It was the dream job – a new international travel series that would see Carolyn Keep (née Taylor) jetting around the world, being paid to explore exotic and luxurious destinations.
Then the pandemic hit, closing borders and forcing the Choice TV series to focus on our own backyard. It'd be understandable if the former What Now presenter and Dancing With The Stars contestant, 41, was a little disappointed, but Carolyn insists she saw a silver lining in revisiting childhood holiday spots for Uncharted: New Zealand.
And amid the chaos of filming in between lockdowns came a miracle – after being told she was infertile at age 36, Carolyn and her husband Wes, 41, [fell pregnant("I often cry because I'm so grateful – I'm getting emotional now," she tells Woman's Day. "So many people can't have families and I know what that feels like. To have it turn out this way… We must've done something right, karmically!"
Carolyn – who had been planning to undergo IVF, using eggs donated by her sister Joanna – broke the news to her Uncharted co-host, travel writer and Newstalk ZB presenter Tim Roxborough, at Auckland Airport, en route to Wellington for filming. "I was so thrilled because I knew becoming a mum was a dream for Carolyn," recalls Tim, 40. "Seeing her and Wes become parents has been so cool."
Both he and his co-star are making the most of the ongoing Auckland lockdown, with Carolyn enjoying more family time with Wes and "little eating machine" Jasper, who has just started on solids, and Tim spending quality time with wife Aimee and their two-year-old daughter Riley at the local pond.
"Riley adores ducks and eels as much as the elephants and capybaras at the zoo," he says. "There's something sweet about the reminder that entertaining children needn't be expensive or complicated."
As for the terrible twos? No such thing! "I feel like people only say 'terrible twos' because of the alliteration – I'd take parenting a two-year-old over an under-two any day," tells Tim, who co-hosts ZB's Weekend Collective. "Riley's learning more words and it's so fun. She loves music, Lego, bushwalks and adventures."
Of course, parenting's never a breeze. Carolyn's biggest challenges have been sleep – Jasper sometimes wakes hourly at night – and switching to bottle-feeding because she wasn't producing enough breast milk.
"I was so sad about the connection I'd lose by not breastfeeding, but having those cuddles while bottle-feeding is just as divine," she coos. "It's made motherhood a different experience because I can go, 'Wes, can you take this feed?' then have an hour to myself."
Another blessing of lockdown is that Wes is more present for Jasper's first year. Although the hurdles the couple faced starting a family saw them take a break in 2019, they're now doing great and just marked five years of marriage by "ordering a posher Uber Eats than we usually would", laughs Carolyn.
"Watching your partner parent is spectacular. No matter what they do to piss you off, watching them with your child's like a balm. He's so caring and wonderful. They have giggles and fun."
Having fun is paramount, adds Carloyn – something she learned from her What Now days. "As serious as motherhood is, it's so fun. Even the hard bits of pulling yourself out of bed five times a night. As soon as I see his face, I laugh."
And when it's not Jasper making her chuckle, it's Tim, who she says is "hilarious, kind and awesome". Tim adds that the pair had "good yin and yang" shooting Uncharted, in which they explore Aotearoa's lesser-trodden spots.
"Fiordland is incredible, like whoa!" enthuses Carolyn. "I lived in the South Island as a kid, so it was nice returning to childhood camping spots – and to Lake Tekapo for the first time since my wedding."
For Tim, highlights included walking through "fairytale-like" Southland rainforest, staying in an "insane, reportedly seven-star" Bay of Islands hotel and visiting an Elvis Presley museum in Taranaki.
Both Tim and Carolyn hope to travel internationally once restrictions ease, with Tim eager to introduce Riley to Malaysia (where he spent his childhood), while Carolyn's bucket list includes Denmark (her mum Sally's birthplace) and South Africa (where both Sally and Wes were raised).
Until then, Carolyn's simply staying grateful that all her wishes have come to fruition. "It's been 18 months of dreams coming true," she smiles. "I did Dancing With The Stars and filming this show while the world was unable to travel was absurd. Then finding out I was pregnant… Everything aligned in a lovely way."
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