At age 40, Rebecca Maddern had all but given up on her dreams of becoming a mum.
After three unsuccessful IVF attempts with her husband, cameraman Trent Miller, the co-host of Australian Ninja Warrior and The Footy Show (AFL) was questioning whether they would ever become parents. “Anyone who has been through IVF knows how difficult it is, it’s really
heartbreaking,” Maddern tells WHO, talking for the first time about her struggles to conceive Ruby, now 10 weeks.
“You can’t really describe it, or put it into words,” she says. “And it was so hard, because I used to get asked all the time, ‘When are you having children?’”
“As an older woman, you are thinking it might never happen,” she says. “Because let’s face it, the percentages are very small.” But midway through last year, something “miraculous” occurred: Maddern found out she was pregnant—the couple had conceived naturally. “Now, every day I have with her, it’s even more special,” she tells WHO.
WHO: How was the birth?
Her birthday is the 12th of April. She was born at 37 weeks, three weeks early. I had the onset of pre-eclampsia. I had been to the obstetrician on the Monday—she was born on the Thursday—and everything was fine.
My doctor said, “If anything happens from this point, just come in.” Also because I am an older woman having a baby—40 is considered older. Then I didn’t have a very good sleep, and just didn’t feel well. I had had such a great pregnancy, I worked on Ninja Warrior right in the middle of it. But I went in that day when everything was feeling a little bit “not quite right.” And I’m so glad I listened to my intuition. They put me on the foetal monitor, and she was fine, but blood tests
[revealed] I had high blood pressure. The next morning, they put me on the monitor again and said, “Go home. Get your bags, check in at 5.15, and you will be having your baby at 6.15 tonight.” Goodness! I only had a few hours to get my head around the fact she would be here very soon—and that I would be having a caesarean, which was not what I was expecting.
WHO: Where did you have the baby?
At Epworth Freemasons [in Melbourne]. It’s funny, because you “check in.” You go to the hospital not in labour. I always envisaged I would be going to the hospital in labour, but we just drove there, parked and
walked upstairs. I didn’t know anything about pre-eclampsia, but it is serious. And you can’t fix it. I have a girlfriend who delivered and then went into a coma for two weeks, because the pre-eclampsia escalated. But as soon as you get the baby out, everything is fine.
WHO: How amazing you listened to that voice …
Yes, that I went to the doctor when I didn’t feel quite right. And because I had felt so well all of my pregnancy, I’m lucky I did. I wasn’t working that day, I was just with my husband, running errands in the city. My doctor’s office is in the city, and I thought, “I’ll just pop in,” so glad I did! I don’t know if it’s intuition, but I always thought I would go early. And my mum thought I might go early.
WHO: She sounds like a good baby.
It has been the best 10 weeks of my life. Absolutely wonderful. Yes, you don’t get as much sleep but every time she wakes up, and I am feeding her in the middle of the night, it is such a precious and beautiful time. I have honestly loved every second of it. I feel guiltythat I have loved it so much. I know some mums have a really full-on time. I don’t want it to come across that everything has been perfect.
It’s not perfect. I am lucky, because my husband is a freelance cameraman, so he was able to take a big chunk off. He has been with me for four or five weeks, and we have done it together. Having two people who are really hands-on helps. He is so gorgeous with her. He has his little routine. He baths her at nighttime, and he loves that time with her, and I get to have a little rest. It’s been just beautiful.
WHO: You’ve been in that lovely baby bubble …
We have been. I didn’t know what the “baby bubble” was. I kept getting texts after she was born, saying, “Enjoy the bubble. You will love it.” And I was thinking, “What are they talking about?” Now I know exactly. It’s the most beautiful time. You don’t do anything but look after them, that’s what my priority is, and I have just enjoyed every second of it. I am an older mum, and she is really precious. I was really lucky to fall pregnant. It’s just beautiful.
WHO: I know it was a natural conception, but had you been thinking of IVF?
Yeah. We did IVF, which wasn’t successful. So it was a really difficult period for us. And then I fell pregnant. She was naturally conceived after a series of failed IVF attempts.
WHO: Are you happy for it to be out there?
Yeah, I am. I hadn’t really told anyone. We had three fails in a row. We changed doctors, we entertained thoughts of trying some different things. I thought that maybe it wouldn’t happen for us. But it did. And when I fell pregnant it was quite extraordinary. You think to yourself, at times, “This might never happen.” And no-one knows what you are going through. I never said publicly, “I want children. I am desperate to have children.” But deep down you want it.
WHO: Especially when friends are having them …
Yeah. Although, I didn’t really get any external pressure from friends or family. I have always been really career-driven. My husband and I have a great life, and we are very happy with each other. So if it didn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for us. But it is a little miracle that we have her.
WHO: How much of a surprise was it when you found out you were pregnant?
I thought, “It couldn’t be!” But it was real! I actually started laughing to myself. My husband was at work, I said, “Don’t get too excited, but this has just happened. We’ll talk about it tonight.” And he was like, “OK!”
WHO: What were your thoughts when you found out Ruby was a ‘she’ not a ‘he’?
Everyone couldn’t believe we didn’t want to know. I was convinced I was having a boy, he was convinced we were having a girl. When she came out, he was like, ‘What is it?’ I couldn’t see, because the cord was in the way. Then they told us, and my husband and I were speechless. I think that moment when they get her out, and they weigh her, and they come over to you, and they put her on your chest—it’s unbelievable.
I am getting teary just thinking about it!
WHO: It sounds like you are still in the bubble …
Still in it! It’s like, there are moments where it is hard and “She’s crying again!” but then you see that beautiful little face, and you grab her and feed her and it’s just so beautiful.
WHO: Does it make you want to go again?
I can see why people have many, many children because newborns are very beautiful. I don’t know what is in store for us. I will leave that open-ended. I am 41 in August, and I am very happy with her.
For more on Bec's baby pick-up a copy of WHO on-sale now!
TV podcast Binge List this week features Jack Irish, Anne With An E, Home And Away, Ninja Warrior, GLOW, and JK Rowling's CB Strike – plus we interview Wilmer Valderrama. Subscribe via iTunes http://po.st/syE3JF or OMNY http://po.st/OBos0a.