Claire Sweeney: 'My dream of being a mum is coming true at last'
Actress Claire Sweeney is about to give birth at the age of 43. She tells Gabrielle Fagan about her joy and her hopes for the future.
Claire Sweeney is happy to report that miracles can happen and that the baby she is expecting is one of them. She's 43 — an age most women would assume motherhood had passed them by — and will give birth this month to a son.
“Finding out I was pregnant was a gorgeous shock — it truly shows that God works in mysterious ways and I think it was just meant to be,” says the Liverpudlian actress, who found fame on Brookside and has since become a TV presenter, Loose Women panelist, and West End musicals star.
“Actually, I always thought I’d have a little girl, so that was another surprise but a lovely one. I’ve thought about calling him Gabriel, because he’s my little angel sent from heaven, but I’ll wait until I see him to finally decide.”
Even the fact that her personal life is far from settled — she and the baby’s father, marketing consultant Daniel Reilly (29), broke off their engagement at Christmas shortly before she discovered she was pregnant in January — doesn’t appear to have dented her obvious contentment.
“Dan has been brilliant, he couldn’t have been better, he’s so supportive. He will be there at the birth, which will be in Liverpool as I have a support system there — my mum and his mum. I feel very lucky. I’m just enjoying these last few weeks before the birth because I know I won’t have much time to myself after that!” says Claire, who’s said that she’s content to wait and see what the future holds for her and Reilly’s relationship. The couple had been together since 2011.
“It will be a Caesarean at the end of September but not because I’m ‘too posh to push!’ It’s on medical advice for a number of reasons including my age and the fact that currently he’s a breach baby.”
Her pregnancy joy is even more profound, she reveals, because she suffered two miscarriages, one at 12 weeks in 2012 and another shortly after conceiving in May last year.
“As every woman knows, miscarriages are terribly upsetting. Mine were reasonably early and I can only imagine how hard it is for women who have them late on,” she says.
“While I was very fatalistic about my first one and just told myself the pregnancy wasn’t meant to be, the second one was so much harder. But I’ve always wanted to be a mum... I stayed really philosophical and open-minded about it and felt fate would play a part. I had a friend who got pregnant at 46, and I knew it could happen and it did. Although there are reports that I had IVF, I didn’t, I just conceived naturally.”
While Claire now looks relaxed, understandably she confesses she found the first three months of her pregnancy difficult.
“I was really scared and anxious that I might lose this baby. I wrapped myself up in cotton wool because of the previous miscarriages and wouldn’t do anything, barely even going out. I also had to wait for the results of tests for any abnormalities.
“In the end, the loveliest thing was seeing my bump growing and feeling that first movement, which gave me confidence.”
She’s looked after her health throughout with advice from experts at the first online antenatal fitness platform, Results With Bump, on which she appears exercising and doing yoga.
“When you’re pregnant for the first time, you’re not really sure what you can or cannot do as, above everything, you want to protect this precious baby. I wanted to exercise but didn’t know what or how much,” says Claire, whose trouble-free pregnancy has only been marred by shoulder pain and carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrists, the latter suffered by around 60% of pregnant women.
“The team calmed my nerves and eased me into a workout which really helped improve my sleep, posture and relieved my back strain and gave me advice about nutrition to minimise tiredness.”
It all seems enviably organised and within three months of the birth, Claire will, baby-in-tow, return to work. But while it seems as though she is taking the whole life-change in her stride, she admits: “I don’t know how motherhood is going to change me and how I will be on the other side of this.
“I’ve always been ‘Claire, the working girl’ and, at the end of the day, I do have to earn my living and pay the bills, so I’mgetting back to work shortly after having him. Of course, it might have been nice to have a year off but I haven’t won the lottery yet!
“Anyway, I’m so lucky with my job as it’s not nine-to-five. I can take the baby to the theatre and will be staying at home with my family, so they can help out.”
Down-to-earth and eagerly anticipating her new role, Claire adds: “I’ve always believed in going with the flow in life and don’t think you can make too many plans as you never know what’s going to happen. It’s exciting and I will just wait and see what happens and cope with it.”
- Claire Sweeney is the leading lady of the first online antenatal fitness and well-being platform Results With Bump;|see resultswithbump.com
First-time mothers at forty-plus
- Thelma and Louise star Geena Davis (58) had her first child at age 46 and then went on to have twins two years later.
- Susan Sarandon (67) was told she would never have kids due to endometriosis. She went on to have two kids with Tim Robbins. Her first, Jack Henry, was born when she was 42. Miles was born when she was 45.
- Halle Berry (48) became pregnant with her daughter Nahla, now age six, aged 41. “I've waited a long time for this moment in my life,” she said. She became pregnant with her son Maceo at age 46 and revealed that he was conceived naturally. “This has been the biggest surprise of my life, to tell you the truth,” she said. “I thought I was kind of past the point where this could be a reality for me.”
- Salma Hayek (47) gave birth to her daughter Valentina when she was 41. She said: “It’s a little nerve-racking to wait that long, but it’s the best time. Because you’ve done so many other things in your life, you can really relax... If you’re 23, you think you have so much you have to do... but if you have already done them, you can enjoy every minute.”
- Nicole Kidman (46) gave birth to Sunday Rose at age 40, in July 2008. After what she described as a “rollercoaster ride with fertility,” Nicole and her hubby, singer Keith Urban, opted to have their second child, Faith Margaret, via surrogate, in 2010.
- Mariah Carey (43) became pregnant for the first time with twins at age 40. “My body went through so much,” she said at the time. “But the end result is what I’ve waited for all my life.”