Laura Anderson: ‘My birth was traumatic but Gary being there made it perfect’

Snuggled up on the sofa, Laura Anderson cradles her beautiful baby girl. But she explains that eight-week-old Bonnie really should be napping right now!

As the very much awake newborn beams up at her mummy, it’s clear someone didn’t get the memo, but Laura is becoming used to these unexpected bumps in the parenting road.

“Just when you feel like you’ve got to a stage where you’ve nailed it, everything changes again,” says the former Love Island star, 34.

“I’ve got all these apps and I’m constantly trying to educate myself around developmental leaps and growth spurts, which have been pretty spot on so far. Whenever I feel things are a bit challenging, it’s always good to know that everything is normal and fine.”

There have been challenges, though. Big ones.

Although visibly smitten with Bonnie, who was born on 2 September, Laura would be the first to admit that the early weeks of motherhood have looked very different to how she’d once imagined them.

After meeting ex-Hollyoaks and The Bill star Gary Lucy, 41, in the summer of 2022 on the set of Celebs Go Dating, the two fell head over heels for each other and started trying for a baby almost immediately.

By December, Laura was expecting Bonnie, but her relationship with Gary hit the rocks and they split shortly after publicly announcing the pregnancy in early 2023. There were a few attempts to get back together, but as she approached the birth, Laura spoke of their “turbulent” situation, her fears about a future as a single mum and her “grief” for the life she wouldn’t now have.

While they were able to weather the storm enough for Gary to be by her side throughout the labour, they are no longer a couple.

“I wanted nothing more than for us to be a family and to be together, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out,” she confides. “Nobody has the perfect set-up, even people who are in relationships. Life is difficult and I know now it’s OK not to have the fairy-tale.

“No one knows what the future holds, but it’s really important that Bonnie has a mother and a father who love her and who are getting along. She needs both of us in her life, so that is always going to be my priority.”

Are they on good terms at the moment?

“I would say me and Gary are friends,” she says. “We’re co-parenting as best we can right now and I think it’ll fall into place and make sense as she gets older. With both of our jobs, there can’t be too much routine at the moment anyway.”

Determined to remain amicable for the sake of their daughter, Laura is very level-headed about their complex circumstances.

However, she says it’s way too early to have figured out the long-term logistics of co-parenting just yet. Laura lives in Glasgow while Gary is based over 440 miles away in Essex, but she insists her door is always open and he is free to see Bonnie at any time.

“It’s up to Gary – he’s more than welcome to come here whenever he wants to see her and I’m taking the lead from him,” she says. “I want them to have a bond and I want him to witness all the changes, the smiles and the little giggles because time just goes so fast.

“We’ve not fully worked it out yet and I imagine it’ll be easier to schedule things when Bonnie’s a bit older. But for now, if I come down to London for work, I always tell him so he can see her.

“His parents met her when I went down recently, which I felt was important. I’ve now made a group chat with his family and mine so I can send them pictures every day and have everyone feel involved. Gary loves getting the cute videos of Bonnie. He’s sensitive and sentimental that way. It’s all about Bonnie and that’s how it’ll always be.”

Laura says that Gary will decide when to make introductions to Bonnie’s half-siblings – Gary has four children from his marriage which ended in divorce in 2018.

She adds, “As far as I’m aware, they’re really excited about Bonnie so it’s all quite positive. I’m very close with my own half-sister – I see her as my full sister – so Bonnie’s so lucky that she’s got four older siblings. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Just a few months ago, when relations were still strained, Gary had said he wasn’t sure whether he would attend the birth, although Laura made it clear that he was welcome.

In the end, he was there every step of the way and Laura says his support (along with that of her mother Barbara) helped her through what turned out to be a harrowing experience with a difficult induction followed by a post-partum haemorrhage.

“I don’t feel like I could have done it without Gary there. Genuinely. He was really hands-on and it was good to have him in my corner checking that things were going OK. Gary and my mum made a good team!

