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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Call us Mum and Mum! Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, 39, is already planning Baby No 2 and reveals it's fiancée Jen's turn to get pregnant next time as she prepares to give birth in six weeks

Ruth Davidson to become the first leader of a British party to give birth in office
Scottish Conservative leader is due in six weeks after successful round of IVF
She had to inject IVF drugs in the loo at Geneva airport and on flight to Helmand  
Fiancee had to sneak to shops to get pregnancy tests to see if IVF had worked
Ruth Davidson sinks into a sofa that is precisely the same shade of burgundy as her maternity top. ‘I would say I’d blend in but I’m way past sofa size. 
'I’m as big as a Naval frigate now. And I have the same turning circle,’ she says. The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has just under six weeks to go until the birth of her first child with fiancee Jen Wilson.
In readiness, she has dismantled the six floor- to-ceiling bookshelves which once lined the study of their Edinburgh home, packed her books and papers into brown boxes and put them in the shed.
She has painted the room a nursery cream and made Jen cross by building the flatpack furniture for their baby, despite her growing bump.
She has yet to learn how to collapse the new buggy and pregnancy hormones make her weepy watching the opening song and dance sequence of The Greatest Showman.
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, who is eight months pregnant with her partner Jen Wilson
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, who is eight months pregnant with her partner Jen Wilson
Jen, meanwhile, has been in charge of researching and ordering the pantechnicon-load of kit needed by first-time parents. 
She particularly loves the cot which clips on to the side of their bed so they can sleep together as a family and means Ruth is on hand for midnight breast feeds.
In short, they know all the heart-quickening, spirit-soaring joys of getting pregnant – and now face the anxiety and impatience of being within a whisker of meeting their child. Just like everyone else.
Except they’re not just like everyone else. Ruth, 39 is the first leader of a British political party to become pregnant while in office. She’ll be the first to take maternity leave and return to her career.
Their baby is also remarkable because Ruth is Britain’s first openly gay political leader, one half of a same-sex couple who plan on being called Mum and Mum and who hope that, if they have a second child, Jen will carry it.
They have both always wanted to be mothers but concede that, until recently, their sexuality made it unlikely.
In order to get pregnant, Ruth had to inject IVF drugs in the toilet at Geneva airport on her way to the World Economic Forum in Davos and then on board a flight to Helmand in Afghanistan 
In order to get pregnant, Ruth had to inject IVF drugs in the toilet at Geneva airport on her way to the World Economic Forum in Davos and then on board a flight to Helmand in Afghanistan 
‘We couldn’t just assume we’d be parents the way a straight couple might,’ says Ruth. ‘We are fortunate to live in an era when it has become possible. Even 20 years ago, not in ancient history, but in my adult lifetime, it might not have been.’
The couple won’t reveal the identity of their baby’s biological father or whether he’ll play any part in their child’s upbringing. They will be looking to Ruth’s father and brother-in-law, and Jen’s brother, as male role models.
‘We both have male friends and family in our lives. I think that children respond to being loved and nurtured and I don’t think that is tied to gender,’ says Ruth.
She exhibits the same kind of robustness and confidence talking about her unusual family dynamics as she does when she’s on the campaign trail giving the kiss of life to Conservatism North of the Border.
Her near-vertical ascent in politics – she became party leader just months after wining her first seat as an MSP in 2011 and Theresa May’s majority depends on the constituencies she single-handedly turned blue – means her decision to hit the pause button and have a baby has come as huge surprise in both Westminster and Holyrood.
Earlier this month the Scottish Conservative ruled out ever becoming prime minister because of the impact it would have on her mental health
Earlier this month the Scottish Conservative ruled out ever becoming prime minister because of the impact it would have on her mental health
In private, however, Ruth and Jen, 37, an Irish-born charity executive, had been discussing a family from the start of their relationship four- and-a-half years ago.
‘Its a conversation you have early, especially if you are both women, because there is a clock on things,’ Ruth says. ‘I went first because I am the oldest.’
It was July last year when they started the process of IVF. To the couple’s delight and astonishment it worked first time. ‘I think the fact that we were very relaxed helped. 
As a same-sex couple wanting a biological child, IVF was our first port of call. We were not trying it after lots of other things had failed, for us there was no burden, it was the beginning.’
Ruth's fiancee Jen had to sneak out of the house to buy pregnancy tests to see if the couple's IVF treatment had been successful
Ruth's fiancee Jen had to sneak out of the house to buy pregnancy tests to see if the couple's IVF treatment had been successful
But Ruth is one of the best-known faces in British politics. Any deviation from her 100-hour working weeks and jam-packed diary would be spotted.
This meant she had to inject IVF drugs in the loo at Geneva airport on her way to the World Economic Forum in Davos and then board a flight to Helmand just two hours after she left hospital following the implantation of her embryo. ‘People would have noticed if I hadn’t gone,’ she says. ‘Plus I thought it might be my last adventure before I became a mum.’
