Pregnancy & Birth

Wild twin Serena’s baby joy

After a devastating miscarriage, TV star Serena and her hubby Atoni can’t wait to meet their baby girl.

By Hayley McLarin
When the image on the sonographer's screen wouldn't keep still long enough to take a clear picture, it made Serena Shine and her husband Atoni Toleafoa beam. It would seem the little girl they are having is going to be just like her active mum.
Serena, one of New Zealand's famous Wild Twins, wants her daughter to be as independent and adventurous as she was from a very early age.
"I just want her to go out and give things a go, exactly how I was brought up. If you prefer more girly things, that's totally fine. And if not, that's also totally fine too, just as long as you try things."
Serena and her twin Amber, 32, are known for their adventurous go-get-'em lifestyle, and their love for hunting, fishing and spending time in the wild, having appeared on TV shows Naked And Afraid and First Man Out.
However, that lifestyle had to take a backseat for Serena when she found out about her pregnancy because, sadly, she had just lost a baby at an early stage.
"We had a bit of a rocky start with the first try – a miscarriage when I was six weeks pregnant," she confides. "That makes the second time around a bit scarier.
"We were just so excited and so amped up, so it hit hard a little bit, but we're super-stoked for the second time around, and she is all-go and healthy."
New Zealand's famous Wild Twins Serena and Amber Shine.
Serena and Atoni were on a three-month trip across South America and Mexico last year when they decided on an impromptu wedding. They came back to New Zealand "on a big high" and decided they wanted to start trying for a baby. However, they had to wait three months because they had travelled through places with potential Zika virus, which can cause brain damage in babies during pregnancy.
Then they had the tragedy of their first pregnancy and didn't want to wait to try again.
"Although the advice is to wait, I found conflicting research that actually said your best chances are if you don't," explains Serena. "So that worked out for us – we got pregnant the very next cycle.
"I've done all the research and you don't need to wrap yourself in bubble wrap – you just behave normally. But once you have had a loss like that, you just can't help being a bit more careful until you're in the safe zone."
Serena says she listens to her body and knows what her limitations are.
"I definitely still do hold my breath a bit. I'll do stuff that I know is totally fine. And then afterwards, I'm like, 'OK, I've got to wait for the baby to kick.' I haven't done anything silly that I know I shouldn't have.
"I'm still trying to be me. I'm still doing CrossFit workouts. That definitely had to adapt. Burpees are a lot harder with the bump sticking out! I'm still lifting weights and doing handstand press-ups. I trust my ability. Of course I don't do anything that's going to push it for me."
The couple is expecting their little one to be full-on!
The couple decided to find out the sex of their baby during chromosomal tests. Atoni tears up thinking about the day of the scan.
"After the miscarriage, I didn't want to expect much," the building apprentice confides. "It was really daunting. I just wanted to be there to catch Serena when she wasn't strong.
"We were at the scan and I heard them say, 'Oh, you've got a little one right here,' and then Serena started tearing up.
"But the baby wouldn't stop moving in the scan. She turned around again, stopped for two seconds and he took a photo. She's really active – she's going to be like her mum!"
Then still unaware of the baby's sex, they had the test results put in a sealed envelope, which they gave to a cake maker for their gender- shocked to discover that Serena is carrying a girl.
She laughs, "For some reason, we were really expecting a boy. So when we cut into the cake, we were like, 'Ah, there's nothing in here.' I didn't realise it was because we were looking at pink."
Atoni adds, "I was looking for the blue as well. I had looked at boys' names because I grew up with four boys."
He's been busy researching all the baby equipment they will need before the big arrival next month, with the pair already deciding on an off-road buggy and a large baby backpack for hiking trips.
"I'm into the outdoors, but not hardcore outdoors like Serena," says Atoni, 33. "I feel like I will be a fun dad.
Atoni and Serena married last year on the spur of the moment.
"I am really excited. We've been getting a lot of the house stuff done, so we don't have to worry about those jobs when the baby comes. I want to be hands-on."
Meanwhile, Serena hopes to still be able to do some work on her business, Glam Camping at Castaways.
"I'm planning to have six months off getting to know our new addition," she shares. "Of course, it is still up in the air on how we're going to juggle it all. It's very much going to have to be something that we assess as the time comes."
They are taking tips from family – Serena's older sister Chelsea has just had a son, as has Atoni's brother. While Amber will be away travelling with her husband Daely Overdevest early next year, she will also be there to help.
In their first book The Wild Twins, Serena and Amber talked about how as toddlers their mother Raewyn would take them, along with Chelsea and younger sister Jasmine, to go snail hunting, or their father would take them rabbit or possum shooting for pest control.
All four girls would build huts for overnight hikes on their rural South Auckland farm and they'd make rafts to get across the pond. By the time they were in double digits, the sisters had stopped relying on their parents and started setting their own challenges, navigating overnight survival tests, becoming bolder as their confidence increased.
It's perhaps not surprising then that Serena hopes to have the baby without any pain relief – but she remains open-minded.
"I'm hoping to go drug-free, but I am aware that sometimes you can't plan for stuff. I have a very high pain threshold. But I haven't given birth yet!

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