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Jackie McCann: I can’t wait to become a mum again

By Stephanie Bell

BBC weathergirl Jackie McCann tells how|she’s looking forward to giving birth to a|new little ray of sunshine later this year and reveals how motherhood terrified her after she had her first baby.

The BBC’s Jackie McCann has just announced she is to become a mum again and typically confesses that it is the weather which is causing her some anxiety about the birth.

Weathergirl Jackie, 33, returned to our screens in May after an 11-month leave of absence with her first child David and is thrilled to be adding to her brood with her second baby, due in December.

The happy mum-to-be says it will be the perfect early Christmas present for her and husband Darran — provided the weather is kind.

“I’m worried about the snow already,” she admits.

“You can become so immobile when the snow hits and I’m petrified of slipping. As a pregnant woman it is a real risk when there is snow and ice but I’m sure I’ll cope with it when it happens.”

She talks about her first pregnancy and birth and again, only Jackie — who cherishes the fact that she is able to do her dream job — could so naturally weave the weather into it.

“I’ll be going from one extreme to the other as David was born in May on what was one of the hottest days of the year,” she said.

The sun certainly seems to shine on the Kerry girl who moved to Belfast in July 2004 to be with her then boyfriend and the man she married in 2008, journalist-turned-author Darran McCann from Armagh.

The couple, who live in south Belfast, met on a journalism course in Dublin and Jackie worked hard to establish her career when she made the move north.

Now as part of the BBC weather team she says she couldn’t ask for a better job.

“It wasn’t until I started doing the weather in 2008 that I realised I had found my true love,” she said.

“I am obsessed with the weather and always have been.

“People keep asking me where I see my career going which just baffles me. It’s as if they see it as a stepping stone to somewhere else, but there is honestly nowhere else I want to be. As far as I’m concerned I have arrived and I still find it a challenge every day.”

Life has changed dramatically for Jackie since little David weighed into the world a healthy 8lb and 8ozs in May of last year.

She counts herself lucky to have been able to take 11 months maternity leave when she was determined to pack in as much quality time with her new baby as possible, taking him to swimming classes and rhythm and rhyme groups in her local library.

One of the biggest challenges of motherhood, she said, was feeding her son herself.

“I found it hard going at the start and it was two months before I felt confident enough to get out and about,” she said.

“I had a lot of self-doubt, there is no book or manual to tell you how to do it and it’s something which no one can help you with.

“I was a bit clueless and I worried constantly that he was not getting enough.

“With a bottle you can see exactly how many ounces they are getting.

“We have a family friend who is a midwife and I practically had her on speed dial. I can honestly say it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and also the best thing I have ever done.

“Although it was tough, I persevered and managed it for eight months.”

Joining a support group for nursing mothers in Finaghy Health Centre gave her the support she needed as well as many new friends with babies the same age.

She describes David as the picture of his dad, inquisitive and also very strong willed: “It’s bizarre because you think you can manipulate a baby but you can’t. From day one if he didn’t want to do something he wouldn’t.”

Having gone to an Irish language boarding school in Dingle, Jackie is keen that David will be able to speak fluent Irish.

Although husband Darran doesn’t speak the language, she talks to David in Irish as well as English and is thrilled that his first words have been a mixture of both languages.

Leaving her baby to return to work was a huge wrench and a tough lesson in the art of juggling career with family.

She said: “When David was first born I remember looking at him and thinking how will I ever give him up to anyone else to mind but I became more realistic as time went on and realised that part of me needed to go back to doing what I loved.

“Handing him over to the child minder was one of the biggest decisions I have ever made and it really tugged at the heart strings.

“My mum reassured me that from the minute they are born you are gradually letting them go and letting them be independent and giving them the support they need to make their own way.

“A lot of people have family support but that wasn’t an option for us as both our families are too far away.

“We’re lucky though because we have a fantastic childminder.”

Getting used to 5am starts while leaving work to look after a boisterous toddler has proved challenging.

“My heart goes out to every working mum now that I have had some appreciation of what it’s like to juggle work and a baby.

“It has been a huge learning curve trying to do right by everybody and you also have to do right by yourself.

“If someone had told me what I had to juggle I think at the time I would have thought I would not have survived but you just get on with it.

“I learnt the hard way to get an hour’s sleep when I finish before picking David up at 3pm because I was just too exhausted to give him the quality time he needed.”

Having finally managed to strike a happy balance, Jackie is now well aware that her hard-earned equilibrium could once again be in disarray when baby number two comes along.

While she had planned to have a second child, she describes her second pregnancy as “a pleasant surprise”.

First time round she was convinced throughout her pregnancy that she was going to have a boy and this time she is equally certain it is a girl, but is only concerned that her baby will be healthy.

With the good news that all is well at her main scan just a couple of weeks ago, she has found the weeks this time are flying by.

The prospect of having two babies to look after is, she admits, a little daunting.

“There will be 18 months between them, which is good. My mum kept telling me that having two is the same as one if they are close in age but friends have told me otherwise,” she laughs.

“At least this time I won’t be clueless like I was with David at first, but I’m sure it will be another huge learning curve.

“My mum was a real Godsend when David was born. At the start I felt really awkward and was afraid to bath him because he was so tiny and mum was just so natural with him and I learned from her.

“She used to say to me ‘he won’t break, you know’.

“I have great support from both grannies and a great childminder and I just intend to use my maternity leave to spend as much quality time with both of them as I can.”

With Jackie’s 5am starts, it has worked perfectly for the couple that Darren, a journalist turned fiction writer, works from home.

Jackie can leave David sleeping undisturbed when she leaves for work and his daddy is there to spend early morning one-on-one time with his son before dropping him off at the childminder’s before he starts work.

Darran has spent the past year working on his first novel while completing a PhD in Creative Writing.

And there was more good news for the couple recently when he was offered a two book publishing deal.

Now looking forward to their new baby bringing early Christmas cheer, the couple will also be celebrating the New Year with the release of Darran’s first novel, After The Lock Out, a historical fiction set in rural Ireland in 1917.

“Life is good and we both feel very blessed,” added a beaming Jackie.

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