‘I was so worried,’ remembers Jen. ‘I waited and waited to hear from her. I was desperate to know how she was and Afghanistan is still a dangerous place. When she eventually got in touch it was a WhatsApp message asking me to series record Endeavour for her.’
‘Last of the great romantics, that’s me,’ smiles Ruth.
Ruth Davidson has ruled out making a bid to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader
Ruth Davidson has ruled out making a bid to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader
Today she is vastly, radiantly pregnant, in full bloom. It means she and Jen can laugh at all the creeping around they did in those first furtive few weeks when Jen was the one sent out, often under cover of darkness, to buy pregnancy tests, vitamins and maternity trousers.
That period has given the couple their best pregnancy dinner party story, which Jen tells now: ‘I was in the late-night supermarket, hunting for the right tests, the early ones, Ruth’s texting me, I’m terrified of being seen, it’s half past ten … I ended up knocking the stand on to the floor – there were pregnancy tests cascading everywhere. I was mortified.
‘In the end I grabbed one and hid it under a loaf of bread and bolted to the checkout.’
Ruth was, characteristically, in too much of a hurry to wait, so they did their first test too early for an accurate result.
‘Day Nine, too soon,’ she admits. ‘I tried to be sanguine. But I kept testing every six hours.’ Her persistence paid off with a later test which was unequivocally positive.
The couple haven’t really got the words to describe the significance of the moment when they realised their IVF treatment had worked. ‘Thrilled, just bubbling, bubbling with excitement,’ says Jen.
In the months since then, they have prepared themselves and their home. They have a secret shortlist of baby names drawn up and they’ve welcomed bags of hand-me-down clothes, which have all come with other people’s birth stories.
‘Everyone recounts their experiences in really gothic, graphic detail and then add “of course it is all worth it”,’ says Ruth. ‘But when I am beginning to get close to my due date, it’s nerve-racking.’ She is not having an elective c-section but doesn’t feel the need to have an all-natural birth either. ‘I’ll be taking all the drugs, there’s no medal for being brave.’
The couple had expected to get married before starting a family but, even though Ruth only has one gear – top – they are now clearly out of time. ‘Jen! We’ve still got Gretna Green!’ she exclaims and they laugh at the idea of a shotgun wedding in the Scottish town fabled for its elopements.
It says something about how society is still catching up with couples like Ruth and Jen that neither of the churches to which they belong – Ruth is Church of Scotland and Jen is a Catholic – recognise same-sex marriage.
‘When we announced our engagement, the Episcopalians, who do recognise same-sex marriage, got in touch to say we can totally do this for you. I wrote back thanking them but saying bringing a third faith into might be a bit much,’ says Ruth.
Ruth Davidson reacts during first minister's questions in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month
Ruth Davidson reacts during first minister's questions in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month
Ruth suffered morning sickness in the first trimester and is frustrated by how she’s now too heavy to mow the lawn and carry her own suitcase. 
But she’s savvy enough to know that being pregnant isn’t the hard bit. What happens when she combines a baby with parliament and the campaign trail will be far tougher.
Indeed, there’s a lot to navigate for a working mother who will – literally – be writing a manifesto for other working mothers.
We are speaking just days after Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson made British political history by taking her 11-week old son Gabriel into the chamber of the House of Commons, a move Ruth backs.
And it’s only three months since a video of a Canadian minister breastfeeding her newborn during a debate about the legalisation of marijuana went viral online.
Ruth will be making a formidable assault on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s office in 2021 – and may well demolish some working mother shibboleths along the way.
‘That’s not the plan,’ she says at the question of taking her own baby into work one day ‘but sometimes child care doesn’t work out and you have to cobble something together. It might happen.’
She would, however, draw the line at breastfeeding in the Chamber even though it’s a growing statement being made by female politicians around the world.
‘I am planning to take time away from my job [she’s taking four months maternity leave and then Jen is taking another two] so I do not envisage this happening for me.‘I am not making a value judgment about it. I think it is part of how all countries are opening up, and the idea that there is something wrong or dirty about breastfeeding should be written out of all that we do. 
We are getting much better at appreciating the decisions mums make about what works for them.’
Gender inequality and how it’s being overcome is the subject of Ruth’s new book Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future. It’s part personal story and part a narrative of the kind of societal change she exemplifies.
But if women do indeed own the future then what if that bump, currently nicknamed Fionnula Tallulah, turns out to be a son?
She laughs good-humouredly and makes a joke about being better at playing football than she is at plaiting hair before saying that a same-sex couple will be excellent at teaching a boy how to behave well towards women.
It’s a rare moment of seriousness. By the time she leaves for Parliament she’s being irreverent again, pointing out that, because she plans to breastfeed, she won’t be able to enjoy her favourite tipple, a vodka and Diet Coke, to wet the baby’s head when it arrives. ‘But you can tie one on for me, Sarah,’ she volunteers. Thank you Ruth, I will.
l Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future, by Ruth Davidson, is out now, published by Hodder & Stoughton, and priced £20. To order for £16 – a 20 per cent discount plus free p&p – visit mailshop/books or call 0844 571 0640 by September 30.

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