Adorable Marley lies on the couch, his little fists stretched upwards and, as his eyes open, former The Block NZ contestant Ethan Ordish scoops his son into his arms, planting a kiss on his head. It's been eight weeks since Marley entered the world, but for his proud dad it's like he's been here forever.
"It used to be me and Mia, but now it's me and Marley or Marley and Mia," he tells.
When Woman's Day visits Ethan and his partner Mia Broad at their Hamilton home to meet their bundle of joy, it's as relaxed as one would expect after watching the famously laid-back builder on the Three reality series.
But despite their serenity, it has been a bumpy road for the couple, who found out they were pregnant just two weeks before Ethan shifted his life to Auckland for the three-and-a-half months of filming.
"We'd been joking about it," Mia recalls. "But then I counted back and thought, 'Oh jeepers' on my way home from work. So I took a pregnancy test."
The 26-year-old was only able to tell Ethan later that evening when he came for dinner at the restaurant she works at.
"I said, 'Hi, do you want another beer? I'm having a baby,'" Mia laughs.
Ethan was thrilled with the news and didn't think twice about The Block. He'd been told he hadn't made it onto the show, but a couple of weeks later he received a call saying that another team had pulled out. Two days after the call, he made the temporary shift north with pal Sam Whatarangi to be last season's orange team.
While Mia says she had a wonderful support network, Ethan, 27, admits that being away from the love of his life wasn't always easy.
"It was hard being away from her and trying to look after her over the phone," he tells.
While fans of The Block were overjoyed at their baby news when it was announced on air, behind the scenes the couple were facing a terrifying health scare. A cyst had been discovered in Marley's stomach and Mia travelled to a foetal medicine clinic in Auckland for an ultrasound.
"They gave us a big list of stuff that it could be, like cystic fibrosis," Mia recalls, adding, "I was a mess."
A few weeks later she had another scan and they thankfully discovered the cyst had gone away.
On the show, Ethan and Sam failed to take home any money but did win the coveted People's Choice Award – a Suzuki SUV they subsequently sold. With her man home, Mia and Ethan settled back into their lives and the pregnancy continued without issue.
And then, on the evening of October 21, Mia's waters broke at home – but Ethan was away in Matamata!
"I was driving home from work and she was ringing me, but I was on the phone to someone else so I ignored her call twice," he laughs. "Then I realised this might be serious!" The couple remained calm having been told that labour for a first baby is long, with their midwife advising them to have dinner and go to bed early to conserve energy. But by the time Ethan got home half an hour later, contractions had started.
Over the next few hours, Mia's mum and sister, and later Ethan's mum, arrived to support the couple. When the midwife arrived and saw Mia's pain levels, they moved to the Waterford Birth Centre.
"I was very ungraceful," Mia says. "I was just a screaming mess the whole time. My sister said she was silent through all of her six births, but not me!"
Having planned a water birth, Ethan was in the pool with Mia when little Marley came into the world.
"He came up and I grabbed him and pulled him up," he tells. "But he had the cord wrapped around his throat and I was worried because by then I had pulled him out of the water and I knew that you're not meant to put him back in."
Thankfully, their midwife calmly unwound the cord and while he was a bit grey, their little boy was just fine.
"I had a look at him and started crying, then passed him over to Mia," Ethan recalls.
"I was a bit emotional, I'll tell you that for free!"
The parents had decided prior to the delivery to delay when they would cut the cord, so that all the good nutrients could go to their baby. They later had half of the placenta made into pills for Mia to take – something that is becoming increasingly popular with new parents.
And on New Year's Eve, the couple buried the other half in Mia's grandparents' garden in her hometown of Tapanui.The turmoil of their scare during pregnancy and birth long forgotten, little Marley is feeding and sleeping well and is the light of their world.
"We found the cliché that you can't remember what life was like without your child is literally true. What were we doing before we had this little human?" Mia asks with a smile.
"He's so chill – very much like his father!"
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