Amy Huberman: Being a mum will never stop me exploring new horizons
Actress and writer Amy Huberman insists she loves keeping busy and is still up for adventure, with the help of her husband Brian O'Driscoll
When Amy Huberman and Brian O'Driscoll's son arrived on November 20 last year, there was much anticipation as to the name that would be bestowed on the couple's second child.
Indeed, after calling their daughter Sadie, it was speculated that the duo might be tempted to continue with the "s" theme - with Samuel, Simon and, more unusually, Sigmund, being touted as possible front-runners by fans and bookies.
In the end, it was revealed that the couple had nodded to the BOD initials - deciding on Billy. Now aged nine weeks, his big sister, now two, may yet have other plans, however.
"Sadie calls Billy 'Biddy' - she refuses to refer to him by anything else - which is just adorable," explains Amy. "For the first few weeks she more or less ignored him but then, more recently, she's taken a real interest. If he starts to wake up and cry, she'll potter over to his basket and pat him gently on his head, saying: 'There, there, Biddy; there, there.' It's hilarious. She's made her two-month-old brother into this little old lady!"
Already back to her radiant-looking self, Amy - who certainly seems to be tackling the challenges of caring for a newborn and a toddler with ease - attributes any fresh-faced vibes to her "amazing sleeper" son. "Sadie was an up-all-night kind of child, so we really don't know ourselves now with Billy."
With a host of glamorous celebrities - including Michael Buble's wife Luisana and Coleen Rooney - posting hospital selfies with their newborns shortly after giving birth, it might have been thought that Amy would follow suit. But the actress and writer confirms that she can't imagine anything worse. "Each to their own," she says. "But really, it's such a private moment, certainly I wasn't tempted."
Indeed, Amy kept the impending arrival of both her children largely under wraps.
"This time, it was very much a conscious decision," she explains. "Work-wise, I was really busy during the summer, and I just wanted to get on with it all. I mean, people are so well-meaning, but the whole 'bump-watch' phenomenon seems a bit scary.
"I had a packed schedule and I didn't want anyone to feel that they had to look after me in any way. The constant 'and how are you feeling now today, Amy?' gets a bit tiring after a while - not least because I was actually feeling pretty miserable this time around."
The 35-year-old reveals that while her first pregnancy was relatively smooth, her second was very different. "I had the dreaded 'all-day sickness'; I was one of those women who had to run to the toilet every five minutes.
"I was usually pretty okay in the mornings and then, as the day progressed, I'd become more and more nauseous. When I was writing, I'd just hang around the house in my pyjamas, puking intermittently as required!
"I lived on a lot of dry toast. Even now, certain foods I don't think will ever be the same again. I remember with particular revulsion a duck sausage being offered in a restaurant; I think I just recoiled in horror at the suggestion. Please - no one ever offer me a duck sausage!"
Amy has been involved with Newbridge Silverware since the summer of 2013, and has recently launched the brand's new 2015 jewellery collection.
"I guess I am very into clothes and fashion," Amy muses. "But I wouldn't say it consumes me either. It is a part of who I am because my dad was a fashion designer, so it was always something that was at home when I was growing up. Though I like to separate style from glamour: I've never been someone who's into really heavy make-up or very 'done' hair. I try to keep things more sophisticated and simple because that's what I feel comfortable embracing."
Her own shoe collection with Bourbon has been something of an unexpected runaway success since the launch of the inaugural line in April 2013.
"When I was living in London years ago and I'd have a tiny bit of money to spend on something nice for myself, I'd never have bought shoes," Amy admits now. "I think I had maybe two pairs - a couple of stables; fairly practical stuff. I would have been far more likely to treat myself to a nice top.
"But then, over the last while, my interest in footwear has really exploded, and I love collaborating with the guys at Bourbon and coming up with great designs."
She also says that, like everyone else, she baulks at old pictures of herself from her teenage years - she highlights her old fondness for baggy X-Works jeans in particular - but says that her style has definitely evolved as she's gotten older. "As you age, you ease into your style that bit more," the Dubliner explains. "You find your fashion niche and become more confident. For me, increasingly, it's about longevity. I want to build up a great wardrobe rather than buying lots and lots of little faddy bits and pieces that realistically won't last."
