Following the announcement of her fourth pregnancy, Denise Lewis has revealed she is allowing herself to indulge as she prepares to become a mum again at the age of 45. "I don't miss competing at all. I'm in a totally different phase of my life now," she told HELLO! in November 2018 at Stoke Park luxury hotel in Buckinghamshire, the location for our exclusive photoshoot. "I love seeing the up-and-coming athletes finding success," she added. "But that first week of training after holidays is torture. Between now and Christmas, its pain, massages, lactic, vomit. Compared to that, childbirth is a breeze."
Denise discovered in the spring she was expecting baby number four, her third child with entrepreneur husband Steve Finan O'Connor. The baby is due in December. "I really wasn't well - feeling feverish then cold - so I went to the doctor to find out if I had flu and they did a blood test. I thought: 'Okay, this is it. I'm pre-menopausal.' Then Steve said: 'Are you sure you're not pregnant?'" The sports star continued: "'Hmm I didn't think of that; let's check.' Then: 'Oh my goodness - it is possible.'" Steve, the son of Liverpool comedian Tom O'Connor, told us: "I was ecstatic when we found out. Denise is an amazing mum and she loves babies. I've told her she needs to open a birthing suite if she wants anymore."
Denise and her husband Steve
When it comes to raising their children, he noted: "I'm head of entertainment and she is head of health and safety and education. We make a good team and the kids are great. All I'm concerned about is Denise and the baby are both healthy. That's all that matters." The couple decided to wait until they had had the 20-week scan before telling sons Ryan, 13, and Kane, ten, and daughter Lauryn, 16, with Denise hiding her bump under baggy clothing. "Lauryn was going through her GCSEs and I didn’t want to drop a bombshell on her," she explained. "I didn't know how they were going to react. She might have been thinking: 'What are you old people doing?' Even building up to that, I wondered what people would think. I'm 45, going on 46 – 'You've got three children already. Do you need more?'"
"There was a few cogs going on in the back of the mind, but I was very touched by the response. Very touched," she added. "I saw Gabby Logan at work the other day and she said how jealous she was that I was going through the baby thing all over again. I’m really excited now." Steve, who juggles a property business with advising James Middleton and Liam Payne's management teams, remarked: "My friends have all said: 'Thanks, mate,' because they’ve had their wives asking them about more kids. We might have started something."
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Sadly, there was another reason why the couple waited almost five months before telling anyone their happy news: three years ago, Denise had a miscarriage when she was 12 weeks pregnant. "It was a very, very scary experience," Denise shared, talking about their loss for the first time. "I was in the bathroom and bleeding heavily and I was worried I was going to pass out. Steve was with Ryan at a school rugby match and I was home alone with Lauryn and Kane." She added: "I had to prepare Lauryn and talk her through what might happen and try to shield her away. I could feel myself going tingly and cold. I felt I was going because I was losing so much blood. I gave Lauryn a number for a schoolmum friend whose neighbour was a doctor and she came and waited with me for the ambulance.
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"All I can remember from that day was thinking: 'The kids are on their own and I’m going to be passed out on the floor.'" Denise left hospital feeling numb. She had only told her close friends and family she was pregnant, so she kept their loss to herself. "It's only after you go through something like that you realise how many other people have, too," she confessed. "You try to take something away from what happened and I thought: 'I've got three healthy kids. Be grateful for that.' I'd said to Steve: 'It's time to say goodbye to that phase of my life.' And then this happened."
After her sad loss, Denise was nervous about telling her mum she was pregnant again. "It was nerve-racking. I’ve got a house, a mortgage, kids, but still…" she said. "I think she was shocked after what had happened. She is overprotective of me because I’m an only child, and we’re such a busy household I think she was worried how it was going to affect us all and the health implications on me. But we’re excited."
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After getting the first set of scans out of the way, Denise is now starting to allow herself to enjoy the pregnancy countdown and think about the birth and beyond. But she says she has been surprised by some of the responses to her falling pregnant. "I asked to speak to the head midwife because I thought the woman I was dealing with was ageist," she revealed. "I feel healthy and well, but it’s been made a big deal for me that my age is an issue, so I’m on high alert." With three children already, Denise is well aware of the options for giving birth. "I had a lovely water birth for Ryan and Kane," she explained. "Lauryn was my only epidural. This time it will be a different environment. I’d like it to be as holistic as last time – I think it will be good for my mental state – and if I can, I will. I have to be open because I don’t know what my body can do."
"The countdown is on," she added. "I’m thinking about who the baby will look like. I like a bit of mystery. The kids are at an age where they understand it’s a new life, an addition to the family. They’re going to be very curious – how tiny the hands are, the clothes. Kane asked: ‘Is it really going to hurt, Mummy?’ Steve asked [him] if he wanted to be outside the delivery suite, but he said: ‘I don’t want to come in and hear any screaming.'"
Despite the major upheaval a baby brings, Denise plans to continue working and is already looking forward to covering the European Athletics Indoor Championships for the BBC next year. And her 16 years of training as a working mum should put her in a winning position when the baby arrives. "It’s exciting. I think it will be different. Everything is new again," she said. "I’m hoping I’ll be a bit more chilled out and really immerse myself into what it really means to be a mum instead of caught up in the headiness of trying to do the right thing. I’ve got the experience and all those tools, having raised three." She expectant mother concluded: "Being a new mum at whatever age is testing and I think I’ve forgotten what it feels like. But we’ll take it in our stride. Honestly, I just feel blessed."
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