Sylvia Jeffreys is reclining in a make-up chair, eyes gratefully closed, as she has the final touch-ups before beginning her photo shoot with The Weekly.
With her son, Oscar, having just turned one and her second child (another boy, whose name she and husband Peter Stefanovic are keeping to themselves for now) due in April, it’s a precious moment to rest.
Oscar is an active baby – too young to grasp the concept of a new arrival – and has spent the past few hours clambering happily all over his mother’s growing bump. In the phase of her pregnancy where she’s “feeling a bit slow and like I’m entering that fatigue stage again”, Sylvia’s desire for a brief break is understandable.
But her eyes snap open when her mother Janine, who flew to Sydney for Oscar’s birthday, delightedly cries out, “Sylvia! Quick, he’s standing!” Sure enough, Oscar is in the garden, sturdily planted on both feet, beaming while clutching a flower. Despite a little swaying, he remains triumphantly upright.
Before you can blink, Sylvia has jumped from her seat, whipping out her phone to video the momentous occasion. “To see him standing like this for an extended period is a first,” Sylvia, 34, explains with a smile almost as big as her son’s. “Because we’re so on edge, waiting for him to take a few steps, which could happen any day now, we’re always ready with the phone to capture that moment. This is a very proud mum moment.”
Sylvia’s phone is filled to bursting with similar proud mum moments. Having waited so long for Oscar’s arrival, going through IVF to conceive him, she clearly relishes her role as a mother. Oscar was a longed-for baby; one who was difficult to conceive and had her privately despairing that she may never have a child of her own.
“There were a million stories written about me being pregnant while I was trying to get pregnant and not being able to,” she says of the years following her 2017 wedding to Sky News presenter Pete, who she met in the Channel Nine car park in 2014, sparking an almost instant romance. “That was probably more upsetting than any of the other ridiculous things you read [about yourself] because it’s just so insensitive.”
Life has certainly thrown its share of surprises at the couple. But none have been more welcome than the news that a second child is on the way – meaning she’ll soon be a mother to two children under the age of two.
“The second time around it was … spontaneous I’d say,” Sylvia says, chuckling. “We hadn’t planned to go down that path so soon, but having had not an entirely easy path the first time around, you can’t be anything but thankful or grateful to have fallen pregnant this way.
“Having said that, it’s definitely a tight turnaround and people think we’re nuts! When we tell them our boys will be 14 or 15 months apart, they roll their eyes and say, ‘Good luck!’ But the silver lining is that, with the world being the way it is right now, we’re not missing out on anything being stuck in the baby bubble. So we may as well stay here in the zone and ride it out.”
That doesn’t mean they’re planning to stay in that zone forever, though. “Look, I’m no Octomom – we’re not going to pump out a dozen,” Sylvia jokes. “But both Pete and I grew up really close to our cousins and aunts and uncles, and we’d like to replicate that for our children. We’ve been fortunate that, on both sides of our family, Oscar was born at a similar time to other babies. So we’ve got a lovely little gang of cuzzies, which is great.”
Those “cuzzies” include Harper Stefanovic, who arrived three months after Oscar. “She’s a sweetie,” coos Janine. Harper is the daughter of Pete’s brother Karl and his wife Jasmine, and it’s clear the bond between both children and parents will be strong.
“I love Jas, and Tom’s [the youngest Stefanovic] wife, Jenna, as well. I’ve got two fantastic sisters-in-law through marriage, as well as Pete’s sister Elisa, who is thoughtful and caring, and puts the whole family ahead of herself. I’ve got so many people to call on. I’ve been very lucky.”
A golden age
Sylvia’s childhood was bathed in sun, sand and togetherness. She was born on April 23, 1986, to Janine, now 67, a social worker, and Richard, now 72, a Vietnam War veteran. The youngest of three (brother Andrew is seven years older; sister Claire is five years older), Sylvia was the last to fly the family nest, and has a particularly close bond with her mother.
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