Heart FM’s Emma B describes her nine-week-old son Billy Ray as a “little fighter”. “I feel very, very lucky,” says the 37-year- old DJ, who lives in Greenwich, South London, with her hus- band, A&R manager Damian Wilson, and their five-year-old daughter Edie.
While all babies are special, Billy Ray’s arrival is all the more remarkable because the couple had been told that they were unable to have another child. “Doctors have said that it’s a miracle he’s here,” says Emma, who has also had top jobs on BBC Radio One, BBC 6 Music and TV’s Top of the Pops.
When she was expecting Edie, Emma had pre-eclampsia – a blood pressure condition that can endanger mother and baby – but it wasn’t until she began trying for a second child that she discovered she had further problems and subsequently suf- fered two ectopic pregnancies.
“I really struggled emotionally,” she reveals. “You have to go in and have a general anaesthetic, and then you feel dreadful for weeks and weeks after. And no one really gave me an explanation for why it was happening.
“Not only are you dealing with the loss of a baby, but you’re then having to deal with just being discharged, like you’ve been in to have an ingrown toenail seen to. The lack of support was overwhelming and I felt very lost for a long time.”
Emma and Damian decided to visit a private doctor to find out what was wrong. “I woke up after a laparoscopy and the doctor just said, ‘It’s really bad news, I’m afraid’,” recalls Emma. “He told me that I had really bad endometriosis, which hadn’t been picked up before, and because of my ectopic pregnancies and having had a Caesarean section with Edie, my fallopian tubes were essentially broken. They had to remove part of my left one and my right one wasn’t working at all.”
She was also told that because of scarring in her uterus, she would be unlikely to carry another baby to full term.
“It was an abrupt halt to a dream that we’d really pursued,” recalls Emma. “I know we had Edie, but when someone takes that choice away from you, you feel like you’ve failed as a woman. There were some big feel- ings of guilt – maybe it was my fault that my body didn’t work.”
They then decided they had to focus on the positives. “We spent six months going, ‘Isn’t it fabulous that it’s just the three of us?’ and we went on lots of holidays. Then, the moment it seemed to become okay, Billy came along.”
Their second child was conceived naturally and “absolutely out of the blue”, but they were both wary of getting excited too soon. “People were saying, ‘It’s amazing, you must be over the moon’ but I think I was terrified, to be honest. Then it progressively became more obvious that things were going to be okay.”
Emma gradually began to enjoy the pregnancy, and says that she was more relaxed than when she was expecting Edie. “With your first child, you lounge around on the sofa neck-high in Dr Miriam Stoppard books going, ‘It’s day 27, my baby is this big’, and, ‘I must drink carrot juice’. Then with the second one, you haven’t got time to sit and indulge in what’s happening to you.”
EMMA’S LUCKY DAY dj
Billy Ray was born on 28/08/2008, weighing 8lb 1oz. “The Chinese would say that he is extremely lucky because eight is their lucky number,” smiles Emma.
She had wanted a natural delivery, but had to have an emergency Caesarean. “I have no idea why any- one would want a Caesarean if there was no reason to,” she says. “It feels like you’ve been run over by a bus.”
They named their son after Damian’s grandfather, Billy, and also the Billy Ray referred to in Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher man.
So how is Edie taking to her new brother? “She’s been begging for a brother or sister for ages and she’s really overwhelmed by how she feels,” says Emma. “I think because she’s a little bit older, she’s got a kind of maternal instinct, which is terrifying sometimes because I’ll turn around and she’ll be carrying him across the kitchen.”
The couple had prepared her for the new arrival by reading stories about babies, and also taking her along to a scan. “She saw him on the screen and the doctor said, ‘Is Mummy having a boy or a girl?’ and she said, ‘It looks like a puppy dog.’”
Are they strict parents? “I think we are,” says Emma. “We’ve got clear boundaries and hold values like good manners high up on our priority list. But there’s nothing we do that we haven’t got straight off Supernanny.”
BACK ON THE AIRWAVES
Emma has returned to work already, presenting her Sunday afternoon show on Heart FM, but admits that it took a while to get functioning again. “I look inside my brain at the moment and all I can see is beige,” she says. “When I went back to work, I was sitting there looking at all these buttons thinking, ‘This might as well be the Starship Enterprise…’”
Emma plans to return to her 4pm-7pm Drivetime show after Christmas, but for the time being, she’s enjoying these precious early days with Billy Ray. “I’m just having a really nice time with him,” she says. “I’ll be sitting looking at him going, ‘Oh my God, aren’t you cute’, then I’ll realise how many hours have passed.”
“This is what I wanted,” she says, contentedly surrounded by her family. “What I never thought would happen has happened.”