Pia Guanio would be the first to say that she never imagined herself becoming a mom.
Having been in the limelight for a good decade—as mainstay host of noontime show “Eat Bulaga!,” and entertainment anchor of news program “24 Oras”—Guanio is the epitome of the career-driven woman who won’t let her personal life unhinge her concentration.
Despite rumors of dates and heartbreaks while she was still single, Guanio would betray nothing before the camera, maintaining a refreshing and easygoing attitude, her chinita eyes perpetually twinkling.
That’s why some people still find it hard to reconcile Guanio, the youthful TV personality, with the same person as a mother carrying a baby girl in her arms.
Even her friends, at the onset, were incredulous. “When I show them pictures of my daughter, they’re just totally shocked out of their minds,” she says.
Guanio understands their disbelief, since she wasn’t one to “gush at every baby I saw in the past. I could never picture myself being a mother to another human being.”
But a little past midnight on Aug. 31, 2012, that was exactly what happened when Guanio gave birth to Scarlet Jenine via Caesarean section. She has a button nose and the most expressive eyes for an infant.
Weighing 7.8 pounds and measuring 20 inches, the firstborn of Guanio and husband Steeve Mago erased all the couple’s fears of parenthood and awakened in them a love bound by flesh and blood.
Scarlet Jenine was named using her father’s initials, from his full given name Steeve James.
Guanio explains: “Jenine means ‘God is gracious,’ which was how I felt when I was pregnant, and how I felt when she finally came into the world. Everything was a provision from the Lord.”
As for Scarlet, it was Mago’s idea, a name that would eventually fit their daughter “because she’s fiery.”
Earlier than expected
Mago and Guanio weren’t too keen on having a baby so soon after getting married on Oct. 1, 2011. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, they wanted to slide into the roles of husband and wife: building a house; doing things together; traveling the world.
They even hoped to bring their family and close friends to a seaside town in southern Italy the following year to mark their first anniversary.
But a month after the wedding, Guanio got pregnant. After being certain she would face the biggest role of her life as a mother, she took on the task with the steely resolve and single-minded focus she brings to the big decisions of her life.
For starters, Guanio read books and browsed websites on pregnancy. “What I lacked in experience, I made up for by being nerdy about it,” she says.
What she researched in particular was how to assure the health and safety of the baby while maintaining her figure. People around her weren’t too charitable with information.
“They were all saying I would get fat, I would swell up, I would become a blimp, I would not fit into my shoes anymore,” she says. “That was enough to get me hitting the books because I was, like, ‘There’s no way I’m not going to fit into my shoes.’”
So Guanio, who already had an active lifestyle before her pregnancy, just continued her exercise routine. (“Up to my eighth month, I was still working out in the gym.”)
Six months into the pregnancy, she took a leave of absence from “Eat Bulaga!,” “24 Oras” and the now-defunct entertainment magazine program “Showbiz Central”—not because her condition required her to, but for the benefit of the viewers who may feel uncomfortable seeing her on TV, ready to pop.
Science seems to side with Guanio regarding exercise. Time Magazine cites a study of Dr. Paul Hofman of the University of Auckland in New Zealand that reveals that “regular aerobic exercise may be good for a growing fetus’ health—and may even help a baby get a healthier start in life.”
Aside from working out, Guanio also watched what she ate. “I actually cooked my own food because I wanted to make sure that I was not taking in so much sodium or sugar,” she says. “If somebody else cooked it, I couldn’t trust it. I’d rather ako na magluluto, kahit hindi ako marunong.”
Guanio credits this emphasis on healthy living as the reason she had an easy pregnancy and smooth delivery.
“I never had morning sickness. It was never delicate. I was working out and was never told to slow down by my doctor. I never had any signs that it was going to be scary for the baby. She’d always like kicking and moving around. She’s all-out healthy, from start to finish,” says Guanio.
As for the 30 pounds she gained while pregnant, she lost all of them—and then some.
Now that Guanio is “back to regular programming,” she has created a routine with her daughter on the days when she has to report for work. In the morning, from their house in Alabang, mother and daughter head to the family’s condo unit in Pasig.
Guanio deposits Scarlet in the care of a yaya before proceeding to “Eat Bulaga!”
As soon as the show ends, Guanio goes back to the condo to check on Scarlet, who’s usually asleep in the afternoon. Whenever she’s awake, “that’s when we do our schooling stuff. I try to read to her, do her ABCs or shapes and numbers, whatever’s going to help her to become a genius when she gets older.”
After this two- to three-hour bonding period, she goes back to Quezon City for “24 Oras.” Past 8 p.m., she returns to the condo and picks up Scarlet for their drive back to Alabang.
“She’s almost like a working baby, if you think about it, because she practically leaves the house every day with me,” Guanio says.
Despite making sure that everything is quiet in their home in the south, so as not to wake Scarlet from her sleep when they arrive, her daughter would perk up and have another two to three hours of activity. “For a baby her age, I don’t think she should be staying up that late,” Guanio admits.
With her daughter now eight months old, Guanio has more or less determined her personality. “She goes from one to 10—one being her coolest and 10 being her most hysterical—in two seconds,” she says, laughing. “She doesn’t have a very calm personality. She’s very strong. She’s always constantly squirming or trying to force her way through something.”
While Scarlet used to only cry when she had some urgent need, now “she’s already figured out to fake it and get her way.”
To address this, Guanio had to come up with creative ways to appease her, such as having Scarlet watch an NBA game with her daddy. “Otherwise, she’ll give you one of her princess tantrums.”
During Scarlet’s peaceful moods, Guanio makes sure to feed her daughter’s curiosity by exposing her to the sensory richness of her environment.
“What I like to do is take her around with me while I’m doing stuff in the house, like when I’m brewing coffee. I explain everything to her, so she gets a good feel of the world around her and experiences different things.”
Guanio reveals that she has recently “graduated from breastfeeding” and Scarlet has started eating solid food. “The minute she began teething and when her two front teeth came out, she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore,” she says.
For her recent role as wife and mother, perfect timing seems to be the main principle. Guanio doesn’t regret not getting pregnant earlier than 38, since any sooner would have torn her between “growing the career side of my life and taking care of the baby.”
She has reached a certain level of fulfillment career-wise, so “it wasn’t too much a stretch to start caring about somebody else. That’s why I could already insert a husband and a baby into the picture.”
So, although she and Mago would have preferred to have a child two to three years into their marriage, when Scarlet happened, they softened to the notion of parenthood just as quickly. “Actually, right now, we couldn’t imagine life without her,” she says. “She’s a different kind of happiness, a different kind of fulfillment that you can’t really describe unless you become a parent. It sounds so clichéd, but really, that’s how it is.”
Guanio admits, though, there have been moments, while taking care of Scarlet, that she would just burst into tears—not out of post-partum blues, but due to bone-deep fatigue and the “instincts that come into play when you finally have to step up to that kind of responsibility.”
But she has embraced the role with so much enthusiasm that she wants to dispel misconceptions about pregnancy and banish the confusion that assails a would-be mom.
“Now that I’m taking on this brand-new role and I’ve learned so much about it, what I would like to do is to get a lot of women in on it,” she says. “What I learned along the way, I’d like to share. Having undergone pregnancy myself, I can pass on the benefit of that experience.”
Reposted from Baby Magazine