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Libby's Little Saints

Like an hopeful first time home buyer among the throng bidding at an auction, Libby Tanner's stomach was churning. The wild ride from bricks and mortar one day to being a Gold Logie nominee the next at the 2001 TV Week Logies was both exhilarating and terrifying. The popular actress, now a dual Silver Logie winner, nearly fainted when she realised her last bid was the winner. And as she was about to discover, there was good reason for that!

"The following week Libby still felt odd and she genuinely thought it was nerves about being a first time home-owner," laughs her partner of 4 1/2 years, fellow actor Brian Vriends.

"A couple of weeks later, lo and behold, the little cross came up on the pregnancy test and we went, 'Oh, wasn't it lucky we bought the house!'"

"Oh yes - it was all a big surprise," adds Libby, her green eyes flashing.

"I don't think Brian imagined himself as a father. When I told him I was in shock too - but I knew I always wanted kids."

On cue, 18-month-old Edie totters down the hallways of the couple's charming rustic three-bedroom bayside house which Libby - not foodie Brian, who declares his place is firmly in the kitchen - is in the early stages of renovating. But Brian is quick to point out he's not averse to being "wheelbarrow boy" for DIY nut Libby.

Fresh from a midday nap, Edie's wispy blonde curls frame a saintly face that can just as quickly turn to tears when turedness sets in.

With Brian looking on, Edie was born naturally, in a bathtub at a birthing centre in Sydney's Randwick. The gorgeous tot is the reason 33-year-old Libby and Brian 39, ended their five-year run as stars in the Seven Network drama All Saints and relocated from the bustle of Sydney to the tranquil surrounds of suburban Geelong, Victoria.

"Edie has changed our lives in every possible way," says Libby, standing in a backyard filled with yellow and white daisy beds, a sandpit and a lemon tree - a gift from the couple's good friends Jeremy Sims and Tammy MacIntosh.

"Becoming a mother is incredibly difficult - but beautiful. I'm just nuts about her. I was seven months pregnant and I said I'd be back on All Saints when she was three months old - that was the worst decision I've ever made.

"I just wanted to be at home with her, letting the maternal instinct take over. Instead I was breastfeeding - in lala land! - then I'd be called back on set to save someone's bloddy life when I just wanted to save my own sanity!"

Fatherhood has been an unscripted for jolt for Brian.

"For the first six months or so I was blown away by the whole thing. I couldn't think straight or realise what had happened," he says candidly, in his element as he rubs olive oil and spices over an organic chicken for dinner.

"The whole idea was to buy the house, renovate and live in it but then Edie came and changed everything.

"It's a huge shift to stop thinking about yourself as an individual. I'm only just starting to get used to it now. The past three months have been the best for me as a father to enjoy Edie.

"Once you have a baby, they make decisions for you. And the choices you have to make are about what is best for your child.

"Libby and I share a joke about All Saints - we were there long enough to start a family so it was time to go!

"All I have to look forward to," he adds, "is the Hooley Dooleys and the Wiggles - and their songs that wake you up in the night when your desperate to sleep.

"Dorothy The Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword - I'm such an authority on children's television now!

"I thank them from the bottom of my heart because when you need that half hour you go, 'Edie would you like to watch the Wiggles?' And I can go and do something exciting like the dishes, mow the lawn or, God forbid, finish reading the paper."

Libby and Brian met on the All Saints set, their off-screen chemistry providing the spark for writers to unite the couple on screen, creating the likeable twosome "Bron and Ben".

But Libby baulked when the writers suggested scripting her pregnancy into the show, saying it would be "way too weird" for their lives to be mirrored so closely on screen.

And happy as this family is, Libby, who hasn't had to cook a meal since she moved in with Brian, has no plans for marriage.

"We're just not the marrying kind," shrugs Libby, who has shifted the brood to Sydney while she films the new ABC telemovie Fireflies and the following 20-part series with Jeremy Sims and John Waters.

"My life is at a kind of turning point. Career-wise it's really good and family is great. I'm more in control and a lot more settled - and Edie's done that.

"It's a great feeling to wake up and only care about her - about her health and wellbeing.

"I'm less selfish and it's a nice feeling. Acting is a vulnerable vocation because we put ourselves out there knowing we'll be judged. Now I've let go of all that, that's what babies do to you."

With a cheeky smile she adds, "That's why I'm going to have more!