Marion Caunter

HELLO! Magazine, Issue 68, November 2011

Proudly showing her baby bump, Marion Caunter opens up about married life and impending motherhood

By Sophia Goh

Marion Caunter gets up and comes over to say hello when we walk into the room. Not many celebrities do that, so we’re instantly impressed. She looks exactly like she does on television – that is, very beautiful and with a great smile. She also looks in stunning shape, the only giveaway that she’s actually about six months pregnant being her very cute baby bump. We can’t stop thinking how gorgeous she is.

On this slightly smoggy day, in the Club Suite of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Marion, 31, is relaxed and positively glowing as she opens up about pregnancy, married life, and her plans for her career. Besides being the Giuliana Rancic of E! News Asia – co-host alongside Dominic Lau, in other words – she also became the face of Estée Lauder Malaysia early this year. “What an honour!” she gushes, when we ask her about it. “It’s such an amazing, prestigious brand, and one that I truly believe works. I mean, what a true honour!”

“We were looking for someone who could represent the brand,” says Jean Loh, Senior Communications Manager of Estée Lauder Malaysia. “Someone who is not only beautiful but has a great personality, and who is in line with what the brand represents, which is elegance and sophistication. Marion was a natural fit.”

We understand completely. Always immaculate and completely professional on television, Marion is one of the region’s most recognisable faces, and for good reason. In fact, we’ve watched her so many times that it’s a wonderful surprise indeed to discover that she’s actually a lot more animated off-screen.

“Are you serious? No way!” she practically shrieks when we tell her some pregnant women go on the elliptical trainer at the gym. “There’s no way I would do that.” She laughs out loud when she finds something funny, and she visibly softens and gets – it seems – even a teeny bit emotional when she talks about marriage and her husband of almost one year, S.M. Nasarudin S.M. Nasimuddin, 28, joint group executive chairman and CEO of the Naza Group of Companies.

“He’s just a really good guy. I’m very lucky,” she says with a smile, her voice almost a whisper. The couple tied the knot in December last year after a five-year courtship, and it’s obvious from the way she talks that they’re as much in love as ever.

How has your pregnancy been?
The first trimester was beyond awful. I had morning, noon and evening sickness. I actually had to stop doing E! News Asia for a while because I was so sick. For a good two months, I didn’t do anything because I literally couldn’t keep even water down. I couldn’t eat. It got to a point where the doctor said if I could at least keep a can of 100PLUS down in one day, it would be my nutrients for the day. It was really bad. At least I didn’t have to be hospitalized or anything, so thank god, but it was still awful. I’d just be depressed every night. And then, as soon as about four months hit, everything went away and I just gained my appetite back and now I’m like, full force. I can’t stop eating.

How do you feel now?
I can’t go out the whole day because I get tired more easily. If I’ve been out, I do have to take a nap towards evening or just sit down because I’m exhausted. And I feel a bit lethargic because when I walk, I feel like I’m carrying this ball around, but I’m still quite small so it’s not too bad. I freak out easily and I’m a bit paranoid, this being my first one. Like, if I don’t feel her moving as much, it’s like, ‘Is she okay?’

How did you find out?
I was in Singapore for E! News Asia as usual, and I missed my period so I thought I’d better check. I’d been putting it off for a while, and then I went and bought four home pregnancy tests. I checked four times! Then I called my husband, who was in the car with his cousin, and he was like, ‘Cool’. I hadn’t told him I was going to check because I didn’t want to get our hopes up. He called me back when he was alone and was like, ‘Oh my god, are you sure?’

Were you guys trying for a baby?
Oh, definitely. I knew I wanted to try right away because I wasn’t getting any younger and we’ve been together for so long. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I didn’t try and it just happened.’ No, I tried [laughs].

How’s your husband reacting to the pregnancy?
He’s so cute. He’s generally such a sweetie but he’s even sweeter and nicer [now], he takes care of me and he’s very helpful. I think he’ll be a very hands-on dad. Of course he’s very busy so obviously, he won’t be able to do as much as I will, but I can see him helping whenever he can. He would make the extra effort. He’s very excited.

Do you know the sex of the baby yet?
We do, but it’s a secret [laughs].

What are your plans for after you give birth?
Right now, [I have] no plans. E! News Asia definitely wants me back, and ultimately that will be the goal and the plan, but I don’t know how soon. Because E! News Asia is in Singapore, it’s harder to make definite plans. Obviously, by the end of September, I’m going to be huge and I just don’t think it’ll be healthy for me to be travelling up and down, so I will take a break then and sort of be at home for the rest of the third trimester. As for recovery, I don’t know how long it’ll take me; every woman’s different. I can’t see myself doing nothing, but it’s easier said than done, so I really don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see. E! News Asia has been so understanding from day one.

