Erin Andrews Opens Up About Grappling with Mom Guilt: 'Trying to Figure That Whole Thing Out' (Exclusive)

The new mom is opening up about some of the joys and challenges of parenthood as she raises son Mack, 9 months

<p>Brent Broza for Enfamil Enspire Optimum</p> Erin Andrews and son Mack for Enfamil

Brent Broza for Enfamil Enspire Optimum

Erin Andrews and son Mack for Enfamil
  • Erin Andrews is opening up about handling mom guilt as she balances her career and parenting

  • The new mom praises other working women in the league who inspire her to chase her dreams across the board

  • Andrews is teaming up with Enfamil Enspire Optimum to encourage moms not to Bottle Up big feelings around pregnancy and parenting

Erin Andrews is getting real about the ups and downs of working mom life.

Speaking with PEOPLE about her partnership with Enfamil Enspire Optimum to encourage moms not to Bottle Up big feelings, the sportscaster mom, 45, shares that her tough journey to becoming a mom has been followed up by some difficult moments in mothering 9-month-old son Mack.

"Motherhood has been a tough journey for me. I obviously went through a cervical cancer journey. I tried IVF for nine years, and then we were faced with, not a bad way, having to go the surrogacy route. We ended up absolutely adoring and loving our surrogate, who's part of our family. But in my journey, I had to learn a lot about formula, going the surrogacy route, so partnering with Enfamil was a no-brainer because they were introduced to us very early in Mack's life in the hospital."

Not only does the partnership celebrate Enfamil Enspire Optimum, but it also encourages moms to lean on their community. The Bottle Up initiative is all about raising awareness for the many struggles parents face, including infertility, while providing support for every family’s unique journey.

"They've actually started a whole kind of conversation about bottling things up, which I did a lot of when I was trying to go about motherhood. I kept quiet about the struggles that I had with infertility. I also kept our surrogacy decision pretty quiet just because it's a difficult conversation to have. I love that Enfamil started this whole idea of, 'Hey, let's not bottle things up.'"

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Related: Erin Andrews Is a Mom! Sportscaster and Husband Jarret Stoll Welcome First Baby After 9-Year IVF Journey

Andrews is opening up about navigating mom life, admitting she's had a hard time grappling with mom guilt.

"I didn't think I would have much guilt. I went into this pretty naive," she admits. "I thought, 'I've had this career my whole life; I'll be fine. I travel, that's just kind of part of my life.' But I started feeling guilty when I was away."

"Yesterday, we were doing a whole day shoot with Enfamil, which was pretty awesome, but I felt so guilty. I feel bad when I didn't get to put him to bed or I missed bath time or I missed dinner, so that was a little difficult. The mom guilt is real. I'm trying to figure that whole thing out."

Another aspect of mom life that surprised Andrews was how difficult it was to talk about the village around her that helps make her and Mack's days go smoothly.

"I was kind of embarrassed to talk about my village because I didn't want people to think, 'Oh, come on. She has nothing to complain about. She has this whole group around her."

Andrews and her husband, former NHL player Jarret Stoll, used a nanny for the early months of their son's life, and though she's moved on to her next family, they're still grateful for what she gave them.

"She was with us for six months, but she taught me so much. She taught me so much about formula. She taught me so much about being hard on myself. She taught me about accepting the fact that I'm a working mom," Andrews shares.

"She made a really good point. She had told me that I don't have to be embarrassed or shy about saying that I have help, that I have a team. There are a lot of people who have their families around them. A lot of people have babysitters. A lot of people have daycare."

Andrews learned the importance of being "really honest" about what it takes behind the scenes to make it all happen.

"She really pushed me to be honest about that. She's like, 'Don't lie to mothers. Don't make it seem like you don't know what it's like having help and feeling overwhelmed.'"

Today, the couple's baby nurse is still "on speed dial" to help them when concerns arise. As for her current village, "We do have someone that lives with us."

"My husband has also been absolutely amazing. I knew he wanted a baby, but I didn't realize how badly he wanted it until Mack got here. He's been wonderful. I have my group around me that has helped with my career and now hear a lot about this. My friends that already have babies have been a huge help."

She jokes, "I'm like, 'You guys, you didn't tell me about the brain-piecing screams that this kid does when he's teething.' No one told me I would have a fear I'm going to go deaf," she says. "Now I know and I do think it's important to be honest about the help that you have around you because that's my reality right now."

Another big source of help for Andrews has been Charlotte Jones, the Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer, who she "looks up to" as a working mom.

"She has children and she works for one of the biggest franchises in all of sports," Andrews says.

"I remember being on the field with her during pregame before one of my games, and I was feeling really, really down. I just felt guilty that I was missing out on things with Mack."

When Jones approached her to check in, Andrews vented about her mom guilt.

"I told her how I love my job so much, but I feel bad when I'm not home. She said, 'Listen to me. Every mom goes through this. He's going to love and appreciate you, because you are who you are and you're out here and you're doing this on Sunday.'"

The new mom is soaking up all the joys of having a little guy at home, especially now that football season is through.

"I feel like I missed quite a few milestones because I was obviously doing six months of football right after he was born. So I've been enjoying having a front-row seat now," she says. "He's in a crib now and so close to saying something. He's sitting in his high chair and enjoying gym classes."

The new mom jokes that her little guy has some passionate coaches in his two sports-loving parents.

"He's got some tough judges," she laughs. "One side is trying to catch up with the other, so we're trying to work with him. It's really fun."

Mack's also having fun exploring reading with Mom and Dad.

"He's starting to recognize certain books that we read to him. One of his favorites that our friend got for us is a kid's version of Seinfeld. He's so into the little George, the little Elaine, the little Jerry. He also loves Brown Bear, Brown Bear now, so that's pretty cool."

"We sat there and read it and cuddled in the chair today before I have to leave tonight," she shares. I asked if he wanted to read it, and he made a noise, grabbed his blanket, and started listening for a few seconds. The little things with him are pretty cool."

The family is looking forward to enjoying more milestones together in the months ahead, including Mack's first birthday.

"We have a couple of ideas," Andrews shares. "We call him macaroni for short or roni. So we were thinking something with either macaroni and cheese... and cheese and wine for his mother, of course. And then maybe like something with Mack trucks, that'd be really cute. We're tossing ideas around."

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