Oscar-nominated actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, 17, and her boyfriend of four years, Bradley Hull, 20, introduce their daughter Felicity-Amore, 6 weeks, in the latest New Zealand edition of Australia’s Women’s Weekly.
In the interview, Keisha discusses media attention due to her age, her three day labor, difficult delivery, and talks about returning to work.
Thanks to ACP Magazines.
Thanks to CBB reader Sarah for the scans.
Click below for all the photos and interview highlights!
On the pregnancy: Keisha: [I was used to having irregular periods], so I was more than four months pregnant [when I found out for sure]. It was really weird because I’d been playing this pregnant woman [Mary in The Nativity Story] for three months and then all of a sudden I was pregnant. I remember thinking, ‘Maybe I’m imagining it.’ I just got so caught up with Mary.
Brad: ‘I had always imagined starting a family at the age of 24 or 25. So when Keisha first told me that she might be pregnant, I didn’t know what to think. I was a bit blown away. I just wanted to go to the doctor and find out for certain. Then, when we did find out, having it confirmed, I was over the moon.’
On media attention due to her age: I just didn’t expect it. Isuppose I was living in a bit of a fantasy world in my head. I thought,’I’m going to tell everyone, and everyone is going to celebrate.’Absolutely everyone in the country had something to say about it. Ithought, ‘At the end of the day, I am going to be the one looking afterthis baby in the middle of the night and it doesn’t affect you.’
Peopleoverseas were really supportive. I had lots of letters of support frompeople I had worked with in America and friends over there. Then wecame home and it was just like a small town. I expected there would bea small story inside the paper about it, not that it would be all overthe front pages and on the six-o-clock news. It was hard for my friendsbecause everyone was talking about it on the radio and it made themangry. And it was hard for my family because things that were said werereported completely out of context.
People have said to me, ‘Youare only 17, what will happen to your life?’ But I’m not like most17-year-olds. I have only lived 17 years, but I have already done somuch. In the last four years alone I have done more than a lot of40-year-olds have. I’m about as ready for this as I could ever be.
Yes,I was scared when I found out I was pregnant. But if I got pregnantwhen I was 27, I would have been scared too because it is a huge step.
Being ‘over it’ by week 39: Most of the time I felt really good, although by week 39 it was driving me nuts. I was over it. I used to go shopping all the time for the baby, but by then I didn’t want to go near another baby shop.
Her labor: Keisha was a week overdue when her three day laborbegan. After two days of mild contractions, the third day was tougher, but Keisha labored at home until her contractions were sixminutes apart. Keisha says, ‘I was planning to have a water birth at home. I wanted so much for it to be natural and I didn’t want any pain relief.‘
However, after a morning visit to her OB, the decision was made for Keisha to be admitted to the hospital. She says, ‘Theyhad booked me into Middlemore Hospital under another name. The plan wasto smuggle me in. I was going to pretend I was having a contraction andhold a pillow over my face as I went into the hospital so that no onewould recognize me…by the time I got to the hospital I was screamingfor the epidural.’
On the birth: After two hours of pushing, the baby’s head wasdeemed to be at an awkward angle and preparations began for ac-section. Keisha wasn’t happy, but says she understood. ‘At thatpoint I was really upset because everything was going so wrong. But Iknew that I would do anything to make sure my baby was healthy. Ifsomeone had said to me at that point, ‘The only way she is going tocome out healthy is for you to chop off your head…I would havechopped off my head.’
Happily for her, Keisha did not end up needing the c-section, butthe birth was still difficult. She had a high forceps delivery [thismeans the forceps were applied when the baby’s head was not fullyengaged — many doctors prefer to do c-sections instead of using mid orhigh forceps].
Immediately after the birth, Felicity-Amore’s breathing wascompromised by a wrapped cord, so she was taken away to be checked.Keisha says, ‘I was really upset by then because I thought, ‘I havedone all of this work and I can’t even hold her.’ Then they brought herover and it was just the most amazing moment. For the last three days Ihad been in the worst agony of my life and right then I forgot everysingle minute of it. I just thought, ‘I’d do this all over again.’
On names: ‘When I first found out I was pregnant, I liked less conservative girls’ names like Fifi or Lulu.’ ‘Dog names,’ Bradley interjects. ‘But then we came up with Felicity, which we both liked. We didn’t really talk about names for a long time after that. Then, when she was born and they asked me what her name was, I said, ‘Felicity-Amore.’ She just looked like a Felicity and it seemed right. I didn’t even know it meant ‘happiness’ until a few days later when Mum looked it up in a book. And Amore? Love, of course!’
Brad as a dad: Keisha raves about Bradley — he even gets out of bed in the middle of the night to bring Felicity-Amore to Keisha to breastfeed, so she doesn’t have to get up!
For Brad though, it took awhile to believe that he had a daughter. He says, ‘When we finally brought her out to see [our mothers] I broke down and cried. I was just so emotional.’
Baby blues: The midwife came to me on day three and said,’You might have a baby blues day soon,’ and I thought, ‘I feel fine.’Of course, the minute she left I was a mess for the next 12 hours. Ifelt like I couldn’t do anything right. I’d change her nappy and itwouldn’t fit properly. Then I’d feed her and she wasn’t latching onproperly. Brad was saying, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you crying?’ and I’djust keep crying and saying, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong.’ Then the suncame up and I was fine again.
No sleep: I’d be up checking, checking, checking, being paranoid. I remember when one of my friends had a baby she said it was like that in the first few weeks. And I said, ‘If I had a baby I would just sleep the whole time and I probably wouldn’t even wake up for it.’ But it’s so true because this little person relies on you and I know if anything happened, it would be my fault.
On family: At the moment, I think, ‘What would I do if I wasn’t at home and I didn’t have the support of my mum and my family?’ I think it helps that I’m not at home by myself during the day. I’m lucky.
On staying in: When I was pregnant, people would come up and touch my stomach. I don’t really want to have to deal w
ith people wanting to touch Felicity-Amore all the time. It’s just an invasion of your personal space.
More kids?: I don’t need to create any more siblings forher because she has plenty of kids to play with! I’m a real mum to mybrothers and sisters [Rhys, 15, Liam, 11, Maddisyn, 6, and Qyade, 11months]. I’m really protective of them and I think that’s because Mumand I are so close. She’s more like a sister to me, and both of us lookafter the kids together. Of course, I am still their evil big sisterand they don’t always get their way. Sometimes, when they’d wake me upat six in the morning, I’d think, ‘I never want to have kids becausethese ones are driving me nuts!’ [laughs]
Going back to work: I have already established a career that I can go on with and, contrary to what a lot of people think, I don’t think a child is going to stop that. There are millions of women in the world who work and who have children, so why have I been singled out? Having a child does not affect my acting at all. If anything, it’s going to make it better because I have this experience to relate it to. When I played Mary I played a mother and I’ve thought since that if I played that role again, I’d do so much of it differently.
Just because I have a baby, it doesn’t mean that my career is going to go kaput. I have a really ambitious streak in me. I want to do it now more than I ever did. I want to do it because I love it, not just to spite other people.