Anna Whitehouse Announces Pregnancy: ‘I Hope My Experience Reduces The Stigma Around Blended Families’

While I’m so excited about adding a new addition to our family, being pregnant at 42 comes with a lot of challenges,' Anna Whitehouse exclusively tells Grazia.

Anna Whitehouse

by Anna Whitehouse |
Updated on

The moment I found out I was having a baby with my partner, Olly, I felt an innate sense of calm. I took the test at Kings Cross station in February this year because, as so many people say, I just felt that something was different. I’m 42 and knew if it was going to happen, it’s got to be now. But I still couldn’t quite believe it when those two blue lines landed. I’m not sure you ever believe it when you’ve navigated recurrent miscarriage. And even now there’s no way of celebrating for me until I hear that first cry.

I rang Olly - he was away on a work ski trip. But before I told him, I asked, ‘what are you looking at?’ And he said a mountain. I just wanted him to remember what was in front of him when he found out.

After I announced my divorcein October 2023, there was definite judgement and shame that landed. But there’s always going to be emotive commentary, because divorce is a subject layered with pain. I do, however, think there’s a real need to show people that there is happiness on the other side of the breakup storm – something I desperately needed to see when I was in the middle of it. It was an incredibly painful and lonely time, and I didn’t see many stories of hope, but I want people to know it’s possible to find your own happy ending, however it looks and whatever the journey was like to get there.

Anna Whitehouse pregnancy
©Anna Whitehouse

Dating after coming out of a 13-year marriage was a whole different ball game to when I was last single. I tried dating apps, and I was reaching breaking point (yes, Hinge fatigue is a real thing), when a message from Olly popped up. Instead of saying “hey, shall we meet” or “show me your boobs”, he said “I really love what you do.” He was the first person who acknowledged what matters to me over how I look. It was October last year and we went on our first date the following week near the V&A where I was hosting an event. I’ve never really believed in love at first sight, but there was an instant connection. We both have two children from previous relationships, so we understood each other and, perhaps, what it would mean to unite six people under one roof. There was a shared awareness that we weren’t just dating as individuals, we were dating as family units.

Olly and I are engaged, but it wasn’t a decision we took lightly. The first time you get married, there’s a sense of celebration, romance and the huge promise of happily ever after. But there’s a space for quiet contentment, which is where I am now. For Olly and I, it was also a statement of intent for our children to cement us as a six. We knew we weren’t going to mess with our children thinking they had siblings if it was just a fleeting thing.

From the outside, the proposal doesn’t sound very romantic. We were sitting on plastic chairs in a tiny beach shack on holiday in Thailand, surrounded by mosquitos. Olly looked at me and said, “if it wasn’t for the judgement of everyone else, I’d ask you to marry me right now.” I said, “I would, too.” We looked at each other and said “will you marry me” at the same time. I started crying, as there was nothing I wanted more. It wasn’t planned and it wasn’t to a timeline that fits the rest of the world, but it just felt right.

The only way I can describe the feeling of being engaged again is like coming home. That’s not to take away from anything that’s happened in the past, but it’s just a different situation this time around. I haven’t thought much about the wedding or the ring – none of that is important. It’s about laying the foundations for a family for the six of us - soon to be seven, now we have a little person on the way to bind our family units together.

I’m a huge advocate for marriage and making things work, but I want to challenge the notion that couples should stay together for their children, because that’s really flawed.

I hope that sharing my experiences will help to reduce the stigma around blended families. There’s this belief that, because your family is blended, it’s somehow ‘less than’ or not enough. I’m a huge advocate for marriage and making things work, but I want to challenge the notion that couples should stay together for their children, because that’s really flawed. Our children are lighter since we’ve divorced. My sister married a woman at 29 after being married to a man, and she’s decided not to have kids. We’re raising our daughters to show there are different types of relationships out there, and they’re learning about all kinds of family set ups. They’ve seen their parents put our own happiness, and that of our family, first, and I think that’s really powerful.

While I’m so excited about adding a new addition to our family, being pregnant at 42 comes with a lot of challenges. I’ve been so sick, and I’m already worried about the sleepless nights. I hate that I'm a geriatric pregnant woman, because there’s a lot of judgement that comes with that. Also a lot of scaremongering. Having gone through miscarriages in the past, I know that feeling of loss so inherently and I’ve already been having dreams about being separated from this baby. As I said, I won’t be celebrating at all until the baby has been born safely. But I also feel incredibly privileged to be in this position, as I didn’t think I ever would be.

Our wedding was originally going to be this year, but we’ve pushed it back because having a baby has somewhat taken centre stage. When it happens, it’s going to be a low-key affair: a registry office surrounded by all our friends and family, lunch at the place we had our first date and an early night. To be honest, I’m surprised I am getting married again at all. When I separated, I went into a bit of an island mindset of “it’s just me and my two girls.” I even got a tattoo of just the three of us, a triangle with three points. It’s taken a really big, safe, gentle love to get me here.

Looking back, did I think when I walked down the aisle for the first time in 2010 that my situation would look like this? No. Am I proud of myself for my family navigating what felt like the inevitable? Yes. I hope this is a blueprint that shows people whatever you choose on the other side of divorce, it doesn’t have to be weighted with shame, judgement, and stigma. That the Disney happily ever after can, indeed, look slightly different.

To hear more about Anna's experience, check out the latest episode of her podcast Dirty Mother Pukka.

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