“I am equally ter­ri­fied and ex­cited”

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy DAMIAN BEN­NETT Styling KELLY HUME In­ter­view SIOB­HAN DUCK

As she pre­pares for the birth of her third child, Car­rie Bick­more speaks to Stel­lar about feel­ing a few jit­ters, her chang­ing fam­ily dy­namic and be­ing able to take a ma­ter­nity-leave break from hair and make-up.

She has tem­po­rar­ily stepped away from her high-pro­file job on TV and ra­dio to pre­pare for the ar­rival of her third child. But as Car­rie Bick­more is the first to ad­mit, not even the hard­est work­ing woman in the Aus­tralian me­dia al­ways man­ages to keep all the balls in the air

Car­rie Bick­more is fee­ing lucky. Sure, her back aches so badly that she must now wear a brace be­neath those glam­orous out­fits on The Project.

And sure, she’s con­stantly ex­hausted from jug­gling the de­mands of rais­ing two young chil­dren, along with a thriv­ing ra­dio and tele­vi­sion ca­reer, while heav­ily preg­nant with her third. Then there are the de­bil­i­tat­ing panic at­tacks which caused her to seek help from a coun­sel­lor.

But, de­spite all this, Bick­more says that she feels far too blessed to com­plain.

Af­ter all, the Gold Lo­gie win­ner knows all too well just how frag­ile life can be. Bick­more was just eight when her mother Jen­nie suf­fered a still­birth. And the now 37-year- old feels the loss of that sib­ling even more acutely since be­com­ing a mother her­self. “Be­cause of that, I have al­ways been very aware of not get­ting too ahead of my­self,” she tells Stel­lar.

“You never know what the next day may bring. One minute there’s a room all set up [for the baby] and the next there’s not. To be a woman feel­ing that baby kick and move, be­ing so close to the end and think­ing to your­self: ‘I am al­most home and hosed [with the preg­nancy].’ So I don’t take any­thing for granted.”

Bick­more’s own road to moth­er­hood has also been chal­leng­ing at times. She suf­fered a life-threat­en­ing haem­or­rhage af­ter giv­ing birth to her first child Oliver (Ol­lie) Lange in 2007 and years later ex­pe­ri­enced the pain and loss of two mis­car­riages.

In the case of her first­born, the ex­pec­tant mother was at home when she sud­denly be­gan to bleed pro­fusely and lost con­scious­ness. Mak­ing an al­ready hor­ren­dous sit­u­a­tion even tougher was that her hus­band Greg was bat­tling what proved to be ter­mi­nal brain can­cer at the time.

De­spite his ill­ness, Greg – with the help of friends and fam­ily – stepped into the breach and cared for their new­born son while new mother Bick­more re­cov­ered in hospi­tal af­ter a se­ries of blood trans­fu­sions. “I be­lieve that Ol­lie has prob­a­bly grown up to be such a chilled-out kid be­cause of what hap­pened when he was born,” Bick­more says. “Be­cause I was in hospi­tal hav­ing blood trans­fu­sions, he had to be looked af­ter by friends and fam­ily. He just had to roll with it.”

Three years af­ter Ol­lie was born, Greg passed away and Bick­more bus­ied her­self with rais­ing their son and build­ing her ca­reer to se­cure their fu­ture.

Years later, when Bick­more found her­self once again in a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with tele­vi­sion pro­ducer Chris Walker, and ex­pect­ing her se­cond child, she be­gan suf­fer­ing panic at­tacks and sought help. “I started see­ing a coun­sel­lor and it made a world of dif­fer­ence,” she ex­plains. “I am not say­ing that I loved giv­ing birth to Evie, but it was noth­ing like the prob­lems I had the first time. I have been a lot less stressed this time around, but my heart rate still in­creases when­ever I even think about child­birth.”

Even so, Bick­more is look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing her new son or daugh­ter very soon. “I am equal parts ter­ri­fied and ex­cited,” she says. “I have been tak­ing ad­vice from other par­ents on manag­ing three chil­dren be­cause I hon­estly have no idea what to ex­pect. I don’t have a lot of friends with three kids, so it’s all a bit of a mys­tery to me.”

Bick­more can­didly ad­mits that she is anx­ious about how the new baby will change the dy­nam­ics of her happy house­hold, given her el­der chil­dren, Ol­lie, 11, and Evie, three, are a closely knit duo. “Evie def­i­nitely rules the roost,” Bick­more says with a laugh. “She and Ol­lie share such a beau­ti­ful bond. He is such a great help to Chris and me be­cause he plays with her and keeps her en­ter­tained.”

