EXCLUSIVE: Janella Salvador On How Motherhood Allowed Her To Discover Her “Inner Strength”
In this exclusive, in-depth interview, the proud new mom opens up about her pregnancy journey, her motherhood experiences so far, and her partner Markus Paterson
“My heart was pounding. The moment I clicked the button, like ‘post, post, post,’ I was like, ‘Aaahhh.’ Now I’m just ‘awww,’” new mom Janella Salvador recounts the day she decided to reveal her and Markus Paterson’s son, Jude, on social media as they were miles away riding out the new wave of COVID-19 in the UK.
On January 5, the young couple surprised everyone with an announcement that couldn’t have been more fitting to kick off the new year: they’re now parents to an adorable little boy.
New year, new beginnings.
Janella and Markus breathed a sigh of relief when they finally got to share to everyone this new milestone in their lives, and show this tiny human being who has made them realize in a heartbeat the meaning of true, unconditional, and selfless love.
Their baby reveal came with a beautiful, heartwarming, 27-minute-long video on their YouTube channel, M & J & J, which documented her pregnancy journey and the moment they first laid eyes on Jude. Janella edited the video herself and pulled all-nighters to be able to tell their story in the best way possible.
Janella and Markus can’t stop gushing about Jude now. In the past months, they’ve been keeping this joy and excitement to themselves, but now they’re ready to let the public into this part of their lives.
Finding the right time
“It’s time,” as Janella quips. The right and perfect time to reveal baby Jude had arrived, and the love and support she and Markus have been receiving from their industry friends and even their followers and the netizens make all the happy emotions they’ve held back on expressing worth it in the end.
Keeping her pregnancy a secret at first, Janella points out, wasn’t done out of “selfish reasons.” It wasn’t because of fear of possibly losing her soaring career because of motherhood or fear of being judged. It was to shield herself from unnecessary stress that could cause problems for her pregnancy, and ultimately, bask in the precious moments of first-time parenthood.
In their vlog, she mentions, “If I’m going to be honest, I was quite nervous about this day, because I know how harsh the world can be. If your dad and I could have you all to ourselves forever in our quiet little world, we would, but that would be selfish. You’re too precious to not be shared.”
It feels really good. I’m super relieved and, you know, it’s an amazing feeling to finally be able to share the best gift that we’ve ever received to everybody. I’m super thankful for all the positive responses that I got
- Janella on how she feels after revealing that she’s now a mom
It was simply a matter of right timing for them. Jude was never meant to be hidden. He was simply treasured and cherished in the company of his dearest loved ones in his first few months of existence—those minutes, hours, days, and weeks are priceless and irreplaceable, after all.
“I was getting a lot of comments, of course, you know how some people think. ‘Why weren’t you proud in the first place?’ ‘Why didn’t you reveal it in the first place?’ ‘Hindi ka ba proud?’ [Are you not proud?] ‘Kinahihiya mo ba?’ [Are you ashamed of it?]. Of course not!,” Janella tells Metro.Style. “I don’t think any mother would want to hide their child forever. So obviously, I’ve been planning this moment when I could finally tell everyone that ‘Yehey, I’m a mom.’ But what people fail to understand is that sometimes you just want to cherish the moment with your loved ones. Have quiet time, you know, ’yung kayo-kayo lang [just you and your family]. Because time is precious eh, I wanted to enjoy it without any noise, without hearing any side comments. Just me, Jude, Markus, my family.”
Learning about the pregnancy
There are many milestones in a person’s life that call for a celebration, but nothing can ever compare to the day a couple finds out they are expecting their firstborn, the day they first visit the OB-GYN to confirm the pregnancy, the day they first hear their baby’s heartbeat and see him adorably snuggled in his mother’s womb, the day the baby makes his presence felt with his first kick, the day they find out their little one’s gender.
