Former Tracy Beaker star and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Dani Harmer introduced her beautiful baby girl Avarie-Belle for the first time with an exclusive photoshoot and interview in HELLO! in July 2016. Speaking of her firstborn with boyfriend Simon Brough, 25, the actress reveals: "I just feel the most happy I've ever felt in my entire life. We're in a complete little love bubble."
However, the delivery of their daughter - whose full name is Avarie-Belle Betsy Rachel Brough – was not all plain sailing, after a gruelling three-day labour left her exhausted and having a "traumatic" emergency caesarean. "I was devastated. I cried a lot," she recalls. "My birth plan was literally "birthing pool, whale music, no drugs, let's just try and be really hippy about it and do some breathing" – but it just turned into the complete opposite. This is why I don’t think birth plans are a good idea. You really, really can’t plan. Also, I’d never been in a hospital before. I’ve never needed an operation and I’ve never needed to go into hospital – ever – so that’s been my first experience. It was a lot to take in – just being in a hospital was making me panicky, let alone anything else."
Dani and Simon with their beautiful baby girl Avarie-Belle
However, the C-section wasn’t the only shock in store. "Once she’d come out I started to regain feeling, so I could feel literally everything they were doing. My placenta got stuck. And it was just literally one thing after the other. So they ended up giving me more and more drugs to the point where I couldn’t open my eyes but I was conscious."
Thankfully, mother and baby were fine, but remained in hospital for three days, with Simon by their side. "The first couple of days in hospital, Dani was gone to the world, really, sleeping and not able to do much," he tells. "So I did the first nappy change and feed and it just felt so natural after the first time. It was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s easy.’ You spend nine months worrying what it’s going to be like and then the second you’re doing it, it’s absolutely fine."
Says Dani: "There’s something really attractive – not that you weren’t attractive before," she quickly adds to Simon, "about seeing Simon looking after her. He’s so good with her. The whole thing – I couldn’t have done it without him." Simon is in awe of Dani, too. “What was really incredible was seeing Dani progress through pregnancy. There’s that sort of age-old argument that, ‘Oh yeah, being pregnant isn’t too difficult,’ coming from a bloke. But seeing Dani carry a baby, do shows, work around the house, carry on with running her per forming arts academy… all of these things. It was just the most amazing thing and I’ve never felt prouder of someone. She’s been a real testament to how strong a woman is. She’s definitely not one to be trifled with.” He continued: "Seeing her be a mum as well is incredible. I can come home to my girls now. It’s awesome." He adds, laughing: "That’s the first time I’ve said ‘my girls’ and it felt really good."
Dani welcomed her baby girl in 2016
Celebrity friends have already been in touch to offer their congratulations to the new parents. Former Strictly dance partner Vincent Simone "can’t wait" to meet Avarie. "Hopefully Avarie will have a bit of rhythm… then we can send her off with Uncle Vincent and he can teach her a bit of ballroom!" And Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh "was overjoyed" to hear of Avarie's arrival, says Dani.
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And it looks as though wedding bells may not be in the too-distant future. "I'm really keen on that, but I want to do it right," says Simon. "I want to build a much better relationship with her father in particular and I want to ask, man to man, and I want him to feel confident that it's a good choice. I just feel it’s the right thing to do."