On telling her son ear­lier this year that she was ex­pect­ing an­other baby just ahead of Christ­mas, Bick­more laughs as she re­calls his wry re­sponse: “Great, more work for me.”

While she may make it look easy on­screen, Bick­more laments that be­ing preg­nant at the age of 37 has proven a lot harder than it was when she was ex­pect­ing Ol­lie in her 20s. As her The Project co-host Peter Hel­liar quips, “I’m amazed at Car­rie’s abil­ity to co-host a prime-time TV show whilst grow­ing a baby in her tummy… I would have given up af­ter the first trimester.”

Be­fore an­nounc­ing she was preg­nant for the third time, Bick­more suf­fered two mis­car­riages. She wrote about the heart­break­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in a col­umn for Stel­lar ear­lier this year and was struck by the im­pact it had.

“Peo­ple still come up to me in the su­per­mar­ket to talk about it and share their ex­pe­ri­ences,” she says. “Some women may never feel com­fort­able talk­ing about it. Peo­ple should just do what is right for them. I have never been ashamed about what hap­pened. But it would have been too painful for me to have dis­cussed it at the time.”

Only mak­ing the pain more dif­fi­cult to cope with – and an­other heartache to which many women would also re­late – was that Bick­more still fronted up to work.

View­ers who saw Bick­more’s smil­ing face on the screen would have had no idea that she had suf­fered such a ter­ri­ble loss ear­lier that day.

“Yes, my job comes with chal­lenges, but I am no dif­fer­ent to any other woman who has gone through this,” she tells Stel­lar.

“I know teach­ers who have had to go in and teach a class full of kids af­ter los­ing a baby that morn­ing.”

Amid deal­ing with the emo­tional and phys­i­cal up­heaval of her third preg­nancy, Bick­more has also found her­self in the head­lines through­out 2018 for her so-called feud with The Project’s new re­cruit Lisa Wilkin­son, af­ter – amid a blaze of pub­lic­ity – the for­mer To­day show co-host de­buted on Net­work Ten at the be­gin­ning of the year.

Although her ap­point­ment was fol­lowed by pre­dictable sto­ries about cat-fight­ing between the two high-pro­file fe­male col­leagues, Bick­more has main­tained a dig­ni­fied si­lence about the gos­sip. “I have not spo­ken about that and I am not go­ing to speak about it,” she says.

“I don’t want to give it any more oxy­gen. If I talk about it, it just feeds the next ar­ti­cle. I just keep my head down and work hard.”

As for Wilkin­son, she in turn has no time to waste on the in­evitable ru­mour mill. “We are all

“Peo­ple still come up to talk with me about my mis­car­riages”

so thrilled for Car­rie,” the fel­low mother-of-three says of Bick­more’s loom­ing new ar­rival. “She is such a can-do woman, and de­spite her busy sched­ule she will just make it work. My only ad­vice to her is that once the kids out­num­ber the par­ents, you’re done. Just give in to the chaos and hope for the best.”

Bick­more isn’t sure how much ma­ter­nity leave she will be tak­ing, but has been as­sured by her bosses at both Ten and the Hit Net­work to take as much time as she needs.

“I’ve ac­tu­ally timed it quite well be­cause it will be sum­mer and it’s much eas­ier to get up in the mid­dle of the night when it’s not freez­ing cold,” she says with a laugh.

“I am look­ing for­ward to be­ing back in that world. I re­ally en­joyed that time with Evie. It will be great not to have to worry about my hair and make-up for a while, too.”

Of course, that isn’t en­tirely true. Bick­more is only too aware that there are of­ten pho­tog­ra­phers lurk­ing be­hind trees wait­ing to snap that money shot of her with her young fam­ily.

It is an on­go­ing byprod­uct of her job that she still finds dif­fi­cult to come to terms with. “Be­fore peo­ple start scream­ing that I knew what I was get­ting my­self into when I chose this life, let me just say I re­ject that idea,” she says.

“I wanted to be a jour­nal­ist – not a celebrity. When I was a 19-year-old at univer­sity, I took tu­to­ri­als in defama­tion, not on nav­i­gat­ing the line between my pub­lic and pri­vate life.”

The up­side of her celebrity, how­ever, has been that it has en­abled her to help draw at­ten­tion and raise much-needed fund­ing for re­search into cur­ing brain can­cer.

