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Diona Doherty: TV star on motherhood, IVF and why nothing is out of bounds

TV comic on IVF, taking six years to conceive and how she and her husband have never been busier

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Diona Doherty

Diona Doherty

Diona with her daughter Winter

Diona with her daughter Winter

Diona Doherty and Sean Hegarty

Diona Doherty and Sean Hegarty

Diona Doherty in Derry Girls

Diona Doherty in Derry Girls

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Diona Doherty

Juggling motherhood with a career is no laughing matter for most mums — unless you’re Diona Doherty.

The comedian has never been busier, with a TV series, stage shows and a podcast on the go, on top of being a mum to 15-month-old Winter and a stepmum of three.

Derry-born Diona (33) and fellow comic Sean Hegarty live in Craigavon with kids James (18), Charlie (14), Tom (12) and their toddler.

Her experiences inspired her BBC dark comedy short Sorta Stepmum, which is available on the iPlayer.

Something else she is passionate about speaking about is her IVF journey with her husband.

Diona told Sunday Life: “We had IVF to have Winter, and I would talk about that in my stand-up and in Sorta Stepmum.

“It’s about a stepmum who’s undergoing IVF and has that juxtaposed feeling of filling the mother role but still yearning to have her own children.

“That is drawn from my experience of years and years of being a stepmum but not actually being able to have my own child. It took us six years to get Winter.

“I’m very open about that — I talk about it in my podcasts and I talk about it in stand-up.”

Diona, who travelled to the Czech Republic for her IVF, found that other couples started reaching out to her after she began speaking about her ordeal.

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Diona Doherty and Sean Hegarty

Diona Doherty and Sean Hegarty

Diona Doherty and Sean Hegarty

She said: “Multiple times a week I am contacted by women and men who have been going through the same process.

“Their family members or friends don’t know about it, they’re embarrassed to talk about it and they’re clinging to anyone who’s had success in having a baby and is open to talking about it.

“I’m glad I talk about it in a comedic way because I feel like us, as Irish people, we work through our trauma and our hardships through laughter.

“I think mostly it’s with men because of this sort of toxic masculinity and this idea of bravado.

“Most men are really embarrassed when it’s male infertility. Most men are like, ‘No, my sperm’s f***ing great. What are you talking about?’

“They feel like less of a man. That’s the world’s problem — that’s not a man’s issue. We’ve obviously led men to believe that if they’re incapable of impregnating their partner, that’s a real emasculating thing.

“But also the world is focused on women being baby machines, like that’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s perfectly fine to have a womb and not use it.

“With women who do want to have a baby, they feel like their biology has failed them because biologically that’s what their body is ready to do and theirs won’t do it for them, so there’s a lot of embarrassment and guilt around it.

“Even if you are lucky enough to become pregnant, you then also feel guilt about those others who haven’t been able to.

“I’ve actually written a one-woman show called Sunny Side Up, which is a dark comedy about IVF. It’s possibly going to be in theatres next year or the year after.”

The Derry Girls star joked that little Winter was a “wild child (who) loves running around the place” now that she is walking and talking.

Diona and her daughter, along with Charlie and Tom, paid a trip to Portadown’s Meadows Shopping Centre yesterday for the official opening of Sweetez, Northern Ireland’s biggest supplier of American confectionery.

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Diona with her daughter Winter

Diona with her daughter Winter

Diona with her daughter Winter

It’s not the only part of her life that’s busy though, with Diona and Sean having never been more in-demand.

She will be joined on stage in October by Coronation Street’s Kerri Quinn and Sweeney Todd star Jayne Wisener for Bridesmaids of Northern Ireland, which she wrote.

Diona said: “I’ve always been a big fan of the movie Bridesmaids and I’ve just taken inspiration in the sense that the story is centred around a bride and two of her bridesmaids in the lead-up to her wedding.

“It’s completely rooted in Northern Irish characters, Northern Irish humour and all the things we love and know so well. It’s a really fun night out.

“There’s a lot going on. I’m literally on my way down now to record a radio series with The Hole In The Wall Gang. I’m so busy work-wise at the minute and I’m really grateful for that.

“Also, my husband and I have started a production company called Cheesy Grin Productions.

“We are producing our first show this Christmas. It’s currently on sale in the Opera House. It’s called Home Malone. It’s a really fun script and it’s a proper adult comedy night out over Christmas.

“After Bridesmaids finishes I’ll be on The Blame Game right up to Christmas, and Sean’s got gigs coming out of his ears.

“I’ve now started my own podcast as well because that’s what the world needs. It’s called Remember When with Diona Doherty. It seems to be doing very well.”

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Diona Doherty in Derry Girls

Diona Doherty in Derry Girls

Diona Doherty in Derry Girls

Bridesmaids of Northern Ireland runs at the Grand Opera House in Belfast from October 17 to 22 and Millennium Forum in Londonderry from October 28 to 29


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