Actors Alan Halsall and wife Lucy-Jo Hudson are the cover stars and feature in a recent edition of OK! magazine with daughter Sienna-Rae, 19 months. Inside they talk all about life as parents, little Sienna’s growing personality and how she recognises her dad when she sees him on TV
To read the interview and to see additional photos please
On how Lucy-Jo’s decision to let her acting career take a back seat for a while when Sienna was born so that she could be at home with her:
Lucy-Jo: I know we’re really fortunate that I didn’t have to go back to work after nine months. I don’t think I would have coped with that. I’m glad I’ve had the last 19 months with Sienna — I have a great relationship with her and I think it’s helped develop her speech. She is generally a happy little soul. I think that’s because she’s in a happy home. It was hard the first year, but you’re never going to have that time back again.
Alan: The one piece of advice everybody gave us was to enjoy the early years as they go so quickly.
On how Lucy-Jo coped in the first few weeks of parenthood:
L-J: I did struggle at the very beginning because I was really tired, I just felt shattered. I thought it was because of the lack of sleep. Later on I found out that I was anaemic. But I got medication and within a couple of weeks I started to feel normal again. I just thought I was exhausted.
A: At the time Lucy was vegetarian. They told her that her iron levels were so low she would have to have Iron tablets. But she eats meat again now.
L-J: Before I was vegetarian, I used to eat white meat. But after my anaemia the one thing I craved was steak and beef. I just love my steak.
On how she felt when Alan went back to work on Coronation Street and she was left to care for Sienna alone:
L-J: It was quite daunting. Until you have your own baby, you don’t realise how much responsibility you have for everything. Your whole life changes, you have to create a new life. I did have days thinking, it’s a 12 hour day and I’m on my own! I’m sure most new mums have days like that. After a week or two you get in to your own routine. I didn’t read any books about being a new mum as I have that obsessive personality – if I read things saying don’t do that, it would have been in my head. I just thought I would do what felt right to do. I think your mother’s instinct does kick in. You just get on with it.
A: When we made the first journey home from the hospital, I got the baby seat out of the car and brought her in to the house. Then I thought, what do we do now [Laughs]?!
On if Lucy-Jo breastfed:
L-J: I tried, but after a week of breastfeeding she kept getting hysterical after every meal time. It turned out she hadn’t been latching on properly and not getting enough milk. She had lost too much weight so, without upsetting her any more, I bottle fed. She took to that so much better. Happy baby, happy mummy.”
On moving Sienna having her own room:
L-J: I think if I’d had my way I would have had her in our room for a long time. But she was such a big baby — she was 9lbs 1oz, she grew out of her Moses basket within six weeks. Then we had a little crib but she grew out of that when she was 4 months. So she had to go in to a big cot that wouldn’t fit in our bedroom. We kept our doors open but she is in her own room. She is brilliant, if she wakes up before us she’ll play in her cot. When I go in to her room she’ll say ‘Morning!’
On if she sleeps right through the night:
L-J: She does now! I think at the start we got lucky. Everybody told us the first year would be hard, but Sienna stopped her night feeds around nine weeks and was sleeping through. We were like, what is everybody going on about? This is easy! Then she got to about 4 months and started teething and sleep went out the window. It was on the hour every hour. She needed the dummies [pacifier] for comfort and medicine through the night. There were times when Al would be walking up and down in the street with the pram at 3 or 4 in the morning trying to get her to sleep.
When she got to 14 – 15 months she started to sleep through. She’s cutting three or four teeth at a time, but she coping better and will go: ‘Mummy, it’s sore.’ She is so much better.
A: She will go to bed at 7pm and will sleep through until 7am. She’s been having a two hour nap in the afternoon but we’re now changing that routine. But at night she will go straight to bed. She tried to suck her thumb when she was younger so we gave her a dummy. When she was teething she would wake up and couldn’t find her dummy so we put about 10 in her cot. Now she has them all in there. It’s funny watching her go to sleep as she will suck on one for a couple of times and then go to the next one. It’s a great way of sending her to sleep.
L-J: It’s great now but I’m not sure what it’ll be like when we have to wean her off dummies.
On if Alan feared he would miss out on a lot with Sienna when he headed back to work:
A: That was a genuine fear of mine. If we had Sienna two years ago when I had that big [domestic abuse] storyline, I would never have seen anything. But I feel so lucky that since we’ve had her I have been in work but not overly busy. So I got to see her first smile, her first laugh, her first word and her first steps. I have been there for everything and as a dad that makes me feel really lucky. With Jennie [McAlpine, who plays Alan’s on screen partner Fizz Brown] being on maternity too, I have been quieter. That’s fine as I have been home with my baby too.
