Friday, May 14, 2010

So when is the best time to have a baby?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/body_and_soul/article7125348.ece

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a peculiarly English pop star. It’s hard to imagine any other nation producing a stunning singer, whose albums sell millions, yet who looks and acts more like a middle-class mum than an MTV sexpot. She’s 31, the age at which most of her friends are vaguely thinking about having children. She already has two young sons — Sonny, 6, and Kit, 1.

“I had Sonny two weeks after my 25th birthday and I didn’t really realise quite how young that was, comparatively, until recently. I guess I was a bit speedy, but I’m thrilled. I’m glad I had children as young as I did.”

Although she’d known her husband, Richard Jones — the bassist in her band — for 18 months, it was only a couple of months after they got together that she discovered she was pregnant.

“It was really nice that, right from the start, Richard and I felt like a family. We went from being friends to suddenly romantically involved and expecting a baby. Sonny wasn’t planned but he was still wanted and now we have baby Kit.”

She thinks that her mum, the former Blue Peter presenter, Janet Ellis, who had her at 23, always hoped that she would do the same “while she’s young enough to enjoy all that. I think having babies in the family is, by and large, a happy thing. The whole family feels more settled.”

The downside is that hardly any of her girlfriends have had children yet. “I’ve only got one friend who just had her first baby last summer and I’m like, ‘Come on girls!’ It’s really nice when they’re the same age and can play together."

“But,” she adds, “I might be a bit smug when I’m 40, and Sonny’s 15, and my friends have got three-year-olds.”

For all her breezy insouciance, it hasn’t been plain sailing: she had pre-eclampsia with Sonny, who went on to get meningitis, then Kit was born prematurely, weighing only 2lb 6oz (1.07kg). But she shrugs off the trauma, saying that the pre-eclampsia was scary at the time, although she was “spooked” by how tiny Kit was.

She tries never to spend more than two or three nights away from her children (when supporting Take That’s Beautiful World Tour she rented a flat for an 11-night stint in Manchester so that her family could be with her), but she says that she would hate not to work.

“Feeling guilty about things is an emotion of motherhood that I wasn’t expecting. Why? I suppose because it makes you care about stuff: have I fed them too much? Or not fed them enough? Have they got enough clothes on? You can worry about everything if you let it be that way. You have to kind of go ‘it’s fine’.”

Being a pop star isn’t such a bad job, she reckons, when it comes to combining motherhood and work because she can take her children with her. There’s no job security, but she relishes the uncertainty and says that having children has made her more ambitious. “It’s brought more focus. If you’re going to be away from them, it has to count for more. I don’t want to be out of the house doing stuff I don’t care about.”

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