Parenthood, with wriggle room
Instead of taking maternity pay, the PM intends to donate to Plunket, report Audrey Malone, Adam Dudding and Craig Hoyle.
In the blazing sun, friends are on the patio outside a white Pt Chevalier house drinking Coronas.
Much like the rest of New Zealand, since the bombshell was dropped in the form of three fishing hooks on Friday, the Ardern Gayford household is in a celebratory mode as the temperature reaches 27 degrees on a muggy afternoon in Auckland.
Their friend, Jaquie Brown, had earlier dropped around a copy of her book I’m Not Fat, I’m Pregnant.
Gayford, who plans to take on the bulk of the child-rearing duties, jokes: ‘‘It has a lot of small font and will take a while to read.’’
The first couple have known about the pregnancy for some time, and, as such, have already made a few plans.
Due to their fortunate financial circumstances (Ardern’s salary tops $470,000 a year ), the couple will make a donation to Plunket, echoing one of Labour’s election campaign pledges to fund 100 more Plunket nurses at a cost of $10m.
‘‘I’m aware that most people have a drop in income when they are on maternity leave, so I thought giving some money to Plunket would be a good idea. Plunket does a great job,’’ Ardern says.
Today, Jacinda Ardern will meet Labour colleagues to discuss how the months before her June birth will unfold. She is aware pregnancy doesn’t always follow best-laid plans and there will need to be some wriggle-room instead of definites.
She will have lead maternity carers in Auckland and Wellington in case she goes into labour in either city. But the couple hope it will be a hospital birth, and that the PM’s residence in Wellington, Premier House, will not see its first home birth.
To say the pregnancy came as a shock would be an understatement. She and Gayford had tried IVF, but pregnancy plans were put on hold in August when she became leader of the Labour Party.
Three weeks after the election and in the midst of negotiations for a coalition government, Ardern took the test.
‘‘Rather than going into the nitty gritty, I will just tell you I was not in a doctor’s office.’’
She then Facetimed Gayford to tell him the news.
‘‘I had no inkling. When it was revealed, I was surprised,’’ Gayford says, looking at his partner.
The couple announced the news to the world on Friday via press release. Earlier, she had announced the news to her caucus via group text.
While some details have been kept private for now: the due date, the gender and possible names, New Zealand’s first couple have been forthcoming with several details.
For example, her last day in Parliament
I’m aware that most people have a drop in income when they are on maternity leave, so I thought giving some money to Plunket would be a good idea. Plunket does a great job. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Andrew Little is going to have to do some babysitting. Clarke Gayford
will be June 14, and the baby will be taught both English and te reo. And – if her four-yearold niece has anything to do with it – probably a bit of Spanish, too, Ardern says.
Ardern’s sister is moving back to New Zealand from Europe, with her two children and Colombian husband, later in the year.
Apart from the pregnancy, a lot has happened in the past year for Ardern.
She won an electorate seat for the first time, she became Labour’s deputy leader, then its leader. Her sister got married, her grandfather was hospitalised, and then her grandmother died.
There was also the election. She was named New Zealand’s 40th prime minister. And the pair’s cat, Paddles, was killed.
‘‘We are not sentimental people, but that really got to us,’’ Ardern says.
Her thoughts were very much on her grandmother when she told her grandfather the news about the impending baby. He went silent.
Ardern thinks her grandmother would have been happy for her, but would have also voiced her opinion about the unmarried couple having a child and Gayford becoming a stay-at-home dad.
‘‘My Grandma was quite a traditional woman, and I’m sure she would have had some thoughts about our switch in arrangements.’’
Studying for parenting will be Gayford’s job – he thinks Ardern will research parenting the same way she does politics.
‘‘I’ll be reading the books and
doing summaries. Figure out what the take-aways are, and fill her in.’’
He also picks he will be the main attendee at ante-natal classes. Ardern’s job will keep her busy. Recently, she has been lobbying as an MP for the local kindergarten not to turn into an all-day centre.
Pt Chevalier Kindergarten was going to be turned into a $335-a-week fee-paying institution, until a parents’ revolt led to a last-minute reprieve in December.
The parents who lobbied her about the kindy were unaware she would be one of them shortly.
It’s not just work that has stymied the couple’s attempts to get a headstart on preparation for the new addition as they thought they might get a lot of side-glances if they started shopping for baby
stuff. But now they say they will try to buy gender neutral clothes – just as a way to keep the sex of the baby secret.
Although they have decided they will buy reusable nappies – with a bamboo insert – other decisions about clothes are yet to be made.
Other settled decisions include Gayford being the main carer past Ardern’s six weeks of maternity care – although they’ve also lined up at least one person to fill in when they want some quality time.
That was decided as the couple weren’t able to think about the possibility of getting pregnant during the election and negotiations, because Ardern had been suddenly thrown into the leadership.
‘‘Andrew Little is going to have to do some babysitting,’’ Gayford says.