On what type of dad Alan is:
L-J: He’s really good, even with pooey nappies.
A: I did it from the start. Lucy had just gone through labour so my respect levels for her had gone right up there. It wasn’t a problem.
L-J: The one thing I have to teach him is how to do her hair. Some days Al will send me a photo and I’ll think, what have you done to our daughter?
A: I can plait her hair!
On Sienna’s personality:
L-J: She is becoming such a character. Her personality is coming out now. After a year she seemed like a little girl. She has just grown up in the last couple of months.
A: I would honestly say she is changing every week. Her speech is just amazing. She is just chattering away. [She] can count to ten. And she just sings all the time — nursery rhymes, and when she hears Let It Go from Frozen she just joins in.
Honestly, every time she says ‘Daddy’ I could crumble.
L-J: And she has my cleaning compulsion. She will say ‘Uh Oh, dirt,’ when she sees some dirt. But she is just awesome.
A: Sienna is just like her mum. The other day I took her to work — we had lunch with Samia [Ghadie] and Jane [Danson], I sat her down in an adult chair and she sat there eating a jacket potato. Jane and Samia couldn’t believe how delicately she was eating it. If she drops a bean or something she will go ‘uh oh’ and you have to wipe it up straight away.
L-J: I feel awful because it’s from me. But she is a clean child!
A: She loves cleaning her teeth and she eats toothpaste. She doesn’t get that from Lucy!
On who they think she looks like:
L-J: Everybody says she is a mini daddy!
A: I think she is a good mixture of us. She has got my round head — there’s no getting away from that! But her biggest features are her eyes and they are definitely Lucy’s big brown eyes. She is definitely as cheeky as I am too.
On Sienna’s upcoming Christening:
L-J: We’re having a joint Christening with Al’s brother’s son Max, who is one year old. We were going to do it last year but we just put it off . It’ll be a little family get-together.
A: You say little — we’ll probably end up with about 150 people!
On Sienna starting nursery recently so Lucy-Jo can start getting back to work:
L-J: She has just started doing a couple of afternoons. That’s to get her used to being around other kids. With me going back to work and Al working, we wanted to get her used to the idea of us possibly not being there. She loves it.
A: If I’m at work at Lucy has an audition, we have the comfort of knowing Sienna can go to nursery. She’s in the same class as [Alan’s cast mate] Jack P Shepherd‘s little boy Reuben. They’re chums! When other kids come to our house she’ll quite happily share her toys with them.
On Sienna recognising Alan and his friends and cast mates on TV:
L-J: She did [recognise him] quite early on — she was under one. She just went up to the telly and said: ‘Daddy.’ I took a video of her doing it. I was taken aback that she even related to Al being on the telly. It did shock me.
She’s only really recognised Al so far. To be fair, she doesn’t watch telly — she likes Disney movies but so do we; Al and I are proper big kids. One night we put Sienna to bed then watched Frozen and How To Train Your Dragon 2!
A: We are so rock ‘n’ roll! She does sit on my knee and watch the golf with me, only because I watch it a lot!
On how Sienna reacts if strangers recognise them on the street:
L-J: She’s a bit too young to realise what’s happening. But she’s always friendly and waves to people.
A: When I’m out with Sienna I do find I have people coming over a lot less. It’s lovely that people respect you’re having time with your daughter. I think that’s so considerate.
On how Alan feels about his daughter growing up so fast:
A: It scares me. Sienna and I have had the conversation about boyfriends. She’s not having any so we are alright [laughs]! When she was very young I said: ‘Now say nothing if you’re never going to have a boyfriend.’ And she said nothing. I have got it on video somewhere!
On if the fact that Alan’s former and present cast mates and friends Catherine Tyldesley, Jennie McAlpine, Paula Lane, Samia Ghadie and Helen Flanagan have all had babies recently or are currently expecting has made them both broody and want to expand their family:
L-J: No, not really! I remember the sleepless nights too well [laughs] and we’re both really enjoying Sienna. She is so much fun. Eventually we will have another one.
A: We have spoken about it, but we’re not in a rush. We say two children but I know people who have said that then had twins.
L-J: And a psychic has told me I’m going to have twins. We have twins in both our families. When I was first pregnant with Sienna I thought I was having twins as I was so big. But she was just a big baby!
Source: OK! Magazine, Issue: 978, Date: April 28th 2015. Photos by Diane Thompson, Laura Shawcroft.