Interview by Mummy Social Team Member Victoria Green.
Denise Lewis, OBE is a retired British track and field athlete, who specialised in the heptathlon in which she won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Denise was honoured as Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2001 New Year Honours. As well as being a presenter and sports pundit, she is mum to Lauryn, Ryan, Kane and Troy and step-mum to Joe.
Hi Denise, firstly thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me and congratulations on your latest addition to your family. When you found out you were pregnant again at 46, what was your initial reaction and did you worry about how your body would be able to cope with the pregnancy?
I was beside myself with glee initially when it was confirmed I was pregnant, but when the reality sunk in 20 minutes later, questions started to invade my head like, how would this affect my family, what would my friends think, my age, my husband’s age and the baby’s health. I needed time to get my head around how my life was going to change, but I needed to speak to my sonographer, who had scanned all my previous children, the person I trusted to tell me that I was capable of delivering a healthy baby at my age.
You very sadly had a miscarriage a few years ago at 12 weeks. Do you feel this experience made you think differently when you found out you were pregnant this time?
The miscarriage was an awful experience and it definitely affected my ability to relax until I had passed the 12 week mark. I kept my expectations low and put my faith in what would be destiny should things not go the way I hoped. I kept reminding myself that I had already been blessed with 3 healthy children and that my life was good so I should be grateful, but deep down I really wanted to experience motherhood again.
Did you find your pregnancy with Troy any different to your pregnancies with Lauryn, Ryan and Kane?
I’ll be totally honest I sailed through my pregnancy, I carried Troy very similar to Lauryn (my first) and Kane (my third) – all bump and not much else. Ryan was a totally different shape, I had BIG everything! (The 3 B’s) Bump, Butt and Boobs! I was tired but fortunately I had very little weight gain and I consciously exercised throughout. I wanted give myself every opportunity to stay fit and healthy not just for the pending birth but for my own wellness.
We hear about how some families describe that an additional child “just fits in”, have you found that Troy has just “fitted in” with your family?
Troy has totally just ‘fitted in’ to family life, it’s like he was meant to be with us all along. Just watching how attentive the children are to his needs and now that he has started to recognise them in his world is a beautiful thing. I didn’t think I could love like this again.
You are such a renowned athlete, do you still train and do you miss competing? Or do you now enjoy watching others compete?
I don’t miss competing anymore but I do still maintain my fitness and I like to train and get a good sweat on! I’m looking for a new challenge because more than anything I miss working towards something in particular. I love watching athletics, tennis, netball… in fact most sports really, the beauty in what I do now – working as a pundit for BBC Sport is that I get close to the action without the pain and pressure of competing.
What advice would you give other “mature” mums who are expecting or have just had a baby?
I think the greatest gift a mature mum has is her ability to trust in her life experience. This doesn’t mean you won’t worry and question whether you are doing the right thing, but it does mean that the other little voice in your head will calm you down much quicker and help you stay calmer for longer.
At Mummy Social, we know that chatting to another mums can really help us get through any challenges. How important has it been for you to have ‘mum friends’ you can turn to?
Talking to other mums is vital to your sanity and very reassuring. I’ve been a mum for 17 years and have always needed the advice or assistance from another mother. It’s good to talk. You might pick up some helpful tips or simply realise that your doing the right thing anyway. One thing is for sure you should never feel alone there are so many ways to be connected and I’m loving some of the new apps available.
You can follow Denise on social media…