Jasmine Harman: ‘It was the most euphoric moment of my life’

Jasmine Harman

A Place In The Sun presenter Jasmine Harman was the perfect host when I visited her at her London home to meet new baby Albion, daughter Joy and husband Jon – and hear all about her son’s dramatic arrival.

[Incorrectly credited to another writer!]

Jasmine Harman 3

jasmine Harman 2

‘A Place in the Sun’ presenter Jasmine Harman and her husband Jon tell OK!’s Michelle Garnett about the dramatic arrival of Albion and how his big sister Joy couldn’t be more in love…

Jasmine Harman is clearly a natural when it comes to multi-tasking. As she helps her two-year-old daughter Joy tuck into a tasty avocado, the A Place In The Sun presenter gently rocks her peaceful 15-week-old son in his baby carrier with one foot, while pointing us in the direction of the nearest coffee cup!

The last time we caught up with the 40-yearold presenter and her husband, director of photography Jon Boast, at their home in Carshalton, Surrey, she was six months pregnant with her second child via IVF, a method they also used to conceive Joy. After a smooth pregnancy which saw Jasmine working up until eight weeks before her due date, Albion Peter Jenson arrived, four days early on Sunday December 6 at 10.24pm. Jasmine had been hoping for a home birth, but owing to Albion’s alarmingly erratic heart rate during labour, this wasn’t to be.

‘It was quite dramatic,’ Jasmine tells OK!, recalling the scene in the delivery room at nearby St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, although she credits natal-hypnotherapy techniques for helping her stay calm. For Jon, 36, the ordeal was far more distressing and he admits: ‘There was a moment when I was very scared.’

Thankfully, Albion was none the worse for his ordeal, and after weighing in at a very healthy 8lb 11oz at birth, he’s positively thriving today. ‘He’s a big baby,’ says the mum of two, who describes her experience of breastfeeding second time around as ‘so much easier’.

Despite the exhaustion she must surely feel, Jasmine – who’s been a vegan for two years now – looks amazing. ‘I have massive respect for Jas,’ says her husband, glowing with admiration. ‘She’s such a hands-on mum.’ The fact that Joy, who attends nursery two mornings a week, shows no signs of jealousy towards her little brother must be a huge relief. ‘I love watching Joy with Albion,’ says Jasmine. ‘It melts my heart.’

But it’s fair to say she doesn’t get much time to herself. ‘I don’t even get to go to the loo on my own,’ the TV star exclaims. ‘Joy follows me everywhere. Nothing’s sacred any more!’

And life’s about to get even busier. Jasmine, who’s fronted the popular Channel 4 overseas property show for over 12 years, is due back at work – in Greece – just days after our OK! shoot and will be away on location for two weeks of every month. Just like her co-host Laura Hamilton, she’ll be taking her children with her, along with her newly retired mum Vasoulla who will look after Joy and Albion while Jasmine’s in front of the cameras.

Here, Jasmine and Jon share the emotional story of Albion’s birth, the distressing nature of Joy’s ‘night terrors’, the difficulties of their current work/life balance and their plans for baby number three. Jasmine also reveals why she couldn’t care less what she weighs and how she refuses to allow the pressures of being on camera damage her healthy body image…

 

Congratulations! We hear Albion arrived a few days before his due date…

Jasmine: He was four days early. I was mentally prepared and I had a few nappies and a couple of babygros ready.

How were you feeling in the days leading up to the birth?

Jasmine: I felt really fine. I didn’t have the swollen feet and ankles that I experienced with Joy. I just felt like normal me but with quite a big bump. Picking things up off the floor was quite hard – especially a two-year-old child! But I was just excited about meeting the baby.

You were hoping for a home birth, but we hear it didn’t go to plan…

Jasmine: No it didn’t! It was a Sunday morning and Jon suggested I have a lie-in while he got up with Joy. I was just going back to sleep when my waters broke.

Did your contractions start?

Yes, but they weren’t very strong or regular at that stage. I was doing my natal-hypnotherapy, so I was in the zone.

Jon: I assumed it could be another 36 hours before anything happened, so while Joy had a nap I put the Sunday roast in the oven and nipped to the supermarket to get some snacks in.

What happened next?

Jasmine: The contractions started to get more frequent and at about 3pm Jon called the midwife. When she arrived she checked the baby’s heart rate and it was 240 beats per minute, which is really high. She very gently, but firmly, said to me: ‘Jasmine, we have to go to hospital. Now.’

Jon: I was faffing around packing a bag, but the midwife said: ‘No, we really need to go… now.’ She said it would be quicker to drive than to call an ambulance and that’s when I realised it was more serious than I’d thought.

Where was Joy at this point?

Jasmine: She was being looked after by Patricia, our au pair.

What happened when you got to the hospital?

Jasmine: It was quite dramatic. There were lots of consultants bustling around, monitoring the baby’s heart rate and I distinctly remember someone saying: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it!’

Jon: The heart rate was through the roof. One of the consultants was WhatsApping photos of the monitor’s screen to her colleague at St George’s Hospital for advice. I felt very helpless.

Jon, were you worried for the safety of Jasmine and the baby?

Definitely, especially when they said they might have to do an emergency Caesarean.

Jasmine: The heart rate kept dropping and then going back up again. It was very erratic and that’s what they were really concerned about. They said they were clearing a theatre ready for an emergency – that was me, i was the emergency! But I was away with the fairies at that point.

Were you on the gas and air, Jasmine?

Yes, and Jon was playing the natal-hypnotherapy track on his phone right by my ear. Given everything that was going on, I didn’t feel stressed.

Jon:There was a moment when I was very scared but then the heart rate stabilised and they decided to just monitor jasmine for a bit.

Jasmine:A couple of hours later, at 10.17pm, the lovely midwife said: ‘You can push now,’ and at 10.24pm Albion was born!

How did you feel?

Jasmine: It was the most euphoric moment of my life. I hadn’t experienced a natural birth with Joy – she was born by caesarean – so this was just like a miracle. I don’t even remember any pain.

Jon: It was so emotional. I felt so in awe of Jas. I’ve never seen natural childbirth before and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.

Were you still by Jasmine’s side at this point, Jon?

Yes, Jas was sitting up and I was at her side.

Jasmine: And then we looked over and saw he was a boy! It was so exciting.

Jon: I felt shocked initially, but I remember just wanting joy to know she had a little brother.

Who got to hold Albion first?

Jasmine: They put him straight on my chest. I felt proud of myself for having done it, so relieved that it had happened naturally and that he was okay, and quite calm, too. It was a strange feeling.

Jon, did you cut the umbilical cord?

Yeah, I didn’t get to do that with Joy so I really wanted to do it this time.

Jasmine: But we did delayed cord clamping. That’s where you wait until the cord stops pulsing before it’s clamped. It means the baby has had all of its blood from the placenta.

Who did you think Albion looked like when you first saw him?

Jasmine: Everyone else says he looks like Jon when he was a baby, but I’ve always thought Albion just looks like himself. I think the same about Joy as well. They were conceived on the same day via IVF. He was a frozen egg and she was put in fresh!

So they could have been twins?

Jasmine: If I’d had both eggs put in at once, yes.

How long did you stay in hospital?

Jasmine: Just that Sunday night. Albion had to have his heart checked for irregularities. They never did discover what caused his high heart rate. When he was one month old he had a 24-hour ecg [electrocardiogram] test and it was perfectly fine.

When did Joy first meet her baby brother?

Jasmine: Jon brought her to the hospital on the Monday, having slept on the hard floor overnight. From day one joy has been absolutely lovely with him. She says: ‘This is Albion. He’s my best friend. I love him.’ It makes me cry because it’s so lovely.

How did you choose the names Albion Peter Jenson?

Jasmine: We were thinking of the name Albion when I was pregnant with Joy. It’s an archaic name for England and refers to the White Cliffs of Dover, where Jon’s from. Both our dads are called peter, and then we decided on a ‘j’ name because we didn’t want him to feel left out. Jon’s friend has a cat called Jenson and in Danish it means ‘son of Jon’, so it’s perfect.

Do you both feel more confident second time around?

Jon: I think initially you go, I’ve forgotten how to do this, I’ve forgotten you have to hold his head up… So there was definitely a moment where I thought, I’ve actually forgotten what to do.

Jasmine: They’re quite different babies, though. Albion doesn’t mind being put down for a nap, whereas Joy would only ever fall asleep when I was feeding her or holding her. Albion actually finds it very difficult to fall asleep like that. He’ll have a feed, I’ll put him down, rock him and he’ll fall asleep. He’s also twice the size she was! He’s a big baby, quite tall. He grew very quickly after he was born.

Jasmine have you experienced ‘baby blues’?

With both children I definitely had times of feeling really hormonal, emotional, overwhelmed and tearful. It was even more so this time around because I felt like I should be able to do everything, like take Joy to nursery, but I was actually really struggling. It wasn’t postnatal depression, I just needed time to recover. You’re on a high when you’ve just had a baby and then after a few days you come down.

Do you think it’s a topic that should be more widely spoken about?

Jasmine: Definitely. Dads should know that on day three, four or five your partner is going to cry all day. There’s nothing you can do about it, just give her a hug and know there’s nothing wrong. Luckily Albion was born in December and Jon had the whole month off. Also we had Patricia, our au pair. I definitely wouldn’t have been ready to go it alone after just two weeks.

Are you breastfeeding Albion?

Yes, he’s still feeding every few hours but it’s so much easier with him. His latch has been brilliant, but I really struggled with Joy. In her first week she didn’t put on any weight and in her second week she put on 15g [0.5oz]. Albion put on 575g [20oz] in his first week! Breastfeeding is lovely but it can be so hard – you have to be available all the time.

Jon: It was quite difficult for Jasmine when we first had Joy. No one actually told us that breastfeeding is probably harder than childbirth.

Jasmine: It’s not just the time commitment, though – physically and emotionally it’s hard, too, and if it’s not going well, you feel such a failure. But nothing for me can be better than knowing you’re giving your baby the best start in life. Joy brings back all sorts of bugs from nursery but at least I know Albion will have some immunity from my milk, and the bond is just amazing. So I recommend breastfeeding to anyone who can.

Are you expressing any milk, too?

Yes I am expressing, but I’m stashing the milk in the freezer for when I go back to work. It’s hard to know how much he’ll need because I’ve not left him for a whole day yet.

And is Albion sleeping well?

Jasmine: Yes, really well. Joy still keeps waking up, though – she’s never been a great sleeper.

You mentioned on Twitter that she’s experienced night terrors. What are they like?

Jon: It’s like someone’s possessed her body at midnight.

Jasmine: They’re really distressing to watch. She’ll be screaming and will go all rigid. The best thing to do is let it run its course and then gently comfort her. They tend to happen in the earlier part of the night so we’ve been advised to wake her up just beforehand and that seems to have stopped them.

What causes them?

Jasmine: She’s had a lot of change. She’s got a little brother now and even though she loves him to pieces and crushes him with her cuddles, it’s still a big change. Also our au pair has gone back to work as a teacher. Joy doesn’t remember a time without Patricia so she must miss her.

Will you get another au pair?

Jasmine: No, she’d be impossible to replace. My mum’s retiring so she’ll help out when I’m working.

Have you and Jon enjoyed any nights out since Albion’s birth?

We went out once to a vegan supper club at a local café but we took Albion with us. Patricia came, too. I don’t think we’ve been out on our own, though.

Would you find it hard to leave Albion…

Jasmine: With someone who didn’t have milk in their boobs? Yeah, of course! Going out is lovely but it’s not my priority at the minute.

Jon: And we both spend a lot of time away from home working, so it’s actually nice to stay in together with the family.

Jasmine, how have you found it going out and about with a baby and a two year old in tow?

It’s fine now that I’ve got a new double buggy, but it can be challenging. I was shopping the other day and Joy was running around the aisles because she didn’t want to be in the buggy. You have to have eyes in the back of your head. The scariest thing for me is going on a long car journey on your own. If you’re on the motorway and you’ve got two screaming children with you, you can’t just pull over.

Has that caused any problems yet?

I’m lucky that every time I’ve been driving on my own with them they’ve slept, but I once had to stop on a red route while driving with Joy through London. A traffic warden came over and I said: ‘Please don’t give me a ticket, I’m just breastfeeding my baby!’ He said: ‘Carry on…’ and ran off because I’d just flashed my boob at him!

Have you met up with Laura Hamilton and her two children recently?

Yes, her little boy Rocco is the same age as Joy and her little girl Tahlia is a bit older than Albion. She lives quite nearby so we see each other socially with the children but we’re never filming together.

Jasmine, you’re looking fantastically healthy. How do you feel about your body post-birth?

Fine. My whole perception of my body changed when I had joy and I haven’t weighed myself since giving birth to her.

So you don’t know how much weight you put on during your second pregnancy?

No, I have no idea what I weigh and I don’t care. But I have noticed a massive difference in how quickly I’ve got back into my jeans. With Joy it took me a year and with Albion it took me three weeks. I think it’s because I’m vegan now and my body’s processing food much more efficiently. Also I didn’t have a Caesarean this time so my body recovered quicker.

Have you been exercising?

I’ve been swimming a few times but I haven’t exercised since before getting pregnant with Joy. I do miss it but I don’t know how I’d fit it in.

Do you feel the pressure to get back to your post-baby body for the TV cameras?

In my second ever episode of A Place In The Sun, I was told by a producer that I looked fat and it was really upsetting. But my reaction to that was to go out and have a pizza! So there is always pressure, but I’ve got past the point of it being all about my appearance. If I lose my figure it’s not the end of the world. If I lost my personality I don’t think I’d have a job.

Jon, do you compliment Jasmine on her appearance?

Jasmine: I remember telling Jon: ‘I’m back in my jeans but I’m still a bit flabby,’ and Jon said: ‘That’s alright, you were a bit flabby before!’ [laughs] it was true, though!

Jon: [To Jasmine] Maybe my compliments aren’t always related to your body and fitness! I’m in awe of Jas and everything she does. When I’m away I want to get home to support her as much as to see the kids – and let her have a lie-in!

What’s your diet like at the moment, Jasmine?

I eat whatever I want to eat. I might have cereal and toast or porridge and some fruit for breakfast. For lunch I might have a falafel and humous wrap or soup. And then for dinner maybe a curry, or some spag bol with vegan mince. I don’t feel I miss out on anything being vegan. Jon eats meat but joy has a vegetarian diet and Albion will be the same. I’m actually starting a vegan website called The Great British Vegan, with a blog, recipes and restaurant reviews. It’ll be launching soon.

Are you looking forward to starting back at work on A Place In The Sun, Jasmine?

Yes, it’s slightly daunting and I’m taking both children with me, which is a bit scary, but mum’s coming. Because I’m still breastfeeding she’ll bring the children to meet me for lunch every day so Albion can have his lunch, too. I feel very privileged to be able to take them with me on location.

Jasmine, you tweeted recently that ‘work feels like a rest compared to two kids’…

Work is always full-on but having two children is 24 hours a day full-on. When I’m at work I can have adult conversations. It’s like being ‘you’ again instead of just someone’s mum.

Have you had any A Place In The Sun disasters?

I once vomited out of a microlight, I got pooed on while milking a cow and once we couldn’t get into a property as a rottweiler was guarding it!

Would you like to do any reality TV shows?

I’d be tempted to do Strictly Come Dancing. I could never be tempted to go into the jungle, though, because of the whole eating dead things.

And how about your future family plans?

Jasmine: I always wanted four! But we’ve still got one in the freezer and if we try that, it might work and it might not. It might even happen spontaneously. Anything could happen.