Motherhood is challenging. Every experience is different, and there’s absolutely no way to know until you do. So when I decided to do a series where I chat with mom’s about their experiences in an effort to show the unity in “the hood”, there was no better woman to kick it off than my favorite actress and best friend of over twenty years, Kristen Miller. We met on the set of USA High, a teen sitcom we both worked on for 95 episodes. We were just kids then, and since that time have seen each other through all of the ups and downs life dishes out. We’ve had careers, stood up as Maid of Honor in each other’s weddings and now thankfully with full hearts and slight exhaustion we stand together as mothers. The road to parenthood was not without bumps for Kristen and her husband, Morgan. It took seven years for the dream to come to fruition, but it did, and last year on Christmas Day they received the best gift ever in their beautiful baby boy. I meeeeean…if she were playing a part in a Hallmark movie you’d think that ending was too unbelievable, yet she lived it, for realsies!
When she was preggo, I insisted we celebrate with maternity photos, 1. Because she glowed like no one I’ve
known while pregnant, and 2. This time needed to be documented, because of all she went through to get there. We teamed up with one of my other besties, and favorite Los Angeles wedding/family photographer, Stacey Sutherland (HIGHLY recommend looking her up if you’re anywhere near Southern California). I pulled out the ol’ make up brushes, and we made some magic. We came back soon after her beautiful baby boy was born, and they were both kind enough to lend some images for this piece, as well as a few from Kristen’s personal camera roll as well.
Having just celebrated her beautiful boy’s first birthday here’s what, Kristen has to share about…
Marrying your high school sweetheart and seeing him as a father:
We were together sixteen years before marriage. Lots of time to grow up into who we always needed to be “in order to form a more perfect union”. I met him the summer before my freshman year of High School. I felt this indescribable connection. It was like I could see our past, present, and future. I felt a string tie us together. I have not felt that in my life again until having my son.
Morgan as a Dad is everything. It brings me more joy than I thought possible. It’s just better than anything I could have dreamt up.
Getting “sexy” back:
I think there can be a more profound intimacy with someone you’ve had a child with and for women I think you can feel more connected to your body than ever before. Life is definitely more chaotic after having a baby so you have to carve out time for each other.
The “waiting game” of getting pregnant:
Ah yes. It was a dark time with shots of light here and there. Lessons learned. Lots revealed. My husband, my family, and my friends (hello Marquita) kept my head straight, kept me laughing, and kept me hopeful. And now more than ever, after having my son, it all makes so much sense to me. Who my husband and I are now (as opposed to seven years ago when we first wanted to have a baby) is who we needed to be. We came through it stronger. And when we met our son for the first time, there seemed to be a beautiful grace in the way it all played out. I felt humbled. And understood the much bigger picture the universe provided.
I loved being pregnant. I felt more hormonally balanced than I ever have. It was a very happy time in our lives. We had wanted it for so long. It felt like a miracle. I felt intense gratitude every day.
My birth experience surprised me — I went into labor Christmas morning, and then 12 hours in we discovered he had flipped. He was full breech. When my doctor told me we had to do an emergency c-section I started sobbing, all my fantasies and day dreaming for 9 months of this glorious natural birth had imploded. But then through tears, I looked up and saw my son’s position on the sonogram screen they had wheeled over, and my husband and I burst into laughter. He was sitting straight up, legs crossed, hands at his side, like a little meditating Buddha. I will never forget that image. And so off to the operating room we went to have this Christmas baby.
Experiencing loss during pregnancy:
My Grandpa passed away one week before my son was born. Birth and death so close together that I could only feel humbled by the chaotic bittersweet beauty of it all. I imagined my Grandpa entering the spiritual world and meeting my son before sending him on his merry way.
“Must haves” during pregnancy, in no particular order — whole fat plain yogurt, peanut butter, oranges, sourdough toast, Gap Body maternity t shirts (great fit, so soft), Sundry sweatpants, cotton button up dress shirts by Equipment (roomy yet flattering), J Crew army jacket, Superga tennis shoes, Hanes men’s tank tops 5 pack in size small (they stretch over a pregnant belly perfectly). Products I chose to use changed when I was pregnant. I wanted to limit my use of things containing chemicals as much as I could. Here are some of my favorites —
Makeup — Vapour Beauty for cover up, RMS for everything, ILIA for lipstick and gloss , Juice Beauty for cheeks and lipstick , Josie Maran for mascara.
Skin — MyChelle gentle face wash, Dr Bonner’s Soap, Burt’s Bees Radiance Serum
Teeth — Weleda Salt toothpaste, Spry toothpaste
And COCONUT OIL for everything.
My best advice for a pregnant women EVER — nap, nap, nap, and then nap some more.
