eller’s two sons, Liam, 17, and Jack, 15, were hard won. She chronicles her and Oliver’s struggle to have a child in her memoir Natural Born Keller with such candour it’s impossible not to be moved. Along with the injections, the general anaesthetics for egg harvesting and the long periods of waiting to learn that yet another embryo had failed to take, her recollection of a radio prank gone wrong is searingly painful.
As she recounts the episode nearly two decades on, Keller’s face still drains. She and Denton were on holiday from their Triple M Sydney breakfast show and Jonesy was standing in when a caller phoned in to a regular segment called The Rumour Mill to report that Amanda Keller was pregnant. Having been assured by a producer that the call was funny, Jonesy put it to air only to be told by the caller that she had seen Keller coming out of an ultrasound clinic. Before long, friends began calling the radio host to ask if she was expecting.
“I was apoplectic,” Keller says. “Those IVF cycles were so hard and to have that stab come from inside the camp – from the people who should most protect us – was devastating. It was a perfect storm of something falling through the cracks. Jonesy wrote me a letter to apologise, but I didn’t have the words to respond.”
The friendship survived, but Keller’s eyes still fill with tears as she recalls the years where she and Oliver had to accept they might never have kids. Even now, as the boys come hurtling in after school, she pauses and thinks back to when they were just an impossible dream. “I look at those hairy legs coming through the door and I just can’t believe it.”
She recently went to a university open day with Liam and is coming to terms with her sons growing up. “We first saw Liam when he was just eight cells. Now he’s this fully formed thing. I feel I’m at the end of it [parenting] and I want to hold on to it.”
Keller has long refused to buy into mother’s guilt. “I’ve told them that if something matters to them, they have to tell me and I’ll drop everything to be there.” She grins: “You know, something like their wedding day… If I’ve got a free morning I might pop in.”
That’s not to say it’s all smooth sailing – she struggles with the relevance-deprivation feelings that strike many parents of teens, recalling how one evening recently her eldest neglected to tell her he loved her when she said goodnight. “I tried not to be needy, but I came back downstairs and told him that when I say, ‘I love you,’ he’s supposed to say it back. He told me he wasn’t a robot, but I explained that sometimes I just need to hear it from him.”
As for her relationship with Oliver, 11 years her senior, she says she has a fresh appreciation for enduring relationships after reading Alain de Botton’s novel The Course Of Love. “As he says, we celebrate the beginning of relationships and the break-ups, but it’s that long haul in the middle that is rarely written about and never gets made into films. There are not enough accolades for surviving the long haul.”
The pair clearly adore each other but, after 28 years, Keller says she doesn’t examine the relationship every day. She recognises Oliver’s mood might be totally unrelated to her and tries not to pick a fight after a glass of wine.
She also accepts she often comes in after a morning on the radio and bosses her husband about like he’s staff. “My pace is bang, bang, bang, and I’ve got a list of things that need to be done. I need to take a breath and change pace when I’m coming into the house.” So, does she do that? She smirks: “No, I don’t.”