It has been four months since Isabel Oli gave birth to her third child, a girl named Lilla Forest.
In her vlog posted October 20, 2020, Isabel narrated her pregnancy journey with Forest, saying it was "way different from her past pregnancies" since it happened in the middle of a pandemic.
Right at the start of her pregnancy, Isabel already encountered serious troubles.
"There was blood around the sac, so puwede mawala talaga siya," the mother of three revealed.
She was grateful that her OB-GYN, Dr. Valerie Guinto, was there to guide her throughout the pregnancy.
Isabel said of her OB-GYN, "Feeling ko talaga, instrument talaga siya na ginamit ni God kasi sobra talagang smooth iyong lahat kahit na maraming challenges, pero hindi ko masyadong naramdaman."
The celebrity mom also had to undergo intralipid infusion, which she noted in her vlog is a "twenty percent intravenous fat emulsion used routinely as a source of fat and calories for patients requiring parental nutrition."
Isabel did the procedure during her second pregnancy, but only once.
For her third pregnancy, she did it more frequently. Isabel said, "Ito talaga, parang every four weeks, 'tapos every three weeks, every two weeks, ganyan."
Isabel also had to inject Innohep every day to prevent blood clots and Lymphocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT) to enhance her immunity.
The latter involved Isabel's husband John Prats.
Isabel revealed, "We had LIT na na-involve pa talaga iyong asawa ko. Kasi iyong white blood cells niya kailangan i-transfer sa akin, which is very, very painful."
She also said it was a costly treatment, which led her to think "tama na."
The celebrity mom mused, "Well, I'm just being practical. Sana ito na iyong last namin kasi dapat dalawa lang, e.
"Nung una, four [kids] 'tapos naging dalawa noong nanganak na ako kasi masakit talaga. So ngayon, naging three, which is such a blessing kasi hindi talaga namin plinano pero dumating."
Isabel was instructed to go on bed rest for majority of her pregnancy, which meant she couldn't carry her two kids Feather and Freedom.
She added, "Bawal akyat-baba, so medyo iba lang talaga. But worth it.
"At the end of the day, kung saan safe si baby, doon tayo, di ba?"
At 36 weeks into her pregnancy, Isabel had a cough.
It was the middle of the pandemic, so she was instructed to get tested. Isabel underwent four swab tests.
To add to her anxiety, Isabel was on her own at the time.
"Sabi ko nga sa inyo guys, e. Kakaiba talaga ito. Sobra. Nagpakatatag ako siyempre, kasi wala asawa ko, e. Naka-lock-in taping pa siya nung time na kailangan ako i-swab. Di ba, ang ganda lang ng timing?"
As part of the new normal protocols for television and film production, the entire cast and crew of the ABS-CBN series Ang Probinsyano had to do a lock-in shoot in Batangas.
For John, this meant spending five weeks away from his pregnant wife and two children.
With John away, Isabel started to struggle with anxiety.
"Nagka-anxiety attack ako nung 36 weeks. Hindi ako makahinga, parang puno iyong doon sa nose ko, 'tapos masikip iyong dibdib ko. Iba talaga. Ang sakit-sakit talaga.
"I was really scared. Nagkaka-nightmare na rin ako na paano kung manganak ako without John beside me?
"'Tapos paano ito, naka-mask daw [kapag delivery]? Hindi ako nakakahinga. Iyong two pregnancies ko nga na wala pang pandemic, wala pang COVID, sobrang hirap na ako huminga. How much more ito?"
Her worries continued to pile up as she entered her 38th week of pregnancy.
During one of her check-ups, the doctor saw that the baby was breeched, which meant the baby's head was not in the correct position for birthing.
"Nagpa-ultrasound ako, si baby was breeched. 'Tapos may cord na nakapulupot dito sa neck and the placenta, nasa likod, naipit pa niya."
This prompted Isabel's doctor to schedule an emergency C-section the following day.
The thought of having a C-section during the pandemic made Isabel anxious, as she felt it posed a unique set of challenges she would have to face on her own.
She reasoned, "CS for me is really okay. Hindi talaga iyon negative for me.
"But sinabi kasi sa akin I had to quarantine myself and the baby for 14 days, so inisip ko, kung i-CS ako, paano ako makakakilos, di ba?
"As a human being, nag-question ako kay God na, 'Bakit ganoon? Bakit inallow mong ganoon? E, wala na nga akong tulong 'tapos ganito pa ang mangyayari?'
"Sobrang na-sad talaga ako. But sinabi ko, 'Bahala na. Kung saan safe si baby, doon nga talaga dapat tayo.'"
Isabel prepared herself for the emergency C-section. She prayed and prayed.
Just as the procedure was about to start, she asked her doctor to check the baby one more time.
"Baka naman may miracle," Isabel recalled saying, and it was meant as a quip to lighten the mood.
But when the doctor checked, Isabel had a surprise.
"Pagkahawak niya, instantly nahawakan niya iyong head of the baby na nasa baba na. That for me was a big, big miracle talaga.
"Kasi even sila, they were really puzzled kung bakit daw nakalipat siya agad na nasa taas siya 'tapos nakalipat siya agad in just hours? They were in disbelief din, e.
"God really moves in mysterious ways kasi hindi rin nila ma-explain kung paano siya nagpuwesto agad."
Giving birth without John
Isabel was then sent home, and she continued to eagerly anticipate the arrival of her new baby.
When July 17 came, Isabel felt something different at 3 a.m. She called up John, but told him that she didn't feel any sort of pain yet.
Afterwards, Isabel called up her mother-in-law Alma Prats, who convinced Isabel to go to the hospital.
When Isabel arrived, she was already 6 cm dilated.
"Giving birth was another miracle," Isabel recalled.
"Sobrang bilis. I had like three hours lang yata na labor, 'tapos tama lang iyong sakit. Masakit din siya, but iyong pag-deliver ng baby sobrang—wala lang akong strength noon kasi pagod na ako. Wala pa akong tulog.
"Again, I think it was really God. Nandoon lang siya with my angels, I think."
This may have been Isabel's third time to give birth, but there was one major difference: John wasn't at the delivery room with her.
He watched the whole delivery via video call.
The actor said in the same vlog, "This is the first time na na-experience ko na mangaanak si Liv nang wala ako sa tabi niya at hindi ako ang sasalo doon sa baby.
"Well, kahit din naman nandito ako at wala ako sa taping, hindi talaga allowed kasi siyempre iyong safety din ng lahat..."
Expectant fathers are no longer allowed inside the delivery room, as part of new hospital protocols during the pandemic.
The experience also made John realize how difficult it was to be separated from family.
"As a father, you have to work. Sacrifice talaga siya. Na-feel ko nga iyong parang pakiramdam ng OFW… iyong malayo ka sa pamilya mo. Aaliwin mo na lang sarili mo. Try mo i-fight iyong sadness, iyong pagkamiss mo.
"At the same time, hindi pa rin nawawala iyong naiisip mo na merong COVID pa din."
John also couldn't believe that Isabel—or Liv, as her family and friends call her—had to manage her pregnancy and delivery on her own.
"Siya lang mag-isa. Well, totoo lang sinabi mo, di ba? Kapag wala kang choice, kailangan mo maging matapang."