When Lucy Mecklenburgh talks about her gorgeous nine-month-old baby boy, Roman, her eyes light up and a huge grin spreads across her face. “I love Roman so much and can’t wait to see him in the mornings,” she says. “He’s growing so fast and wriggling around. He’s a big healthy boy!”
But the experience has been very different to the one she and her fiancé, actor Ryan Thomas, envisaged. Less than three weeks after Roman was born in March, the country was plunged into lockdown and, like all new parents, Lucy and Ryan had to stay at home for the next few months, missing out on support from their family and friends.
But while the former TOWIE star admits there were challenges, she says the experience also gave them precious family time together.
“It was tough at times,” says Lucy, 29. “We had a lot less support than we would have done under normal circumstances, but we had daily FaceTime calls with family and I’d send pictures of Roman via WhatsApp.
“My little sister, Lydia, was amazing – she’d bake me cakes and fresh bread, and leave them on my doorstep. I really appreciated those little things.
“And we were there for all of Roman’s milestones. It’s not often that you don’t have other distractions, like work, so Ryan and I were together all the time.
“We became a really good team because there was no one to come round and hold the baby while we cooked or cleaned. It definitely brought us closer as a family.”
Lucy admits she did worry at first about Roman missing out on socialising with other babies during the lockdown. She says, “I did have those panics at the beginning that he couldn’t go to parties or baby groups, and I wondered if he’d develop quicker if he had that social interaction. But it helped to know that other mums felt the same.”
Lucy says the support from other new mums, including her former TOWIE co-star Lydia Bright, who had her daughter, Loretta, in February, has been crucial. “I have a lot of friends with babies, Lydia being one of them. We’ve had very different experiences, and in a way, it helps to know that not everyone’s the same.
“There are good days and bad days and support is key. My friends and I would WhatsApp each other if we were having a rubbish day and remind each other that tomorrow would be better. And it always was.”
First-time mum Lucy also relied on the online community to help her cope with tricky days. “Instagram has been amazing,” she says. “When I used to do night feeds, I’d post something at 3am and have chats with other mums, and we’d share funny stories to keep each other going.
“Sleep deprivation was the hardest bit, but then you have those amazing moments. There’s no other love like it.”
The reality star says parenthood has changed her life completely and that every day is like a “military operation”, prepping meals, tidying up the house and making sure Roman has everything he needs.
“Some people say the baby slots into your life – I don’t know who those people are!” she says. “You have to be super organised, but you do just adapt and get on with it.
“I’ll get up, I’ll breastfeed Roman and then Ryan will get up and start making breakfast and tidying up.
“Some days we’re knackered and just don’t want to do it. But we’ve learned how to pick each other up on tough days, and I’ve learned that I can survive on an hour’s sleep for about two days!”
However, Lucy says she makes it a priority to carve out quality time with Ryan, 36, when Roman is asleep. She met the actor – who also has a 12-year-old daughter called Scarlett with his former Coronation Street co-star Tina O’Brien – when they were both contestants on Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls in 2017.
“I think it’s very important to make time for each other now Roman goes to bed at 7pm, otherwise it can start to feel like Groundhog Day,” she says. “On Fridays we make a conscious effort to cook a meal. I’ll put on a bit of make-up and we’ll eat together at the table and have a glass of wine, and then maybe watch a film. It makes a difference.”
The pair aren’t planning their wedding just yet, though. She says, “With everything going on in the world, it’s been the furthest thing from my mind, but it’s definitely something we want to do. Maybe at the end of next year we’ll make a plan.”
And what about a baby brother or sister for Roman?
“Oh God, ask me when he’s a little bit older!” she laughs. “I feel like I need a few more months to think on that one!”
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