When newsreader Samantha Hayes set off to Argentina to take on one of the world's highest peaks, she knew she'd return home with stories to tell and memories to treasure. But what she didn't bank on was coming back to Aotearoa with a baby on board!
"This was very much a happy surprise," she smiles as she sits down with Woman's Day to share her baby joy.
"Starting a family was in the grand plan, but it definitely happened a bit sooner than we'd thought. I remember looking at that little stick with two lines on it and saying, 'Oh, my God' on repeat for about 20 minutes!"
"Jay was so excited to find out we were having a boy," she laughs. "At the scan, he was giving me high-fives, he was so happy. I, on the other hand, was just lying there thinking, 'Great, I'm in for a lifetime of penis and fart jokes!'"
Due in the spring, the Newshub presenter is positively glowing, and it's clear she's loving her new life with the man she first met four years ago while travelling in Brazil. They reconnected last year and Sam can't help but giggle about their baby's incredible beginnings in the freezing temperatures of the Andes.
"We'll be very surprised if this little one isn't good at altitude!" she says, looking down lovingly at her bump. The 35-year-old admits she never would've guessed the direction her life has taken since she won Dancing with the Stars last year.
"It's certainly been a bit of a whirlwind. But I feel great, I have a real sense of calm about the way everything has worked out."
But pregnancy hasn't been entirely smooth sailing for Sam, who battled migraines and nausea right up to the 20-week mark. "I felt terrible for months," she confides.
However, this didn't stop the fearless broadcaster from travelling to the Middle East to report on the Syrian crisis early on in her pregnancy, despite initial fears she'd have to miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"The first doctor I spoke to said I could absolutely not go, but my obstetrician was a lot more open to it," she tells. "He said that the travel wouldn't impact my pregnancy, only that the pregnancy would impact the travel. And he was right – it was much harder on my body and more tiring than any other work trip I've done. But I just had to find a way to push on through."
Watch: Sam Hayes speaks about her pregnancy on live TV. Article continues below.
Another challenge was keeping the news secret from those around her until she and Jay, 36, felt ready to share it. But while she thought she'd done a great job at pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, her eagle-eyed co-presenter Mike McRoberts wasn't fooled.
"I took him aside one night after work and told him I had something to tell him," she recalls. "He just said, 'Oh yes, I know, congratulations!' He'd looked sideways at me in the studio and suspected. Also the fact I'd turned down a glass of wine when we were waiting for a delayed flight one evening was a bit of a giveaway too."
Sam, whose cravings have included citrus and carbs, says she's found the past few months surprisingly emotional – seeing her baby on a scan for the first time was an unforgettable moment. "The whole process just fills me with wonder," she says. "It's gobsmacking what your body is capable of."
While mile-a-minute Sam has continued working out with her personal trainer, she admits she's been shocked by the tiredness that comes with growing a baby, and she's had to force herself to listen to her body. Her long runs around her Auckland neighbourhood have now been replaced with gentle walks.
And she confesses she couldn't help but feel a little self-conscious in those first few months as she got used to her changing body.
"In the beginning, I felt self-conscious and I worried about finding things to wear on TV. But now that the bump is well and truly here, I'm loving it. It's really liberating to embrace this new shape actually."
With Jay a towering two-metres tall, statuesque Sam has no doubt her baby will also have long limbs, and he's already proving to be something of an athlete, making sure his mum is always aware of his presence.
"He's very active!" she tells. "I have days where it feels like he's doing somersaults in there. I remember the first time I felt him kick when I was reading the news, it was quite disconcerting. I have to try hard not to giggle on air when he's squirming away."
Despite being a devoted aunty to her four nieces and nephews, Sam insists she's a rookie when it comes to preparing for a baby. Fortunately for her, she's surrounded by friends and family who are more than willing to offer their advice and support.
"My sister has done all the groundwork for me," Sam tells. "She wrote me a huge list of everything that we would need and sent us to the baby shop. We've put together the buggy and the car seat – we just need to get the little guy's room sorted now."
And when their wee man arrives, Southland-raised Sam will have plenty of support. Her devoted mum Sheena, who lives in Milton, has promised she'll decamp to Auckland whenever her daughter needs her.
"Mum is amazing – she's told me she'll be on standby to come up for a week, a month, a year, whatever it takes!" she laughs.
Sam credits Sheena for being a wonderful role model when it comes to parenthood.
"She's always there for me and has always supported me in everything I've put my mind to. So I really hope I'll be that kind of mum too. I hope that as he grows up, he'll feel like he can come and talk to me about anything that's troubling him. That's really important to me."
Sam also hopes to raise "a little feminist", who will grow up knowing that Mummy's job is just as important as Dad's.
"I also want to be a fun mum," she adds. "I think I'll be the one who's sneaking my toddler treats, while Jay will be a bit more serious. He'll be an amazing dad, though. He's so excited, it's very sweet."
While Sam can't wait to meet her little guy, she's honest when asked if she's always dreamed of becoming a mum, saying that until now, she's been largely focused on her journalism career.
"My work has always been my main focus and I still can't believe how lucky I am to be doing a job I absolutely love," she enthuses. "But I'm 35 now and it's definitely the right time for me to have a baby. I feel extremely lucky that it's come along."
There's no doubt she'll be a working mum – in fact, she plans to stay on air right up until her baby's due date and return several months later.
"I think it's good for the nation to see a heavily pregnant woman on screen," she says with a laugh. "And I'll definitely be back in some capacity, possibly even before Christmas. I am extremely grateful that my job allows me to be flexible."
While she and Jay are relishing every moment of this exciting time in their lives, the only stress is the thorny issue of baby names. They have yet to come up with a list they can agree on, and Sam is worried they'll never reach a decision.
"How do parents ever decide?!" she wonders. "We don't know where to start. My four-year-old niece Alice has decided he should be 'Baby Banana', so perhaps we'll stick with that."
They might be stuck on names, but there's no doubt when Sam and Jay's little boy makes his appearance in just a few months, he'll be well and truly loved.
"I talk to him all the time in my tummy and I definitely feel a bond already," she concludes. "It's amazing to think that he's going to come out and greet us with his little personality. We just can't wait to meet him."
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