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Pregnancy & Birth

'It was meant to be': Chelsea Winter introduces her adorable new son Sky

''It really is a love like nothing else and I am so grateful.''

By Sophie Neville
When a heavily pregnant Chelsea Winter woke up on the morning of July 4, she looked out the window at the thick storm clouds rolling in towards their rural Tauranga home and quipped to her partner Douglas Renall that it would be the perfect day to have a baby.
Little did she know that just a few hours later she'd be cuddled up in bed, candles flickering and torrential rain pounding on the roof, with
her newborn son cradled in her arms after a beautiful home birth, two weeks earlier than expected.
"It was like the sky was giving birth too," recalls Chelsea as she welcomes Woman's Day into her and Douglas' stunning new home to introduce their adorable five-month-old son Sky Leonardo.
His hurried arrival still feels like yesterday for the accomplished MasterChef 2012 winner and cookbook author – and she has to pinch herself when she reflects on the amazing turn her life has taken in the past 12 months.
"It really does feel like all this was meant to be," she says.
"I feel incredibly blessed – I had a beautiful and easy pregnancy, a super-quick birth and now I've got my little boy. Of course there have been hard days and the exhaustion is real, but he just gets more awesome by the day."
Falling in love and getting pregnant so soon was a surprise to Chelsea and Douglas, but they couldn't be happier now Sky's fallen into their laps.
With their adorable little man smiling and cooing happily, it's a scene of complete serenity at their rural idyll, which is exactly how Chelsea likes it.
After giving up her busy Auckland life in 2017, she moved south to focus on what really matters.
A new relationship with wine maker Douglas was a welcome surprise – they reconnected 20 years after a childhood romance – and now, as they delight together in watching their sweet boy grow, it's clear that the 36-year-old is brimming with happiness.
Chelsea says Sky is a happy little chap who continually delights his devoted parents with his curiosity and love of the outdoors.
"If he's ever grumpy, all we have to do is put him in the front pack and head out into the paddock for a walk. He just loves it – you won't hear a peep from him for an hour, other than the odd 'ooh' when he's spotted something interesting.
"He's also very social – he loves meeting new people and smiling at everyone around him. He's a bit of a charmer!"
The foodie is the first to admit that as well as her unexpected romance with 36-year-old Douglas, her pregnancy was also something of a surprise.
But the star, who's always wanted to be a mum, is a firm believer in life working itself out.
After discovering she was expecting while visiting her beau in France when he was working on a vineyard, she moved home to prepare for the exciting new chapter.
Douglas soon followed and they settled on the perfect home to grow their family.
Looking out over the lush paddocks towards the famous "Mount" – Mt Maunganui – in the distance, Chelsea reflects on Sky's birth, telling us that her use of meditation and positive affirmations helped her stay calm and in control when her waters broke on that wintry morning five months ago.
"I felt relaxed," she recalls.
"I just knew everything was going to be alright. I remember saying to Douglas, 'I'm ready for this.'"
With her loving partner and midwife in support, Chelsea laboured for just under two hours before her healthy little boy was born in the couple's bedroom.
It was, they agree, the most amazing moment of their lives.
"He was put straight onto my chest and opened his little mouth and screamed," enthuses Chelsea.
"I was euphoric – that's the only word for it. I couldn't believe my boy was here in all his scrunchy, delicious little glory. He was perfect. He was all warm and lovely, he even smelled good!"
Douglas says he still can't believe how amazing Chelsea was when it came to giving birth – and he's been similarly impressed by her natural approach to mothering.
He explains, "The whole process was just so raw and powerful, and I was in awe of her strength. And seeing her with Sky is beautiful – she has thrown herself into motherhood 100% and it's been wonderful to watch."
Chelsea and Douglas chose their little boy's name months before he was born, after deciding they'd like him to have a link to nature.
Says the new dad, "We thought Sky is perfect – it doesn't get bigger than that, does it? Sky is the limit!"
And Leonardo for a middle name is a nod to their time spent in Europe together.
"Also," adds Chelsea with a giggle, "Douglas is a big Leonardo da Vinci fan and I'm a bit of a Leonardo DiCaprio fan!"
Motherhood's a walk in the park!
Five months in, the couple are loving parenthood as much as they dreamed they would.
Their little man – whose adorable nicknames include Peanut, Snugglepuff and Pipsqueak – sleeps well at night, and keeps them continually entertained with his big smiles and adorable giggles.
He's recently been introduced to solid food and, like his parents, seems to have a love for it!
"From his very first try he seems to be very keen on food, which is no surprise, I guess," laughs Chelsea, who is enjoying coming up with creative combinations of purées.
"He loves avocado, banana, kumara, pumpkin … I even mixed some puréed chickpea through yesterday. He's not a fussy eater, thank goodness."
While the doting mum tries to stick to organic food, if it's not possible, she'll soak the veges in apple cider vinegar first.
"Apparently it helps get rid of the spray," she explains.
Like all new parents, Chelsea and Douglas say they've had their moments, with tiredness and the stress of learning about a newborn's needs occasionally taking its toll.
But Chelsea credits her decision to stay at home for the first 40 days of her baby's life for creating the amazing bond she shares with her
boy.
Known as the "golden month", the old tradition of remaining at home for 40 days after giving birth originated in China – and Chelsea is a huge fan.
"It just makes total sense to me," she declares.
"You're recovering from pregnancy and birth, and your baby is getting used to being out in the world. I didn't want to be putting him in a car seat and driving around, so I just hunkered down and Douglas would be the one to go out for groceries and things.
"It meant that I was able to stay calm and fully in that new mum zone. Even when I was zombie-tired, I didn't mind being up in the night with him, I'd just feel happy to see him."
Chelsea's 40-day bonding stint at home with Sky was bliss. "I never became too sleep deprived," she says.
With Douglas – who authored 100 Great New Zealand Wineries – taking time off from wine-making, he's been able to spend hours each day working on their property, as well as focusing on his other passion, writing.
And Chelsea is already busy working on new recipes. But they're grateful their work allows them to be present for their son – and they're excited about a lazy summer ahead of them, with plenty of time spent at the beach.
"We're going to chill at home and have lots of visits from friends and family," she says.
"It's important to me and Douglas that we had this time together so we could bond as a little family unit. Everything has happened so fast for us to this point that we didn't want to rush this part of our life."
There's no doubt that becoming parents together has strengthened the couple's bond and they credit open communication for their tight relationship.
"We came together at a mature point in our lives," says Douglas.
"We were both so ready for what's happened and ultimately we're just so grateful for where we are now. The key to our relationship is transparency and that's extremely powerful. We talk about everything."
With food and wine a shared passion, the couple are busy working on ideas for future projects. But for now, their focus is on their "chilled out, happy little chap", and they couldn't be happier.
Says Chelsea, "It really is a love like nothing else and I am so grateful."

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