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
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.