Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash have just added a new member to their beautiful blended family.
The loved-up couple welcomed their first daughter, whose name they’re yet to announce, on October 4 – Stacey’s 32nd birthday.
And the little girl is sure to be fiercely loved and protected by her four big brothers.
Stacey and Joe already shared son Rex, two, and Stacey was already mum to Zachary, 13, and Leighton, nine, when they met.
Joe also had a son when they got together, Harry, 14.
Together, they’ve become one big happy blended family, with the engaged sweethearts often opening up about their sweet family life together at Pickle Cottage.
But it didn’t come easy.
The couple admitted that they went through a lot of ups and downs when they first got together and introduced their boys from previous relationships.
Joe once told Lifestyle Daily : “Even sometimes, when you think you’ve got the balance right, something will happen and you’ll have to start again from zero.
“We still have issues and problems we have to deal with.”
But despite some initial setbacks, the boys soon became friends, and then became brothers.
Stacey said: “The best thing we’ve learnt over the years is communication.
“Trying to be as open and honest as possible with the kids. It’s amazing to see them grow.”
Joe had once worried that is son Harry would be jealous that Stacey’s boys got to live with him and he didn’t.
He said: “We couldn’t be more blended if you tried. And like you said, it is tricky. It’s not straightforward.
“There’s lots of people to take into consideration. Some of them people might not be as reasonable as other people, you know, so it’s a constant one field of trying to juggle and keep all the parties happy.”
He added on podcast Step Life : “With me and Harry, it was tricky with his mum.
“We had to go to court and stuff like that. So in hindsight is it’s a great thing, but yeah, me and Hal, it’s been a strange one for Hal, he’s had to do a lot of adapting. I do feel quite sorry for Hal for what he’s had to go through.
“It’s just one of those things, his mum and I weren’t agreeing on certain things and we had to go to court. We had to do it that way. And that’s what courts there for to sort things out. And it done exactly that. It’s changed our lives.
“Me and Hal, we’re in each other’s lives on a daily basis now. We talk to each other every day, we see each other every couple of days, he only lives 20 minutes away from me and at the beginning, maybe even five years ago, it’s completely different to what it is now.”
And the secret to a happy blended family? Loose Women star Stacey says you have to involve all the parents.
She said: “It’s very difficult sometimes to do that, and there are lots of different circumstances which determine whether you can or can’t physically do that.
“No break-up is nice and there are reasons why you broke up with that person, but I think trying to remain as positive, uplifting and happy about that person is the best thing we could’ve done for the kids.
“At the end of the day, it’s for the kids. It’s not for us – we’re adults, we’ve had our parents, we’ve had our childhood. It’s our job now to give them the best childhood they could possibly imagine.”
They might have a busy home life, but Stacey and Joe are constantly counting their blessings.
He said: “We wouldn’t change a thing. We love having a house full of kids and the thing is, when we get old, they’ve got to look after us – so we’re winning.”
Stacey and Joe have sometimes faced criticism, and they’ve been forced to defend their home set up.
She said: “No matter what negative, unhelpful things people may say or think, ignore it because they’re wrong.
“Don’t ever let it get you down. It doesn’t define you or your family.”
She added: “The boys’ brotherly bond is just as strong as any other regardless of our set up -and the decisions I’ve made have made us stronger as a family.
“I used to really beat myself up about not being able to offer them a ‘normal’, ‘perfect’ family all under one roof.
“Until I realised how normal, and perfect our family is for us. Seeing the way they are together reminds me that it’s all ok.
“Families come in all shapes and sizes and what’s important is that the love is there no matter where it comes from.
“We are not a ‘broken family’ in any way shape or form we are an extended family. And everyone loves an extension.”
Stacey also once confessed that she worried her kids would be upset that they didn’t get to live with their dad like their baby brother – and now sister – does.
She told Closer Magazine: “I did feel guilty about having babies with different dads.
“I didn’t want my kids to have a negative or confused upbringing.
“There’s a stigma about having babies with different partners – I’ve definitely felt pressure from people – people I don’t know, and even people I do know.
“Even those close to me have had their opinions on it, and that can hurt.”
After all the ups and downs, Stacey, Joe and their children are very happy together, even more so now that their baby girl is in the mix.
Stacey announced the birth last night, writing: “She’s Here Born at Pickle Cottage on mummy’s birthday. Our little girl… Happy birthday my darling daughter… We all love you more than you could ever imagine. Your brothers, your daddy and I are so in love. Thank you for the most incredible 9 months. Now we cannot wait for the rest of our lives with you…”