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Kristy Gilger can relate to the ups and downs of motherhood. From illness, to pregnancy struggles, to postpartum depression, she openly shares her emotional journey during her first few months as a mother. Kristy welcomes the balance between loving the old version of yourself and embracing the new one, and how empowering it can feel to step into that new and scary role.
When she found Matrescence, she was amazed to find a skincare company that focused on “mothering the mother” through every stage of that transition. As Matrescence's Social Media and Community Manager, she’s committed to growing our amazing community and making sure every mom feels the support they need, through her work.
Kristy is an inspiring example of how we can grow into our role as “Mom” in such a beautiful way.
I am a recovering people pleaser with goals always on my mind. I grew up in Southern California and graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles in 2009. I then went on to work in the apparel industry in production/design, moving up to Northern California in 2014 where I met my husband Jessy. We now live in Idaho with our 4 ½ year old son who is a ball of light. We spend time going on hikes and exploring nature any chance we get.
My journey into motherhood wasn’t easy, though it’s not easy for any of us. My son is a little miracle. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Lupus and had surgery done on my uterus for a “Septate Uterus,” which basically means a deformity of the uterus. I had Endometriosis and cysts on my ovaries that had to be cleaned out.
While I was an ideal case study for a doctor, I wasn’t an ideal candidate to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. I was heading to the Mayo Clinic when I found out I was pregnant. Doctor after doctor told me my pregnancy was a miracle, but not to get attached. They cautioned that I would lose my baby, and even gave me the option of aborting him at one point.
I felt like God had a plan in all this and I vowed to see it through. My water broke 4 weeks early and the doctors had to do an emergency C-section. He was only 5 pounds and had thrush, but we otherwise had a perfectly healthy baby boy.
During those first few hours of being “Mom,” I felt utter panic and imposter syndrome set in. I had never changed a diaper or held a newborn for more than a few minutes. I remember feeling like a kid again; feeling that I needed my mom on our first night back home. People told me they loved the newborn stage, to enjoy it, and that newborns sleep all day and night. However, I was struggling. I remember hating life, and being depressed that I hated it. Every night we tried a different way to get our son to sleep, but the only thing that helped was driving him around at 3am, exhausted. My sweet husband would come home from work to see me crying and pumping every day, and ask what he could do to help me. I would tell him I hated motherhood and didn’t want to do it. He reassured me that my only job in that moment was to take care of the baby and not stress about anything else. It helped me get through those early impossible days, and I reminded myself, “This too shall pass.”
How does Matrescence’s mission resonate with you as a mom?
Matrescence was the first skincare company I had heard of that focused on mothering the mother. What a beautiful concept! Being a mom is the most beautifully, broken experience we can go through. You grow so much because if you don’t, you will drown in the chaos. A part of me wants everyone to go through being a parent just for how it changes you, and I love that Matrescence is all about bringing out this new YOU! I had never heard of the definition of "matrescence" before - the physical, emotional, hormonal, and social transition to becoming a mother. I think that it is so empowering knowing that it is all a part of the process.
You’ve said being a Mom is about “Embracing the New You rather than returning to the old” - expand on that.
Walking through this journey as a brand new mom, I felt like I just wanted to return to the person I was before having a child. I kept thinking, “I can’t wait until we can go on a trip again.” “Until I can go out and run errands without needing to worry about feeding schedules.” “Until I have a full night's sleep again!” Little did I know, the girl I once knew was gone. I was mourning her and I didn’t even know it. I cried in the nursery, feeling overwhelmed by my feelings, how I looked, the restrictions I had, and my lack of sleep. I thought something was wrong with ME because I didn’t love this new life. Joining Mom groups really helped me to transition into this new season. I began to process that I was not getting back the season I had just closed the door on. Even when my son leaves home, there is a human in this world that I am responsible for for the rest of my life; someone I will always care and worry about. It was my job to find the new me and figure out the community I wanted around me. Embracing this new me and owning it was so powerful!
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
We usually pick a word or theme for the year and spend New Year’s Eve after our son is in bed reflecting on the year. We try to think about where we were last year at this time, and then make predictions for the next year on our phones with notes. Some are funny about friends or us, and some are goals for the future.
What’s your word for 2023 and how did you come to it?
"No"! How hard is that to say? A year ago this month, we bought a house sight unseen in a new state, moved, and started new jobs in a community where we knew no one. I committed to accepting every invite and volunteer opportunity in our new town, and anything asked of me at work. But my life as a mom suffered from all the “yeses” I gave. We are currently thinking about fostering to adopt and need stillness in our life to figure out if that is what God has for us. I have already started reflecting on my word by evaluating our commitments and seeing what we should be letting go of.
What’s one thing you wish you had known before becoming a mom?
How hard breastfeeding was and all the shame that came with not doing it. My son was a preemie and had thrush, and had to be formula fed in the hospital to prevent feeding tubes. He was constantly underweight and I had such bad anxiety not knowing how much milk he received while breastfeeding. Our lactation consultant made me feel so bad about the process that I would pump and feed my son with a bottle. I eventually found exclusive pumping Facebook groups for support and felt freedom in my decision. I loved knowing exactly how much he was drinking and that he was still getting breast milk. All these things you think will come natural or as “normal” as a mom can often become an expectation. The truth is, there really is no such thing as “normal” or a “one size fits all” in motherhood.