• Preggy Chronicles: 15 Questions With Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla

    "I'm scared that I won't produce enough milk for my baby. I'm afraid that I'm not going to hold my baby right. I have so many fears."
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
  • Weeks before actress / TV host Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla flew to the United States to give birth to Maria Isabella (she is due in November), she was all over town: she was a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding (at 31 weeks pregnant), did at least two preggy photo shoots, hosted at two media events at home, and was given six baby showers in total! She had such boundless energy that it was easy to forget the struggles she had to endure, which included two miscarriages last year. 

    A week before she left for the United States, Mariel sat down with SmartParenting.com.ph for an exclusive interview about her pregnancy journey.

    SP: Was your pregnancy a surprise or planned?
    Mariel: All of my pregnancies are naturally conceived. I didn't do IVF, we didn't have a work-up, either. I can get pregnant easily; it's keeping the baby that was hard because of the APAS (Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome) and we didn't want to do the heparin injections [at first]. In my tests before, I was negative for APAS, but because of the miscarriages, my good doctor, Dr. Aileen Manalo, insisted that she treat me as an APAS patient. [So far] it's working.

    This pregnancy, surprise sya talaga. I had a feeling I was pregnant, but I kept thinking na I have hormonal imbalance that's why I don't have my period. That was Holy Week. We even went to Korea, nag-rides pa ako, nag-roller coaster, natagtag talaga ako, because in my head, it's really just hormonal imbalance [and I wasn't pregnant]. 

    When I got home, I didn't go to the doctor pa rin. I was in denial. Hormonal imbalance pa din, I'm not pregnant. Pero babae ako so I knew that wasn't true. My breasts felt swollen. My hips, my entire body was telling me I was pregnant. Maybe because I wanted it, so in my head, I felt it. 

    And then one day, sabi ni Robin sa akin, "Babe, pumunta ka na sa doktor. Alamin mo na." But I didn't want to go to the doctor again and [then] have another miscarriage! If that happens, I will lose it. I can't. So my prayer was, God, bahala ka na. Whether it's a go or not, it's up to you. 

    Yung previous pregnancies ko, naghihintay ako ng heartbeat hanggang 10 weeks, pero wala talaga. With this pregnancy, on my very first ultrasound, I saw my doctor's face light up. There was a heartbeat at six weeks! It has never happened to me. It was major, and we were really happy.

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    When the pregnancy was confirmed, we did the heparin shots right away. I had lots of fears because of what had happened before, and as I said, I'm gonna do everything for my baby.

    What has been the biggest challenge of this pregnancy?
    For one, I'm not allowed to have sex. Second, because I have APAS and gestational diabetes, matrabaho. Every day, I have two shots of heparin, two shots of insulin, plus I prick myself three times a day to monitor my sugar. When Robin is here, he administers the shots, but when he's away, I do them myself. 

    I'm also taking medicines round-the-clock. Dati, every three hours, pero ngayon, every four hours na lang. That's why I don't really get to sleep the whole night straight. I even planned on getting a nurse because I was overwhelmed, di ko alam kung maalala ko lahat ng dapat gawin.  

    Sometimes I feel bad when I see other pregnant women who can do Pilates, or can do some workout, or can get a massage. I'm not allowed to have a massage! I've been wanting pa naman to try the pre-natal massage. But, I was able to travel, I was able to work up until five months, so we're still so blessed. And if that's what it takes [to have a healthy pregnancy], I will do it. I'll do whatever they ask me to do.

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    How do you keep fit?
    When I was still [allowed to work], hosting It's Showtime was good for me kasi there was movement, I was working. Actually for my condition, okay na yun, and anyway they would always make me sit down. But if my doctor had her way, she would put me on bed rest forever. When I finally went on be drest, that's when I felt I got big, kasi you're just home. When you're bored, you eat. You see something on MasterChef, you want to eat it.

    What kind of activities are you allowed to do now?
    I'm allowed to walk in the pool, walk around the house. Robin and I do exercises together; he stretches my leg. Sometimes he would say, 'Lika exercise tayo ng konti, kahit stretching lang," pero guided lahat ng exercises. My birthing coach said this will help with my stamina when I give birth. In my head, I'm going to give birth normally, even if everyone says it will be Cesarean for sure.

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    What snacks do you have with you all the time?
    Pomelo. For a time, dragonfruit, and then green apples and peanut butter. I read that you should eat peanut butter while pregnant so that your baby will not be allergic to it. Ii-introduce mo na. But I've always eaten healthy even before I was pregnant, [so up to now]. My baby has not eaten fastfood. But there was a time when I craved fastfood chicken and corned beef, and nilabanan ko yung sarili ko talaga.