And, at this time of year, the award ceremonies are mesmerising, Amy also says. "I do love all the red-carpet glamour at this time of year. I love when someone is that little bit brave and pushes the boat out and takes a chance." Though she goes on to admit that the "spectacle" of a big event can be intimidating. "In Ireland, everyone knows each other and it's all very friendly, but it's still daunting enough, so I can't imagine the fear the Oscar-nominated actresses must feel hitting that red carpet.
"Sadie was only four weeks old when Brian had his testimonial dinner with 800 people in attendance in London. That was a big event and a big deal! But I think you just have to remind yourself that the 'on-show', parading around in front of the cameras part, is a small element of the evening, and that you then get to go on and enjoy yourself and have fun and remember why you're there."
She laughs when people speak of Brian being in retirement - "I feel like I'm married to a 70-year-old. Like I've an old codger at home!" - but admits that having a less regimented schedule broadens their options.
"There definitely is more freedom. Last year, there was a potential job for me overseas. It didn't pan out in the end, but at least now we can go for those things. And we're both definitely up for an adventure. The kids are still small and it's exciting. We'll have to see what comes our way, but Brian certainly likes the idea of being away for a bit."
That acting is an industry that comes with a lot of uncertainty is a given, but Amy says that she's learned to take it all in her stride by now. This year, she plans further trips to the US for meetings with directors and producers, and for auditions.
"There's a great energy over in California - it's so busy. You might do three or four auditions in a day. I've been in rooms auditioning with other actors there that you'd definitely recognise from various TV shows or films. That's definitely a bit terrifying, but also it's good to know that nobody's being handed anything on a plate. Everyone still has to work hard and audition and hope for the best. It's all any of us in this industry can do."
The actress is also working on her screenplay, an adaptation of her second novel, I Wished For You, and has just completed her first draft.
"It's provisionally called Bolt, though it will be quite different to the book. Actually writing up a script is very different in general from the book stuff, but I'm absolutely loving it. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner.
"A lot of the really great comic actors I admire - the likes of Sharon Horgan and Amy Poehler - they write their own projects too. I used to sit back and wish that I could join that club and then it got to the point where I had to say, 'Okay, let's just do it so'.
"It's a long process - you have to leave your patience at the door - but I definitely hope to do a lot more of that side of things."
Amy says that Brian, who celebrated his 36th birthday last week, has always encouraged her to be ambitious - and that more recently, she's needed his support. "I always write at night. There's a level of madness that comes with 2am or 3am when you're furiously typing away, but I also feel it's the time that my brain works best for writing and I know that I won't be distracted by a phone call or whatever.
"Brian was just brilliant last year. Even though it was his first summer off, he was great at getting up in the morning with Sadie - and that then allowed me to sleep in a bit and get some rest after working through the night. That support is vital and I'm so lucky to have it."
Amy, who retained her petite physique throughout both her pregnancies, isn't rushing back into exercise anytime soon. "Brian and I both do pilates - I haven't been back since I had Billy, but I might make it to a class in another few weeks or so. It's hard to always eat well and exercise when you're so tired - I always seem to reach for something sugary to pick myself up - but I do enjoy a good workout.
"Brian goes running now, which he'd never done before, and he goes to the gym for weights, but I find even getting out in the fresh air for a walk or run-around with the kids is good for the mind and body. And at this time of year, a blast of cold air on your face feels great."
Acting, books, screenplays, jewellery campaigns and shoe lines, not to mention two small children and a husband: Amy has her hands full. And while she says she loves being busy, she reveals she has no current plans to add any more strings to her bow. "That's it for the moment, definitely! I'm not about to take up basket-weaving or anything."
All about Amy ...
Born in Dublin March 1979, the middle child of three siblings. Her brother, Mark Huberman, is also an actor
Best known in Ireland for her role on RTE drama series The Clinic, but also starred in the BBC television series George Gently and most recently in Silent Witness
Her first novel, Hello Heartbreak was published in 2009
In July 2010, she married former Ireland rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll