping into her new career, Toni (45), cradling her bonny boy Max Thomas Gunn, has celebrated not one – but two – life-changing miracles.

After a cervical cancer scare in her mid-thirties, Toni was told she’d never have children, but beat the odds by becoming pregnant with daughter Coby (now 3).

Toni’s beautiful daughter Coby takes full credit for naming her baby brother Max.

“Coby was a miracle and Max is a double miracle! Given my age, and the fact that I was on the Pill when I discovered I was pregnant with Max, I’ve crossed all the barriers! It’s such a blessing to have children. I never thought I’d have one child, so to have two is unbelievable,” confesses Toni in her first tell-all interview since Coby was a baby.

Toni, who wed her property investor partner Paul Gunn (40) in a private beach ceremony when she was three months’ pregnant with Coby, is the first to admit that her life is very different now.

“I live my life in a dark room now as opposed to in a fish bowl. I’ve completely changed from being a full-on career woman to full-time mum. It’s a huge change but the best job I’ve ever had.”

While Toni’s life is much more chaotic than when she was a single woman – the shoe-fanatic even locks her fashionable party heels away from curious Coby – she’s become

an expert at balancing the demands of motherhood.

“I never ever thought I’d be a full-time mum. When Coby came along, things changed quickly. I had a great career but being a mum is a wonderful career too. I look at my life and think, ‘Wow, I am married with two children, who would have thought?'”

Max Thomas Gunn was born May 30, 2014, in Auckland. he weighed 3.65kg (8lbs, 1oz).

Up until Max’s birth, Toni, a self-confessed exercise freak, had continued her challenging fitness regime. She had even planned to go to the gym on the morning of Max’s birth, but his early arrival put a stop to that.

With a Caesearan-section booked for June 5, Toni was rattled when she unexpectedly went into labour on May 30.

She confides that “looking like a basketball on a stick – he was a big baby and we’d been warned he might come early”, she and Paul were only vaguely prepared for a premature arrival.

“But at 3am on the 30th, my waters broke. I didn’t know what to do. We weren’t expecting a natural labour at all,” recalls Toni.

“I was freaking out. I didn’t have anything packed. It was like a movie – we jumped in the car and raced to the hospital! I was clutching Paul, doubled over in pain.”

Five hours later, Max was delivered via Caesarean at Auckland City Hospital, weighing 3.65kg.

“I almost expected him to come out with teeth, but he certainly came out with hair,” she laughs. “He almost walked out of the womb. He was very strong! He rolled over just two weeks after he was born.”

Returning to their inner-city villa, Toni didn’t only focus on settling Max in, but also Coby, who is still adapting to having a brother.

“When Coby got home after visiting me in hospital, she discovered a princess play castle, which we told her Max had bought her,” tells Toni, who informed Coby she would have a brother just as soon as they found out his gender at a pregnancy scan.

Naming their son was an easy process, thanks to Coby’s adoration for the television show Max & Ruby.

Mighty Max was a baby in a hurry. “He almost walked out of the womb. He was very strong,” reveals Toni.

“When I explained to her that I was pregnant, she said, ‘That must be Max in your tummy,'” Toni says gesturing to her remarkably flat post-pregnancy stomach.

“As soon as Coby said ‘Max’, the name was set. Paul and I liked that name too. How could we think about another name after our daughter had named him?”

Toni, who says it’s a blessing to have a girl and a boy, is enjoying motherhood the second time around, even though Max doesn’t yet sleep through the night.

“We are going through all the stages again, from crawling to first steps. Max is a chilled, laid-back little guy. I’ve been really lucky. Everyone’s told me I’ve had the angel child with Coby and to expect a demon with the second. But I’ve had two little angels.”

Toni, who says she turns to everyone she can for parenting advice, admits she has been overwhelmed by the volume of tips dished up to her.

“I only bank a few pieces of parenting advice and throw the rest away – I pick and choose.”

Coby helped name her little brother after her favourite television show Max & Ruby.

She says her biggest challenge is having a dreamy, distracted baby. “I find it hard to feed Max in the morning as he stares at the light coming in through the blinds – it’s like he’s saying, ‘Look at that, Mum! It’s awesome.’ My kids make me see life through new eyes and appreciate it more.”

As Toni reaches for a snack to give to Coby, while Max sleeps in her arms, she’s clearly contented with her little brood.

“I’m 100% here for my two children and I love my life,” says Toni. “When I had a career, I thought it was the be-all and end-all, but family is everything. Family supersedes career and it’s taken having my kids to realise that.”

While domestic duties are her top priority, Toni hasn’t ruled out a return to broadcasting once her children are older and more independent.

“If the right offer came along, I would be all over it like a rash! Never say never. If I had said never, I would never have had kids. I hope I’m an example for women that say they’ll never have children,” she adds.

“I must confess, I have one wardrobe for being a stay-at-home mum, but also a wardrobe for my broadcasting career. It’s for that day I return to work!”

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