'Jesus Christ, pregnancy is long...' - Vogue Williams on true love, difficult births and giving up drink
Two years ago, Vogue Williams thought that time wasn’t on her side in the baby game. Now, she tells Sarah Caden that being six hours away from baby Theodore seems like a lifetime; how Spencer Matthews convinced her to marry again; and how she’s pretty much given up drinking for a ‘boring’ life that makes her happier than ever
It's three o'clock in the afternoon and Vogue Williams has been away from her new baby, Theodore, for less than an hour. She's been apart from him for this long before, but knows that there are about five more hours until she sees him again.
It is the longest they will have been apart since Theodore was born at the start of September, and Vogue has that slightly twitchy feeling that most mothers will recognise. It's like a little voice going constantly, telling you that you've forgotten something important.
By the sounds of things, Vogue hasn't forgotten anything. She relates how she pumped milk on the morning flight from London, to cover one feed for which she will be absent. She has a sterilised pump and bottles in her big handbag for pumping mid-photo shoot. Theodore is with his dad, Vogue's new husband Spencer Matthews, now, and then he'll be with her mother later. Vogue hopes to be back from the launch she is doing for Lily O'Brien's chocolate Share Bags in time to see Theodore before he goes to sleep.
"It's a lot of organising," Vogue laughs, "but luckily, I love organising and planning."
I've heard Vogue Williams rattle off a plan before. In the two previous interviews I've had with her in the last four years, she has always been one to have a system and a strategy. Back then, however, it was all about balancing her blow-out nights on the tiles and fast-food hangover days, with clean eating and intense exercise.
The second time we met, she was talking about freezing her eggs.
Times have changed, and it's not just that Vogue Williams is now a wife and mother. These details of her personal life certainly step her up into a different level of adulthood, but Vogue has, in the past two years, also taken a step up in the stardom stakes.
She's the kind of celebrity who's papped taking her dog for a walk. The arrival of her baby made the cover of Hello! magazine. Theodore's cousin, Arthur - son of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews, Spencer's brother - is a first cousin of Prince George, for god's sake.
But Vogue doesn't get worked up about all of that. For Vogue, what matters right now is the love. Vogue is really feeling the love and really loving life.
"It's kind of mad to think how much life has changed - I think for the better," Vogue says. "I was going through a really hard time about two years ago, probably my toughest time with anxiety and that, and now I'm just in such a different space. It's like black and white, the way I am. I'm just so happy and content. Back then, I was having quite a hard time."
Two years ago was just before Vogue met Spencer Matthews, then best known as one of the stars of Made in Chelsea. They met on The Jump, the reality-TV ski-jumping show, infamous for the injuries suffered by the celeb contestants, one of whom was Vogue, who wrecked her knee during training. She and Spencer weren't long on the show together, but almost immediately, the rumour mill began about their relationship.
It was obvious there was chemistry, as the two were, as Vogue puts it, "the messers" on the show, but she wasn't in the market for a relationship.
"It was just before the time of The Jump," she says, "just before I met Spencer, and I had been seeing someone else and that didn't work out, and I realised I was still going for the same kind of people - disasters. People with a lot of stuff they need to sort out for themselves.
"So I stopped that," Vogue says, "and I thought, 'Right, I have to figure this out and not get myself back in a loop again'. I took time to myself and that was something I thought I'd hate, but I absolutely loved it. So when I met Spencer on The Jump, I was so happy being single that I kept saying, 'This is going nowhere. Don't think it is.' I was just so cool about it that we became such great friends, and then everything else came after that.
Vogue laughs about the months she spent telling herself and Spencer that it was going nowhere, before she accepted that it was something special and serious. She didn't want to be "linked to" yet another person publicly, but she came to realise that Spencer was different to the guys she'd been drawn to before. The "21-year-old boy" who had been cast as something of a cad on Made in Chelsea had done a lot of growing up, he wasn't carrying around all that "stuff", and he didn't need her to fix him.
"He's just great fun and we're best friends," Vogue says. "We argue about very little and we just fit really well with each other."
They started talking about having a family almost straight away. About the time they accepted the relationship was for real, Vogue was filming a run of her documentary series for RTE. One film was about women addressing their fertility and making decisions about it that included freezing eggs and sperm donors, which led Vogue and Spencer, in the first flush of love, to lay their baby-making intentions on the table.
