Iza Calzado: Embracing New Beginnings and Unique Timelines
Iza Calzado sits down with Modern Parenting on navigating the joys and challenges of motherhood in her 40s.
It’s known for a fact that Iza Calzado has worked hard to build her stellar career in show business. Even after tying the knot with Booky CEO Ben Wintle in a beautiful Palawan wedding, she continued to juggle TV and movie projects while being a co-founder of She Talks Asia, a group that dedicates itself to empowering women and talking about issues affecting them.
When she turned 40 last August 2022, Iza announced that she and Ben were finally going to be parents. The news was something that excited family, friends, and fans alike. And last January, their daughter Deia Amihan Calzado Wintle arrived. Since then, life for the often busy actress has changed. Modern Parenting caught a glimpse of Iza being a doting mother during her shoot where in between breaks, she would play, dance around, and laugh with Deia.
It’s clear from the glow on her face that Iza Calzado is enjoying her life as a first-time mom. But like any new parent, she also admitted to her fair share of challenges.
Fear of the unknown
When she and Ben first found out about the pregnancy, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. At that time, Iza had several plans scheduled. “You have all these projects, you have all these plans. But this was much, much better, you know? Far better than I could have imagined or could have planned for. Actually, I was scared to plan something like this for myself.”
“I was always scared. Yes, there was fear of the unknown. This is new. But I had to immediately tell myself — because the last thing I want is to make this baby feel unwanted in any way — so, immediately, I was like, ‘I want you. You’re here. I love you.’ I said that right away.”
Unlike in the early days when women were encouraged to get pregnant before 30, Iza found herself carrying her child at 40. It’s a unique timeline but one that more and more modern women are embracing. Asked if she was more holistically prepared, she answered yes.
“I was better prepared for sure. I know how to handle the task at hand. Not to say that I still have a lot to work on but definitely, she [Deia] was part of the healing.”
The ups and downs of a challenging pregnancy
While she was excited for the journey ahead, she also encountered several obstacles both before and after her pregnancy. During the second trimester, while going through a routine checkup, Iza’s doctor informed her that she developed toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite.
“I happened to be in the UK already and the test was done in the Philippines but I was about to fly out. So when I got the results, my doctor said can you do a retest? Because we don’t really have the advanced testing here as they have there. We don’t have treatment for that here in the Philippines.”
“We all thought that it was a false positive until several tests later, hindi pala. I guess that was the first time that I really felt, to be honest, bonded with my child. Because I then realized, we would fight this together,” she recalls.
The diagnosis caused some concerns because decisions had to be made. Thankfully, she managed to have some guidance in the form of a friend of her sister-in-law Anicka Wintle who also went through it. “We got some light and guidance from her sharing her experience with us.”
However, if toxoplasmosis made the journey challenging, it was the birth process that tested both her body and soul. When she delivered Deia, her fluid and weight were low.
“I wanted a natural birth. Even my doctor was like we can do a lot of tests if Deia can endure a natural birthing process. But at some point on the 25th of January, fluid was so low already. I was induced that day and went through eight hours of labor.”
She and the doctor had to make a decision and alas, a natural birth just wasn’t possible. Deia was eventually delivered via Cesarean. “She was out and she was thin but she was healthy. And I felt connected to her from day one.”
Iza’s challenges weren’t over because she developed preeclampsia after Deia came out. After being hospitalized, she was eventually able to get some rest.
Thankful for the support system
As a new mom, it’s normal for things to get overwhelming on top of recovering from birth. Aside from her family and Ben, Iza is grateful to have support from her friends who are either moms themselves or going through the same experiences. One of them is her sister-in-law Bianca King, who welcomed her baby last February. She had a lactation consultant as well, Abbie Yabot, who guided her in breastfeeding, something that Iza found challenging.
“Abbie really stepped in because when I met with her December pa lang, I knew I might not even have any milk so parang may naka-stand by na talaga ako. An expert to help me through it. She was very helpful in the first few weeks. Of course, my mother-in-law Friday Wintle was also here at that time,” she shares.
Moreover, the actress counts the likes of her friends Chesca Iñigo, Patti Grandidge, Cristalle Henares-Pitt, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, Kat Cruz, Isabelle Daza, Chicho Suarez, Ia Genato, Sarah Meier, Katarina Rodriguez, Solenn Heussaff, and Lifestyle Asia Editor-in-Chief Candy Dizon for helping her. “Yan talaga yung mga mom tribe na very supportive.”
Her go-to makeup artist Lala Flores has also been helpful in the process — sharing one reminder that stayed with her. “I remember her telling me no day is the same. And totoo. Totoo yung sinasabi niya. Akala mo may routine ka ha! And pak!”
Her friends like Teresa Herrera, and Sara Black were good motivators as well. “They are friends who inspired me that it’s possible to have a child later in life. They have both been supportive.”
