Following the release of her latest book all about her special relationship with her son Harvey, we caught up with Katie Price to learn more about those early years raising Harvey and the important lessons he’s taught her over the years.
Whether you remember her from her iconic appearance in I’m A Celeb (how could you forget that eating challenge?!) or for her early days of modelling, we all know there’s more to what meets the eye when it comes to Katie Price.
Mum to five kids ranging from 7 to 19, she knows a thing or two about parenting, and we’ve always admired Katie for having such a beautiful bond with her eldest son, Harvey.
Harvey was born back in 2002 when Katie was in her early twenties and he appeared to be just like any other beautiful newborn until a health visitor spotted something could be wrong.
“I was just in shock thinking, how's he going to be able to have a normal life? Weirdly I didn't cry. I just kept staring at him. But it made me love him more. It's really weird, it’s like I've become more and more protective.”
Reflecting on how far she and Harvey have come since he was a baby, Katie thinks now is the right time to look back on Harvey’s childhood with fondness in her latest book, ‘Harvey and Me’.
“Harvey’s a grown man now and so many people love him. When I did the BBC documentary we got so much support and so many questions. I always put Harvey out there in a good light, I never showed him when he kicked off. So I think when people saw the show, they saw how vulnerable he really is, and how full on he is, hence why I'm in the middle of filming my part two documentary of him going to college.
“I just thought it's just a nice little journey, because for most of my life from when I had Harvey at 22, he has been with me through everything. Like it's just me and him through my breakups. It's unconditional. He doesn't judge me for nothing. All he wants is me. My love, my attention. And just my praise. And it's just been me and him.
“No matter how difficult it's been with Harvey. I don't regret anything, I would do it all over again. I just wanted people to have a bit more insight into our relationship and how special it is.
“I admire his determination. He always wants to please. He's strong. He's just a really amazing boy. Amazing personality, very loving, and he’s a gorgeous boy.
“He's taught me patience and how to put things into perspective. Whatever is going on in life, I look at Harvey because what makes him happy is the most simple things in life. He'll always be mummy's baby bear.”
As if life as a new, single mum wasn’t hard enough, Katie had to quickly learn to accept Harvey’s diagnosis in order to begin building their lives together, and above anything, she thinks acceptance is key when it comes to dealing with a diagnosis.
“You have to accept what's happened. And I know it's so easy to think well, if this had happened, or what if this and what if that but it doesn't matter. Even if you want to blame people or blame situations, first of all, you must accept it's happened.
“I can always spot if a child's got autism. I always got to the parent to say ‘I just want to know, you're doing a great job.’ I think some parents really appreciate it because you do feel isolated. None of my friends have a child like Harvey. And they always say, ‘Kate, I don't know how you do it’, but to me, I don't know any different. I just get on with it. It is draining. And it is exhausting. But the love you get from it - that's worth every bit.”
Harvey’s conditions have changed over the years, and Katie is hugely grateful for the experts and mums who have been there to support her and Harvey throughout his childhood. She also thinks she’s been able to take it in her stride as Harvey was her first born.
“I just thought okay, he's blind. That was it. I didn't know all the other things would come. But they just developed through the years. Because he was my first, I don't know any different. I suppose if I'd had one of my other kids first, it would have been more of a shock to the system because you would expect Harvey to be like the others, but because I had Harvey first, I don't know any difference.”
She hopes other mums going through a similar journey to what she and Harvey went on will get some relief from the book.
“They're not the only ones going through it and however hard they think it is, I think when they read the book, they will realise that I've hidden a lot from the public, the highs and the lows and how challenging it is.
“Hopefully they’ll also see how I've coped with it. At the end of the day, he's my child, and I'm there for him through anything.”
One thing Katie does understand is the importance of self-care, and making the time to spend some time on yourself in order to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.
“Every Thursday is my day for my head, body and soul. I take one day a week to do everything for myself. I have my hair and nails done and I get a massage. I also see a therapist. And then every other day is when I'm pulled from pillar to post.” She jokes.
If you regularly keep up with Katie and Harvey over on Instagram, you’ll have seen how close Harvey is with Katie’s fiancé Carl. But we can’t help wondering how Katie first introduced Harvey to Carl.
“The thing is, you can't force it onto a child - you just have to do it slowly. I said to Carl, when he first met Harvey, ‘just bring him a bit of carrot cake.’ And then he starts to acknowledge you. It's not because you're buying things for him, that's just how Harvey would acknowledge you.
“Just like with any child, you don't just introduce a child to a man. You have to slowly introduce them. Carl and Harvey do have an amazing bond. And I think the fact that Harvey is now more verbal, makes a big difference.”
We know how strong Katie is, but sadly, she and Harvey have received a lot of online bullying over the years, with some evil people making fun of Harvey and his disabilities.
“It's not nice, but he doesn't read any of it so he doesn't understand any of it. I don't know what goes through people's heads to want to be able to bully a child who is so innocent. I think if these people were to meet Harvey, they’d realise he's so innocent. He’s just so vulnerable and he doesn't deserve the bullying.
“It doesn't affect me badly because I've learned to deal with it, and that's why I've got my Harvey laws in place and Track a Troll.”
Katie’s three tips for those days when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed
First of all, breathe, don't get angry. Just breathe through it.
It's all about creating it, calm around them. If you're chaos, then they’re chaos, so I would always say, just stay calm. Because being calm helps distress the situation.
If you’re needing to catch a flight or train or something, I would always start talking about what you're going to do weeks in advance. Explaining to them what will happen to help them get excited for it. If they're not verbal, show them picture cards of what's going to happen. Obviously every child is different, so you know what your child deals with best.
Image credit: Glenn Gratton