"I know it was quick for us to start trying to have a baby, but we both really wanted it," Vogue says. "We were together under a year, but, in fairness, we didn't know it would happen as quickly as it did. I'd been told it wouldn't, because I'd been on the pill for so long, but then I was one of the lucky ones it happened for quite quickly.
"It was a surprise," Vogue laughs, "and no one is ever fully ready. When you're first pregnant, you have that 'Wow, I can't wait' and then, by the end of the nine months - which is really 10 months of waiting for someone to arrive - you're just so ready for it to be over."
The celebrity synergy of Vogue and Spencer has certainly ramped up their combined fame, but her Instagram activity has also played a huge part in raising her profile. And her pregnancy was huge, in popularity terms. And, of course, in terms of those who wanted to knock her for keeping up her exercise regime and taking several sun holidays.
Vogue stuck steadfastly to her training while pregnant with Theodore, though it was obviously a modified programme. To have stopped training would have been ridiculous, Vogue says. She exercises because she loves it, and it makes her feel good, and her fitness helped her in labour and in getting back into shape and feeling good post-partum.
"The comments I'd get from people were, like, 'Just sit down and eat and relax'. And I'd think, 'That's just not what I like doing'.
"And I didn't want to feel uncomfortable in my skin after the baby," says Vogue. "Of course I did [feel uncomfortable], but not really. And I feel really great now, and happy and healthy, and I was able to get back into exercise quite quickly after because I'd done it the whole way through.
"I think you've a responsibility to put a positive spin on pregnancy, though. It's tough, but at the end you have your baby, and it's the best thing you'll ever do. But it's good to take care of yourself, and pregnancy is the hardest thing you'll ever do, and it's very long. Jesus Christ, it's long."
Vogue says she was very sick all through her first trimester, then "barely felt like" she was pregnant for the second, and was then incapable of sleeping through the third. She was more tired in the final months of pregnancy than she is now, Vogue says.
Theodore, she says, has been sleeping through the night since he was five weeks' old. She acknowledges that haters will jump on a comment like that, but, again, Vogue feels a responsibility to convey the positives of early motherhood. There are enough people who put the frighteners on about pregnancy and birth and motherhood, without her joining in.
Despite her love of a plan, Vogue had none for her birth. She didn't want a home birth or a water birth - "Ugh, rank!" - but she tried hypno-birthing "for about the first four hours".
Theodore was three weeks overdue, and he is a very long baby, who was getting very uncomfortable. They took Vogue in to induce her, she laboured for 20 hours, and then they said the baby was getting uncomfortable and that she needed a Caesarean. No sooner was she topped up with epidural and ready for the operation, though, than she dilated fully and was ready to push.
Theodore was born at a healthy 9lbs, and has been "a great feeder" and sleeper since. The love was instant, she says, to the point that she wanted everyone to know the happiness and joy, and have babies of their own.
It has been an emotional roller coaster of a year, really, in that only three months before Theodore's arrival, Vogue and Spencer got married.
"It did matter to us to get married," Vogue says. She confesses that when she first met Spencer, she told him she would never be doing it again, but he changed that.
They decided, ultimately, on a small wedding before the baby came. Paul Costelloe made her a dress that "fit beautifully over the bump" and the day was "perfect", though she and Spencer feel bad about the friends who were not invited to the family-only occasion.
"We were going to have a small registry office in London with really close friends and family," Vogue says, "but then Spencer's family have an estate up in Scotland [10,000-acre Glen Affric], so we decided it might be nice to do it up there, with no paps or anything. We had 24 people and it was a great weekend and no one went wild - the latest people were in bed at 1am, and I was gone by 10pm."
Family life has been a revelation, Vogue says. "Back on The Jump, the two of us were absolutely messers. We loved a drink. Even now, I look back and think our lives are so different now. I love being a bit boring now. Spencer doesn't drink; I don't really drink.
"I don't like the taste of it," Vogue says of alcohol. "I never liked the taste of it, but I thought, 'I love getting drunk, I love drink', but now I just don't like it, so I'm not drinking it. That's so different, and everything's so amazing.
"It might seem like I'm having the most boring time, but I'm the happiest I've ever been," she says.
What would complete the picture for Vogue, she is not shy of saying, would be to bring up Theodore in her native Howth. She's always homesick, and having her son has only made her even more aware of the pull to home.