“I’m glad he was there because I always imagined the father of my baby being at the birth. It was 100% the right thing to do for Bonnie, for me and for him. It was important to set aside any emotional differences or any romantic issues between us because the only person that mattered was Bonnie.

“And even though the birth itself was quite traumatic, in a weird way I think it went perfectly because he was there.”

After spending the week following the birth in Scotland as a family of three, did Laura and Gary consider getting back together?

“Well, we did try before the birth, but it’s just not really worked out so far,” says Laura. “When we first got together and decided to have a baby – because Bonnie was planned – it was what I wanted.

"But it’s quite common for parents not to be together for whatever reason. And I’ve found a community, connecting with a lot of women on Instagram who’ve reached out to me and said that seeing me manage on my own has made them feel that they can do it too.”

After four sweeps and then a painful balloon induction failed to kick-start labour, Laura’s contractions finally began, rather rapidly, following a hormone induction. She went from 4cm to 9cm dilated in the space of 40 minutes and when she asked for an epidural, doctors initially told her she was too far on to have it.

However, when she hadn’t dilated any further after another three hours, they relented and the relief was instant.

Laura says, “Before the birth I thought I’d just use the gas and air, do my hypnobirthing, get in the birthing pool, go on all fours, moo like a cow and out she’d come! Obviously that didn’t happen. The epidural was the best thing ever at that stage.”

Post-epidural, she even managed a half-hour nap before Laura remembers the midwife telling her that with one more push, she would have her baby. Sure enough, Bonnie emerged and was placed on her chest.

“I automatically went into mother mode and felt very protective straight away. I spoke to her saying, ‘Hi angel, it’s OK, Mummy’s here.’ She held my hand and she was staring at me. I told Gary to speak to her too.”

Although Bonnie had arrived safely weighing 6lb 10oz, Laura had a second-degree vaginal tear which took 40 minutes to stitch up. But worse was to come when five hours after the birth, she suffered a haemorrhage which could have been life-threatening.

She says, “I sat up and everything just went whoosh. I was still feeling the effects of the epidural so I couldn’t stand but one of the nurses saw me through the curtain and when she came in to help me, even more blood came out.

“Before I knew it there were about 12 people rushing in and I told them I was shivering but wasn’t cold. And then I looked at my stomach and it was all to one side – apparently that’s a sign that my uterus wasn’t contracting back, which can cause a haemorrhage.

“It looked like I was going to have to go to theatre for surgery and I was messaging Gary who’d gone back to my place to sleep. He was freaking out, but I told him to bring the colostrum I’d been harvesting so Bonnie could be fed while I was under the general anaesthetic.”

Thankfully, doctors managed to stop the bleeding and stabilise Laura with fluids and in the end there was no need for surgery. She would later learn that she’d lost 1.6 litres of blood.

“I actually felt really safe the whole time because I was in the right place,” she says. “It would have been far worse if I’d been at home. I wasn’t in any pain and after that I healed well. I do feel proud of myself for getting through it. Childbirth makes you feel invincible.”

Laura also battled through mastitis to exclusively breastfeed Bonnie for the first month. She then started to express so that others could help feed and is currently in the process of introducing formula to supplement.

In fact, she’s delighted with the feeding journey they have shared so far. “Bonnie latched easily from the start and I’ve loved the bonding. I wanted to put her on the boob as soon as she came out, it just felt instinctive. I’ve liked feeding her expressed milk because I can see how much she’s getting and that made me feel a bit more in control.”

Bonnie is already showing signs of her famous parents’ traits. “She’s got a big personality,” says Laura. “I’m outgoing and confident and her dad’s an actor so I think she’s going to be passionate and sociable.”

As Bonnie lies content in her arms, Laura’s obviously a natural mum. Has she surprised herself at how she’s come through such a turbulent and emotional time?

“I knew I was a strong, resilient person, but I think it’s made me more selfless. Being a mother adds to your character. My whole day revolves around what she needs before even considering what I need. It just puts what’s important into perspective. I don’t sweat the small stuff now. This is an amazing life I’ve created and I get to look after Bonnie – it’s such a privilege.”

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