In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine in January 2017, actress Katherine Kelly revealed her surprise baby news. The actress star of Mr Selfridge, Happy Valley and The Guilty gave birth to Rose three months previously, a second daughter with her husband Ryan Clark. "We didn't go out of our way to keep it a secret but we didn't announce the pregnancy so people were not immediately on bump watch. So it's been wonderful to have this precious time just for us," said the former Coronation Street actress.
Even so, it’s remarkable that the former Coronation Street actress enjoyed not only her pregnancy in total privacy but also the first months of little Rose’s life. "Kate is private with her personal life at the best of times," said 36-year-old digital analyst Ryan. "We tend to keep things off social media so we only told family and close friends." Not surprisingly, there have been some who were blown away by the news.
"We’ve bumped into some of our friends more recently who have said, 'Oh my goodness, we had no idea,'" Ryan said. "It is different if you are in something like Corrie, as you can't keep it quiet. It leaks within a second as paparazzi are always at the gates," Katherine added.
"We have been so lucky to have this special time again to enjoy the early months with Rose," said the actress as she gazed lovingly at her “dreamy textbook” second child. "You never get this time back, do you? The joy that they bring – it is like Christmas every day when our two girls open their eyes each morning and look at us."
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Already she and Ryan could see how their girls’ personalities were that little bit different. "With Orla, she has always been here, there and everywhere – we call her Orla the Explorer," smiles Katherine. "She is a little tornado. I think we have the opposite with Rose." The births were very different, too, said Ryan. "With Orla we had a planned relaxed journey to hospital in Melbourne, but this time with Rose it was more panicked," he said. He had to use a stopwatch to time the rapidly advancing contractions as the couple rushed from their North London home to the nearby Whittington Hospital, where Rose was born at 1.10am on 21 October.
"I’d been watching TV and it got to about half past eleven and we realised the contractions were the real deal," recalls Katherine. “It was a rush to get to hospital and by the time we were checked in, Rose was born within one hour and 40 minutes.”
Considering the speed of the labour, it is perhaps surprising that the couple’s plan for a water birth went ahead. "The hospital was amazing. We were lucky enough to be in a birthing suite and I felt like I was in a spa rather than a hospital – all down lighting, birthing balls and hammocks. I didn’t want to leave," laughs Katherine. When she held her baby for the first time, Katherine was convinced Rose was smaller than her big sister had been but, in fact, at 9lb 1oz, she weighed 1oz more. Taking after their 6ft 4in father, the two girls look likely to be strikingly tall. "Rose was 58cm long and Orla was 54cm. We had an amazing male midwife at the London hospital and he said, 'We’re just going to put a cross up here somewhere as she is actually off the chart.'" Already taking on the role of protective dad to his gorgeous girls, Ryan jokes: "I think I am going to get new locks on the windows soon."
Katherine rarely shares photos of her daughters Orla and Rose
Many of the couple’s close friends have now met Rose and Katherine has taken her to Manchester to see some of her former Coronation Street co-stars and to Yorkshire, where they spent Christmas with Katherine’s family. The family also planned to visit Australia. "We usually go at Christmas but we felt that Rose was too little,” says Katherine. "But Ryan’s dad has been over, and his mum is coming too." "FaceTime and Skyping breaks down the distance for sure," adds Ryan. The couple are also planning a double christening for their girls in the summer, when they hope to bring together both Orla’s and Rose’s godparents for a big celebration.
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Mike Tindall, one of Katherine’s closest friends since schooldays, is Orla’s godfather. "Mike and Zara are very much part of our lives," says Katherine of the ex-England rugby union player and his wife, the Queen’s granddaughter. "Mike’s a great godfather – he sent Orla beautiful dresses for Christmas – and we saw them a lot when I was pregnant this time so, although they are yet to see Rose, I feel they have met her in a way. Their daughter Mia is only two months older than Orla and they get on like a house on fire. Orla’s always asking if she can go to play at Mia’s house."
As for the future and returning to work, Katherine says: "A couple of things came up but it was too early to go back. I want to spend as much time as I can with Orla and Rose, but of course I love my job, too." For now, her focus is on the pleasures of motherhood. "To have two healthy children and the privilege of raising two beautiful girls is a blessing." Then she added, with a smile: "Even though the other day I swear it took me three hours to get out of the door just to get to the shops."