Aston Merrygold and fiancée Sarah Richards introduce newborn son Macaulay as they share stunning pictures of second child

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The second Aston Merrygold and his fiancée Sarah Richards set eyes on their newborn son was an emotional one.

“I was a mess! That moment is priceless – it’s indescribable to see a life born into the world,” Aston tells us of finding they had welcomed another boy.

Macaulay Shay Merrygold arrived safely on 5 June, weighing 7lb and 13½oz and his big brother Grayson, two, couldn’t wait to meet him!

But little Macaulay’s arrival was, of course, under unusual circumstances. The UK has been in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic for much of the later stages of Sarah’s pregnancy, but thankfully, with restrictions now easing, Aston was able to be by Sarah’s side.

Sarah, 36, tells us, “It was a proper team effort!”

The pair first met back in 2011 at the Capital Summertime Ball, becoming a couple in September of the following year. They got engaged on Christmas Eve 2017, and are keen to finally start planning their wedding as soon as lockdown ends.

They are now at home settling into life as a family of four. And, of course, Aston, 32, can’t wait to introduce his son to the rest of the JLS boys, Marvin Humes, Oritse Williams and JB Gill. The band, whose reunion tour will hopefully kick off in November, now have seven children between them. “We’ll need our own tour bus soon,” laughs Sarah.

As they invite us into their garden for some fun in the sun, Aston and Sarah exclusively introduce us to the newest member of the Merrygold family…

Congratulations on welcoming Macaulay. He arrived rather fashionably late, though…

Sarah: 12 days! I got to my due date and I was 1cm dilated. All that week I was having contractions but then they died down. He was waiting for a rainy day!

When did you go into labour?

It was Friday the 5 June. We were awake early, because Grayson was up at 5.30am wanting to start his day. I had little pains but by about 6.30am they were progressing. I had a bath, it was still manageable. Within an hour, they were two minutes apart.

Aston: I think, where you are so excited in the build up to the due date, the longer it takes after that, you lose adrenaline. Due date, all the clothes were ready and laid out. But then, when it was time, we were like, “Where’s my track suit? Where is the stuff?” [Laughs]

Sarah: I was on my TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine in the car to the hospital, I was getting some funny looks. I was crouched, with my knees up.

Aston: A lorry drove past and the driver was staring in [laughs].

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What happened when you arrived at the hospital?

Sarah: We got there around 8.45am, and I was 6cm, so I was happy. I didn’t have a TENS machine last time with Grayson and I really think it helped distract me from the contractions. I also had some gas and air. He was born at 12.52pm, so it was quite quick really – a lot quicker than with Grayson.

Were there any complications?

Aston: She got to about 8cm and the midwife thought he was coming, but then he stopped, so they monitored his heart rate. But he was just having a break. Then it got to 11.50am and the doctor and midwife were like, “Let’s do this.” It was good after that.

Tell us about the moment you realised you had a boy…

Aston: It’s so hard to put into words. When I try to describe that feeling, I really can’t. You can say it’s amazing or euphoric but it’s more than that. You are seeing life being born, and to then find out the sex of the child is an extra surprise. We did the same with Grayson. You can’t buy those feelings. It’s priceless.

Sarah: And I think it helps you through the labour – as you still have another surprise to go.

Did you cry when you met him?

Aston: I was a mess!

Sarah: I cried afterwards. I was much more in control with this birth, which is all I wanted. I know you can never predict how it’s going to go. You need plan A, B, C and D. But I learned a lot from Grayson’s labour, which wasn’t bad, but it was very long and I was tired. We were a proper team this time.

Aston: I think it’s hard for guys the first time because when the woman is in labour, and they say things like, “Get off me, a contraction is coming” you can’t take it personally. Last time, I was around her asking what to do, but this time I was calmer, just making it a comfortable environment for her. We even had Friends on and some music.

Did you cut the cord, Aston?

Twice! Most of the time, the doctor will cut the cord to get the baby straight out, and then you cut the cord shorter. But I got to do both. We were lucky enough to have the same doctor and because it wasn’t our first labour and things were calm, he let me do it.

How did you decide on his name?

Sarah: We had narrowed it down to one boy’s name and one girl’s name the week before. We don’t know any Graysons or Macaulays, personally. And they go together well.

Was Grayson able to come and meet his brother at the hospital?

Sarah: No, he wasn’t allowed. We would have liked that but it actually worked better.

Aston: It was nicer to bring Macaulay home, where Grayson is comfortable in his own domain. He was in the car seat and we let Grayson come over and meet him himself. It was really lovely.

Is he enjoying being a big brother?

Aston: He does like it. He comes over and says, “Where’s baby? Where’s ‘Caulay?” If he’s crying, he says, “Caulay, what’s wrong?” But if we lay him down, Grayson will come over and be interested for maybe a minute or two, then he’s like, “You don’t do anything, I am going to play.”

Sarah: We’re going to be knackered for the next five years!

How different was it giving birth during the pandemic, compared to last time?