Vogue says she didn't get home for two months, one before and one after Theodore's arrival, the latter because they didn't realise he needed a passport. She still has an apartment in Howth, and is the process now of buying a house.
"I'm actually buying the house in Howth because [I'd try] anything to tempt Spencer to eventually move back here," she laughs.
"I think we'll split our time more now we have Theodore," she says. "London is great for work and I'm happy to split my time with London, but if Spencer ever wanted to move to the countryside in England, I wouldn't.
"If anyone ever asks me about different places, I always say I'd rather be in Howth. Any time I'm home, I just walk the pier and think how lucky I am to be there. I think that would be amazing for Theodore, and Spencer's quite relaxed about things, so we'll see."
The family life of the Williams-Matthews house is clearly happy, if Instagram is anything to go by. Both Vogue and Spencer are prolific users. It is part of their job, and Theodore has been quite the star of the show since his arrival, with both parents clearly besotted and delighted with him. Vogue thinks it's important not to take any of this online life too seriously, though.
"Instagram to me is just all about fun," Vogue says. "I have made so many Instagram friends, with just people who contact me and, yeah, it's a great tool for advertising, it is, but like, I'm never one to say yes to every job. Maybe when I was young doing those horrendous press calls on Grafton Street, but now I can be picky and take on brands that make sense for me and my followers."
Certainly, Vogue is a bigger name in the UK than she was a few years ago. She appears in the newspapers more often at red-carpet events and via screengrabs taken from her Instagram, and she seems to be stalked by the paparazzi, which remains a celeb yardstick.
"Yeah, I really need to start doing my make-up before I leave the house," Vogue laughs, though she's keen to downplay the attention. "We do get papped a bit and they know where we live now, which is quite annoying, but really all they ever get is us going for a walk with our dog and how many pictures can you get of that?"
There may have been a time when Vogue Williams would have taken this attention as a stamp of celeb approval, but she's less certain now. "It's not always what it's cracked up to be," she says, "but it is all part of the job. When you're at an event and you get ready for that and you're photographed; that's part of the job. You don't want to be photographed looking crap, but I don't ever get cranky about it, neither of us does."
"The only thing I worry about in terms of my career is that people won't enjoy my TV shows, but the last one went down really well, so I was happy about that," says Vogue, who filmed her next series for RTE during her pregnancy.
Vogue is already back to work, on another RTE project she can't discuss, but she's aware that nothing is really as you anticipate before a baby's arrival. Then, she concedes, you imagine the baby will fit in and everything will continue as before, but that's not the reality. Your head is different, she says, and that's the surprise. It's a pleasant surprise, though, she is keen to convey.
"I'm figuring things out with work," Vogue says. "I want to bring him whenever I can. I think people are a lot more understanding than they used to be. RTE were so understanding and pushed the schedule of filming forward so that it was all done when I was pregnant.
"I want to still have my career and be the best mother I can. And people now are more mindful of that and more helpful, and that makes it possible.
"Also," Vogue says, "I'm more demanding, in a way. If I can't make a job suit Theodore, I'm not doing the job. So if they really want me but they can't make it work with him, then I'm not doing it. There's no day I'm ever away from him, today [with her Lily O'Brien's event in the evening] is six hours, and it's a long time for a small baby.
"But I do the work and then I slip back in to my normal life. I get photographed at events and it must look like that's my life, but it's not. That's not real life.
"I wonder do the Kardashians have any real life?" asks Vogue, professing herself a huge fan while wondering this.
Would they do a reality show with Theodore, I ask?
"I would adore it if it was done right," says Vogue. "If you had the right control over it, it's a fun thing to do."
A few days later, a picture on the Instagram of one of his best friends seemed to show Spencer filming a reality-TV show at home. Within weeks, Vogue posts on Instagram that they are filming a three-part show for E4, Vogue and Spencer Adult(ish). They are both holding a buggy, and she's beaming.
It's a happy domestic picture and Vogue is happy to share it.
Lily O'Brien's has teamed up with Vogue Williams to help launch the Share Wisely campaign and a new range of premium resealable Share Bags, €2.99, in four new recipes. Available in shops nationwide, or see lilyobriens.ie
Photography by Kip Carroll
Styling by Chloe Brennan
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