You’ve seen this fresh-faced beauty hosting various sports programmes, including the recent 2017 SEA Games, but 31-year-old British-Chinese TV host Kelly Latimer recently ran a “marathon” of sorts in her journey to motherhood.
“I went from wanting no drugs, doing a water birth and staying calm and zen, to trying all the drugs and ending up with an emergency C-section!”, she chortles. “I did get in the water for all of two contractions though… What a joke!”
“I missed her terribly, but I enjoyed doing the work and I wouldn’t change how I’ve done it.”
What happened was that while her waters had broken, she was still experiencing no contractions. Twelve hours later, she was induced, but she went from no contractions to intense contractions every two minutes.
By the time Latimer’s gynae suggested a C-section, she reveals, “I was so shattered and all I wanted was to have my baby safely in my arms, that I said ‘yes’.”
Some 15 minutes (and a 3.9kg baby later), Latimer met her little girl, Sienna, for the first time.
Now that Sienna is 2, Latimer says that she’s enjoying the balance that her hosting work provides, since she is able to spend time with her family.
Still, she spent a total five weeks away from Sienna for work, shooting Photo Face Off and the SEA Games, which “wasn’t easy”. “I missed her terribly, but I enjoyed doing the work and I wouldn’t change how I’ve done it.”
She adds that she’ll probably take accept more event hosting and less travel gigs, so that she can spend time with Sienna now, as “she’s a bit older and more acutely aware of her absence”.
Thanks for talking to us, Kelly ― tell us about your cutie!
Where has the time gone?! Sienna is quite the little poser. From early on, she knew exactly where the camera was and would always flash a smile. She’s rather stubborn… I mean determined ― just like me! She’s also a regular little social butterfly. She’ll go to anyone, just as long as my husband and I are within eyesight. She’s smiley ― I love that about her. I live for her laughs and giggles.
Is she more like you, or daddy?
Her stubbornness is definitely from me. That, and her ability to detect a camera anywhere in her vicinity. As for traits from her Dada… Her eye for detail. She could have the biggest toy with bright colours and noises, but she’ll home in on a tiny screw and try to fiddle with it. Justin’s got a keen eye and so has Sienna apparently!
Was Sienna planned or a surprise? How did you find out you were pregnant?
Sienna was planned. We decided we would go for one last big trip before we started trying, so we went snowboarding in Austria, with a road trip around some of the most beautiful parts of the country. After a couple of months of trying, we hit the jackpot. My period cycle had shifted after the holiday, so there were a few negative tests that had me disappointed. But then my period was late again and I had one test left in the box.
It was on Justin’s 30th birthday, and we’d just spent the day go-karting with family and friends. We wanted to have a chill dinner, so we went to a nearby Italian place, and I wolfed down an entire plate of pasta ― the pasta portions at this place are huge, mind you. I put it down to not eating that much at lunch. Anyway, after dinner, I just thought, “Why not just check? If it’s nothing, I don’t need to tell Justin and he’ll be none the wiser. If it’s a positive, well… Happy Birthday!”
“I enjoyed carrying my big bump around, even if I did look like a dugong by the end of it.”
I peed on the stick and basically yelled out from the bathroom. I couldn’t quite speak. I just waved the stick in his face. I’d always imagined it would be more glamorous and I’d film his reaction. But I was so overwhelmed and excited that all that went out the window. When he realised what I was waving at him we just embraced, teary eyed. I’m tearing up just thinking of it.
That sounds wonderful ― what was the pregnancy like?
My pregnancy was pretty awesome. I spent my first trimester on shoot, travelling a lot, so I don’t think I had time to be sick! Although there was one day when we were filming at a location next to a horse manure factory and the moment I stepped out of the van, I spent 10 minutes retching. It was gross.
My second trimester was great. I was exercising, making lists, prepping everything and still working. Then my third trimester hit me and I started to swell lots ― that wasn’t so fun. But on the whole, it was good. I enjoyed carrying my big bump around, even if I did look like a dugong by the end of it.
How do you and Justin split the baby duties? Is he a hands-on daddy?
Justin is the most incredible baby daddy I could EVER ask for. We never had a confinement nanny, so Justin did a lot of the running around in that first month. Bath time is his thing, and he has a specific song that he sings to her at bedtime. I spend most of the day taking care of her, but Justin makes the most of every moment he has with her.
Do you still have time together as a couple?
We just had our first date night since she was born not too long ago ― only took us nine months! We had the chance to a few months earlier, but we couldn’t bear to be away from her either. We get the evenings together though, once she goes to bed, so it’s not too bad. We’ll watch shows at home, and snuggle on the couch. That’s my idea of an epic date night anyway.
You’ve always been a sort of poster-girl for fitness ― how did you prep your body for pregnancy, and post-pregnancy?
I am a big believer that you have to prep the body for pregnancy. Carrying so much additional weight is no mean feat, and just like how you wouldn’t run a marathon without training, I wouldn’t go into pregnancy without some kind of prep either! I was lifting weights, doing interval training and meditation to help prepare me. It meant that I suffered very little in terms of aches and pains during the pregnancy, until the swelling kicked in. I think it’s also helped me postpartum too. I’ve been on a steady path to get back to where I was. I’ve shifted all my pregnancy weight and I actually weigh less than before I got pregnant!