When she ac­cepted her 2015 Gold Lo­gie wear­ing a beanie that she had se­creted un­der her sparkling evening gown, Bick­more set in mo­tion a chain of events that has seen her char­ity, Car­rie’s Bea­nies 4 Brain Can­cer, raise al­most $11 mil­lion for re­search into the dis­ease.

“When you do some­thing like this, peo­ple un­der­stand­ably ex­pect you to open up,” she says of her work in rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness of brain can­cer. “That isn’t easy to do. Talk­ing about some­thing re­ally, re­ally tragic that changed our lives for­ever isn’t easy to ex­plain.”

Raised in Perth, Bick­more stud­ied jour­nal­ism at Curtin Univer­sity be­fore mov­ing to Mel­bourne in 2001 to work in ra­dio. She got her start in tele­vi­sion as the news­reader-with-a-dif­fer­ence on Rove Live in 2006 af­ter one of his pro­duc­ers heard her ex­chang­ing ban­ter with Kate Lang­broek and Dave Hughes on their ra­dio show. “She is one of those rare peo­ple in life who is pretty much what you see is what you get,” Rove Mcmanus tells Stel­lar.

“So many of us hide be­hind In­sta­gram posts of what we want to be. Car­rie re­ally is ex­actly what you see on­screen. She is warm. She’s gen­uine. She’s funny. And I count my­self in­cred­i­bly lucky to be one of the peo­ple who can call her a friend.”

And like many who know Bick­more, he mar­vels at her busy life­style. “Here she is, a soon-to-be mother of three and she’s do­ing The Project and her ra­dio show. She does her re­search. She’s al­ways the first per­son in to work. And she ac­tu­ally gets up to ex­er­cise. She does all of that and she is a great mum.”

Tommy Lit­tle, who co-hosts the pair’s week­day af­ter­noon ra­dio show, con­curs. “She’ll al­ways ask me how my day is go­ing first, and I’ll be rant­ing for five min­utes about how busy I’ve been be­fore I re­mem­ber that I’m talk­ing to the busiest woman in show­biz, who also has two kids and a third on the way,” he says.

“She never pulls me up on it though – she lis­tens, smiles and of­fers help. It’s vin­tage Bick­more be­hav­iour and yet an­other rea­son why she’s the best.”

Fifi Box, a reg­u­lar pan­el­list on The Project, tells Stel­lar that Bick­more is a rar­ity in an in­dus­try of­ten prone to the su­per­fi­cial.

“It’s not easy to find true, sin­cere friend­ships in the me­dia, so I’ve been in­cred­i­bly lucky to find Car­rie, who is the most sup­port­ive and loyal friend. She has dropped ev­ery­thing when I’ve needed her.”

Yet Bick­more is the first to ad­mit she doesn’t al­ways keep all the balls in the air. Re­cently she for­got it was French dress-up day at Ol­lie’s school, but solved the cri­sis with a drawn-on mous­tache, a re­cy­cled Where’s Wally? cos­tume and a last-minute dash to the bak­ery for a baguette.

She con­fesses, too, that she dis­cov­ered her son played the clar­inet only when he re­minded her about an up­com­ing con­cert.

“I rang Chris and asked him, ‘Did you know Ol­lie plays the clar­inet?’ And he had no idea ei­ther,” she gig­gles.

“I am a work­ing mum, just like mine was. Oc­ca­sion­ally I’ll miss things. Things might be for­got­ten. But that’s OK. When it comes to our time to­gether, it is qual­ity not quan­tity.”

“I am a work­ing mum, and oc­ca­sion­ally I will miss things”

CAR­RIE WEARS Lee Math­ews dress, leemath­ews. com.au; her own un­der­gar­ments

CAR­RIE WEARS Maria Lu­cia Ho­han dress, myer.com.au; A.emery san­dals, ae­mery.com

A NEW PROJECT (below, from top) Car­rie Bick­more with her The Project co-hosts (from left) Peter Hel­liar, Waleed Aly and An­gela Pip­pos last month; with Tommy Lit­tle on their ra­dio show Car­rie & Tommy in Septem­ber; with part­ner Chris Walker, Ol­lie and Evie, an­nounc­ing their baby news in June.

CAR­RIE WEARS Gucci blouse, gucci.com; Vik­to­ria & Woods pants, vik­to­ri­aand­woods.com.au Shot on lo­ca­tion at Montsal­vat, Eltham, Vic­to­ria

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