Jennifer Maguire: 'The minute we arrived in the Seychelles on honeymoon, my morning sickness began'
Broadcaster and new mum Jennifer Maguire talks honeymoons gone awry, early-morning rises and, as she tells Claire O'Mahony, how she's blessed with baby Florence
It's fair to say that Jennifer Maguire has taken to motherhood with relish. The TV presenter and broadcaster and her husband, actor Lau Zamparelli, welcomed their first child in March: Florence Myra weighed eight pounds and four ounces. "She's very advanced! She got 500 points in the Leaving Cert a couple of weeks ago, she's doing great," the 33-year-old jokes, and then adds, "I am blessed that she's a good sleeper. She's just a really happy baby and we're just delighted with her. I'd have 10 like her but I know if I ever went again, the next one will be a real one that keeps me awake and doesn't sleep."
As thrilled as they are with Florence, the baby inadvertently put somewhat of a scupper on the pair's honeymoon after they married at Castle Leslie last year. The newlyweds arrived in the Seychelles and upgraded their room to a massive villa when Jennifer began to get sick, which was the first heralding of Florence's future arrival. "Literally, as soon as I went to the villa, I started puking and was sick for the whole two weeks. It was misery," she recalls. But, of course, that's now all behind the host of 2fm's Breakfast Republic, who returned to work after 10 weeks' maternity leave.
Going back to work was, she admits, a bit of a shock to the system in the beginning. "Because I was breastfeeding and it was hard to pump during ad breaks because they're not that long. So it was weird, but it was easier for me because I was leaving Florence with her dad and I was getting back to her at 11am," she says. "I'm very lucky because there are a lot of mums out there who have to commute an hour and work eight, nine hours a day. That wasn't the case for me. Yes, I was back after 10 weeks but just in the morning time, and with this job, you have to strike while the iron is hot. It was a very important time for the breakfast show and we're writing a series, so it was kind of now or never. We didn't really have a choice."
The Baldoyle native, who first shot to fame on BBC1's The Apprentice, describes Florence and Lau as great pals who get on famously with each other. "It's great because he's an actor and we both work, we're self-employed, and he gets to pick and choose what days he does. It's a quiet time for him at the moment and he spends a lot of time with her, which is great because he gets to bond.
"I think men are always fearful of the baby stage - 'Oh, it's great when they can talk and I can interact' - but I think he kind of surprised himself with how good he is with her as a small baby."
Having Florence has changed their relationship and in very positive ways. "There's definitely a lot more laughter; she's great craic and it definitely brings you closer together.
"I think we've been very lucky we didn't have to struggle with feeds at night. She had two teeth pop up and we didn't really notice she was teething until we saw them. She's been so good," Jennifer says, before adding, "Why do I keep saying this because I'm going to get daggers now from other women and people will be throwing things at me! No, we've been blessed, we really have."
While the star and her husband have been snapped out and about with Florence, there haven't been any glossy magazine shoots of the family yet. "I was very close to doing a shoot and I was going to do it and then I thought 'Who is this going to benefit? Is it going to benefit her?'" she explains. "So I kind of changed my mind at the very last minute and it wasn't because I think it's tacky and I have nothing against people who do it, but for me, I thought I don't really have time to be doing this.
"Your time has become so precious, so whatever you do, you really have to be sure you want to be doing it, or believe in it."
It's on that basis that she got involved with Pregnacare New Mum and is the ambassador for the pregnancy supplement brand. "Becoming involved in this campaign is one of the most 'mumsy' things I've done, just simply because I believe in it and I'm talking from experience of actually taking it," she says. "I think because I suffered a lot with stuff like hormonal acne and tiredness and getting back to work so quickly, [I wanted] to feel normal again as quickly as I could and you need all the help you need, so taking the supplement really did help."
Becoming a mum to Florence has changed Jennifer in various ways, one being that she's less concerned now with trivialities. "As long as she's ok and my family is ok, that's all that really matters. It's not that I don't care about work - I mean, I do care about work, I went back after 10 weeks - but it's not the be all and end all."
The presenter also sometimes finds it difficult to pick up a newspaper. "The whole crisis in Syria, I can't read about that. I can't see babies in life jackets. I can't look at that anymore, it upsets me terribly. Since I've become a mother, I've just become super sensitive, and of course, your hormones are still all over the place."
A working day for Jennifer starts at 5.30am (Florence is now sleeping through the night) and it's into the 2fm studios to do the radio show, followed by meetings, and she's hopefully home for the early afternoon and then she has the rest of the day to spend with Florence.
In July, the new mum announced her departure from Republic of Telly, the show she had been involved with for seven years, to focus on a new project. Bridget and Eamon is a comedy based on a sketch from Republic of Telly which co-stars her co-presenter Bernard O'Shea. "People think I'm mad, probably because it [Republic of Telly] is a hit show and it's always done so well. It is a little scary, but it was time, and Bridget and Eamon is something that we really need to do and the public really wanted," she explains, describing it as her "dream job".
As well as exciting career developments, she's also enjoying Florence's milestones - she's just started onto solids - and tells a funny story about an incident with Lau's Italian grandmother on a recent trip to the UK. "The nan is 90 and we said to her we can't give her any pasta because she's too young, maybe when we come back at Christmas, and I turned around and it wasn't even salami, it was mortadella, you know that really processed meat? And she had a piece of mortadella, sticking it in the baby's mouth!"
Her support network is her sisters and mother, who lives in Baldoyle. "It's a shame Lau's family live in the UK because they'd love to be able to help out," she says. "We don't have a huge network of babysitters, so if anyone would like to offer to babysit, that'd be great!"
Asked what her advice is to other mothers, she says it's not to take anybody's advice. "Because you feel so much pressure from others mums, your own mum, your mother-in-law and your friends and your sisters and books and TV to do things a certain way," she says. "And when you take all that on board, and you have your own child, you forget to listen to your child and your own intuition. I think just listen to yourself and trust yourself and listen to your baby - it will tell you its own natural rhythm as to how to do things. Don't be so regimented I think."
Jennifer Maguire is on RTE 2fm's 'Breakfast Republic' (Monday-Friday, 6am-10am) and is Pregnacare® New Mum
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