Sarah: There wasn’t a hugely noticeable difference. We were just kept to ourselves in hospital. Obviously, for the pre-natal appointments it’s weird having to wear a mask and gloves. But it was quiet where we were, which made me feel comfortable. We were quite fortunate, we were in and out, and then back to our little bubble.

Aston: We were able to go to the appointments together. We just had to keep to the guidelines we were given.

Has anyone else been able to meet him yet?

Aston: At the moment, we’re not going out to see anyone or doing anything, just because his immune system hasn’t kicked in properly. You just have to be as safe as possible in these unpredictable times. But it’s something for everyone to look forward to. It’s been lovely having time together in these early stages, too.

How is Macaulay doing?

Sarah: He sleeps well. He’s a bit more vocal at night. We think he might have a bit of colic and he just lets us know about it, so we use everything we’ve learned for that.

How are you feeling, Sarah?

I think that first week is a bit of a roller coaster. Your body has been through all that and your hormones are all over the place. I want to spend time with Grayson and the new baby, and do as much as I can, but physically, I am still healing. I think I was trying to do too much. You just feel a bit guilty, and even though Grayson is absolutely fine and Aston is doing so much with him, I wanted to make sure he was happy, too. So it has been up and down, and also I’ve been breastfeeding which is a roller coaster in itself. I’m out the other side now, but it definitely took longer to feel good this time – that’s probably down to having a two-year-old as well!

Would you like another baby?

Sarah: I’m thinking two is wonderful. We never say never. Babies and children are incredible, but right now, we’re good. And we don’t need another car yet!

Aston: Two is good [laughs].

Are the JLS boys excited to meet him?

Sarah: Yes! He’s baby number seven, with eight pending [Marvin and Rochelle Humes are expecting a boy]. They have been amazing, checking in. We need a tour bus now just to take all the kids out. I am excited to get them all dancing.

Aston: We send them daily updates and pictures! We have a boyband and a girlband now.

How different will touring be in November now you all have children?

Aston: The idea of it is great. We haven’t been on the road together for such a long time, and we’re ridiculously excited. But we know it’s not going to be the same for us, especially with Marv’s baby due around then. It’s just going to be different but we’re so happy to be working together again. Some people might want to be home more than away now. The girls are worse off, because we’re going to get more sleep! [Laughs]

Sarah: Grayson is a nice age now and he’ll know his dad’s on stage. It’s going to be fun.

JLS shared a powerful statement surrounding Black Lives Matter. How has the movement left you feeling?

Aston: A few weeks ago, I got a bit upset which was probably quite surprising for Sar…

Sarah: [To Aston] You don’t talk about it much, do you?

Aston: You don’t. I suppose as a black man, you go through these experiences and you hold on to them for your drive. With JLS, as an all black boyband, there were people before us that paved the way and opened the doors to allow us to get to the level we have. But we feel we have jumped and opened the door even further for an array of black artists. We’re just trying to fly the flag that people have before us.

What have your own experiences been of racism?

Aston: It was even before JLS. If any person of a mixed ethnic background hasn’t been through racism I would be very surprised. They may not even have been aware, but I definitely would say it’s happened. For me, when experiencing stuff like that, it has driven me and allowed me to become better at whatever I have put my mind to. It was always like, “If that’s the case, I’m happy to prove people wrong.” I think that continued when I met the JLS boys. We all had the same mindset and were knocking on doors before The X Factor, and people were saying boybands weren’t a thing any more. Whether that was all boybands or all black boybands, you never knew.

Is it frustrating to know that society forces some people to work harder than others to achieve the same thing?

Aston: That’s exactly the Black Lives Matter message. It’s like, hold on, maybe people from different ethnic backgrounds do have to work a little harder. Maybe subconsciously for some people, maybe consciously, but it’s definitely a thing. As I said, we’ve experienced it as a four but it shouldn’t deter you from your dreams. For us, it’s trying to carve out a better and easier route for our kids. This generation isn’t the first to shout about it but we’re in such a powerful time now, social media exists, and maybe the message can go further.

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Sarah, as a white mother to mixed raced children, has your awareness of racism increased?

[To Aston] We talk about it a lot more now, don’t we? We realise, yes, Grayson and Macaulay might go through some of it. Maybe I will be watching out more so. But I do think the world has changed. I know there is so much that goes on still and there is a long way to go. We’ll always educate the boys and make sure they see everyone as one. Aston has told me things that, as a white woman, I wouldn’t have known so it has opened my eyes a lot more. But I must say, as a dancer, one thing I have always loved is how diverse the dance world is.

Aston: It has to start at home. You see so much on social media and it was making me angry. But it’s this thing that no one is born evil. It is always an idea that has been built, so hopefully a change is coming. But it’s only coming if people keep talking about it and learning.

Now Macaulay is here, is wedding planning on the cards?

Aston: Yes, definitely, 100 per cent. We would love to do it sooner rather than later, but the time we’re in makes it difficult. We have so many friends that have had to postpone.

Sarah: We said we’d do it before, but then we got pregnant with Macaulay. We definitely want to do it as soon as possible once lockdown is over. As soon as we are allowed to get something booked in, we’ll do it.

To see more stunning pictures, pick up the latest issue of OK! magazine – out nationwide on Tuesday

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