By Aa Patawaran
“I’m excited for my child,” says Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero, more popularly known as Heart Evangelista, as she tells me she’s ready to tell the world that she is pregnant.
In August last year, she revealed her plans to take a break from showbusiness to focus on having a baby, but then she got busy with other things. And then in a matter of months after she and her husband Sen. Chiz Escudero began to try in earnest, she found out she was already a few weeks in the family way.
“I’m a super duper believer of family planning,” says Heart. “As a woman, however, you’re never prepared. I’m super terrified and scared but excited at the same time.”
Asked what her initial reaction was, she says, “I thought I would cry, but I laughed because I was excited and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think it would come right away—three months from the time I decided.”
In these early weeks, Heart is undergoing the physical changes that pregnancy entails. “I’m naglilihi (craving),” she says. “My sense of smell is on overdrive. I don’t like certain perfumes. When someone’s frying something, I don’t like it. If I want pizza, I have to have pizza. It’s so strange I want everything white—eggs, white bread, and anything with mayonnaise. And I love ice cream, or anything with cheese! Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night looking for a ham-and-egg sandwich.”
The decision to get pregnant gave Heart the opportunity to examine her preparedness for motherhood. “I am the youngest in the family, so I was never exposed to a lot of babies,” she says. “I had a lot of dogs, but not babies. I never really thought of myself to be that type, the doting mom. I work hard. I’m so focused on my career, it’s non-stop. I had so many ideas, and having a baby was just not part of the plan yet. But here I am, it’s a weird feeling. It’s so new to me. Sometimes, I tell Chiz, ‘I’m worried. How do you think I’m going to be (as a mother)?’ and he’s like ‘You know what? You’re good with your dogs. You adopt them all. If you’re good with your dogs, if that’s how you are with animals, then if it’s your baby, you’ll be so good at being a mom.’”
Even before this pregnancy, she has had some practice at being a mother. Shortly after her wedding, she took Sen. Escudero’s twins from a previous marriage to Los Angeles. “It was the first time I was with the kids of Chiz, for a long time, without a yaya,” Heart recounts. “They were seven. They were also adjusting, and they were jet lagged. It was just so hard. I would cry in the middle of the night. But I also think it prepared me to be a mom. I wasn’t just taking care of one kid, I was taking care of two, and now they live with me, and I’m really blessed. They’re just as excited about this baby as I am.” Early this year, while she was at Paris Fashion Week, she also found interest in baby stuff. “I bought myself a really cute Dior baby bag and I also got a baby outfit, his or her.”
Heart admits she has been going through a lot these days, some vomiting, nausea, “all these new feelings,” she says. “It hasn’t been so bad, compared to other women. My husband has told me, ‘You know I’m really surprised you’re handling it so well. I am so proud of you. I thought it would be a nightmare.’ He always tells me how he’s so proud of how I’m handling it.”
Heart describes Sen. Escudero as fully supportive even when she was unsure whether or not she was ready, always putting off the plan for “next year, next year.” It was mainly because she felt there were so many things she needed to do first.
“I felt that I needed to concentrate on my career, my painting, plant my seeds here and there. I guess, by doing all that, it would give me time to enjoy my pregnancy,” explains Heart. “I’m lucky because Chiz didn’t want to rush me. He felt I was a bit too sheltered, so I never really got to see the world and experience life, that it would be good for me to travel and open my eyes to the world. Doing all this would make me a better mom. Also, in a way, I won’t be so afraid of traveling anymore, so when I have a baby, I can travel and I know where to go.”
Sen. Escudero, Heart says, is holding her hand through this early stage of her journey to motherhood. “I never thought I’d have him with me all the way. I’m pretty independent,” she muses. “I like doing things on my own. But he is very, very supportive, even when I was just taking a blood test. He also took one, though he didn’t really need it, so I wouldn’t feel alone. He’s so sweet. If he was sweet before, he’s even sweeter now. I must say I’m really enjoying the perks of being pregnant.”
Heart can’t wait to know the gender of the baby growing inside her. The baby room has long been ready, classic and neutral, as she wants it, so it doesn’t matter whether the baby is a girl or boy.
Does Heart know now what kind of a mother she will be? “I don’t know! Sometimes, I wake up, and I can’t believe I’m pregnant. There’s a human being inside me, there’s a heartbeat. But I’m confident I’m going to be a good mom. I have so much to share. I have so much love to give. I’m excited for my child. It’s going to be a fun life.”