For third-time mom Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, every pregnancy is unique, special and very challenging.
Even while she carried each of her children—Enzo, 16; Celestia Gabrielle, 1, and two-week old Audra Alessandra—with the grace and poise of the top commercial and runway model that she is, the 35-year-old mom never thought of herself as an “expert” in the nine-month baby bump department, nor the lifetime that follows called “motherhood.”
The Sunday Times Magazine caught up with the sweet and soft-spoken be-dimpled beauty a few weeks before she gave birth to Baby No. 3 on April 25. And while she exuded that proverbial glow of pregnancy, Rissa confessed to experiencing many challenges in carrying her latest bundle of joy with husband and sports personality Paolo Trillo.
“For me, [this pregnancy]is as special as the first,” she began. “But since this was so close to the last one [with Celestia], I realized my body still hadn’t completely recovered.”
Apparently, Rissa found many changes in her body that were never a problem for her with her first daughter and more so with her son whom she had when she was only 19 years old.
“I got pregnant with Audra as soon as Celestia turned one and I really felt the toll on my body. I even went as far as seeing my chiropractor for [my aches and pains], and I was told that my bones and muscles hadn’t fully recovered from the previous pregnancy.”
But as all mothers do for their babies, Rissa endured the difficulties that come with the territory, and just made sure she was taking care of herself as best she can.
“I had plenty of rest and I carefully considered everything I took in because the baby would have them as well,” she shared. “I didn’t have any special diets. Pregnant or not, I do not deprive myself with the food that I eat, but I eat only in moderation.”
Instead of having three big meals, for example, Rissa divides her daily intake into more frequent feedings in smaller portions.
“I even eat meat with a bit of taba [fat]and sweets because I have a sweet tooth, but still in moderation,” she added.
Soon enough—and gratefully—Rissa overcame what she described as “a minor bump” in her pregnancy, and made a conscious effort to enjoy the gift that nature exclusively bestowed on women.
She savored the care showered on her by husband and son, and also did double time in bonding with Celestia.
“One of my other anxieties in having been pregnant so soon is losing time with Celestia because of the demands of a newborn,” she confided. “But I realized the best way to avoid making her feel ‘dethroned’ as the baby is to constantly talk to her about being part of taking care of the baby in my tummy, and she is already very excited.”
Rissa also made sure she thrived outside of being mom and wife for herself, as she nurtured another “baby,” six-month-old business venture Happy Skin cosmetics, while awaiting her due date for Audra.
“Despite everything, I’d still go as far as saying my pregnancy was smooth sailing, and I’m very lucky to be blessed with a healthy daughter,” Rissa happily emailed back, when The Sunday Times Magazine checked up her shortly after her delivery.
‘It’s a girl again!’
As most parents always wish to have a boy when their first born is a girl and vice versa, Rissa shared she and her husband were never disappointed when they learned they were having another baby girl.
“We got very excited to know we were having a second girl,” she recalled. “We’ve been enjoying our first daughter so much that the thought of having a second one thrilled us even more.”
Rissa more recently recalled how Celestia was asked not to sleep with her and the new baby for the first week so she could regain her strength while focusing on breastfeeding.
Emotional as it made her, Rissa’s anxieties about dividing her time between her two princesses immediately disappeared when Celestia returned to her bed, and they all slept soundly together.
Before giving birth, Rissa also confessed to a different kind of challenge that had nothing to do the physical or emotional side of pregnancy: Choosing a name for the baby!
“It wasn’t the easiest thing to do!” she laughed. “It’s a different kind of challenge for a wife and husband to have a name they both like. At the end of the day, they have to agree, and sometimes one has to give way.”
Practical and fair as always, Rissa and Paolo took the same route they had when they named Celestia which is to choose unique variations of classic names. Celestia apparently came from “Celestine” and her second name Gabrielle, from “Gabriella.”
“Audra comes from ‘Audrey,’ and Alessandra from ‘Alexandria’,” she explained. “The names are not-so-out-of-this world yet still unique. They also sound very feminine and strong at the same time.”
The third parent
While most of Rissa’s time has to be devoted to her precious tiny girls these days, she never fails to talk about her eldest Enzo, her son from her previous marriage to businessman Marzo Samson.
As for all mothers, having new babies does not lessen Rissa’s love for her older child, but in fact, strengthens it even more.
“I’m so grateful to have him by my side,” said the proud mother. “Enzo’s actually been a third parent to Celestia since she was born. He has been a good extra hand for me and Paolo all through my pregnancy with Audra. He and Celestia get along very well too as playmates, and I’m sure the same will happen with Audra.”
More than being “Parent No. 3” and “cool kuya,” Enzo also cooks for his lucky mom. In turn, Rissa always proudly posts her son’s culinary creations on her Instagram account.
“My husband and son love to cook. Nasipa na ako sa kusina [I’ve been kicked out of the kitchen],” she laughed. “But I don’t complain because I love tasting all the dishes they make while I tend to the babies.”
More touchingly, Rissa shared how Enzo has been very excited to have new baby sister, just as he was with Celestia.
“He said he’ll have two little sisters making him kulit, and two little daughters he’ll be taking care of,” she related.
A husband’s TLC
According to Rissa, that happy mom that she is today is also thanks to Paolo who supports her in the more grueling demands of motherhood, while also being a responsible father.
“Before, during and after the pregnancy, he’s been very involved in every step and he is very maasikaso,” Rissa said. “Maybe that’s why I feel that my two recent pregnancies were not as stressful, even with the changes. I owe a lot to my husband who has given so much TLC [tender loving care].”
And with such a husband, Rissa will embrace having a fourth child with Paolo if they are blessed again.
“Think of all the pampering I’ll get!” she joked. “But to be honest, we’re OK with having a bigger family but I did tell my husband to let my body recover first,” she added from a lesson well learned.
As a dad, Rissa shared that Paolo is very hands-on. “Even if we both work, we’ve never been very dependent on a yaya because we share responsibilities.”
Paolo was manager of the Ateneo de Manila University basketball team for nine years, before he joined the Philippine Basketball Association in 2013 as manager of Talk ‘N Text.
A mother’s message
With her third baby, Rissa has embraced motherhood all the more, calling herself “very lucky” to be one.
She explained, “I feel lucky because motherhood wouldn’t be easy without a husband who is on the same path as you are in terms of the kind of values we want our children to grow up with. I’m lucky because we are a team.”
For Rissa, being a team assures her that the family can overcome any challenges that may come their way as they raise their brood.
“We are now a family of five. At the end of the day, I hope that my son who’s 16 and the two girls grow very close together,” she expressed.
Today being Mother’s Day, Rissa Mananquil-Trillo chooses not to focus on herself and instead offers her wish for her children.
“My wish is that when they’re old enough, they all find a partner who will take care of them even more than we can ever do,” she ended.