All these moments are great, but what’s even greater and more magical is the day when the parents finally welcome their firstborn into the world. As Markus said in his Star Magic interview hosted by Maja Salvador, the experience was, in a word, “surreal.”
That surreal feeling was exactly what Janella and Markus also felt when they found out they were going to become parents. It was one fine day in February 2020. The couple was vacationing in Boracay with Markus’ manager, Allan Altera, and another friend of theirs. Janella recalls, “Before that, I had a weird feeling already because I wasn’t my usual self and you know, I was feeling so bloated. I didn’t want to eat the usual food that I usually like. And that’s weird for me, because I eat everything. I love to eat. So I was like, okay, this is weird… We decided to just buy the test there… I took two and tada! The funny thing is, his manager Kuya Allan was asleep when I took it, so we were thinking, ‘Gigisingin ba natin s’ya?’ [Are we going to wake him up?]”
Janella and Markus were understandably nervous about the situation, but feelings of happiness and excitement were quick to take over. “As soon as I took the test, [I told Markus], ‘Okay, I’m nervous. But why are we smiling?’ We were actually happy,” she says. “At the same time, I didn’t know what to feel. I was happy, and I couldn’t stop smiling. But I was also nervous.”
In showbiz, the first one who found out about Janella’s pregnancy was her The Killer Bride co-star Maja Salvador. They became closer on the set of this TV series, so the then mom-to-be immediately felt comfortable to open up with her Ate Maja and sought her help. “She was the one who referred me to my OB,” Janella reveals. “I was like, ‘Ate Maja, can you just help me?” She was like, ‘What?’ Then she cried. She was like, ‘Wait lang, maiiyak ako.’ Naririnig ko ’yung voice niya sa phone [Hold on, I’m going to cry. I could hear her voice over the phone].”
Janella’s mother, actress and singer Jenine Desiderio, found out about her pregnancy much later. No matter how close they are as mom and daughter, Janella still had to contemplate how to properly break the news to her mom, while assuring her that she and Markus would be responsible and mature about the situation and that there was no need for her to worry.
“She was the scariest! Of course, she’s my mom. She was actually one of the last people… She got tampo nga [She was slightly disappointed], she said, ‘Why did you just tell me now?’ It’s because I was so scared. I didn’t know how to tell her. I told her, I was I think four months already. Four months, I think, when I told her,” Janella shares. “Since there was still COVID, I had to call her. Hindi ko nasabi in person, so dapat talaga my plan was in person [I couldn’t tell her in person, but that was really my plan]. I was supposed to go to her house. We [Markus and I] were supposed to go together to her house and tell her the news but we had to settle for a video call because of the pandemic. It went okay. My mom actually didn’t… I expected the dragon to come out of her but it didn’t, you know. She was listening. It was a good conversation.”
If Janella and Jenine had a serious heart to heart talk on what was about to come, the story was different when the couple told Markus’ parents about the pregnancy; it was casual and lighthearted. Markus’ father is based in the UK while his mom lives in Pangasinan. When there came a time that his parents both happened to be in Manila at the same time, they thought it was the perfect chance to talk to them. Janella recounts, “I asked Markus, ‘How do you want to tell your mom and dad?’ He was like, ‘Let’s just tell them.’ Oh okay. So we went to his place, they were there. I forgot how he told his dad. I think he was like, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re having a baby.’” His parents were surprised, didn’t believe them at first, and thought they were joking until they showed them the sonogram. “They were quiet for like 10 minutes, then they said okay. They were excited already,” Janella adds.
Regrets? I actually never regret anything
Preparing for motherhood
Being pregnant can be tough as it is, especially for a 22-year-old like Janella. Add the stress of coping with the pandemic, dealing with the fear and anxiety it brings, and even addressing an issue that came up involving her helper, she had to soldier on and be strong for her baby no matter what.
