Alex Jones’ baby talk
Alex Jones on her joy at being a new mum, her hopes for a second child and what it means to be back on The One Show
I don’t look the same as I did, but I’m all right about that – life isn’t just about me any more
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Alex Jones admits to feeling a mix of ‘nervousness’ and ‘excitement’ when she returned to The One Show last month after taking maternity leave to give birth to her first child.
But Alex, who recently turned 40, is clearly revelling in being mum to four-month-old Teddy and is feeling generally relaxed about life.
‘I don’t look the same as I did before, but I’m all right about that – life isn’t just about me any more,’ says Alex, who lives with her baby boy and her insurance broker husband Charlie Thomson in Chiswick, west London.
‘I don’t care if I’m a bit wobbly or look more tired, because it’s all part of the fun of being a parent; it’s a badge of honour. I haven’t felt the pressure yet [to get back into shape], but it’s early days. I wouldn’t say I don’t care if I never get back to how I was. But it took nine months to make him, so if it takes nine months to get back into my old jeans, then so be it.’
During her three-and-a-halfmonth maternity leave her place on the show’s sofa was kept warm by Angela Scanlon (host of Robot Wars) and Watchdog presenter Michelle Ackerley.
So did she experience maternity-leave paranoia, as chillingly depicted in the BBC1 thriller The Replacement earlier this year, in which a high-flying architect (played by Morven Christie) goes on maternity leave – only to discover her cover (Vicky Mcclure) has a sinister agenda?
‘Of course! I’d be lying to say I didn’t feel any paranoia when I first left the show, but then you get over it because you realise there’s nothing you can do about it,’ she says. ‘The best bit of advice was from [BBC newsreader] Sophie Raworth, who said, “Do NOT watch it!” And I didn’t. By the time I had the baby, I had no time to look at it anyway.’
As to why she’s decided – for the moment – to come back part-time two days a week, Alex says: ‘I don’t want to miss Teddy’s milestones.’
While she’s emitting a blissed-out serenity today, she admits that’s not always
the case. ‘A typical day is feeding him for eight hours, trying to fill the washing machine, then filling the tumble dryer and stuffing some food down if there’s time. And then it’s dark and you wonder what you’ve done with your day – it’s a bit like being in the twilight zone. People underestimate how dramatic the transition can be.
‘And even going into this in my late thirties, I don’t feel as though I was told exactly what it would be like. It’s a real change of gear. I’ve gone from running around at 100mph to being in the house alone; from a lot of noise to it being very quiet. It’s hard but it’s an absolute honour to be a parent. There are times when you think, “I just don’t know what to do to make him stop
crying”, but the joy will always outweigh anything else.’
Her tendency to be disorganised isn’t playing out well. ‘The first time I went out alone with him, I took him to hospital for a check-up. When I arrived I realised I had no nappies or wipes, just my sunglasses and wallet. But you soon learn.’
After making the BBC2 documentary Alex Jones – Fertility & Me last year, she has become a poster girl for older firsttime mothers. She previously dated TV presenters Steve Jones and
Matt Johnson, before meeting New Zealander Charlie at a party. They married when she was 38 and she had Teddy at 39. They were, she says, ‘lucky that he happened quickly’ (she had fertility tests for the documentary but wouldn’t publicly discuss the results).
One of the reasons Alex made the programme was her mother’s revelation that she experienced early menopause at 43, a condition that has a strong genetic link. Alex says they’d like a sibling for Teddy, so her age has fast-tracked the issue.
‘Mum’s menopause is something we are very aware of. It would be foolish of us to chance it and leave it too late next time,’ she says.
‘It’s very early days [after having Teddy] but if we did try to have another one and it wasn’t as easy as it was with Teddy, we might think, “Well, we’ve been lucky enough to have him, so we’ll just have the one child”. On the other hand, we might think it’s been so wonderful having him that we’ll go down the IVF route. I don’t know.
‘I do want two kids. You tend to mirror what you’ve grown up with and Charlie and I have one sister each. I wish we’d met sooner and that we’d cracked on with trying for a baby when I was 34 or 35 [to allow more time to have another child], but that’s the way it was for us and you can’t change that.’
As for being an older mum, it has its advantages. ‘I have more patience than I did when I was younger, and more of an understanding of my body,’ says Alex. ‘And we’re just so grateful that we did manage to have Teddy – when it starts getting tough we remember how lucky we are. It gives me a sense of perspective.’
How does she feel about her recent milestone birthday? ‘I’m not over-thinking it,’ she says. ‘Some of my friends who’ve turned 40 struggled with it. But because the baby has come the same year, I haven’t had much time to think about it. I reckon you should probably celebrate getting older. If you’re happy where you are in your life, it’s just a birthday, isn’t it?’
Working mum: Alex Jones returned to The One Show last month The power of One: with co-presenter Matt Baker
With hubby Charlie and (inset) baby Teddy