Pregnancy & Birth

Former Silver Fern Cathrine Latu's unconventional pregnancy

Cathrine and her rugby player husband Jim are making it work, despite the difficulty of him living half a world away.

By Cloe Willetts
While most first-time parents are excitedly going to scans together and feeling their unborn baby kick, former Silver Fern Cathrine (nee Latu) and her rugby player husband Jim Tuivaiti are living on opposite sides of the globe.
With Cat brewing their bub in Auckland and Jim playing footy in Italy, they probably won't see each other again until after the September due date. It's unconventional and difficult, but that's part of the package when you're professional sports stars.
"It's lucky we're in the same industry and understand the shelf life of what we do," says Cat, 32, who was hospitalised with hyperemesis gravidarum– extreme morning sickness – early in her pregnancy.
"We know we need to give it everything we've got before our bodies can't do it anymore. But it's still really hard only seeing each other a few times a year."
Cat called time on her Scottish netball contract after falling pregnant.
When the West Auckland-born netballer started feeling sick in January after spending Christmas with her beau of 14 years, she was living in Glasgow on contract with the Scottish Sirens netball team.
"I'd tried being a vegetarian because I like to practise all the fads and honestly thought I felt ill because I wasn't eating meat," laughs Cat, who found out she was pregnant while Jim, 31, was also in Scotland with his Italian team Zebre Rugby for the Six Nations.
"I started crying and Jim jumped up and down, then I thought, 'Oh my God, it's going to hurt!'"
When her flanker hubby returned to Italy, Cat had only her teammates for company and kept the pregnancy to herself. It'd been three months since she shifted from New Zealand to join the team and be closer to Jim.
"But I was throwing up all day and night until there was nothing," recalls the former Northern Mystics player, who made the gut-wrenching decision to end her season with the Sirens in March.
"I was trying to wait for it to pass and just stayed home as much as I could, but it kept getting worse and worse."
At the time she was injecting herself with blood thinners, after surgery in 2017 for an injured knee caused blood clots.
I ran out of medication by chance and couldn't get a repeat until I saw a doctor. He did tests that showed everything was really low," she tells.
"I had to go straight to hospital to be replenished and given anti-nausea medication, which made me feel a bit better."
The former Silver Fern married her high-school sweetheart Jim in 2016.
But there was still the guilt of letting her team down. When she eventually told her coach and decided to surrender, the team was supportive, and Cat phoned Jim to say she was leaving Scotland. He booked a flight to help her pack and move to Italy.
"It was the first time in four years we'd lived together, and I thought we were going to kill each other for a bit!" admits Cat, who can no longer fly while she's pregnant in case of another blood clot.
It was in Italy the couple found out they're having a boy – despite Cat being convinced otherwise!
"I thought I was having a girl I could dress up in glittery clothes, and felt like a bad mum when I cried," laughs the hormonal athlete, who will give birth in Auckland, while Jim has to be in Japan for the Rugby World Cup.
The excited dad says he's looking forward to having a mini-me run around. "All babies are blessings and I've always looked forward to becoming a father," he says.
"It's hard not being there to help Cat through appointments and everyday tasks like tying shoelaces, but I know she'll be OK and own it. She's a strong woman with support from both families."
The expectant parents probably won't see each other again until after the September due date.
Cat wipes away tears as she talks about her best friend not being there to enjoy the little things, like her gradually expanding belly.
"It's hard, but I'm willing to give up Jim being at the birth of our firstborn because everything we've done – the four years living apart – would seem like a waste otherwise," she says.
"It's not easy for him either and sometimes when we talk he tries not to get upset because I am."
Jim says it's his high-school sweetheart's selflessness and independence he loves most. She calls it stubbornness.
"Cat's been amazing and very supportive of not only my job, but everything we do," he says. "It's a quality I've always been attracted to."
Cat and baby will join Jim in Italy once the newborn has had his six-week jabs.
Hoping for a natural birth, with support from her sisters and mum, Cat plans to return to Italy after their son's six-week injections. In the meantime, Jim's decorating the nursery.
"I'm nervous but excited to watch our baby grow and to see Jim be a dad," shares Cat, dabbing her eyes again. "All I need to do is get through these tears and the hard part of not having him around, so I can have the baby safely and peacefully."
Jim's excitedly holding on to his dream of coming home after a tough day of work and having his wife and son there to greet him.
"It's something I've always wanted, my own little family," he says. "The day we saw the double lines on the pregnancy test was one of the happiest moments of my life."

Cat on the Silver Ferns' world cup win

"I was at home watching the most exciting game of netball ever on my phone, and I've never had so much faith in a team. I was lucky enough to interview each of them before they headed off and there was this look in their eyes, like ferocious surety. A calmness amongst so much controversy. They've shown tenacity, passion and pride and I'm so grateful to be a Kiwi right now."

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