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Family

Antonia Prebble and Dan Musgrove's all-consuming love for baby Freddie

The Westside stars fell instantly in love with their gorgeous boy, with the new dad telling, “He was lifted out and held up like a little Simba. It was the most amazing moment.”

By Sophie Neville
Before the arrival of their precious baby boy, Kiwi actress Antonia Prebble and her Westside co-star fiancé Dan Musgrove knew that becoming parents would completely change their world.
But nothing could have prepared them for the over- whelming, all-consuming love that hit them with the birth of son Freddie, and they can't help but laugh at just how obsessed they've become with all-things parenting.
"We've become those people who can't talk about anything else," exclaims Antonia as she cuddles her adorable three-month-old on her lap at the rented Auckland apartment they currently call home.
"Dan and I are both as bad as each other. We have these long-winded, very animated conversations about everything to do with Freddie: what time he went down, how long he slept for, did he grizzle, has he done a poo. We are completely obsessed!"
And when Dan's parents kindly offered to babysit so the couple could go out for a Father's Day dinner when their boy was six weeks old, the duo ended up abandoning their night out after just 45 minutes because they couldn't bear being away.
"We're pretty ridiculous," admits Dan with a laugh, confessing that he even caught himself watching a video of Freddie on his phone while the little one slept on him in the front pack recently. "We just can't get enough of him – even when he's asleep!"
Born on July 13, little Freddie certainly wasn't in a hurry to make his entrance into the world. Antonia, who plays family matriarch Rita West on the hit Three show, had continued filming until she was 37 weeks' pregnant, and she'd presumed her baby would make his appearance soon after. But her July 1 due date came and went, and the waiting began.
"Dan had finished filming too, so we found ourselves in this beautiful limbo," she tells. "Everything was ready – the nursery, all the little baby clothes, my hospital bag … So we had two weeks of free time together and it was really lovely."
However, as the days went by, the expectant parents were starting to wonder if their little boy would ever make an appearance.
"I tried everything you can think of to get things moving," recalls Antonia, 35. "Spicy food, long walks over bumpy terrain, evening primrose oil tablets, homeopathic mouth sprays – nothing worked at all. But at least I knew I'd tried to do everything I could!"
After 10 days with no tweaks or twinges, their obstetrician decided it was time to induce labour at Auckland Hospital. But even that took a while, with the mum-to-be spending two long days walking the hospital hallways and neighbouring Auckland Domain before things finally started happening.
As is often the case with induction, her contractions were intense and after a few hours, Antonia had an epidural, meaning she could get some much-needed sleep for the rest of her labour.
"The relief of that epidural was pretty remarkable," she admits. "It felt like I'd come back to myself after being very far away. I'd found the pain pretty overwhelming towards the end."
While Antonia had expected she would have a natural birth, in the end it was decided that a Caesarean section was the safest option.
"The whole process was managed really well and everyone around me was very calm," she tells. "I definitely felt a bit apprehensive as I was taken into the operating theatre, but I was also excited because I knew I was about to meet my baby."
With Dan at her side, their little boy was born at 11.21am and they couldn't contain their emotions when they heard him let out a hearty scream.
"He was lifted out and held up like a little Simba, and it really was the most amazing moment," Dan says. "We were all crying – Freddie, Antonia and me."
"It was extraordinary," agrees Antonia. "It was so surreal but also hyper-real at the same time. I couldn't quite believe that he was finally here in the world and that he was ours."
The pair named their beautiful boy Frederick John as a nod to Dan's late grandfather Fred and Antonia's dad John. She explains, "We liked the idea that he's linked to both sides of the family.
But we also think he really suits his name. He's such a Freddie!"
It's been a huge year for the couple, who were forced out of their new home after a terrifying house fire back in November 2018, just weeks after moving in. With Antonia newly pregnant at the time, they were sad they wouldn't be able to take their bundle back to the first home they'd envisaged for him.

But the actors say that becoming parents has put the devastation of the fire firmly into perspective."Yes, we lost photo albums and other special stuff, but no-one was hurt, and that's really all that matters," insists Antonia. "It was very much an unfortunate event, but it wasn't a tragedy."
Dealing with the rebuilding of their home with a newborn has had its moments, and Antonia admits that while she got to grips with motherhood, she handed most of the house responsibility to Dan, 37.
"There were times when I just didn't have the head space to even think about it," she admits. "Dan has been amazing, he's dealt with it all calmly and methodically.
"I finally went and had a look at the house the other day – it's wrapped up in plastic and doesn't have a roof or walls, but it's getting there and hopefully we'll be able to move in around January."
While he's back writing Westside now, Dan – who plays career criminal Lefty Munroe – had eight weeks at home after Freddie's birth and says he can't imagine how hard it would've been to not be there during those early days. For Antonia, who struggled initially with breastfeeding, the support was invaluable.
"I'd read lots of baby books and felt like I was as prepared as I could be, but I didn't realise that breastfeeding might be painful," she confides. "I found it pretty challenging in the beginning and, because of the pain, I was feeling anxious about the next feed.
"But Dan would get up with me for each night feed, he'd give me moral support and help me get the latch right, and after a week or so things started to get easier."
And in the day, the couple were supported by Antonia's Wellington-based mum Nicky, who spent three weeks in Auckland to help.
"She was incredible – she did all the laundry and cooking, and it meant that we could focus on the baby without getting overwhelmed or too exhausted. We were so grateful – she really gave Dan and me the best possible start as new parents."
And when Westside starts filming again next year, the pair are hoping to juggle things so that one of them will be able to stay with their boy while the other works.
And for Antonia, she's just relieved the wardrobe department will be able to go back to dressing her without the added stress of hiding her baby bump!
She tells, "I was pretty big at the end, so I didn't make it easy on them! They did an incredible job though. I watched the entire season and kept forgetting I was even pregnant."
Three months on, Antonia and Dan are relishing every moment of parenthood, and they're loving seeing Freddie develop into a happy, smiley, chatty little boy. And the pair – who got engaged in June last year – also love watching each other with Freddie.
"I knew Dan would be an amazing dad, but he's even exceeded my high expectations, Antonia gushes. "He's our steady rock. He is so gentle and considered with him."
And Dan can hardly hide his admiration for Antonia, who has embraced motherhood with open arms.
"Her life before Freddie was incredibly full and busy, so I did wonder how she'd go being at home leading this much quieter life. But she's fully welcomed this new tempo and I love watching
her with him."
Now they're looking forward to Freddie's first Christmas, which will be spent with Antonia's family in Wellington before they head to Dan's family bach in the Marlborough Sounds.
Says Antonia, "Everything feels more meaningful now we have a baby. It's pretty special being a little family. We're very lucky."

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