Janella shares, “If I’m going to be honest, I did get anxiety. I do get anxiety till now, because of what’s happening of course. And it was mostly when I was back in the Philippines, stuck at home. I couldn’t really do anything and I couldn’t go out because I was hiding in the meantime. I wasn’t hiding for selfish reasons… I was hiding in the meantime. I felt like a prisoner in short. I had this little issue with my staff… I couldn’t deal with it because it was unnecessary because, you know, it isn’t true. I was going through a lot of stress but thank God, I’m a positive thinker so I got through it and nothing happened to me and Jude.”
There were extra challenging days like those, but most of the time during her pregnancy were spent preparing herself physically, emotionally, and mentally for motherhood. She would do yoga at home and read up a lot on just about everything that made her curious about pregnancy, giving birth, and motherhood.
Janella made sure to buy the popular must-have book for pregnant women, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. She also downloaded an app that helped her track her and her baby’s progress. For other questions, her best friend was the Internet. She says, “I love to search. I love reading. Aside from my mom, of course, I love reading articles on the Internet, watching videos about babies and stuff. I was super prepared when Jude came, and I had a little bit of practice because I took care of my younger brother [Russell] when he was a baby.”
She adds in jest, “Hindi lang halata [pero meron akong nurturing side] [It’s just not obvious, but I do have a nurturing side].”
Amidst the pandemic, Janella flew to the UK in September of last year with her mom and her brother. Janella decided to give birth there, as Markus was also born in England to a British dad and a Filipino mom.
That same month, they made their relationship Instagram-official. What followed the confirmation of their relationship were speculation on Janella’s pregnancy, which they were firm on not addressing then. That way, they were able to wait for the arrival of their bundle of joy peacefully and blissfully.
When the day they had been waiting for came, whatever worries and fears they had were wonderfully replaced by happiness. After almost two days in labor, Janella gave birth to Jude Trevor Paterson on October 20, 2020 via normal delivery.
They named him Jude because Janella and Markus are both big fans of The Beatles, the iconic English rock band behind the song “Hey Jude.” Janella shares, “We wanted letter J kasi ang usapan namin, s’yempre napag-usapan na namin kunwari [because we talked about it before, for example] in the future when we have babies, napag-usapan namin dati na [we agreed before that] the boys will be J after me then if there’s a girl, M after him.”
In that exact moment when Janella first saw and held onto Jude, there were no tears yet—instead, she couldn’t stop smiling. The happy tears came later on. “Hindi kami naiyak agad [We didn't cry right away]. Naiyak ako [I cried] when I first saw him smile,” Janella told Maja in an exclusive interview for Star Magic.
Giving birth and becoming a mother made Janella realize how strong and resilient she is. She got through hurdles and bumps she never thought she would ever overcome, and that’s all because of Jude who, as small as he may be, has had a big, life-changing effect on the people around him.
Janella opens up, “I never thought I’d be able to do that, you know, to give birth. To be able to handle it already. I’ve always dreamt of becoming a mom someday but, you know, I didn’t think that I could handle it already, like right now. And I was scared of the actual birth giving process. I was so nervous about it and I was like, ‘Kaya ko ba? [Can I do it?] What if hindi ko kayanin? [What if I can't endure it?] But you know, I learned that kaya ko pala [I could do it]. I discovered my inner strength and you know, the staying up all night, I thought I’d become like, ‘Ugh.’ I’d get depressed, or you know, some women get depression. It’s common. I thought I would but, you know, hindi eh [no]. When I see him smile, when I just look at him, parang may Energizer na ako [I'm already energized]. ‘Ah! I can do it!’”
I never thought I’d be able to do that, you know, to give birth. To be able to handle it already… But you know, I learned that kaya ko pala. I discovered my inner strength
- Janella on what she discovered about herself when she became a mom
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Markus & Janella & Jude
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In the past year, the concept of home had taken on a whole new meaning for different people because of the pandemic. For Janella and Markus, home has become synonymous to their little family. No matter where they find themselves in the world, be it in the Philippines or in the UK, home is within their hearts.
