Blonde hair makes her ill
Actress-host Scha Al-Yahya's first trimester was so challenging that the mere sight of blonde hair grossed her out
Like most first-time mothers-to-be, Malaysian actress-host Scha Al-Yahya cannot wait for the arrival of her first baby.
It has been two years since she married Malaysian actor-TV host Awal Ashaari, 32, and the couple have been looking forward to having a child together.
But little did she expect her first pregnancy to turn into such an ordeal.
During her first trimester, the 30-year-old who is now six months pregnant, could barely hold down food and ate only biscuits with Nutella or peanut butter.
Morning sickness aside, she was once hospitalised and put on an intravenous drip.
She would not leave home to meet anyone and was withdrawn.
Even showering became an effort.Scha was in town last Friday while Awal was recording two episodes of new Suria variety show Kita Gerek 2. (See report below.)
She told The New Paper: "I was moody and I thought I was going through depression. I couldn't do anything and cancelled all the jobs I had lined up.
"I was really counting down to the start of the second trimester."
On top of that, Scha became sensitive to the sight of platinum blonde hair and the sound of mobile phone ring tones.
Citing reality TV modelling series Asia's Next Top Model 2's recent winner Sheena Liam as an example, she tried to explain her bizarre aversion.
"I felt 'geli' (Malay for grossed out) and wondered why they must have blonde hair like that," she recalled with a shudder.
"I know this was due to hormonal changes, but I just couldn't help myself."
She added that her mobile phone was - and still is - on silent mode because she found the ring tone "too noisy".
Calls and messages would go unanswered for days until her friends had to resort to "ambushing" her at her home in Kuala Lumpur.
Even Awal had to keep his mobile phone on silent mode whenever he was with her during those three months.
Their marriage also took a hit.
Awal said in a separate interview: "She didn't talk to me for two to three months. We live under the same roof, but it was almost like a hi-bye relationship.
"She became a different person, like I was married to someone else."
But he remained supportive and stood by Scha's side.
"I wasn't sad - I have so much respect for her and felt for her," he said.
"She didn't want any of this. I learnt through this experience and remained patient.
"Now that she is back to her old self, she tells me: 'Thank you for being there for me'."
For her second trimester, Scha has noted improvements in her mood and appetite but continues to avoid returning calls or answering messages immediately.
Looking back on her relationship with Awal then, she said: "Poor him. He would buy food I craved for but I wouldn't eat it.
"Thankfully, he was away a lot on jobs so we were still okay."
Scha is due to deliver on the first day of Hari Raya Puasa on July 28, but SchAwal, as the couple are affectionately known to fans, still do not know the baby's gender.
"The past two times we went for a scan, we were unable to see. I hope we'll know soon because I don't want to be surprised - it'd be hard to buy things!" Scha said.
The petite star, who weighs 56kg after gaining a mere 6kg so far, has traditional names in mind for her baby - Aminah or Naimah for a girl and Ibrahim or Muzhafar for a boy.
When asked about their future parenting styles, Scha said she will be the "bad cop" while Awal will be the "good cop".
"I have warned him against pampering and told him to not spoil our child with material things. It's against my principles and that was not how my parents brought me up," said the second of four children.
Scha admitted that she has done nothing fanciful during her pregnancy other than reading and attending yoga classes to help her relax.
Her only concern? The resurgence of her nightmarish agony in the final trimester.
"I've been warned it might return later on," she said.
"I don't care if I balloon or bloat, but I would rather not suffer emotionally like that again."
I was moody and I thought I was going through depression. I couldn't do anything and cancelled all the jobs I had lined up.
- Malaysian actress-host Scha Al-Yahya
Hosting with his idol
Since young, Malaysian actor-TV host Awal Ashaari has idolised local star Najip Ali.
So when he was given the chance to co-host Suria variety show Kita Gerek 2 with the 48-year-old, it was a "dream come true".
"He is one of the Singaporean celebrities I look up to. He's truly something else," Awal told The New Paper before recording two episodes of the show last week.
"I grew up watching the shows he hosted. When he offered me this opportunity and it fit into my schedule, I couldn't refuse."
Kita Gerek 2, which will also feature Suria TV personality Nurul Aini as its third host, premieres on June 17 at 8.30pm.
It celebrates the impact of music genres like pop, indie, rock and R&B on Malay pop culture, and showcases local and regional guests like Malaysian rock band Hujan, Indonesian soul-jazz act Maliq & D'Essentials and homegrown artistes like Aliff Aziz, Awi Rafael and The Zozi.
This is Awal's first stint in a local production. And the experience has been an eye-opener for the father-to-be.
"I have so much to learn from Nurul and Najip," he admitted.
"While Nurul is fluent and witty, Najip has an energy level of a person half his age. I need to keep up."
Awal also hosts How To Make It: Culinary Dreams, which airs on the Asian Food Channel (StarHub Ch 435) every Wednesday at 9pm.
In the show, he polishes his cooking skills and learns the ropes of running a food business, something that will become reality soon.
Together with his celebrity wife Scha Al-Yahya, he plans to open a bistro at The Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Awal - who rates himself seven out of 10 in cooking and, according to Scha, is great at Italian cuisine - said: "Now that I'm going to be a father, I have to have a backup plan.
"My fate in this industry is uncertain and people can easily shift their attention to other newer celebrities. The business plan is my safety net."