Thursday 29 September 2016

People need to think before probing a woman's baby plans, says Ramona

Dragons' Den star plans to step back from television series to focus on her miracle baby after three years trying to conceive, she tells Niamh Horan

Published 24/01/2016 | 02:30

Home is where the heart is: Ramona Nicholas, with her husband Canice and son Alex at their home in Bundoran, Co Donegal Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8
Home is where the heart is: Ramona Nicholas, with her husband Canice and son Alex at their home in Bundoran, Co Donegal Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8

TV star and multi-millionairess business entrepreneur Ramona Nicholas has spoken candidly about the difficulties of trying for another child.

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The 38-year-old announced her pregnancy after a difficult three years trying to conceive.

As she announces she is to step back from RTE's hit show Dragons' Den, the television star and mother of five-year-old Alex, said that people need to be more aware of sensitivities surrounding women's fertility before they start probing into their plans for a baby.

"We had been trying for a while and I was having both women and men - but more women - ask me if I was pregnant because my stomach was a bit swollen due to a cyst on my ovary," she said. "It happens to lots of women.

"On another occasion I was on holiday with my husband and I got a text congratulating me on my pregnancy. I just replied saying that I would love to be, but I am not. They had heard it down the country somewhere.

"It can be very stressful," she said. "We did try and it didn't happen and you see so much of it happen now and it can be down to the stresses of everyday life and working too hard.

"You get to the stage where you get obsessed thinking about it. You're constantly asking yourself: 'Why can I not? What's wrong with me? Why can I not have another child?'

"And then, you can imagine, when you have a 5-year-old as well asking in the middle of the supermarket 'Mammy, why can't I have a little brother or sister? We had to spin him a story that we have now had to backtrack on," she laughs.

After three years the couple decided to ease off on the pressure of their dream for a bigger family.

"We decided we were going to be happy with Alex and enjoy life as it is. We made the decision to live our lives and start planning for our life the way it was and to start planning forward. It distracted me so I wasn't expecting it," she said.

Ramona, who is joint Managing Director of the Cara Group, along with her husband Canice, has now taken the decision to step down from the upcoming RTE series to focus on the baby, due in March.

"I view this as a gift. You have to ask yourself 'What's important?' We are seeing so many people having problems having children and it's not something we want to take for granted. The priority for us now is having a happy, healthy child."

Speaking about the clash with her due date and filming for the show, she said: "My mother went early with all of us and I went early with Alex. You hate letting people down but I didn't want to be in a situation where I had to pull out in the middle of it."

Each year an estimated 3,000 children are born in Ireland as a result of IVF - but the couple made the decision that they would not go down that route.

"It is a wonderful route for many people but we made the decision that if Alex was the only child we were going to have, then we should be grateful for that. So many people can't have any children."

She added: "I have heard it can be very destructive to people and marriages and I didn't want that extra pressure."

Now that the baby they longed for is due she said she is going to take time out to concentrate on motherhood.

"The first question I am always asked is 'how long are you taking for maternity leave?'" she laughs.

After the birth of her first child, Ramona was back answering emails 48 hours later. She says: "I regret that now because I had a sick child. I was 32, I was young and I wanted to prove a point. In my head I was thinking 'if my husband is able to go back out to work, why do I have to stay at home?'

"Now I feel more confident that I can make a decision and that I don't have to be driven by what other people expect I should be doing as a woman who is running their own business."

Her company employs 150 people, has an annual turnover of €25m and has won many awards under her guidance, including the Deloitte Best Managed Company 2012, 2013, and 2014, and achieved the Gold Standard in 2015.

The businesswoman explained how she regularly listens to audio tapes on the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction, which she says has helped her success. "I used to think life happened to you but I definitely believe you can pre-empt things. It is about the law of attraction. I would be a very visual person, I write down a list of goals. I have about 70 to 80 on my bucket list and I have mood boards," she says.

"It is freaky to look back now and see the things I had pinned on my the boards and how they have come to fruition."

Sunday Independent

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