My iden­tity is shift­ing… thats OK

Tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Natalia Cooper re­veals the frenzy of giv­ing birth for the rst time as she, hus­band Carl and baby son Ezra are pho­tographed by Stel­lar for their in­au­gu­ral fam­ily por­trait

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy STEVEN CHEE Styling KELLY HUME In­ter­view KAR­LIE RUTHER­FORD

Natalia Cooper, hus­band Carl and their baby son Ezra are pho­tographed by Stel­lar for their rst fam­ily por­trait.

Af­ter two years spent set­ting her alarm clock to wake up at 2am so she could ar­rive on time to her job as the weather pre­sen­ter on Nine Net­works

To­day, Natalia Cooper tells Stel­lar she was sort of pre­pared for the sleep deprivatio­n that would come with new par­ent­hood. And, like the ded­i­cated jour­nal­ist she is, the 34-year-old had re­searched as much as she could about preg­nancy: I had four dif­fer­ent apps on my phone.

But no amount of re­search or fore­cast­ing could have pre­dicted just how mon­u­men­tally her life would shift when her rst­born, son Ezra, en­tered the world on a hot but rainy Jan­uary evening.

I guess I thought that things would kind of go on as nor­mal, says Cooper. This baby would come into our life and it wouldnt be that much of a change. But… its been huge!

Fol­low­ing a rel­a­tively quick, ve-hour labour, Cooper and her hus­band, mu­si­cian Carl Fox, faced an un­ex­pected dilemma. Routine checks per­formed im­me­di­ately af­ter Ezra was born re­vealed uid on his lungs, and he was rushed to spe­cial care.

Cooper says af­ter the emo­tional highs of meet­ing and cradling her baby (who was named af­ter Ezra Koenig, the lead singer of US in­die rock band Vam­pire Week­end), the dis­cov­ery was par­tic­u­larly wrench­ing. At the time, you are a mix of emo­tions and hor­mones and you just go with what the doc­tors are say­ing, she says. But then to go back to your room [from the de­liv­ery suite], and you dont have your baby with you… it wasnt what we ex­pected. To be hon­est, it was re­ally hard to see my baby in that sit­u­a­tion. It was tough.

It was time to do some­thing more fam­ily friendly

Doc­tors in­sisted Ezras stay in spe­cial care was sim­ply to en­sure his lungs got the sup­port they needed to ad­just to their role out­side the womb, but that didnt make things any easier for the cou­ple. The doc­tors and staff were amazing, and talked us through ev­ery­thing, says Fox, who met Cooper at a pub in their home­town of Perth nearly a decade ago, and mar­ried her in 2016. But we are new par­ents we didnt know how se­ri­ous it was. And at one point, you as­sume the worst. So I just tried to be strong for Natalia.

Af­ter four days, Ezra was given the all clear to leave the nurs­ery and join Cooper in her room. That rst night was the best, she says. I just stared at him con­stantly I still do that, ac­tu­ally.

Im obsessed with him. Its such a bless­ing and a re­lief to have a healthy and happy baby, and I love be­ing a mum. I re­ally do.

So far, she in­sists, there havent been any new-mum melt­downs along with her nose, his dads hair and now fully func­tion­ing lungs, Cooper says Ezra also boasts a chilled-out na­ture. But she does ad­mit she nds it difcult to be so far from her fam­ily in Perth, and while she gen­er­ally runs on the same clock (Im used to get­ting up in the dark), the days of jet­ting from the top of Aus­tralia to the bot­tom to make a weather cross are a dis­tant mem­ory.

These days, a big ad­ven­ture con­sti­tutes a walk of 200 me­tres to the near­est cof­fee shop. Time is so dif­fer­ent, says Cooper. Youre not able to do all the things you were able to do; your fo­cus is this lit­tle per­son who re­lies on you. Be­fore I was go­ing a mil­lion miles per hour, trav­el­ling here and there for work. Now its him and me. Im just as busy as I was be­fore, and its just as hard work, but its dif­fer­ent.

Cooper adds that Ezras ar­rival only strength­ened her love for Fox. He is such a hands-on dad. It melts my heart to see some­one I love in­ter­act­ing so beau­ti­fully with this new per­son I also love just as much. Its very spe­cial. For his part, Fox tells Stel­lar hed won­dered how his wife could ad­just to the dra­matic change in her life­style. But he now ad­mits any wor­ries were quickly put to rest: We waited a lit­tle while to start a fam­ily so Natalia could keep work­ing on her ca­reer and get where she is. Now shes a mum, its the per­fect time and she is pretty amazing at it.

In any case, not long af­ter giv­ing birth it was re­vealed Cooper will not re­turn to To­day when her ma­ter­nity leave is up later this year. In­stead Steve Ja­cobs, who she re­placed in 2016, has taken over as weather pre­sen­ter. Cooper, whose jour­nal­ism ca­reer started in a Perth news­room at 18, says her de­ci­sion was un­re­lated to the big shake-up that saw Karl Ste­fanovic,

Tim Gil­bert and Sylvia Jeffreys leave the show. We were dis­cussing it last year, and with a baby, it prob­a­bly wouldnt work with all the travel and the crazi­ness of a job that is on the road a lot, she says. It was den­itely time to make a change, and do some­thing more fam­ily-friendly.

Ive al­ways had my iden­tity tied up in what I do for work. Its a big part of my life. But now my iden­tity is just shift­ing and thats OK. Its chang­ing for the best as well be­cause your world just be­comes that much bet­ter with this lit­tle per­son that you made in it.

Nine Net­work col­league and close friend Mathew Wool­frey be­lieves the traits that made Cooper a suc­cess­ful jour­nal­ist make her an even bet­ter mother. Shes hard­work­ing and de­ter­mined, but on the ip side shes very chilled and car­ing, he tells Stel­lar. You ask any­one in the news­room and theyll say shes the most thought­ful per­son around. So shes ab­so­lutely nail­ing moth­er­hood. And when she does re­turn, in what­ever ca­pac­ity comes next, She will be able to make room for fam­ily and work. Thats just her.

Cooper says she has tuned into the morn­ing show since leav­ing, but is loath to give a re­view of the changes since: [Ive watched] as much as you can with a new baby. Its all look­ing great, but Im still in that bub­ble. And its nec­es­sary. There is so much to gure out, so much to learn.

Although she misses the ca­ma­raderie of work, the make-up depart­ment and get­ting to y here, there and ev­ery­where and go to amazing events, shes more than happy all of that has been put aside in favour of a sim­pler and (mainly) make-up free life for a while. When I was preg­nant, time slowed down. I just couldnt wait to get to the end and meet my baby, but as soon as he came into the world, its gone so fast! The days are slip­ping away. Hes chang­ing ev­ery day. Im chang­ing ev­ery day. Im just try­ing to slow it down, and en­joy it all.

EZRA WEARS Coun­try Road rom­per and leg­gings, coun­try road.com.au; Seed Her­itage booties, seed­her­itage.com CARL WEARS In­dus­trie shirt and jeans, in­dus­trie.com.au NATALIA WEARS Matin dress, matin­stu­dio.com; her own neck­lace (worn through­out)

(from top) Natalia Cooper at her March 2016 wed­ding to Carl Fox on the NSW South Coast; in her roam­ing role as a weather pre­sen­ter on the To­day show in 2017.

NATALIA WEARS Camilla and Marc dress, camil­laand marc.com HAIR: TRAVIS BALCKE US­ING BAL­MAIN PARIS. MAKE-UP: NAOMI McFAD­DEN US­ING LUMA OTHER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: IN­STA­GRAM/NATALIACOO­PER_; NINE NET­WORK.

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