Tuesday 22 October 2019

'I was really scared about becoming a mother again' - RTE news anchor Eileen Whelan on having a baby aged 48

RTE's Eileen Whelan at the 2014 Punchestown racing festival Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
RTE's Eileen Whelan at the 2014 Punchestown racing festival Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

RTE news anchor Eileen Whelan has said she was "really scared" about becoming a mother again at the age of 48.

Eileen (55) and her husband Larry, who were married in 2009, had IVF treatment to conceive their son Larry Jr, she told the RTE Guide.

The newsreader had her first child Seán in 1999 after she met a Brazilian journalist in the US, and when the relationship ended, she returned to Ireland in 2000.

She had always dreamed of a big wedding, and in 2007 she met law lecturer Larry Donnelly, she said. They met at a party hosted by the Dean of the Law School at NUI Galway (and it was Eileen's colleague Teresa Mannion who suggested that she go to the party).

When Seán met Larry on the couple's third date, he told her: "Now listen to me mum, marry him."

After the couple had been trying for some time to have a baby, they decided to try IVF treatment. Some of her friends thought she was mad, she admitted, but she herself didn't.

"I was really scared about going back to becoming a mother again."

But she said: "I didn't think I was mad because we were really trying to get pregnant and we were so lucky."

"I said this to my sister when I was trying to get pregnant... And my sister said maybe that's why it isn't working for you. She told me to put it out of my head, that I'd been a mother before and after all mum had reared 14 of us."

"But it's really lonely when you have a baby. No one tells you about that. I suffered from that loneliness. It wasn't so bad the second time round for me. I was back in Ireland, I was happy in my relationship. I had been with Seán's father and I wasn't happy. I still feel that pressure on my chest when I think back on it."

Seán (20) is studying business management at DIT while Larry Jr will be seven on November 2.

She added: "Life is a bit easier now. Larry is at school going into first class this September. The truth is, I was quite stressed when he was younger, going through all the work of minding a toddler again which is quite full-on when you are working full-time."

Eileen, who lost her mum Ellen in 2015 after she had suffered with dementia, says she often thinks of her at trying moments of parenting since Ellen reared 14 children.

"In those moments when little Larry is driving me nuts I'm thinking 'Jesus mum, how did you do it?' And here I am with just one baby."

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