Pregnancy & Birth

Jessica Mutch-McKay’s pregnancy juggle

Coping with the demands of her job while heavily pregnant wasn't easy at times, but TVNZ's political editor was determined to prove a point.

Pregnancy is tough for most soon-to-be mums – the nausea, tiredness and discomfort. TVNZ’s political editor Jessica Mutch-McKay had it all.

But then there was the wrestling through media scrums in the halls of Parliament, chasing less-than-accommodating MPs down corridors, and trying to keep her 10-week pregnancy a secret during an intense work trip to China surrounded by annoyingly observant journalist pals.

But, perhaps worst of all, was a spur-of-the-moment photo shoot, straight after a particularly bad bout of morning sickness, which resulted in a billboard being plastered on the sides of buildings across the country.

“Broadcast journalism is definitely an interesting career choice during the various stages of pregnancy,” jokes Jessica, who at 38 weeks along has just finished up at work.

“That photo, God … I’d been so ill that morning,” she recalls.

“I saw the photo, and to me, I just looked so sick in it. And then they use that picture for a marketing campaign and it’s blown up storeys high and stuck on billboards everywhere. I couldn’t even look at it for the first few months. I thought it was so awful.

Jessica thought this billboard picture made her look “so sick”.

“But now I look back on it and think, ‘Wow, OK.’ It’s a nice reminder of the early stages of pregnancy. It’s a pretty cool feeling that I was feeling so horrific, but there I was, still working, still doing my job.”

Jessica and her “hipster bodyguard” hubby, diplomatic protection officer Iain McKay, are thrilled to be expecting their first child, a little girl, in just a few weeks – and only a year after sharing their gorgeous Waiheke Island wedding in Woman’s Day.

“We felt it was time for a baby,” shares Jessica. “I’m 35 and you don’t know how long these things take. Thankfully, everything went to plan. It’s much easier for us to have a baby in a non-election year!”

Jessica and Iain found out they were expecting just before she flew out to China in March, to accompany Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her delegation on a trade visit. At only 10 weeks’ along, Jess was determined to stay mum on her exciting news – but that’s easier said than done when you’re travelling with a pack of people whose job it is to be nosy.

Inside China’s Great Hall of the People.

“One of my colleagues figured it out pretty quickly after I turned down a glass of wine and then some cold meat!” she laughs. “You can’t get anything past journalists.

“Then I had to tell my cameraman because I was pretty sick on that trip. He kept asking if I was OK and if he needed to call MFAT [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade] because he thought I’d picked up a weird bug. He was really sweet. There were a couple of times during a live cross that I didn’t feel too good, so he’d get me to sit on a big camera case and frame the shot tight.”

While she loves being pregnant on the whole, Jess does admit there were some rough times. Her morning sickness never went away and she suffered through bouts of nausea all the way through.

“I mean, it wasn’t super- fun, but what it did do is make me appreciate the days I wasn’t feeling sick,” she says.

Jessica and Iain were keen to start a family straight after their Waiheke wedding.

Jessica’s final week at work was a bit of a challenge, with the results of the last political poll needing to be scrutinised and reported.

“That’s my idea of a fun time,” she grins. “So I really wanted to stay for that one, so timelines were dictated a little by that.

“And also there was a bit of me that wanted to be that heavily pregnant and on TV, and just doing a job. I wanted to prove a point a little bit.

“We’ve seen it with the PM and other MPs, and with the MediaWorks guys as well – it’s not like you don’t see women heavily pregnant on TV. But it’s still a bit unusual, so a part of it appealed to me – I wanted to deliver my analysis on politics while being pregnant and have it not be a thing. And it wasn’t. Well, apart from the puffing. I have to say the puffing standing still was a new low!”

Jessica has also been able to swap “war” stories with TVNZ colleague Abby Wilson, who is one week ahead of her – although, as Jessica remarks wryly, their pregnancy experiences have been a tad different.

“She’s had really nice things that have happened, like her lips have swelled. Meanwhile, I get a cankle on one ankle. And all the other attractive things too, like the hands, the face.”

Now firmly ensconced nesting in her and Iain’s Wellington hills home – “I definitely have that weird thing of wanting to clean out the linen cupboards!” – Jessica says she couldn’t be more excited to welcome her wee daughter.

“It feels very real now,” she gushes. “The name’s all picked out – I wanted it locked in because I know that when we get to the hospital, and everything’s going on and it’s time for decisions, I’ll be like,

‘I don’t care, do what you want, I no longer have an opinion! – and everything else is sorted.

“We can’t wait to meet her!”

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