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  • Regine Tolentino equally loves her three girls — Reigne, Reigen, and Rosie.

    But she especially holds up the one-month-old Rosie as a "spark of hope" to her family in the gloomy time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    On March 17, 2020, Regine and her parther, photographer-director Dondi Narciso, welcomed Rosie to the world — a day after the enhanced community quarantine took effect in Luzon to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. In an email interview, Regine recounted to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) her pregnancy journey, and related how the birth of her youngest daughter Rosie had brought her family closer together.

    Her pregnancy, most of all, became a unique bonding experience for Regine and her older daughters, Reigen and Reigne. She told PEP.ph, "They were very helpful and supportive all the way. We would research online, go shopping, have meals, watch movies and prepare all of the baby’s needs together with Dondi."

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    She adds, "Everything — from choosing names to preparing Rosie's room — was a family affair. My girls also helped prepare the vitamins, and took over managing my shop (Regine Tolentino Atelier) so I could rest. Reigne drove, massaged, and cooked for me all the time, and Reigen helped me clean the house and massaged me whenever I had back pain. They said seeing me pregnant made them appreciate me more for carrying them in my tummy for 9 months."

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    Regine's pregnancy

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    Regine, 39, had no idea she was pregnant until her fifth month. It was a pleasant surprise. There was no sign that her body was changing all those four months that she was up and about doing her usual routines, working out, and going on trips.

    Regine told PEP.ph, "I didn't know about this pregnancy until almost the end of my 2nd trimester because I have been irregular for many years."

    Published as it was written, the actress-dancer continued in her e-mail: "I also had travels to Japan, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Paris and even to the provinces of Leyte, Cebu, Pangasinan, and Cabadbaran among others during my first trimester...

    "I was so active I didn't notice what was happening to my body. I was dancing and going to the gym and office on the other days. This is why when I found out at five months, I was so surprised," she recalls.

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    It had also been 19 years since her last pregnancy.

    After taking a home pregnancy test, Regine immediately told Dondi about the result. "He was ecstatic!" Regine said. "We immediately went to the hospital for a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. When we found out we were officially pregnant, we went straight home to tell the kids."

    Over dinner, she broke the news of her pregnancy to Reigne and Reigen, who, according to Regine, were "jumping with joy and even cried a bit."

    The celebrity mom said, "With their excitement, Reigne started planning the gender reveal party for us... Reigen said she will be in charge of the documentation and videos of the reactions of our friends to the announcement, the video of my pregnancy development and our couple love story video."

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    Her previous pregnancies had been "completely different" and difficult.

    She recounted, "I had morning sickness from the first trimester until the day I gave birth. I also had strong food cravings and was more irritable or fussy. I did not do any physical activity and ate to my heart's desire."

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    And how did it go with her third pregnancy?

    Regine said she was generally more relaxed: "Fortunately, when I was pregnant with Rosie, I didn't have any of those early symptoms and was feeling great. I still continued to dance and work out until 6 1/2 months. After which, I decided to cut down on physical activities and refrain from dieting.

    "I was so happy to relax and take more time for myself, as well as eat and do the things I wouldn't normally have the time to do like clean the house and reorganize the kitchen and my closets," she adds.

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    Baby Rosie's birth

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    The difficulites did come around during the last trimester. Toward the end of her pregnancy, Regine said she had "gained a lot of weight" and had "really intense edema, constant back and hip pain and I developed carpal tunnel syndrome on both hands."

    On top of that, a Metro Manila lockdown owing to the COVID-19 crisis was looming just as Regine was about to give birth.

    The actress turned fashion designer recalled, "I was very anxious to give birth because of the COVID-19 lockdown approaching very near to my due date. It was a very stressful time, and I felt so pressured to give birth early. We, as a family, also decided to keep the pregnancy out of social media so I could enjoy each moment without any added stress. We just wanted to keep it all low profile since it was kind of a delicate pregnancy."

    The first 10 days after she gave birth were a scary time for Regine and Dondi. Rosie had a high fever (39.9 degrees Celsius) and pneumonia when she was born.

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    The baby had to be confined in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at a time when the entire hospital had to be prepared for COVID-19 cases.

    The stress and anxiety in the facility were palpable and it distressed Regine even more.

    "I remember crying non-stop everyday," she said, published as is. "Just from the time and anxiety of being separated from her at her most vulnerable time and the thought of her being alone and sick, was really heartbreaking for me as a 'new' mom."

    But Baby Rosie pulled through, and was brought home safe and strong.

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    Regine's new life as a nursing mother

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    With Rosie in her arms, Regine has been able to put her "100% focus, time and attention" on her youngest daughter with the help of older daughters Reigne and Reigen.

    The three of them would take turns taking care of the baby, like "putting her to sleep, feeding, giving her a bath and taking sleeping shifts to watch over her."

    This way, Regine has the "full bonding experience with Rosie from breastfeeding to playtime."

    The former actress said, gushing, "Rosie has been the greatest blessing to our family because she has brought us so much joy, and also helped us bond with one another."

    Rosie has brought her family together in prayer as they've been "praying the rosary regularly and became even more grateful for our blessings."

    Looking at the bright side, Regine is happy to spend this much quality time, and is optimistic that the quarantine period is teaching her an the girls to change for the better.

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    She added that her family has been learning to appreciate the simple things in life.

    The mother of three mused, "I was excited to have another baby in the house because my two girls were already grown up and in college. It has been almost two decades since we had a baby, so it is like starting over again."

    She adds, "I love that baby smell in the house, those sweet helpless cries, and the fact that I have another little doll to dress up and take care of.

    "I'm also happy to have another source of inspiration, a bundle of joy to light up the house and cheer up the family. "

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    This story originally appeared on Pep.ph.

    *Minor edits have been made by the SmartParenting.com.ph editors.

    Giving birth soon? Click here for what to expect when you get to the hospital.

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