Menu

Jamie Lynn Sigler opens up about being a mom with a chronic illness

"MS — any chronic illness, really — becomes your whole family's disease, not just your own. It affects our daily choices, and while sometimes I resent that, it has also made me see how strong I am," writes Sigler.

Jamie Lynn Sigler opens up about being a mom with a chronic illness

More than 120 million American adults live with chronic illnesses, and millions of those people are parents. But when we picture someone with a chronic illness we don't usually picture a mom, but some high-profile Hollywood actors are changing that.

In a recent essay for Shondaland, mom of two Jamie Lynn Sigler explained how multiple sclerosis impacts her family, but that living with a chronic illness doesn't make her any less of a mother to her sons.

"MS — any chronic illness, really — becomes your whole family's disease, not just your own. It affects our daily choices, and while sometimes I resent that, it has also made me see how strong I am. I have two little boys now. Beau is 5-and-a-half, and Jack is 14 months. I am there for them each and every day. I walk Jack every day in his stroller, around the block, no matter how long it takes me. I take Beau to hockey and karate and baseball, and sit on my chair and cheer him on. I am definitely participating in life the way I always dreamed, but it's not without challenges," she writes.

FEATURED VIDEO

Sigler was diagnosed with MS before becoming a mom and notes that while her disease has been stable for more than a decade, pregnancy still terrified her.

"A million thoughts ran through my head. What if he runs off and I can't chase him one day? What if I can't carry him up and down the stairs? What if he won't want to play with me because I can't be the 'fun mom' who runs on the beach with him, or chases him around the house?"

Sigler says she does have days where she doesn't move fast and needs help up the stairs, "but in the face of the daily fears that I have of not being enough, my two little boys give me all the love and reassurance I'll ever need. They only know this one mommy."

For Sigler, her life-changing MS diagnosis came before motherhood, but for her friend and fellow actor Selma Blair, it came afterward. For years Blair struggled with unexplained exhaustion and pain and felt ignored by doctors who attributed her experience to being worn out by single motherhood.

"Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up and didn't know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal," she told Good Morning America. "And I was self-medicating when he wasn't with me. I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn't always drinking, but there were times when I couldn't take it."

Thankfully, Blair is now getting the help she needs for her illness, and like Sigler, she's being open about her journey in the hopes of helping other parents who are dealing with MS and other chronic illnesses.

"I'd drop my son off at school a mile away, and before I got home, I'd have to pull over and take a nap. And I was ashamed, and I was doing the best I could, and I was a great mother. But it was killing me."

Thankfully, Blair is finally getting the help she needs. She famously walked this year's Oscar red carpet with a cane, but as she wrote in a recent Instagram caption, waking with an aid doesn't change her relationship with her son: "I am still the mom."

Chronic illness doesn't define these mothers, and it shouldn't define all the other moms who are dealing with health issues but still raising their families.

You might also like:

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money