At Knix, we feel very lucky to have so many stories shared with us. Looking at the photos you tag us in, and reading your emails and comments are our favorite part of our day. Amongst these stories are hundreds of moms who share their journeys with us. One of these is mom and Knix Ambassador Ginger Smith who bared all to be part of our Life After Birth Project Exhibit. We caught up with her to talk about being part of the experience, motherhood, and how to be your own biggest inspiration.
Your picture and story was one of the initial ones shared in the Life After Birth Project. Tell us about the photo! What inspired you to submit your story to us?
I submitted a photo of myself for the LAB Project with just my mid-section only, no face showing. There was reasoning behind it. I have Crohn's-Colitis and my disease had spread so fast that I was given an Ileostomy on my abdomen. It saved my life. I repeat, I would not be alive if it wasn't for this little intestine poking out through my belly! So I wanted to praise it and show it to the world. I didn't show my face, because to anyone else going through Ostomy surgery or fighting Crohn's, I wanted them to be able to picture their face on my body. I was inspired by myself to be honest. I wanted to inspire myself with my own courage to bare it all!
You’ve been so open about your experience with Crohn’s-Colitis and having an ileostomy. Can you tell us about your experience? Has it impacted you as a mom?
I choose to be open about living with C&C because my end goal is to help others who are suffering in silence, who are scared, and who don't know how to accept themselves and love their new bodies. I feel just as sexy now as I did pre-surgery—probably more actually, because now I can thoroughly enjoy all the activities I do without fear and mapping out where all the bathrooms are.
C&C has impacted being a mom immensely. I am chronically exhausted 24 hours a day, because of the nature of my insides. I don't absorb much of anything when it comes to vitamins and I'm deficient in a lot of things which drains my energy very quickly. Let’s just say LOTS of coffees get sipped up in my daily routine.
I’m always trying to teach my kids about my illness, my daughter finds it fascinating. I’m always aware of where my kids are when we play too— I can never have a hand off my tummy when there are jumping kids! Or if one of them puts too much pressure on my stomach, I could pop my intestine out and prolapse it. I’m very, very cautious. Crohn's all in all has made raising kids hard, but it’s very manageable. I just have to pick my battles to fight each day to save energy for them!
Describe your kids to us!
My kids. Oh my, where do I start with my daughter Sky? She's 3.5 going on 10. She is all emotions at once, she is fearless, and so so comfortable in her own skin. She is always singing, always dancing, and always telling you that she loves you. Most of all, Sky is compassionate. She is always making sure that I’m okay, and when Crohn’s is giving me a hard time, she's the first one there trying to make me feel better. My favourite thing about Sky would be her ability to make everything fun and exciting. At least 3 times a week at dinner time she will stand up and yell BEST DINNER EVERRRRR. Her presence has to be known wherever she goes.
My son Jax is 1.5, and he is a sweetie pie. He is gentle, soft, and a cuddle monster. Whenever I need a little love he's there and pursing his lips for kisses, oh my god does he love to give kisses! He's kind, caring and shy. My favourite thing about Jax is his heart, he's such a softy. His hair is pretty amazing too! I haven't had the heart to cut it yet, it’s a long blonde mullet. He's going for the "Jax Teller" look from Sons of Anarchy!
Do you have any tips on how to balance home life under these current circumstances?
Balancing life during COVID is difficult, as I’m sure it is for most families. Just before COVID hit, I was diagnosed with pretty bad depression. My doctor suggested I take a small trip with my husband away from family life as a little break (I’ve been a stay at home mom for years now). We never took a honeymoon so we figured this trip would make up for it. Days after we booked, the world stopped turning, so we had to cancel it. It’s like the universe heard that I needed some alone time and said, "Hold my beer"!
Stuck in my house with depression and my kids, you can assume some days are dark— but funny enough, most of them are great! I make sure that at least once a day the entire family goes outside on a walk or plays in the fresh air together. There’s also a lot of Disney+ streaming.
Can you tell us why it’s so important (to you especially) for everyone to #StayHome if they can?
It’s especially important to me that people stay home if they can because I have an extremely low immune system. It’s barely hanging on by a thread. When COVID was showing up in places nearby, my husband (who works for the family business), stopped going to work in fear of getting me sick. I wouldn’t be able to fight it off. In this situation I am very blessed that he works for my parents! Our business is considered essential, so in any other circumstance he wouldn’t be able to leave.
I catch the common cold first, and it hits me the hardest. From there, I catch everything that’s around. I think I’ve been sick for the past 7 Thanksgivings, Halloweens and Christmases, so it’s very rare that I’m not sick. I’m staying home for me, and for everyone else that has low immunity. We just can't fight the way a normal functioning body can.
What’s your favorite part of being a mom?
My favorite part of being a mom is that I’m honoured to be my kids’ safest place to hide. When they get hurt or when they fall down, I get to be that safe place for them to come to. There’s no other feeling like it in the world.A big thanks to Ginger for sharing with us! If you'd like to follow more of her journey, you can check her out here. To hear more about Life After Birth follow along with us on our Instagram.