Kelly Stafford tells new moms to embrace 'what you lost when you have a child': 'It's OK to mourn all of that'

The wife of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford spoke candidly about her life on Off The Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe.

Matthew Stafford and Kelly Stafford at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF22/WireImage for Vanity Fair)
Matthew and Kelly Stafford got married in 2015, and have since welcomed four daughters. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF22/WireImage for Vanity Fair)

Kelly Stafford and L.A. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford might've had a movie-like love story as a cheerleader and University of Georgia football star who wound up a power couple. Their 2015 wedding in Atlanta was a fairytale event many people only dream they could experience. They've also welcomed four daughters into their lives to create what looks like a beautiful family unit.

But behind those picture-perfect moments, like any human, there's a swath of unfortunate instances that have made the family who they are today. From pushing through postpartum depression to suffering a scary brain tumour, Kelly spoke about her life on the latest episode of the Off The Vine podcast with Canadian TV personality Kaitlyn Bristowe. Scroll down to read everything we learned about the candid conversation between the two.

🤰 Kelly always knew she wanted kids

Kelly and Matthew share four kids together — and they're all girls. In March 2017, they welcomed identical twins Sawyer and Chandler. Daughter Hunter was born in August 2018, and Tyler came in June 2020.

Kelly told Bristowe on the podcast episode, released on Tuesday, that being from the south in the U.S., she quickly latched onto the personality trait of being family oriented: "To be honest, I don't know what I wanted but I never saw my life without kids. ... I knew in my future, I was like, 'I'll be a mom.'"

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) poses with his family prior to the NFC Wild Card game between the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams game on Jan. 14, 2023 at Ford Field in Detroit. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Matthew and Kelly share four daughters together: Sawyer, Chandler, Hunter and Tyler. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While all of her children are girls, she said she initially hoped to give birth to all boys because she wanted "mama's boys." Still, she noted she wouldn't change things now, and she's happy she doesn't have to worry about her children being pressured into following their father's footsteps of playing in the NFL.

But as a parent, one of her biggest fears is being in a place with her family where her children don't feel comfortable telling her things. In some cases, they've told her they already avoid expressing some issues because they don't want to her to be mad.

"I'm really hard on my kids and I'm trying to relax a little," Kelly shared. "I also think I'm just hard on them because I feel like there's a lot of eyes on them a lot and I just want them to behave.

"I had to sit down the other day and have a conversation and be like, 'I am going to work on it because I want you all to be able to come to me with anything. I don't want you all to be scared to tell me something.'"

🙍‍♀️ Kelly says it's OK to mourn in postpartum

Postpartum depression is a common experience for many mothers. For Kelly, she said she "really struggled" after giving birth to her third daughter, Hunter. Back then, she had kept a lot of her emotions bottled up and tried to embrace her already-perfect life.

"Postpartum depression is real and it can get really severe if you don't do something about it," Kelly warned. "Talking to somebody is the first step that I took that was really helpful."

She said people experiencing postpartum depression shouldn't feel bad about the changes to their lives or bodies that come after childbirth. Moreover, she added there's room to both mourn what you've lost and celebrate what you've gained upon entering parenthood.

"It's OK to mourn what you lost when you have a child," she said. "Whether it be a career that you're not in anymore, your body is not the same, your friends are different because of the situation you're in or you're not having adult conversations, it's OK to mourn all of that and be sad about it. ... I think women think that they have to be so happy that they had a baby, because there's other women that can't have babies.

"The more pressure you put on yourself to feel happy, the worse it gets. Sitting down, talking to someone, letting my friends in on what I was going through, that was big. I think sometimes we try and hide it from the people closest to you, and I let them all in and they were super helpful."

👨 The kids are very close with their dad

Kelly quipped that Matthew is "so much better" as a parent, since he's more patient and gets to embrace another side of his personality with their four daughters.

"He gets to be a girl dad, which I'm happy for him," she said. "He's been in sports with these big old dudes for so long that he gets to [use his] soft side. ... They love their dad and they think dad's cool, and they're getting to an age where they're starting to know what dad does."

