Denise Lewis thought pregnancy symptoms were signs of the menopause

·4-min read
Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis said she mistook pregnancy symptoms for those of the perimenopause! (Image: Getty Images)
Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis said she mistook pregnancy symptoms for those of the perimenopause! (Image: Getty Images)

When former professional athlete Denise Lewis started experiencing strange symptoms, she put it down to the perimenopause, especially as she was in her mid-40s.

However she was shocked to discover that instead of the menopause, she was in fact pregnant for the fourth time.

Speaking to host Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, Lewis said the fact that she was hot all the time made her believe she was starting on the menopausal journey.

“I was hot!” she exclaimed. “I’d find myself getting really anxious as well at the thought of getting ready and start to open all the windows.”

She continued: “I just thought this is it… We're about to hit that menopause ride. It didn’t occur to me for one moment — this is a woman that's had three children — that I could be pregnant.”

WATCH: Denise Lewis on sports bras, having a baby later in life, and what it really takes to win Olympic gold

The heptathlon gold medallist, who was 46 at the time, said it wasn’t until she was coming back from Australia and travelling business class that she thought something else may be the cause of her symptoms.

“I thought this is my opportunity to really go through all the wines and the spirits and sleep for the duration of the flight,” she laughed.

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“No such joy! The first glass of wine I tried… Tasted revolting. I think I went to try the champagne next, and I couldn't drink a thing. I thought that was very, very odd. Then the cogs started turning like, ‘Why is my body rejecting alcohol? Why?’”

Great Britain's Denise Lewis celebrates winning the Gold medal in the Women's Heptathlon at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. 30/12/2000: Lewis to be awarded an OBE for services to athletics in the Queen's New Years Honours list.  *  2/11/01: The golden girl of British athletics Denise Lewis is pregnant, it was announced. The West-Bromwich born heptathlete and her partner Belgian sprinter Patrick Stevens are expecting their first child in April 2002. Her agent said Miss Lewis, 29, was delighted, is set to continue a planned training programme during pregnancy and after the birth intends to resume training full time.   (Photo by John Giles - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Denise Lewis celebrates winning the Gold medal in the Women's Heptathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia (John Giles - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

While Lewis says she just loves having a baby in the house again, she was apprehensive about getting pregnant at 46 — and was particularly scared to tell one person in particular.

LISTEN: Denise Lewis talks about making herself more vulnerable to make her marriage work

“At 46, I was still concerned what my mum would think about me being pregnant. I took weeks to tell her,” she confessed to Thornton.

She continued: “My mum was more concerned about my age — the fact that my body was going through all that trauma again, because it is it is a trauma to the body. It's a beautiful thing to happen — if you're blessed, and you can — but it is traumatic, the body changes massively. And she just didn't think that I could do it.”

Read more: Denise Lewis says Birmingham 2022 can be a ‘beacon of light’ as mascot launched

The TV presenter, who currently has a new activewear range out with Next, has five children including one step son, ranging in ages from 31 to the newest addition, toddler Troy, who she said has been her ‘saviour’ during lockdown life.

“The time that I've been able to spend with him has just been golden. I can't begin to tell you, appreciating this fourth bundle of joy,” she said.

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“None of my other children had quite this immersive experience with me, which I guess, is just a reflection of where I'm at the stage of my life because obviously, I was very busy before still trying to be an athlete with Lauryn. 

"And now the fourth child just came at the perfect time in my life. I've been able to spend so much time with him. All his milestones have just been there, effervescent and in my face, and I've loved every second of it.”

Read more: Naomi Campbell and the rise of the 'older mother'

While Lewis has wholeheartedly embraced being an older parent, her husband Steve Finan O’Connor, who is seven years older than her, had some doubts, especially when it comes to Troy’s later years.

“He was just more concerned that he had the same amount of energy to devote to Troy as he did for the others, and frankly, he doesn't,” she laughed.

Troy is Denise's third baby with husband Steve (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Troy is Denise's third baby with husband Steve (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

“He did recognise that it was a time of his life where he needed to get the balance right for him. He's already breaking out in sweat. We’ll be doing the school run, you know, for another 15 years, maybe.”

Lewis, however, doesn’t think Troy will miss out as he has his older brothers and sisters to nurture him and support him along the way – so for the time being she’s embracing all that this surprising journey into motherhood has brought her.

“I've just embraced everything, because I know I'm blessed that my body could do that again,” she said.

Hear Denise Lewis talk about what it’s really like to win an Olympic gold medal on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

WATCH: Denise Lewis opens up about learning to "soften

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