How do you think you’ll cope with the sudden change of pace after September?
It’s quite scary and it’s quite sad at the same time. But this [baby] is the most amazing thing. It hits you that as a woman, you can’t have everything. But thank god I did so much in my career, my past seven, eight years in this industry. And last year, I knew I wanted to have a baby almost right after, so I knew that before getting married, I had to push myself and do everything possible. So I took on every job – The Biggest Loser Asia 2, and then E! News Asia, and then ESPN Star Sports, and I planned my wedding on top of everything. I literally killed myself. So I don’t have much regret now, knowing I’ve done so much with my career and that I’ve pushed myself. It does hit me, and it’s quite sad, but I think I’ll still be busy. I hope in the next few months to maybe get involved in a charity, there is talks maybe to do like a reality show – we’ll see! I don’t know! – and I still have photo shoots and stuff. I’m still busy, but good busy. Just the way I like it.

It will be a new kind of busy once the baby arrives.
Yeah, but at one point, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is it. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to E! News Asia. Who knows? And it sort of depresses you for a while. It’s a major change! Career has always been my life. But nothing beats this.

A lot of women choose not to give up work after they have a baby.
I think it goes beyond just making money. It’s about feeling satisfaction outside of being a mum, and I think you need to define yourself outside of just saying ‘I’m a mother’. Coming from a place where I was busy like that, I don’t see myself being a completely stay-at-home mum. It’s easy to say, I know, but I would like some form of normalcy in my life, meeting up with people and talking about work and something else outside of being a mum. I was just telling Nasa the other day that all people want to talk about is my baby! It’s the only thing that defines me now. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying it’s crazy. This is it now. What about me as a person? [Laughs]

Do you have any concerns about motherhood?
Yeah, I’m concerned about everything all the time! How I’m going to raise my baby, what kind of mum I’m going to be, how will I know what’s good for the child? I’m so nervous. You get advice from people and people tell you different things. I think all mums have the same feeling and you’ve just got to go with the flow. Every child is different, so you can’t apply one rule to every child. I’m scared. Nasa and I are the most unprepared parents! But I hope to be more hands-on.

Your baby is due in December, which is also the month you got married. Do you think it will arrive on your one-year anniversary?
Who knows? [Laughs] Nasa and I were just chilling last night, and he was saying, ‘Did you think by our one-year anniversary we’d be having a child?’ And I was like, ‘No!’ The baby’s due around Christmas but the doctor said it might be earlier. Either way it would be cool. On Christmas Day last year we had a small ceremony in the Maldives with my good friends and family, and it is Christmas, so [it would be our] Christmas present. If it comes a few weeks early, 16 December was our akad nikah date, so that would be cool too.

Speaking of your anniversary, how has married life been?
Amazing. It’s so relaxing and calming. We spend a lot of time together. We never did when we were dating even though we went out for like, five years, because we were so busy. We never lived together. [We have] very traditional families and we had to live apart, which is good. So we would always catch up in between work, but we never really spent time together. Suddenly we are because he’s not travelled as much for work – he’s trying to cut back for me. He’s really sweet. So it’s just doing nothing, like watching TV together. Things we never used to do.

Are you learning new things about each other?
No, because I knew him so well already. And I don’t think he’s discovered new things about me. He knew what he was getting into with me as well, that I’m messy and all that stuff. And he’s very neat. But I’ve tried to accommodate him much more.

Is marriage everything you thought it would be?
I never thought about it, really. I was just like, scared that I’d be bored of marriage [laughs]. I get bored easily. I always like new things. But I like the routine [of marriage]; I’m actually enjoying it. It brings comfort to my life. Maybe it’s age. A few years ago I wouldn’t have enjoyed just doing nothing with someone. But now I do.

It’s the right someone, maybe?
Probably. That’s probably it, yeah.

Are you guys planning for more kids?
Yes, definitely. I want two or three. Nasa wants as many as he can have but it’s not happening. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t want to spend my entire life being pregnant. I’m going to tell you straight up, I’m vain like that. I want to enjoy some part of my 30s and not be pregnant the whole time. It’s a lot of work! Especially if you have pregnancies like mine, where I was sick for the first part of it. But that’s nothing compared to some women, who have to be bedridden for months of their pregnancy, and then my heart goes out to them. Women are so strong; men have no idea.

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