These days, the home they’re staying at in the UK never has a dull moment. Jude is there to brighten up everyone’s day with even the littlest things he does—the coos that are music to the ears, the heart-melting smiles, the sparkling eyes, the cute hand and finger movements. Never mind the lack of sleep or lack of time for ample self-care in the meantime, Janella and Markus are more than happy to take on these sacrifices for the baby who means the world to them now and forever.
Janella’s mom and Markus’ dad are there with them to help them transition better to life as parents, creating this teamwork to make sure Jude gets all the love, care, and attention he needs and deserves. “Jude’s actually been a really good boy. I’m so blessed we have no problem putting him to sleep. He’s not the type to cry all night. We didn’t have problems with that,” Janella shares. “Right now, actually, I’m not sure if it’s early, he’s kind of sleeping through the night. He sleeps four, five, to six hours. But he still wakes up once and usually, ang nagna-night shift nu’ng una was Markus [Markus was on night shift at first]. But now, once na lang siya nagigising, ako ’yung nagna-night shift tapos siya ’yung nagmo-morning shift [But now, Jude only wakes up once in the middle of the night, so I’m on night shift while he’s on morning shift] so I can catch up on my sleep in the morning. And then my mom takes Jude in the afternoon sometimes.”
She’s very thankful to have found a good partner in Markus, too, someone whose excitement towards fatherhood is very palpable. Janella says, “He’s very, very hands-on actually. I did not expect that. I always knew he would be a good father but ’yung talagang hands-on, ’yung talagang gusto niya gawin [but to be really hands-on, he really wants to do it], ‘Sshhh. Stay away from my baby.’ Gumaganun talaga siya. Gusto niya talaga gawin [He’d say that. He really wants to do it]. So, he’s been very sweet and while I was pregnant, he would be my arms and legs. He would be cooking me breakfast every morning. Talagang inalagaan niya ako and ngayon [He really took care of me and now], he’s being a really good dad to Jude.”
Janella is excited to come home to Manila, where many of her loved ones (including her dad Juan Miguel Salvador, of course, who can’t wait to “smother” his grandson with kisses) are looking forward to meet Jude. They were, in fact, scheduled to fly back to Manila in the first week of January, but they had to postpone their trip home because of the new COVID-caused travel restrictions. “I really, really want to go home. We all want to go home,” Janella says.
She’s beyond thrilled to take on her mom duties, but she’s also excited to resume work. The fact that there’s a lot of work waiting for her is something she truly feels grateful for.
“I really want to go home because I need to try and figure out how I’m going to do it. We still need time to adjust to that life,” Janella says. “If ever I’m going to have to tape for a teleserye [TV series], because of the current situation, it will be lock-in, which means you’re staying at the hotel, at the location for a week or two. And I’m like, how am I going to leave my baby for that long? But I have to, you know. So we really need time to adjust and find a way around it.”
Parenthood doesn’t have to mean the end of their individual growth, and pursuing their dreams won’t be selfish of them as well. If anything, parenthood is a new source of inspiration and motivation that will give Janella and Markus a more meaningful purpose in life.
“’Yung biggest realization ko was nakakatuwa na the very thing na akala ng mga tao na ikahihiya ko, it gave me more strength, more confidence. Wala na akong pretensions [My biggest realization was, I’m delighted, that the very thing that people thought I’d be ashamed of, it gave me more strength, more confidence. I have no more pretensions],” Janella says. “I’m ready. Let’s go!”
Ready to face harsh criticism, ready to share bits and pieces of her motherhood experiences to everyone, ready to hustle for her son’s future.
Hey, Jude! And hello to the new super Janella.
Watch our exclusive video interview with Janella Salvador below:
Photos courtesy of Janella Salvador and Markus Paterson
Special thanks to Gidget dela Cuesta, Elizabeth Rivera, Thess Gubi, and Star Magic