Louise Cooney discusses parenthood as she prepares to welcome first child

Louise Cooney Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Doesn’t she look beautiful?! It may be cliched to say it, but it’s true – there’s no denying the pregnancy glow emitting from Louise Cooney. The Limerick lady, who’s expecting her first child in November is the happiest she’s ever been, and that joy is just radiating through her, from the inside out.

Earlier this year, Louise discovered she was pregnant with her boyfriend Mark Sweeney, who she met at the beginning of the pandemic – and the pair can’t wait to embark on this journey of parenthood together. “I’ve always been broody,” she tells us. “We’re so lucky and it’s such a blessing. I can’t believe that it’s happening now, it’s so exciting and surreal. It’s the first time it’s really starting to hit. I’m like, how am I growing bones and organs inside me? It’s just magic.”

At the halfway mark of her pregnancy, Louise’s excitement continues to grow as they await the arrival of their little baby – but they’ve plenty to keep them occupied in the run up to the birth, as Louise and Mark are also moving home next month. Stepping away from her gorgeous duplex apartment, they’re moving into a house in North Dublin, which they hope to turn into a family home. “It’s just a lot more practical. As sad as I am to leave my current apartment behind, I know it’s totally the right choice. It’s lovely to be starting this new chapter somewhere new.”

Joining us at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Club – which could double as Portugal on a gorgeous sunny day like this – Louise tells us more about her new adventure… 

Louise Cooney Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Louise, congratulations! How are you feeling? 

Thank you! I’m feeling really, really good. We just had our 20 week scan and everything went really well. I was so nervous beforehand, I was the most emotional I’ve been, I was crying every day, but the scan made me feel so much better. It’s so weird, we got home from the scan and then the movement just started immediately. Before, I wasn’t really sure but that night, when we were sitting on the couch, we could both feel it. It’s so nice. It really feels like such a milestone, like it’s actually happening. It’s crazy.

We’re thrilled for you and Mark too, of course. How is he finding it?

Ah he’s the best! He’s so excited. He’s going to be the best dad. He’s the most loving person. It’s all so new so we’re both just learning as we go. We’re excited for all the different adventures and challenges that we’ll face and new experiences that we’ll have. 

In a sweet coincidence, you’re actually due around his birthday. 

Yeah, we were originally due on his actual birthday but then it changed back a couple of days. I know a lot of people say on your first you can go over, so it could still be on his birthday!

You’re not finding out the gender, you’re going to wait till he or she arrives and keep it as a surprise. Have you been looking up names though, any ideas yet? You told us that you want it unique but not unusual. Have you found any that you love? 

Yeah, we have. We’re keeping the names to ourselves, just the two of us, which I think a lot of people do because names can be quite divisive and you don’t want anyone to sway your opinion. It’s such a hard decision and such a big one. We have one name for each now, but as time gets closer, we’ll get a book and get a couple of options and then just see how the baby looks when he/she arrives. It’s amazing though, it’s incredible and so exciting to be able to make all of these decisions. They’re big decisions, big changes and they can be so scary, like we’re also moving, and our lives are changing but it’s so exciting to be on this journey with Mark. 

Louise Cooney Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

It’s the first grandchild on both sides. Everyone must be so excited, are they? 

Yeah everyone is! My sisters and my brother are so thrilled to be aunts and an uncle and Mark has one brother who just got married so they’re very excited. It’s mad to think that the baby was at their wedding in my tummy. Then obviously the two sets of grandparents are just buzzing. That’s probably what I’m most excited for, seeing my family with our baby and that new step for them as well. 

How long did you wait to tell your family? Was it hard keeping it from them at the start? 

I did find it hard keeping it to myself. We started telling family about eight weeks in, but even at that stage, we had kept it ourselves for nearly four weeks. I found that hard. They’re probably the hardest and most isolating weeks, and your life changes so much and so quickly. You’re exhausted, you have all these symptoms and you’re not really able to talk to anyone about it. For us, we wanted that support network, especially if anything was to go wrong. 

You’re very close with your parents – sure we had a gorgeous mother/daughter shoot with you and your mum Grainne earlier this year for Mother’s Day. Has it been a relief being able to turn to her? 

Oh yeah, she’s been able to give lots of advice and recall different things from her pregnancies. There’s four kids in our family so she’s been through it all a few times, she’s a good one to ask for advice. 

What’s the best thing your parents have taught you over the years?

Probably not to take myself too seriously, to make the most out of every situation, and enjoy it. You have to enjoy life, you only get one shot. For example with this scenario, it’s one of the biggest adventures we’ll ever going, so as hard as it can be, it’s important to enjoy and embrace it.

Louise Cooney Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Looking back on your own childhood, do you have any standout memories? 

It’s funny myself and Mark were only chatting about this recently because we’ve both always said we wanted kids, but you don’t really talk about what it looks like until it happens most of the time. What kind of a routine we want them to have, and what a weekend may be like. Growing up, there’s certain things I’d remember so we’d always have a bedtime story, we’d say a prayer, my parents were always around at the weekend and we’d have bath time, sit down and do our hair then watch the Saturday night tv. It was a nice routine and it was normal and it was something I’d like to bring to our child’s life, just having that sense of comfort and safety.

