Actress and TV host Camille Prats had so many reasons to be happy upon welcoming the year 2017. Career-wise, a new telenovela was in the pipeline. On a personal level, she was set to marry businessman VJ Yambao in January with a European trip for their honeymoon. But, as the ever youthful-looking mom of one soon realized, "Sometimes your plan doesn't go the way you want it to."
Almost a month after the wedding in January, Camille found out she was pregnant. She had to say goodbye to the telenovela, a project she had been looking forward to, and she and VJ had to cancel their Europe trip. But the silver lining was they had been blessed with a pregnancy -- a baby girl.
VJ was in the U.S. for his oath taking as a citizen when Camille confirmed the good news. "I sent him the text, tapos sobrang shocked siya, [ang reply nya] 'No way!' and I said, 'Yeah, I’m pregnant.' Feeling ko, he really thought it was just a prank."
Pregnant like it was the first time Camille previously said this second pregnancy felt like it was her first time to carry a child, mainly because of the physical exhaustion. Unlike her pregnancy with Nathan, "The first three months [of this pregnancy] were the hardest for me, [from] six weeks until the beginning of the fourth month.
"I could hardly get out of bed. I would throw up everything I eat, even water. Everything I ate nagiging maasim siya. I lost a few pounds. I only started eating again on the fourth month. Pero even now at eight months, if I eat something really acidic, I tend to throw up."
"My [sense of] smell was so bad, really bad. I remember my mom cooked curry one time, and I could smell it all the way to my room. So nagkulong ako dun sa CR kasi feeling ko katabi ko yung niluluto niya.
"I didn’t like the smell of my husband, [kasi] he smelled like garlic to me. And he would tell me, 'I just took a shower, how could I possibly smell like garlic?'
"Grabe din yung panghihina, kulang na lang 'wag ka na lang gumalaw. The short walk from the bed to the shower felt like I ran a marathon -- ganun kapagod yung katawan ko! Tapos, lifting your arms to shampoo your head, it was so tiring. [That's why] I couldn’t even shower. VJ would be out working the whole day, and when he came home [he would tell me], 'Love, mag-shower ka naman.'
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"After seeing what I've been through, VJ told me, 'we are not having another child.' It was really a challenging pregnancy, but all in all, a happy one. I'm gonna miss how people would always tell me how nice I look."
Modern family Camille and VJ are not new to this parenting journey, of course. She is a mom to a 9-year-old, Nathan, her only child with her first husband Anthony Linsangan, who succumbed to cancer in 2011. VJ shares a son, 13-year-old Isaiah (or Ice), with an ex-girlfriend. How are they able to make their blended family work?
"I think we’re very blessed that the kids are very loving and accepting. As parents, that's what we try to teach them also. Before we got married, we made sure na we were all getting along, and the kids were okay. Even if we only get to see Ice during weekends kasi he has to stay with his mom, we really make sure we spend time together," Camille says.
She continues, "I was actually set on not having a partner in life anymore [after Anthony died]. I was okay with [just] having a son. So, having VJ was a blessing, [kasi] 'yung condition ko talaga, Nathan has to be 150 percent happy with [the relationship]. Nakita ko naman how well they got along and how VJ took care of Nathan, and nakita ko rin how much of a dad he wanted to be for Nathan."
"Nathan once told me, 'Mommy, after you and Tito VJ get married, I’m gonna call him Daddy na.' I said he's not forced to, and that he can call VJ whatever he felt like calling him, kasi feeling ko kailangan siya 'yung nakakaramdam.
"So the day after we got married, we were in the car. He said, 'Tito VJ, Tito VJ.'
"O, akala namin after we get married you’ll start calling him Daddy?'
"Sabi niya, 'Oh yeah, Daddy!' and parang nahihiya pa siguro -- siyempre he’s not used to it -- but I could see his face light up every time he says it. Kasi when he was younger he wasn't used to having a dad around, so being able to say it out loud and actually [calling someone] daddy made him feel happy."
When it comes to making decisions for their family, Camille says she has to make VJ a part of it consciously. "Kasi si Nathan, he would always ask, 'Mommy, can I do this, can I do that?' So I would tell him, 'Ask Daddy,' kasi kailangan niyang masanay na both VJ and I make the call. So now, it's 'Mommy, can I do this?' and if I say yeah, he goes 'Dad?' and [VJ] goes yeah, okay na siya dun. [Sana he knows] that this is what a family feels like."
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During the celebration of her 32nd birthday last June in an episode of the GMA-7 show MARS, which she co-hosts, Camille was moved to tears with Nathan's greeting. It included a letter he wrote for his unborn baby sister. "In his letter, he told his baby sister, 'Mom doesn’t like it when you’re acting like a spoiled brat. Always be obedient. Mommy, Daddy and I always sleep at night together. We love to dance -- I hope 'di ka magmana kay Daddy.'"
"Siguro naging emotional ako kasi while I know I’m excited to have a baby, I’m also getting anxious [at the thought of] not being able to give my entire attention to Nathan. I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Somehow I feel mahahati na yung oras ko -- I know it sounds selfish. I know Nathan’s ready, but I’m not sure that I am.
"I always tell VJ that we have to make sure we will always have time for Nathan still when the baby comes out. I don’t want him to feel like things changed because of the baby. Kaya lang ako naiyak kasi I’m just gonna miss all those bonding moments. But now, of course, mas dumadami kami kaya dapat mas sumasaya, so it must be the hormones also (laughs)."
Preparing for a baby girl Being pregnant again after nine years is making Camille a bit nervous especially since she doesn't know what to expect with a daughter. "I could not imagine [how it would be]. Kasi with my son, his clothes are shorts, pants, shirts, polo-shirt, that’s it. Shoes, rubber shoes, sneakers, he’s done."
"With a baby girl, there are so many hair clips. Ang daming gamit ng babae, nao-overwhelm ako. And I don’t know how it would feel like bringing up a girl. With Nathan, somehow I knew how to manage, he will lambing with me. But with a baby girl, I don’t know how. Kasi mamaya sungitan ako or tarayan ako. What am I going to do? Mamaya mag-arte-arte lang siya dyan. Ay, I’m gonna die.
"Honestly, I don’t know what to do with a baby girl, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ll just probably take it a day at a time."