Former rugby league player Alex McKinnon and his dynamic wife Teigan have had an incredible four years. Alex, who suffered a devastating spinal injury during a football match in 2014, defied the odds when he stood with his beautiful wife on their wedding day in October last year. Months later, in March this year, the couple announced the wonderful news that they are expecting their first child. Proving once again that together, anything is possible, Teigan sat down with Claudine & Ash to share her thoughts and plans around parenthood and the impending arrival of their baby girl.
C&A:You’re having a baby, congratulations to you both! Baby news is always exciting but I think particularly given what you and Alex have gone through over the last four years, it’s an absolute thrill. Can you talk us through your emotions and what you both went through when you found out your good news?
TM:“It’s been very overwhelming but it was something we were planning; we just didn’t think it would happen so fast! We ended up having to go through IVF, so after running some bloods, I got a phone call to say ‘your blood work is good and your hormones are up there nice and high’ and I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. It was weird having someone tell you that you were pregnant when it didn’t really feel like anything had changed as of yet. So I gave Alex a call and he was over the moon. He was a bit speechless like I was, but in the afternoon when he got home I could see that he was, we both were, just overjoyed with happiness.”
C&A:You’re 22 weeks pregnant now. Do you know the sex of your baby yet? Have we got a scoop here at Claudine & Ash?
TM:“We couldn’t help ourselves, we actually found out when we were 10 weeks; we’re having a little girl! When we found out we both just screamed – we were just so excited, we’re absolutely over the moon to be having a little girl.”
C&A:You mentioned earlier that parenthood always in the McKinnon plan.
TM:“Yes, definitely, we’ve spoken pretty open and honestly about where we wanted to be in the future, and yes, parenthood was always in the plan for us. Even after the injury Alex took some precautions when he was first injured to find out if we could still have a family and luckily enough we are able to, so that was really good.”
C&A:How did you handle the mental and physical state of going through IVF – do you have any advice for others going through it?
TM:“Going through it mentally and emotionally, Alex and I were quite strong as we are normally; we relied mostly on each other and a few close friends who had been through the IVF process. Luckily we didn’t have any side effects or anything go wrong, and the hormones, actually if you ask Alex he’ll tell you, it really leveled me out; I think they made me a better person, I was happy all the time! If I had any advice for anyone embarking on IVF, it would just be to speak with others that have gone through it. I know how much it helped being able to talk to friends that had gone through IVF, to seek their advice and their help.”
C&A:You guys have been on a fairly unique road to parenthood; what has it taught you and what’s been the most surprising thing so far?
TM: “I guess the changes in my body have probably been the most surprising this so far. Even though you know that things are going to change, it’s still a battle in your head knowing that you’re getting bigger; it’s for a good cause, obviously that means the baby is growing but I guess that’s the thing that’s surprised Alex and I - how much your body does change and how tired you do feel. I’m sure I’m going to feel another level of tired once the baby comes. It’s really made me aware that it is a miracle, that you can carry a child, and give birth and have this healthy baby at the end of it. Until you really go through it you don’t completely understand.”
C&A:How do you think your childhoods will impact the way you parent?
TM:“Alex and I both grew up two hours from Newcastle in the country so I think we were both blessed to have such a relaxed childhood, one where we could just explore and be children; it’s going to be different bringing a child up in Newcastle. Alex is quite a structured, precise, strict person within himself and I’m quite the opposite. I know in my family my mum is the stricter parent; in Alex’s family his dad was probably more strict; so it’ll be interesting to see how we balance that but I’m sure as soon as Alex sees his little baby girl he’s going to melt. He won’t stand a chance! So I’ll need to pull my weight in the strictness department!”
C&A:You have both overcome a number of challenges throughout your relationship; how do you think you’ll handle the challenges that inevitably come with parenthood and caring for a baby?
TM:“I’m looking on the positive side, I think that we’ll push through this the same way we’ve pushed through the last four years; just depending on each other and our good group of friends and family. That’s the key, knowing that it’s ok to ask for help. I think it’s just another learning curve you’ve got to go through in life, and it’ll only make us stronger again. I think we’ll be fine.”
C&A:Have you got a birth plan in mind?
TM:“I’m just kind of going with it at the moment. At just 22 weeks I think I’ve got a few more scans that will determine what path I can go down so at the moment we’re just being pretty open and asking a lot of questions about all the different options we’ve got. We’ll take it as it comes, as a few of my girlfriends have suggested!”
Big thanks to Teigan McKinnon for her time and her honest answers. You’re going to be a wonderful mum and Alex a wonderful father; we wish you both all the best.