Louise obviously you grew up in Limerick, but this baby is about to grow up in Dublin for now. You’re moving into the new space in August, how do you feel about that?

We’re so excited to move into the new house. It’ll be amazing. We have a blank canvas so we’ve a lot to do in the next couple of weeks and months before the baby comes, but it’s so nice to start this new adventure. Where we’re moving to, it’s just a lot more practical. As sad as I am to leave my current apartment behind, I know it’s totally the right choice. It’s lovely to be starting this new chapter somewhere new. 

At least you’ll have some time before the little one arrives to settle in, and put your own stamp on the place to an extent. 

Oh yeah! I suppose with any space you grow into it and you sometimes grow out of it, and for us now, we need more space and ease of getting around. With the dog, it’s great to have the outdoor area too, it’ll make such a big difference to our lives. I feel like I’ve moved so much over the last couple of years so I’m a pro at it at this stage, but this is the big one, it’s a real change from what I’ve been doing. 

Can you see yourselves setting in Dublin full time, buying a house down the line? 

We talk about it and I would definitely see us buying a house at some point but I’d like us to be a bit more sure about where we want to be. I’d also like the market to be a bit better, but wouldn’t everyone? You keep waiting but then things don’t seem to get any better. Right now, I don’t think we need to be rushing into that. We’re trying out a new area, we’ll see how we get on. 

Louise Cooney Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Obviously as the pregnancy progresses and as you’re moving house, comfort is going to be key! Are you living in your Cloo?! Having your own athleisure will certainly come in handy! 

[Laughs] I know!! I am. It’s great because a lot of the styles we’ve released recently are oversized and super comfy so they’re perfect and I’ll absolutely be living in them. 

That business is still a baby too – it’s only a year old! How’s it all going? 

In November we’ll be two. It’s going really well, and we’ve had so many successful drops and I’ve learned so much about the different aspects of managing a business. I still do a lot of it myself, I don’t have a business partner or investors or anything like that. It’s a lot for one person, but I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person as the business has grown too. Things are starting to run a bit smoother, but it’s takes time. Like with a child, one and a half, is not that old and as you said, it’s still a baby and we’re still learning to walk, getting our feet on the ground. I’m intrigued to see how it looks when the baby comes. I’ll probably have to manage my expectations about how much I can do, but I love working as well and I’m so lucky that I can do something I really enjoy and that can be adaptable to any stage of life. 

Being self employed with a very small team, how does maternity leave look for you? Are you doing lots of forward planning, setting things up in advance? 

It’s hard to do that. I have a couple of different things on the go, I’ve the podcast which I think we’ll take a break from, and I’ll have to hire additional members for Cloo because it’s so full on. I want to enjoy that time when the baby comes and not have to be so switched on with work. When it comes to social media and my content creation, I’m just going to see what I can do. It’s hard to know so hard in advance. I want to embrace that newborn phase but I don’t get that maternity pay so it’s going to be one I’ll just have to figure out as I go. There’s only 24 hours in a day and when a newborn comes, that’ll take a lot of my attention and time. It’ll be interesting to see where we’ll be this time next year because right now, I really don’t know. 

Social media is always changing, and as someone who’s been involved in that world for so long, how do you see it shifting in the future?

I think it’s super relevant and we still turn to online for inspiration, to learn things, to stay connected with people. I think there was a shift towards seeing more reality over the last couple of years, more video content with TikTok and Youtube, and real stories. Beyond that, it’s really hard to know. As life and stories keep changing, there’ll always be an interest for that – it’s human nature. 

When it comes to social media though, how do you feel about showing the baby online? Is that anything you’ve started thinking about? 

It’s something I thought about when I first got pregnant but now I’ve been so busy thinking about everything else! I can’t imagine not sharing such a huge part of my life, so of course I’ll let people in on the journey, but of course there’ll have to be some sort of boundaries there and we’ll figure that out as we go. It’s all so new so we’ll have to see what feels natural and what feels right. 

To wrap it up, during the pandemic you left, what was at the time, your dream life in New York. Since coming home, you’ve met the love of your life, started these businesses, and you’re now prepping welcome to beautiful little baby… Do you think it was fate? That things always work out for a reason?

Oh 100 per cent. At the time, I was needing  a lot of positive affirmations at the time to make myself feel better about the fact I spent all this money and time and it didn’t work out. One thing I came away with was that roadblocks lead you to where you’re supposed to be. I totally believe that. If I was really supposed to be in New York, I could have gone back. It’s just that I embraced life while I was home and I’m so happy I did because I’m so happy right now, and I’m so blessed with how it all worked out. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so excited for this next adventure and I think it’s just about embracing each step along the way and making the most out of it, enjoying every minute because you only get one shot at this life.  

We’re genuinely so, so happy for you Louise and wish you and Mark nothing but the best in this new adventure.  

Thank you so much, we’re really so excited.

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