A self-confessed perfectionist, Kelly Swanson-Roe had planned every aspect of her second pregnancy – but fate had other ideas for the former TV3 and Prime presenter.

After a 21-hour labour with son Aston, in which she needed an epidural because his back-to-front position was causing her excruciating pain, Kelly had her heart set on a natural, drug-free birth. But doctors warned she risked re-injuring a fractured tailbone and being bedridden for up to six months. Reluctantly she opted for a Caesarean section.

"It was really disappointing to start off with," says Kelly, talking to New Idea at her parents' picturesque farm in the Waikato town of Te Pahu. She and her husband, psychologist John Aiken, are visiting with Aston, two, and new arrival Piper, three months.

"But the thought of being immobilised when you've got a two-year-old was not worth it."

Kelly's nerves didn't start until the night before Piper was due, when she and her mum, Julie Swanson, looked up videos of C-sections on YouTube.

"Once they got up to the seventh layer of muscle they were cutting through, Mum was like, 'Turn it off!'," Kelly, 38, says with a laugh. "But I like to be informed."

The procedure took longer than Kelly expected because Piper was stuck behind her pelvic bone, meaning a natural birth would have been impossible anyway.

"They snipped and they snipped some more," she remembers with a grimace. "The scar's quite wide."

Piper arrived on October 31, weighing 3.4kg, after a 45-minute operation. She's the spitting image of her mum, with an olive complexion and head full of dark hair, and Kelly couldn't be more devoted to her daughter.

A few months earlier, she and John asked their sonographer to write the baby's gender down and seal it in an envelope.

They opened it on John's birthday during a "babymoon" in Mt Maunganui, and while John was "delighted", Kelly was suprised.

"At first I was like, 'Aww,' because I had this idea she was going to be a boy," she confesses. "But now I love having a little girl. I know all mums say this, but she's been a really yummy, delicious baby. And the outfits are insane!"

The couple had settled on the name Mila Rose – one Kelly had loved since she was a teenager – then disaster struck.

"John's best friend named his baby Mila Rose the night before our little girl arrived," reveals Kelly. "It was a complete coincidence."

She and John, 42, had a "24-hour brainstorming session", considering names such as Olive, Matisse and Malia, but finally settled on Piper Mae. Though they both love the name, Kelly found it hard to give up on her first choice.

"I still accidently call her Mila sometimes," she admits.

Welcoming a new family member has been a big adjustment for Kelly and Australian-born John, 42, who've lived in Sydney for almost five years. With Kelly breastfeeding and Piper suffering from reflux, mum and baby have been inseparable and John spends most of his time looking after energetic Aston.

"We thought we'd do lots of family things together, but sometimes Johnny's like a solo Dad to Aston," Kelly says. "Then I get, 'You don't want to play with me, Mummy!' It’s really sad."

But the boisterous toddler adores his little sister, presenting her with a flower he picked during our photo shoot.

"He comes up to her and says, 'Look Piper, it's Aston! Aston's here!'"

John and Kelly make time to talk to each other when the kids are asleep and set aside Friday evenings for a pizza date.

John de-stresses with gym workouts, but Kelly's recovery and breastfeeding schedule have made exercise impossible so far. She's itching to get fit again and lose the rest of her baby weight.

"I'm an all or nothing girl," she says wistfully. "I'd like to do the Coast to Coast in a team one day – I like a goal to work towards."

Having kids has seen Kelly put another goal on hold – she's halfway through a three-year interior architecture degree, but is taking a break. She plans to spend another year as a full-time mum and then reassess, but doesn't think she'll return to the media.

"The idea of getting up at 3am, being in make-up by 4am and being on set at 5am on the weekends is not very appealing when you've got a two-year-old and a baby," she explains.

"We want to parent a certain way and not be stressed. You don't want serious, boring parents – you want fun Daddy and fun Mummy!"

Relationship expert John has plenty to keep busy with. As well as running his practice, he has a weekly segment on Australia's Channel 7, a blog on dating site RSVP and makes regular radio appearances. His most exciting project is a TV show Making Couples Happy, which premieres in Australia on Valentine's Day. The show and the accompanying book see John put four warring couples through a relationship boot camp, with dramatic results.

As John's career continues to thrive and the family's settled in the waterfront suburb of Northbridge, it's unlikely they'll return here, but Kelly's determined not to lose her Kiwi ties.

"It was hard to get my head around raising little Aussies," she says. "And applying for dual citizenship was a big step. But I'm not becoming an Aussie."

With another baby in the house, Kelly and John are feeling the absence of extended family.

"If we lived in New Zealand, we'd definitely have three kids," Kelly says. "But that's a lot when you've got no support around you."

It's hard work, but starting a family has been good for their relationship.

"One of the great things about having kids is it really bonds you together," John says. Kelly nods in agreement, resting her hand on her husband's leg as she gently rocks Piper's pram. "We're closer than ever."

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