‘We last chatted in May 2020, so it’s been nearly 2 years since we last spoke,’ I say to the screen. ‘How’s it been for you?’
Natalie looks at me and laughs. ‘Well, this,’ she says, holding up the cutest little baby in a pink babygrow. ‘This happened! We’ve been pretty busy, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.’
Nat found out she was pregnant in November 2020. ‘Lockdown made us both realise that we just wanted to have children now, because life is precious and things can change. We’re not getting any younger and so decided to start a family.’
Little Olivia came along in August 2021 and Nat says she’s been an anxious mess ever since. ‘Having a baby has turned me into an anxious lunatic,’ she laughs. ‘It was interesting to be pregnant in Covid-times.’
Pete, Natalie’s husband, wasn’t allowed to many scans or appointments. She says: ‘The only scan partners were allowed to go to was the 20 week one, so that was the first time Pete got to see our baby. I think it’s really hard for any partner who’s not carrying the baby to go through pregnancy but not actually see the baby.’
Because the UK kept going in and out of lockdowns, Natalie didn’t see her Dad all through her pregnancy. ‘I kind of got used to it, but I was quite anxious the entire time and if I’d been able to see people, to talk in person, I think it would’ve really helped. My best friend was pregnant at the same time [they had their babies a day apart] and I never saw her. We had video calls but it’s not really the same. We’d have loved to go shopping for baby clothes and stuff together.’
In our first chat, Natalie found spending time with Pete in lockdown made her realise just how much she loved him. ‘Now I’ve spent too much time with him. Now I want to kill him,’ she jokes. ‘Don’t put that in, will you?’ I give her a wry smile.
Nat’s going back to work soon but will be mainly working from home rather than having the same amount of travel she used to, an unexpected positive of the pandemic. Pete has sold his share of his business and is going to become a stay-at-home-dad. ‘Our priorities have changed, things have changed, and we’re thinking about doing things differently,’ she says. ‘It feels like having a baby is a lot about trying to find a balance with everything. Pete will do some work, but we’ll have more flexibility. He’s really excited about it. I think it’s really important for men to have that time with their children, because sometimes it’s hard for men to get so involved when they’re quite small. Pete’s such a good Dad, he just loves it. It’s so cute to watch them together.’
Natalie loves her job, and is excited to go back to work. Her eyes light up as she looks at me through the screen. ‘You know what Tara, I love working. I love being a mum, but I need more than that. For me, that’s really important. I have to use my brain. I had a KIT day the other week and I struggled to write the letter N on a piece of paper. I’ve not written anything in so long.’
Natalie picks Olivia up with that ease that mothers just seem to have, and Olivia looks at me through the screen, transfixed. ‘Sorry there were no cocktails involved in this chat,’ laughs Natalie.
‘Is that chapter of your life over now?’ I ask her, ‘Or will they be making a comeback?’
‘No they’re definitely not over, the cocktails will be making a comeback. Pete’s going to make me a tiki bar for the garden, and that’s when I might relaunch them. I want to be Instagram famous,’ she laughs.