    What do you love most about being pregnant?
    I love it that when I'm eating, no one judges me. They would say, "Okay lang, buntis ka naman e." I'm lucky I didn't have morning sickness, so I am able to eat anything.

    I had a few cravings though, like chicken siopao -- ang sarap ng siopao pala. I eat siopao but only now did I realize how sarap pala it was. The biggest one na pinaglihian ko was buko pie, but I like Lety's buko pie. I remove the bottom and top parts, yung buko lang ang gusto ko. Sometimes I would ask the driver to travel to Laguna just for the buko pie. Mga 4 boxes mauubos ko in one week. I really liked it. 

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    What else are you enjoying about your pregnancy?
    People are extra nice to you. Everyone's happy for you, protective of you. Strangers would come up to me and would say that they pray for me, so ngayon pa lang, my baby is so loved na. 

    When someone gives me something, syempre I'm happy. But when someone gives something for my baby, I feel so grateful. 'Yung mga nagpunta sa baby shower, 'yung mga nagbigay ng gifts, iniisip ko, pag time na kailangan nila, pag nag-invite sila sa akin, pupuntahan ko lahat kasi they did it for my baby. Sobra akong nata-touch. Because it's no longer about me, it's about the baby na.

    What makes you scared about the prospect of motherhood?
    I'm scared that I won't be able to breastfeed. I'm scared that I won't produce enough milk for my baby. I'm afraid that I'm not going to hold my baby right. I have so many fears. What if I don't understand what the baby needs?

    What do you like the least about being pregnant?
    Just the medical stuff. And the stretch marks. My mom has a lot of stretch marks, and they say it's hereditary. So no matter how much lotion daw I put, it's not gonna matter. It breaks my heart.  

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    Just the same, I put on products religiously, kasi malay mo naman, baka sakaling hindi sya hereditary talaga. I use several alternately: BioOil, Palmers. I also use Clarins and Burt's Bees Mama Bee. I just mix them up, depending on what I am in the mood for.

    What other products have helped you in your pregnancy journey so far? 
    Number one is the ice pack for my injections. Ang sakit pala kapag wala! I also read What to Expect When You're Expecting. And there's this app, the Ovia Pregnancy & Baby Tracker, which helps me understand my pregnancy, like this is the size of my baby now, the symptoms that I'm supposed to feel. It also gives suggestions on what you can eat, and there are also videos that you can watch. I really like that app. 

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    You must be so busy decorating the baby's room already.
    Hindi pa tapos, but it will be Robin's [former] dressing room. Originally, it was supposed to be another room, which is farther, pero nagulat ako when Robin offered to give up his dressing room. Sabi nya, dito na lang para mas malapit sa atin yung baby. So in my dressing room, I got rid of so many boxes to give Robin space for his things. Then we realized, the baby's so tiny, but we're all adjusting for her. There's really someone coming, and it's going to change our lives!  

    What do you look forward to the most when you have your baby?
    I wanna hold her talaga. I want to smell her and look at her. And I'm also looking forward to me and Robin as parents kasi iba na naman yun for us and our marriage. When I think about it, nalulungkot ako na hindi na lang kaming dalawa. Kasi for six years, kaming dalawa lang talaga, when we travel, when we go out on dates. But don't get me wrong -- we're very ecstatic about the baby. Parang next level na yung marriage namin, as parents naman. I'm looking forward to that because I really wanna raise a good girl, one with values, one who fears God. 

    Si Robin, he has children already, so he's fine. This journey [of a new baby], it's all for me. He sees how happy I am so he's very, very happy for me.

    How's Robin as a would-be father?
    Nata-touch ako because Robin wants to be the one to raise the baby. He wants to be the one na magtuturo sa baby, na nakatutok sa baby. He wants to have a family. Sabi nya, at least for the first six months, ayaw nyang i-share yung moment na yun kahit kanino, gusto nya kami talaga lang. So if we have to be away for that to happen, then that's what we're gonna do, just so we can give our 100% undivided attention to the baby. Hopefully, Robin can follow sa States. I'm still praying that he can. We will stay in the U.S. until the baby is old enough to travel. 

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    What did you discover -- about yourself or your relationship with Robin -- because of this pregnancy? 
    Na kakayanin ko pala kahit ano, all these medicines and injections. And I was hospitalized for this pregnancy three times, kaya si Robin bumilib sa akin that I was able to endure all that. Kasi kami, we really follow the organic lifestyle. I don't do medicines, kung may masakit, titiisin ko. I won't take paracetamol or anything. Pero ngayon, I have so many medicines. I realized na when it comes to your baby, yun palang mga beliefs mo mashi-shift sya ng konti. Gagawin mo whatever it is. You will really fight for your baby. 

    What is your message to your daughter?
    Hi Maria Isabella! Hi baby! Mom loves you so much. (Tears up) Mom is going to do everything for you.   

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