By Ed Uy Staff Writer
They say motherhood is not a job, because you don’t get paid, nor is it a career because women do not study or train to be one. Being called Mom-in-chief may be endearing, but it is an empty title that unfortunately doesn’t come with extra benefits.
Yet for women who’ve been gifted with children, being a mother may be hard work, but it remains the most fulfilling role one can ever have.
Just ask former Miss International and actress Precious Lara Quigaman.
“If I were to choose between winning Miss International or being a mother, I would easily choose to be a mom,” she told reporters in a recent gathering organized by Anmum Materna.
Even before she joined show business, Lara has been known for having one of the most beautiful faces and she’s had the Ms. International crown to prove it. She is only the fourth Filipino to have won the Miss International crown—after Gemma Cruz (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970) and Melanie Marquez (1979).
“As much as it was my dream to be a beauty queen, I would never trade it for the feeling I have every time I see my baby. It doesn’t compare at all.”
Winning the crown she said gave her pride but being the mother of Noah Lamar Alcaraz made her feel like a complete woman.
“Definitely, I feel fulfilled as a woman and I had always dreamt of being a mom, and now that I am one, there’s this joy that you can’t really describe, that you have someone, a gift given to you by the Lord.
While she could talk for hours about the joys of being a mother, Lara shared there was actually a time that she had to keep her pregnancy a secret.
“The most difficult time for me was the first few months. Marco [Alcaraz] and I had a civil wedding in January 1, 2011, but it was a secret. We had plans of having this big wedding, and since people didn’t know we were already married, we had to keep the pregnancy a secret until the big wedding day.”
Lara was abroad when she first found out about her pregnancy, at that time, she was part of the show Princess And I, and she had to do several taxing dramatic scenes.
“I came from Bhutan for a shoot and we had a stopover in Bangkok. I was “delayed” for one day so I bought a pregnancy kit in Bangkok. I was alone and it tested, positive. I got another one to make sure and again there were two lines. Sobrang feeling ko sasabog ako kasi magisa lang ako, wala akong kasama, wala akong masabihan. I didn’t want to call Marco that time kasi baka paguwi ko wala na siya. Gusto ko kapag sinabihan ko siya face to face. Pero the joy that I felt was hard to describe, sobra talaga.”
“It was hard at work especially when I did those scenes that I needed to run, and kneel down in the mud while it rained. Di ba, kapag buntis kailangan maingat, dahan-dahan, laging may nakaalalay? But since no one knew I was pregnant, and I could not tell anyone
I just had to be extra careful.”
Since she also couldn’t seek professional help yet at the risk of exposing her secret, Lara did her own research about pregnancy and how to care for her unborn baby.
“I had a lot of questions about my pregnancy, so I read a lot and did my own research to get the answers I need. So I understood how a mom’s body is able to make the baby feel safe.”
Luckily, she did not experience a lot of physical discomforts during her pregnancy.
“Nausea, not too much. I had cravings but nothing out of the ordinary, but I could eat everything on the table,” she said laughing.
“As for mood swings . . . before I got pregnant i got irritated by Marco a lot, but during my pregnancy I felt more in love with him. I always wanted to see him and be close to him.”
She also recalled being a bit depressed while pregnant. Dealing with the emotional aspect was more difficult than the physical. “There were times when I felt ugly and fat. My husband was a big help, binobola pa ako. He would say, ‘You’re still the prettiest woman for me.’”
She then shared her birthing pains: “On November 9, Marco brought me to the hospital because my water broke. It was fast—from 2 cm to 4 cm [cervical dilation]in two hours— I was given an epidural to lessen the pain because I wanted a normal delivery.
Unfortunately, the epidural didn’t work, it was a very rare case, so I felt every contraction. Ten hours later, at around 7 p.m., I was still in labor, and had developed a fever. I had to have emergency caesarian.”
“When I saw the doctor I was crying and I told her I didn’t want a CS. Marco asked me why I refused CS and told me it was for my safety and our baby as well, and I answered ‘ayoko ng Caesarean. Mahal iyon!’” She then burst out laughing.
Tips for moms
As a mother Lara admits to being very protective. “I don’t feel secure leaving Noah with anyone, even with Marco. I’m always scared he’d drop the baby. But although he comes across as happy-go-lucky, Marco wakes up readily when it’s his turn to feed the baby. We don’t have a yaya so Marco and I take turns caring for him. This is why we can’t just go out when we want to. Our lifestyle change has been drastic. We have to think of the baby in everything we do—but everything is so worth it.”
Now that she is a mom, Lara has become closer to other moms and moms-to-be whom she meets on social networks.
She tells them to just enjoy their pregnancy, “I’ve met pregnant women who worry about every little thing. I keep saying, if you know that you’re doing things right and eating the right food, there’s no reason to worry. If you do, the baby gets affected, and that’s not good. The baby feels whatever you are feeling.”
Lara also stressed that moms should drink milk regularly during and after pregnancy, and even prior to getting pregnant, in order to achieve full nutrition and aid the baby’s development.