| 14.3°C Dublin

HEY JUDE IVF advocate Denise Phillips shares baby joy despite 'unexplained infertility' diagnosis

Businesswoman, entrepreneur, and all-round supermum, the 36-year-old has become the champion of the IVF community

Close

Denise and daughter Beth cuddle the new arrival.

Denise and daughter Beth cuddle the new arrival.

Denise and daughter Beth cuddle the new arrival.

'I'm leaking," laughs Denise Phillips as her newborn son, Jude, latches on for a midday feed.

Businesswoman, entrepreneur, and all-round supermum, the 36-year-old has become the champion of the IVF community since documenting her arduous struggle to conceive her now six-year-old daughter, Beth, after her ninth round of IVF.

But it was the arrival of now six-week-old Jude that garnered the most headlines. Diagnosed with unexplained infertility at 28, Denise only discovered she was six months pregnant when she began to grow concerned about her growing belly.

Now in a newborn baby bubble, the Newbridge, Co Kildare native is relishing every second she spends with her miracle arrival.

"Sometimes I just look at both of them and say to myself, 'How did I get so lucky?'," smiles Denise.

"Because I am from the IVF community, I am so extremely grateful for what I have and I am always conscious of being present with my children because there are so many people out there still fighting to have children.

"A year or two after I had Beth, I said 'I could die happy now because I have become a mother'. I don't take a second of it for granted because I live every second of my life with gratitude. Jude is another miracle in a completely different sense from Beth.

"I can see why people say you can't imagine the love you will have for your boy. I am completely infatuated with him - I could look at him all day."

Close

Denise only realised she was pregnant with Jude when she was six months along. Pictures: Amanda Hatton Photography

Denise only realised she was pregnant with Jude when she was six months along. Pictures: Amanda Hatton Photography

Denise only realised she was pregnant with Jude when she was six months along. Pictures: Amanda Hatton Photography

 

Denise reveals that she was faced with a whole new host of worries and concerns when she became a mum for a second time.

"You do worry, I thought, 'How am I going to love someone more than I love Beth? I couldn't possibly.' But then Jude came along and you realise you have endless amounts of love - like every other parent, I would literally die for my children."

Juggling the demands of a newborn and a highly inquisitive and energetic six-year-old however hasn't been without its challenges.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"I am not giving Beth as much time as I did before because I am breastfeeding and then there are constant nappy changes and night feeds."

Part of motherhood, Denise explains, is feeling bad about everything. It is straight-talking sound bites like this that explain the hairdresser's ever-growing social media following.

Grounding herself in reality, Denise does not dice with the truth as she talks about motherhood.

"You feel bad about everything," she admits. "Even things like what you cooked for them for dinner.

"It is not so much mom guilt, but you are criticising and judging yourself for the decisions you make. I always say I never compare myself to anyone unless they live a life identical to me.

"I don't compare myself to someone who has a nanny, I don't compare myself to someone who is a stay-at-home mam. I simply just try and do my best."

Right now, doing her best means juggling the demands of motherhood and her growing business empire.

"At night-time I write in a journal to map out the next day," she says. "It doesn't always to go plan, but if I have it there at least my day will be full of good intentions.

"I will be answering emails when I am breastfeeding and something does have to give; it is impossible to give the kids 100pc all day long.

"I do mark out two to three hours where I put my phone away and then I devote my time to the kids fully."

With a 32-strong staff, three hair salons, one of which has just opened in Belfast, and endless work behind the scenes of her hair brand, Voduz, Denise knows the importance of being organised.

"I schedule Beth into my schedule to ease my mind from guilt. This morning we went to the park from 9am to 10am and now I am going to go do to some work.

"This isn't exactly a normal maternity leave but I am going down to Wexford where the [internet] service isn't good so I can switch off more. I don't want to look back on this time and think I didn't spend the time with Jude.

"I am physically with my kids but my mind is also with the business. It is not possible for your business to be successful without your input, but obviously my babies come first. It is absolutely possible to do both but it isn't easy - and I don't ever pretend it is easy."

While Jude suckles contentedly, Denise reveals that her breastfeeding journey was almost over before it began. Struck down with Covid-19, the devoted mum was forced to labour through her illness, another reality she decided to share on her social media platform.

"The Delta variant hit when I was 39 weeks and I got it extremely bad," she reveals. "It infected my placenta − if the placenta gets infected obviously your baby can't get nutrients or oxygen, so it is quite dangerous. I was on a drip to bring my temperature down; I was very ill. I just told myself I needed to get my baby here safely and then I could allow myself to be sick after and that's what I did.

"Because I had Covid, if breastfeeding had been difficult I would have switched to formula because I had no energy.

"It was only because I was fearful of my baby getting sick and his weight was dropping that I didn't move from the bed for two days and I continued to feed him.

"I wanted to show people you can get through anything in life. I also wanted to show people how sick I was, so that if they were on the fence about the vaccine either way, that they could make their own informed decision."

The outpouring of support Denise received from social media was overwhelming. But the platform can be a double-edged sword.

"I have never done an ad or been paid by any brand because I don't want to send out mixed signals," she insists.

"My page (@denise_bethphillips) was originally set up for IVF and fertility struggles and business because I promote my own business. I am not an influencer; my job is my business and my brand. I love my community and I love promoting other Irish brands.

"I'd say 99pc of the time it is positive. I only ever got four negative messages. Women asking me, 'Why does Beth speak in an American accent?' And I just said, 'Do you know what, you go ask the child yourself because I know I am not going to ask my child or ask her to change herself.'

"She is six and I let her be six. I don't understand people commenting on children. You will never be able to compete with those people's mind. For the most part though, Instagram is a lovely place."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy