So the PM’s pregnant…pause….!

Helen Perry, editor.

My mind is still reeling since the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced the wonderful news that she is pregnant – like the rest of the nation I am so pleased for her especially in light of the conception difficulties she implied.

However, just six months ago it seemed the consensus of opinion was that the PM’s baby plans were no business of the public.

Remember the bollocking, AM presenter Mark Richardson received when he asked Jacinda Ardern if she was planning a family and how might she handle both parliament and parenthood (a question any legitimate journalist should be asking especially of a female PM who had already raised the subject herself)?

Now that the PM is pregnant it seems to be everyone’s business?

Last August, one news headline declared: ‘No, we don’t need to know about Jacinda Ardern’s baby plans. Ever!’ Well, now we do know; how the worm has turned!

Harking back to last year’s debate, I also recall Richardson’s critics proclaiming we would never ask male MPs about their parenthood plans or even show much interest in their baby news – one article went so far as to say no one was interested if Bill English had six kids when he was PM (hang on, I was. I kind of liked it that he was dad to a tribe and PM, too).

On the other hand, watching television soon after Ms Ardern’s announcement, I did hear a presenter rattling off the names of several male MPs who were also celebrating the arrival, or impending arrival, of babies. Whoever said we would never ask a male MP about his parenthood situation seemed to have got that wrong.

But the PM’s situation is vastly different than that of most male MPs facing fatherhood – for example, they don’t have to recover from what can be a physically taxing experience, they don’t need to consider the likes of breastfeeding or even expressing milk and they don’t need to deal with what can be strong maternal instincts.

Fortunately, Ms Ardern seems to have a sound arrangement with her partner and, hopefully, six weeks will be enough for her to enjoy the bonding experience.

However, it seems ironic that only a few months ago the media didn’t want a bar of baby talk; now it is ‘inspirational!’ And, I’m wondering just how much attention will be given to this baby. Somehow I don’t think it will be ignored; some people are even suggesting Jacinda’s new arrival will be New Zealand’s equivalent to Prince George, by George!

So, I’m thinking Richardson’s original question about balancing parliament and parenthood may well raise its head again and I’m just as sure it will be ‘dammed if we do ask and damned if we don’t.” Then again, there’s nothing new in ‘we the messengers’ being shot is there?