What’s your workout routine now and more importantly, how do you find the time as a new mum?
Making time for myself is a challenge because I don’t have a helper at home. Once a week, I train with Dylan Goddard at UFIT Singapore ― that’s my hardcore session for the week and I’ll drop Sienna off with my mum, so I can train. Then I try to hit the gym three times a week to get an extra sweat if I can. Strength training is so important. I’ll meet Justin after he’s done with work, he’ll take Sienna and I’ll go and train. He’s so supportive of me training. Plus the weight training helps with holding Sienna. She’s a big girl and I can’t imagine not being able to carry her around.
“It’s quite scary to actually love something that much and know that you would take a bullet for this little human being in an instant.”
Is motherhood everything you expected?
Motherhood is everything I expected and more. It’s quite scary to actually love something that much and know that you would take a bullet for this little human being in an instant. It’s love that is so deep, it’s almost painful. Her smile is the most magical thing, it’s like a drug to me. I don’t think I was prepared for the discipline though. I’ve had to tell her off for doing things like putting her fingers into plugs or biting me. To see her cry because of me is legit the worst thing ever. But she has to learn, sometimes the hard way. Hard for both me and her.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?
Some of the biggest challenges to me include having to always be on my toes. Sienna is growing so fast and learning so much every day, and I’m constantly challenged to adapt at her pace. She “talks” to us in her own way and we have to respond, try to understand her and her needs. It’s hard, but we’re getting there. Then there’s also the need to balance being a mother and being me. If I don’t love myself, how can I love another? I need to actively take time to be me, whether it’s going to the gym, or doing my work, because that’s who I am. It’s hard being away from her, but I hope that she’ll grow up realising that the world doesn’t revolve around her and that she, too, should find out who she is and invest time in herself.
Who do you turn to when you need parenting advice?
My main source of mothering advice comes from my mum. She’s been with me every step of the way and I’m so thankful. Times are changed from when she took care of me, but she’s always willing to impart her knowledge whilst being open to new ways of doing things, as recommended by dear old Google (and legit doctors of course).
You started a series of videos called Breastside Stories series (they can be viewed on Facebook and Instagram) where you share about your breastfeeding experiences. What inspired you to do them?
I think it’s important to be open about it all. Being a parent isn’t easy ― being a mother is super tough. But being in a position to share to a wider audience the realities of motherhood is important, because that way, other mothers know that they’re not alone. I’m always getting messages from other mothers telling me that they resonate with what I’ve been saying and it’s good to know they’re not alone, but also that I’m not alone. That’s why I started Breastside Stories, to share and be open about my experiences. It’s very therapeutic.
You’re British-Chinese yourself, and your husband is Chinese. What was it growing up in a mixed-race family? Do you think Sienna will be facing similar advantages or challenges? What languages will you raise her to speak?
Growing up a mixed kid when I was young was tough. My sister and I were the only mixed kids in our town in the UK. But nowadays, kids of mixed heritage are everywhere! It’s brilliant! I will invest time in helping her understand her heritage, like my parents did for me. I definitely want her to speak English and Mandarin. I believe living in this part of the world, learning Bahasa Melayu is an added bonus, but that will come natively, I believe, from speaking to my mum’s helper and also from any time we spend in Malaysia.
Both Justin and I are Hainanese, so my mum tries to speak a bit to Sienna. Justin’s Hainanese is great, too (damn, he’s so perfect, it’s annoying!), so I hope she’ll be able to practise with him. Dialects are a dying breed but I feel it’s important to understand a bit at least.
Are you planning more kids?
I definitely want another kid! Or two? We’ll have to see how we get on with having two first! Sienna will be a great big sister. She’s already shown keen interest in younger babies, so I don’t think we’ll have a problem. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter. We didn’t discover Sienna’s gender till she was born, so I’d be happy to leave it to Mother Nature to dictate with the second. That being said… I’d love a little boy though. One of each would be nice!
“I’m always getting messages from other mothers telling me that they resonate with what I’ve been saying and it’s good to know they’re not alone, but also that I’m not alone.”
What are your favourite ways to spend time together as a family?
Justin and I love bringing Sienna to experience new things. Gardens By The Bay is one of our favourite destinations at the moment ― it’s nice and cool in the domes! But she’s also big on lights and sounds, so we took her to see the new light-and-water show at Marina Bay Sands, too. It’s nice just being out and about with her, really. I think it’s important for kids to explore their surroundings and not be cooped up indoors all the time. And swimming! Sienna LOVES swimming. We started bringing her for lessons at the Little Swim School. I think it’s good that she’s able to interact with other children and learn safe ways to be in and around water.
What have you newly discovered about yourself since becoming a mum?
I think the biggest discovery I’ve made is that I can function on very little sleep. Prior to giving birth, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to hear her if she cried in the middle of the night, but despite being the world’s heaviest sleeper, I can hear every noise she makes. It’s amazing!
Photos: Kelly Latimer
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