In a world exclusive interview and photoshoot for HELLO! magazine, supermodel and philanthropist Petra Nemcova talks for the first time about the dramatic arrival of her first child, Bodhi, and the heart-wrenching first few weeks of her precious son's life.
"We had always planned for our baby's arrival to be as natural as possible without drugs, and we ended up relying on modern medicine to save our baby and we could not be more grateful. We had been hoping for everything natural and we had a completely different deck of cards to deal with. You want something one way but then you have to go with what the universe brings to you," reveals Petra, as she introduces Bodhi who was born six weeks early by emergency C-section, and whose name means enlightenment.
Petra with her newborn baby boy, Bodhi
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"They brought him to me so I could see his little cute face and smell him and give him my love but I could not do skin-to-skin as they had to take care of him being so premature," she tells HELLO! as she is joined by her husband, entrepreneur Benjamin Larretche, and their three-month-old son, born on November 15, at their second home in the Dominican Republic.
"Seeing him with all the tubes everywhere, the constant noise of the machines, and all the injections he had, that was very difficult. But Benjamin is so strong, calm, and always so positive. Now he is thriving, he is very happy and so loved," Petra tells HELLO!. "He is super healthy and strong and he has grown so much. We are so grateful, and we are in such a happy place now."
If anyone should know how we can all be delivered an unexpected hand in life, it is Petra. She had been enjoying a romantic holiday in a beachfront bungalow on the edge of the Indian Ocean in Thailand in 2004 with her then-boyfriend, photographer Simon Atlee, when the Tsunami struck on Boxing Day. She clung to a tree for eight hours before being rescued, suffering injuries including a broken pelvis, however Simon was one of the thousands who drowned.
Today she says of that tragedy, "That experience will always be a part of my life. It definitely shaped my outlook in many ways. It is still part of who I am, but this is definitely a new and beautiful chapter for me."
Bodhi was born six weeks early by emergency C-section
Petra set up the Happy Hearts Fund in 2005 to rebuild schools in countries devastated by natural disasters. Three years ago, it merged with All Hands Volunteers to create All Hands and Hearts, and she now says proudly, “We have 301 disaster resilient schools in 12 countries around the world. Now as well as building schools we are building homes, and the work is powered by volunteers from all over the world. They are not just building schools and homes but rebuilding the lives of the communities."
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Petra and Benjamin are passionate about sustainable living, so it is not surprising that Bodhi’s nursery, from clothes to crib, is completely sustainable, and includes items from Scandiborn such as a wooden scooter. "We want Bodhi to learn from a very young age of the impact of sustainable life," says Petra who continues to work as a model but only with companies who are sustainable and conscious. "I want to support brands which are on the right path. At home and on the red carpet I wear sustainable fashion."
Proud father entrepreneur Benjamin tells HELLO! of his happiness at becoming a parent, "The feeling of seeing them both together brings me so much joy. These two survivor beings are truly unique. Petra is a natural born mother who has taken care of others most of her life and now it makes me content to see that she has the opportunity of taking care of our child. Waking up in the morning and seeing Bodhi’s smile is a true blessing, it fuels my day."
The couple married in August at sunset at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. "We knew it would be unbelievable to marry there, it is such a sacred place but it exceeded even our imagination. Just as the spiritual guide was marrying us, the clouds turned golden and the energy we felt was incredible, as though something divine was happening.
"Now the love between Ben and I is even deeper since Bodhi has arrived, there is a unity between the three of us. You hear of this amazing unconditional love when you give birth, and the love expanding but you cannot understand it until you live it."
To read the full interview with Petra, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out on Monday
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