I’d say my baby “must haves” include, Ergo Carrier 360, Boppy, California Baby shampoo/body wash, “Goodnight Moon” Margaret Wise Brown, “Ten, Nine Eight” Molly Bang (both the greatest for bedtime books), “First 100 Words” by Priddy Books.
I think comfort for a baby is really important. I’m always on the lookout for lines that use really soft cottons. I try to buy things that he can wear over and over and that wash well. Some of my favorites are — American Apparel, Burt’s Bees (for pajamas), Osh Kosh for Target, Zara baby, Mini Munster, Nununu, and Prefresh.
Post baby style:
I’m sort of in the “human napkin” phase of motherhood. By noon I usually have avocado and sweet potatoes smeared all over my shirt. Still, I wear mostly the clothes I wore before, I’m just more bold about challenging a shirt that says “dry clean only”. I’m a laundry rebel. Everything goes in the washing machine. I kinda “style stalk” Keri Russell. There’s an ease to the clothes. She never looks like she’s trying too hard. She always looks effortlessly pulled together. She’s just cool.
Ha! It’s so different than I thought it’d be. I thought I’d be an incredibly laid back mom, roll with the punches, maintain a fantastic sense of humor, and not worry too much. I thought I’d have it all together. I thought I’d have clean hair. What I have learned is, you don’t know until you know. How can you, really? Since becoming a mother, I see all women differently. I see the world differently. I experience love differently. I have found other mothers to be incredibly kind and understanding and quite candid. I have felt very little judgement from other moms. This was a nice surprise. I think moms can feel passionate or prideful about the way each one of us chooses to do things and that can translate (at first glance) as judgmental but when you break it down, it’s just about hoping we’re all doing it right and well.
My friends who already have babies and kids are my “go to” people to call when I’m worried about something. It gets real — real fast. They tell you EVERYTHING. And I love that. You don’t have to have all the answers. It is a learn as you go operation. Don’t let the first 6 weeks with a newborn frighten you. It will get easier. Don’t think breastfeeding will always hurt — it won’t. Don’t think you’ll never sleep again — you will (ish). And make sure to have a friend you can call who has done this before. Do not have too much pride. Ask for help from the people in your life. It really does “take a village”.
Time with other grown ups:
I struggle with that a lot. Especially in Los Angeles. My friends are all over the place. Gone are the days of hopping in my car and sitting in traffic for an hour to see my favorite people. I miss them. But I know I will gradually find my way back to a social existence. I’ve met some nice new Mom friends, but sometimes you just want the ones who know you through and through.
Having my son profoundly changed the way I see my Mom. All the love that has been given to me from my Mother lives on in me and is being given to my son. Only now am I able to understand her strength.
He loves books, Animals, leaves, dirt, roaring like a lion, trying to take apart kitchen timers and see how they work, chasing a moving vacuum, trying to take the vacuum apart and see how it works, Music, especially anything by Bill Withers, The Temptations, or David Bowie.
Impressive musical taste, and being that we’re both Leo’s, I kinda love the lion roar thing!
I know, right!
But I digress, continue on my friend…
I want him to know and understand how much he is loved. To have compassion, respect, and acceptance toward others and to be fearless enough to take on the challenges of this world and find new ways, along with his generation, to make it a better, kinder, more enlightened place.
Well, I’ve known since the age of five, I wanted to be an actress. I was always pretending to be other people. I also always knew I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to work as much as I possibly could, while I felt there was still work to get. Auditioning after having a baby felt the same and yet completely different all at once. There I was, 9 months into motherhood, and I look down at my phone to see my manager calling — and it was like needle on the record — SCREECH! What? Oh yeah. That’s right, there’s this whole other life that I’ve completely forgotten about. There’s that familiarity and comfort of being back in that creative world, but the stakes don’t feel as high. I love that life — but I love this new life the most.
What would you tell that teenaged actress I met, on the set of USA High?
I would tell my younger self — you will love the times you are actually working, and eventually after 20 years you will finally love the times you are not working as well.
And — you will meet the greatest friends of your life on the job.
I got to see first hand through our friendship how God truly does work all things together for good, and just because things don’t happen exactly when we want them to, that it simply could be because there’s a gift far better than we could ever imagine waiting for us. There were many conversations/lessons learned for us both about God’s timing and the power of faith. I stood by and watched you become stronger, more informed, and strangely more encouraged with each disappointment and year that passed. I couldn’t be prouder. Did you have any idea how much you were capable of and how strong you actually were?
I guess I did not know. Motherhood definitely asks of you to pull out your super hero armor. It’s time to
get all warrior up in here.
Cue lion roar.….
And with that perfect button…that’s a wrap on Kristen Miller my friends.
*To see us working together all grown up, click here, and check out the web series we produced together, WIP.