When Kerry-Lee Dewing moved to Sydney, she knew it would be the start of an exciting adventure. But three years on, it’s even better than she’d dared to hope – she’s now six months pregnant and happier than ever!
Leaving Shortland Street and shifting to Australia was a leap of faith, but it’s paid off for the actress, 34, who says, “I’m at an age when most people are in a stage of their careers where things are relatively familiar and stable, but I’m very much in a growth phase. I’m still discovering and figuring things out, and I don’t expect that to stop for some time.”
And as she catches up with Woman’s Day on a whirlwind visit home to New Zealand, the stunning South African-born star is glowing. Pregnancy has been “beautiful” for Kerry-Lee and she simply can’t wait for October, when she and her partner, investment manager Jono, 36, will meet their baby.
“This is the most wonderful surprise gift we could ever have dreamed of,” she says, settling onto the sofa to chat, a hand resting lovingly on her baby bump. “I’ve felt euphoric since the moment I found out I was pregnant.”
While Kerry-Lee had always wanted to be a mum, she admits this baby came along a lot faster than she could’ve imagined. In fact, after years of unexplained symptoms and painful episodes, she feared her path to motherhood would be challenging.
Having returned to Sydney after their Christmas holiday in Aotearoa and then a snowboarding trip to Japan, she and Jono had an appointment at a fertility clinic. Kerry-Lee explains, “I’ve had a history of issues around hormones and my cycle, done all the tests and scans, and seen several specialists over the years, but they’ve never really landed on any conclusive answers.”
One doctor told her she had polycystic ovarian syndrome, but a month later, another specialist told her that was unlikely and it was probably superficial endometriosis.
“Naturally, this led me to question my fertility and how easy the process would be,” says Kerry-Lee. “So we decided to initiate three months of ovulation testing to confirm how I was placed, thinking
we could start trying in September or October 2023. I was supposed to call the clinic on the first day of my next cycle, but that cycle never came – instead, I was calling them to say ‘I’m pregnant!'”
The night before they found out the happy news, Kerry-Lee had mentioned her boobs had never felt so sore and Jono replied, “You’re pregnant!” But she tells us, “I just laughed and pretty much dismissed the idea because it seemed too unbelievable.”
However, the next morning, after a leisurely swim at the beach and then breakfast, they popped into a pharmacy to pick up a test just in case. Kerry-Lee recalls, “Twenty minutes later, I was staring
at a positive test with my hand over my mouth. I was stuck for what felt like an hour.”
After sharing the news with an equally ecstatic Jono, the couple jumped on his motorbike to buy two more tests – both of which returned positive results. The news was beginning to sink in.
“We were over the moon,” smiles Kerry-Lee. “Those initial hours and days were just amazing. I was in this sustained state of euphoria! I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was the most perfect and genuine example of a surprise. We were so ready for this pregnancy, but by no means expecting it to happen – and certainly not that easily. We felt like we’d been handed an early, perfect gift.”
Kerry-Lee is incredibly grateful to be on this parenting journey with Jono, who she met in 2018, after being set up by their mothers, who are friends.
“Our mums played match-maker,” laughs Kerry-Lee. “They thought we’d be perfect together and, in hindsight, they were absolutely right.”
After much persistence, the couple agreed to meet for coffee on Christmas Eve 2018, when Jono was back in New Zealand for the holidays. They hit it off right away.
“Coffee at a local café turned into a couple of hours of last-minute Christmas shopping together and, well, the rest is history,” says Kerry-Lee.
A year of long-distance romance followed, before the actress – who played Shorty serial killer/vigilante Kylie Brown – left the iconic TVNZ 2 soap to move to Sydney. Not only had she found “the one”, but she also embarked on a new career in commercial leasing alongside her acting.
Jono has supported her every step of the way, she tells. “He is a kind, honest, humble, salt-of-the-earth guy – a genuine human. Right off the bat, I felt a sense of safety and alignment with him. It’s been so wonderful establishing a life together. Babies were always on the cards. We just didn’t think it would happen so easily.”
Kerry-Lee’s pregnancy has been straightforward so far and she feels incredibly fortunate to have escaped the morning sickness many women experience.
“Pregnancy has been beautiful for me, but I’m very aware that’s not the case for everyone, so I don’t take that for granted. I feel energised and I’m still able to do the things that make me happy –
a huge one being exercise.
“Up until about 20 weeks, I still felt mostly myself, aside from some carby cravings and adversity to coffee in the first trimester, a slight tapering off in time spent at the gym and spending about 30% of the night rushing to the loo. I just looked like I’d ‘had a good summer’, as Jono would say, referring to my little extra cushion. Pregnancy still seemed somewhat abstract.
“But now there’s an undeniable, low, hard bump and there’s no hiding it,” she shares. “Getting out of bed feels like relocating a whale and the idea of raising my feet at the end of the day is very appealing. From week 20 or 21, it was like someone flicked a switch and I can feel Bub vigorously wiggling around for a large portion of every day.”
Kerry-Lee and Jono have agreed not to find out if they’re expecting a boy or a girl. “The way we see it is that this is another beautiful surprise that awaits us,” she says. “For now, we’re just focused on bringing a human into the world, who we cannot wait to meet, and that’s more than enough to be excited about. Whether we’ll be standing on the side of a rugby field, a swimming pool or a ballet studio is by the by.”
And while their baby will be born in Sydney, the couple will ensure their little bundle spends plenty of time in Aotearoa as he or she grows. In fact, the tickets are already booked for Christmas in Godzone.
“We feel lucky to have two homes,” says Kerry-Lee. “Being spread across two countries is refreshing and the frequent change of scenery is always welcome. New Zealand feels familiar and easy, while Australia on the other hand is exciting and challenging.”
A permanent move home may well be on the cards at some point, though. “There is absolutely a time in one’s life where you value parental support, family bonds and a slower pace. We’re very aware that time might be fast approaching.”
While Kerry-Lee would love a natural birth, she’s approaching the labour with an open mind. “Naturally I’d like my body to do all the things when and how it ‘should’, but as long as everyone’s happy and
healthy, this is what matters. A plan is irrelevant.”
With just a few months before two become three, Kerry-Lee and Jono are savouring every moment of the pregnancy.
“We’re really just trying to be present and enjoy every moment of this journey as it unfolds without looking too far into the future. Seeing our little ‘Chip’ in there at the 20-week scan was incredible and made it all very real. We are just so excited to meet our baby.”