What began as a romantic getaway for two became a life-changing moment for broadcaster Lorna Subritzky. The Coast daytime radio host had recently turned 40 and, to celebrate, was taking her new love interest Steve on a "getting to know you" holiday to Rarotonga. It was three months into their relationship and Lorna was relishing the idea of time spent lounging about with her beau on their tropical holiday. Then she discovered she was pregnant.
"It was a terrible, terrible shock," she admits. "I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, how is this going to work?' Steve was thinking, 'Good grief, I don't know you and I don't want children.' But here we are and it has all worked out in a backwards fashion."
A year and a day after their first coffee date, the couple were holding "surprise baby" Zoe, who is now five. It's been an overwhelming journey for the pair, figuring out a new relationship, as well as Steve (41) becoming a first-time parent to Zoe and a stepfather to Lorna's children Max (16) and Lucy (14).
While the former Family Health Diary presenter freely admits her youngest daughter couldn't have come at a worse time – she'd just been made redundant from her job as a radio sales director – Zoe has been nothing short of a blessing for their family.
"You'd think by number three I would have figured out how this was happening! At my age, I felt so foolish – how could I have let this happen?" she laughs. "But sometimes fate has a different plan in store for you. Zoe's brought us all together. My son said to me recently, 'Zoe really is the best thing that's ever happened to me.'"
When Lorna met Steve, the thought of romance didn't cross her mind – because she was already in a long-term relationship. But it was love at first sight for Steve, who was captivated by the blonde beauty at a mutual friend's New Year's Eve party.
"I was in full flight, telling stories," recalls Lorna, "when I became aware of this guy staring at me. I didn't know what to make of him! But his friends said later it was because he liked me."
Not long after, Lorna went through what she describes as a "bad break-up – the less said the better" with her partner of four years. It would be another six months before Lorna was reunited with her admirer, and although shy and reserved Steve wasn't her usual type, she agreed to go out for coffee with him. The rest, as they say, is history – a fast-evolving history, she jokes.
"I wasn't looking for love," Lorna explains. "I thought, 'I'm 40, I've got two children, the chances of meeting somebody are minimal, and that's fine. I'm okay on my own.'"
So when Lorna realised she was pregnant, it made for a very "bizarre" conversation between two adults who barely knew each other and hadn't worked out if they wanted a relationship at this stage of their lives.
"I said to him, 'I understand if this is not part of your plan, but I'm going to have this baby because it's the right choice for me.' We hung in there and got to know each other as we got to know Zoe."
As an older mum-to-be, Lorna worried her third pregnancy would be a hard task, but it was smooth sailing. The biggest challenge was fostering a fresh relationship with Steve, who had made it clear he didn't want children. The always forthright Lorna isn't afraid to admit the early days were incredibly difficult.
"We were still finding our own way and we didn't know what a baby was going to do [to our relationship]," she says.
But the moment Zoe was welcomed into the world, after an intense 10-minute induced labour that Lorna jokingly calls a "horror movie and a miracle", everything changed for Steve.
"I think he felt disconnected from the pregnancy, but the moment he clapped eyes on his daughter, that bond was there. He was born to be a dad. A lot of men feel like they are never ready for fatherhood, but I think it is the making of a lot of guys."
In fact, his commitment to this new family was so strong that a year after Zoe was born, Lorna and Steve returned to Rarotonga, where he proposed.
In 2012, the pair became Mr and Mrs Subritzky and Lorna finally lost her well-known Plant moniker from her first marriage to fellow broadcaster Trevor Plant – even if her new surname was far more difficult to spell!
With nearly 10 years between Zoe and her youngest sibling, there were concerns that the age gap would become an issue and Lorna (46) admits Zoe can tend to feel "like an only child, because the others don't want to play mums and dads, or dolls, and they are at that stage when they're not around that often. But in a way it's been very beneficial – she's very mature for her age!"
Lorna was also worried that her own age may be an issue and didn't want Zoe's school friends taunting her.
"I don't want to be an embarrassment to Zoe – the old mum that turns up at the school gate, mistaken for Grandma. That's always my fear."
But as the lively radio host, who begins her Weekly-sponsored segment on Coast FM this week, laughs with her little one, it seems there's no risk of Lorna feeling her age anytime soon. Running around after her daughter maintains her youth, she says.
"She's a dynamo – you've got to keep up with her!"
- Celebrity NewsMatthew and Chloe Ridge: 'We have to put our kids first'
Woman's DayJun 23, 2022
- TVMasterChef NZ's Sam reveals: 'coming out made me a better cook'
Woman's DayJun 22, 2022
- TVMasterChef NZ's Lance Maynell reveals how he came back from rock bottom
Woman's DayJun 17, 2022
- Current AffairsKiri Allan's courage: 'This journey has been a gift'
Woman's DayJun 16, 2022