In terms of football, Kelly added their daughters enjoy watching their father play, and they've even started learning how the game works. However, she noted they find it hard when Matthew gets "pummelled to the ground," especially for one of their kids.

"I have a very emotional one — Sawyer feels a lot," Kelly shared. "So there's a lot of times I'll look over and if Matthew's struggling to get up, tears will be starting to build with her."

🩺 Kelly says it 'takes a certain soul' to be a nurse

Kelly recalled being drawn to the nursing profession after she sustained several injuries while cheerleading at the University of Georgia. Each time she'd come out of surgery, she said nurses would make all the difference. It was that selfless care that inspired her to want to help people.

However, she noted being a nurse isn't as easy as it may seem — and nursing school was "not ideal," either. In one experience while working in a hospital, she said there was one patient — a man — who repeatedly requested her for his sponge baths. While she eventually tried to refuse, she was forced to provide the care as a student: "And you know what happens after that."

At that point, she realized working at a hospital wasn't for her, and she transitioned into working for a plastic surgeon. She said that experience was fun and she enjoyed working in a happy environment, but after getting pregnant mid-training, she had her kids and never went back.

"Shout out to the nurses who are making it because that's amazing," she said. "It takes a certain soul to do that."

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with his wife Kelly Stafford during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Matthew and Kelly first met at the University of Georgia, while he was playing for the Georgia Bulldogs and she was a cheerleader. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

🧠 After her diagnosis, Kelly 'blacked out'

In 2019, Kelly underwent brain surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma. It's a noncancerous tumour that develops on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain, according to Mayo Clinic.

It all happened when she was trying to teach her daughters how to do a front roll. Then 29 years old, Kelly told her mother she found it weird that was causing her to feel dizzy. Eventually, she also developed vertigo but brushed the sensation off. It wasn't until one day she was carrying baby Hunter and she started feeling herself about to collapse when Matthew suggested it was time to see a medical professional.

On her first trip, she recalled there was no progress and, as a busy mom, sitting in the hospital felt like a waste of time. Then when they were in California, she was directed to UCLA Health. She had an MRI and eventually was called about the tumour.

"I blacked out. I don't think I spoke," Kelly recalled about first learning about her diagnosis. "I think my husband had a lot of questions. Then we got up, went back into the waiting room. I remember seeing this girl with a massive scar on the back side of her head. I'm sitting behind her and I just lost it and [Matthew] just started calling everyone, every doctor he knew."

They found a specialist in Michigan who explained the possible side effects post-operation, including hearing loss and balance issues. For Kelly, the main thing she was worried about was facial paralysis. Her doctor said if the tumour can't easily be removed, he'd leave some of it in tact. That's because while hearing loss on one side might be impactful, Bell's palsy is a much more dramatic life change.

While the surgery was only supposed to last roughly six hours, the surgeon found a "misplaced" artery in her skull, forcing the procedure to take much longer. Luckily, she said the doctor was able to remove the entirety of her tumour.

❤️ Kelly says she's 'happy' about her health scare

Throughout the experience with her brain tumour, Kelly said all three of her kids were under 17 months old, with her eldest twins only turning two around the time she had her surgery. It was a time of "complete survival" and there was a bit of a shift in her marriage.

"It made us both stop for a second and slow down," she recalled. "When you're surviving like that, you're just wishing the days through, like, 'Let's get through this day, let's get through this day.' It made us both slow down in a way and just realize, 'What's important?'"

Prior to going into surgery, Kelly wrote letters to everyone, ensuring her kids "had a little letter from mom." Matthew had also taught the kids to whisper into her left ear after the surgery, just in case her hearing was gone in her right ear.

"It's just slowing life down a little bit and putting things into perspective," she said. "Yes, my husband is an incredible NFL athlete, we have an amazing family, we have a great life. But when you get too busy or when you're just surviving, you don't learn to live it.

"I believe, truly, our marriage was stronger and also our family unit was stronger. Again, it sucked, but I'm so glad it happened."

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