She admitted that she had to form a team to help her because having a child was not in her plan then. “I was afraid. And because of that, I really put in people that I could help. Like nannies with children and night nurses. I really wanted to make sure na meron akong people guiding me through it kasi wala talaga akong alam.”
The warrior named Deia Amihan
Encantadia fans would recognize Deia’s second name Amihan immediately. After all, it was the character that Iza Calzado brought to life in the 2005 series. But there is more to that than the character’s name.
She and Ben were vacationing in Mallorca, Spain when she visited the town named Deia. And through her friend, Teresa, it sparked an inspiration. “When I posted that Deia was stunning (referring to the town), Teresa said that if I had a daughter, I want to name my daughter Deia. And I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder what that name means.’ It was quite nice naman and I was searching for names and then it said goddess or joy. So it resonates.”
“And we liked it,” Iza continues. “We were looking for a second name. Leonor was actually in the running. Not because of my Darna, Leonor (Custodio), but because it means light and also Leni.”
But it wasn’t personal enough. Before choosing Amihan, she recalled that there was a time when she wanted to name her daughter Tala, a character she once played in a TV show called Ora Engkantada when she was a child.
“I considered my mom’s name, Antonia, but I was like, ‘You know, I want to pay tribute to my mom. But at the same time, I want my daughter to have her own personality. Not to take after anybody in the family.'”
“So Amihan it is. Why Amihan? She is probably the closest to my heart because it’s the most popular one I play. But also because of Amihan herself, the character. She was a selfless leader. She eventually became the queen. Just like the character herself, I would love for my daughter to have these qualities,” she explains.
Giving the name Amihan also made Iza realize that she and her daughter were warriors in their own right. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Iza suffered from COVID-19 and recalled a conversation she had with a nurse.
“Sabi ko, ‘Mamamatay ba ako?’ Then sabi niya, ‘Miss Iza, hindi ka mamamatay. Si Reyna Amihan ka. Hawak mo yung brilyante ng hangin.’ And then natawa ako. Nagtawanan kami at nag-iyakan kami. Na oo nga, I was fighting for air literally,” she recalls.
“And my daughter is a warrior. Because in the second trimester, we got toxoplasmosis. And sabi ko, she is a warrior because she fought. So I wanted a name that was really strong, and hence a warrior.”
The journey of motherhood continues for Iza Calzado
Since Deia’s arrival, Iza has slowed down with her hectic schedule. But she has accepted some projects including a movie she is about to start filming. She is also producing more content for her social media platforms and does some appearances on TV and endorsements on the side.
She admits that it can be challenging because of her daughter’s needs but Iza is enjoying and discovering more. “It’s challenging but it is the most rewarding thing about it. It’s fulfilling to be [a mom], to be doing this for this human being. And it is a privilege that I get to be with her. I understand that you know, not every mother has that privilege. Some have to go back to work full time right away.”
“It’s hard because I was always on the go. I was always doing something. I hardly ever considered anybody else’s timeline. I’ve had to adjust to my husband’s timeline here and there a bit, but because I am who I am, it’s more of you adjusting to me. And now I adjust to this baby.”
“I am currently exploring ways to be productive on a more regular basis while being able to be there mostly full time for my child. So I don’t know where that path is going to take me. It’s a bit scary because it’s unknown, right? It’s an uncertain time. But, certainly, I am enjoying the journey of being Deia’s mother.”
Iza Calzado: “I’m chilled but anxious as well.”
Although her experience as a mom has just begun, Iza was kind enough to share some of the lessons she has picked up almost seven months into motherhood.
“I never knew I could love another human being like this,” she says softly. “That I have patience. I never knew selflessness. Because I would play mother roles so many times, and I knew, like, there is a certain level of selflessness I do not get. Hindi ko talaga siya fully maintindihan. Ngayon naiintindihan ko na.”
Deia, she describes, has made her more grounded. “Parang mas steady ako ngayon. I mean, yeah, may mga dreams ako. Of course, my aspirations, they’re still there. But I’m more chill. Yeah, I’m more chill about a lot of stuff. But at the same time, I’m also anxious about things that I never was anxious about before.”
“I’m just living in the very present moment. Because having a child, I feel, that’s all you have to be. That’s really all you need to be. And she’ll ground you because you have to be there with her. So I’m enjoying it,” she says.
And for first-time moms, Iza encourages them to loosen up and embrace the changes. “If you flow with it, you’ll glow from it.”
We couldn’t agree more that Iza Calzado continues to glow with Ben and Deia by her side.
Words ALEXA VILLANO and GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Photography ED SIMON
Makeup LALA FLORES
Hair LIO JAVIER
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Sittings Editor MARGA MEDRANO-TUPAZ
Shot on location at PALAZZO VERDE