Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and his wife Kelly have welcomed their fourth child 14 months after she had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.
The former cheerleader, 31, took to Instagram on Sunday to share a heartwarming photo of the NFL star, 32, giving her a kiss in the delivery room as she gave birth via cesarean section a few days before.
‘Friday, June 26, 2020. Our family became complete,’ she captioned the image announcing the baby’s arrival.
Happy: Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and his wife Kelly have welcomed their fourth child. She shared a photo Matt kissing her in the delivery room to announce the news
Headed for delivery: Kelly, who also shared photos on her Instagram Stories, gave birth via cesarean section on Friday, June 26. She did not reveal the baby’s name or gender in her posts
Kelly also shared photos of her hospital stay in her Instagram Stories, including a picture of her mother, Leslie Wright Hall, cuddled up next to her in bed.
It’s unclear if the photo was taken before or after she gave birth.
‘My mama always taking care of me and her grandbabies,’ she captioned the mother-daughter image.
Another snapshot shows her mom wearing a face mask as she peeks through a window to look into her hospital room.
‘I love this picture and you mama,’ she wrote.
Proud grandma: Kelly posted images of her mother, Leslie Wright Hall, in the hospital with her
A few weeks before she gave birth, she shared a sweet photo of her three children lying in bed with her and Matt, writing: ‘Room for one more will be needed here soon’
Big sisters: Kelly and Matt have three daughters: three-year-old twins Sawyer and Chandler and one-year-old Hunter
The final photo she posted is a snapshot of her and Matt sharing a masked kiss before heading to the delivery room.
Kelly did not reveal the baby’s name or gender in her posts. She and Matt have three daughters: three-year-old twins Sawyer and Chandler and one-year-old Hunter.
A few weeks before she gave birth, she shared a sweet photo of her children lying in bed with her and Matt, writing: ‘Room for one more will be needed here soon.’
The mom announced that she was pregnant with her fourth child in early March while sharing a photo of herself posing with Matt and their twin daughters at Disneyland in California.
‘Got to enjoy one of the most magical places with my husband and 3 of our kiddos,’ she captioned the image of Chandler and Sawyer on their shoulders. ‘Baby Stafford #4 due this summer (no worries, well before training camp).’
Surprise! The mom announced that she was pregnant with her fourth child in early March while sharing a photo of herself posing with Matt and their twin daughters at Disneyland in California
It’s a surprise: At the time, Kelly said they were waiting to find out the baby’s gender
Kelly went on to share that she and her husband are waiting to find out the sex of the baby until she gives birth.
‘We won’t know whether the Stafford kids will continue as a girl squad or if a little brother will enter the craziness until baby is here,’ she explained. ‘Excited and exhausted! #staffordpartyof6 #madeindetroit #nomoresedans #staffordstrong.’
The news came 11 months after Kelly underwent a successful 12-hour surgery in April 2019 to remove a benign brain tumor known as acoustic neuroma.
In a follow-up post, Kelly shared a photo of herself posing with Matt and their three daughters on the football field, revealing that she initially kept her pregnancy to herself because her husband had just learned he had fractured bones in his back.
‘This game was a few weeks after I told Matthew I was expecting, well really before he found out,’ she wrote. ‘The day I found out I was pregnant, was the same day Matthew found out he had broken his back.
Hard times: The news came 11 months after Kelly underwent a successful 12-hour surgery in April 2019 to remove a benign brain tumor known as acoustic neuroma
Looking back: Kelly shared that she initially kept her pregnancy from Matt because she found out the same day he learned he had broken his back
‘With that news, I decided I would keep the pregnancy to myself because for so long we had been so worried about my brain and my recovery, I didn’t want him to have to think about me continuing to recover while growing a baby,’ she explained. ‘I wanted him to have a clear mind so that he could have a quick, successful recovery himself. That lasted 3 days.
‘Matthew is sometimes too smart for his own good. While I was so focused on him, he was focused on me, with the littlest of things clueing him into what was going on. He asked if I was, I said yes, and we hugged it out.’
Kelly went on to share that it was a ‘hard and exhausting’ month and a half for them because their three daughters were extremely sick for weeks, with ‘at least one of them throwing up a day.’ She said everyone told them it was a virus but it turned into pneumonia.
‘Poor things were not themselves for too long. I had zero energy,’ she recalled. ‘This pregnancy had been my toughest yet.. messing more so with my head & my balance, making me sick & constantly worried something else was wrong.
‘Then there was my incredible husband trying to keep it together while dealing with his own health issue… & all of this with the holidays were quickly approaching.. & we all know how busy & hectic the holidays are,’ she continued. ‘We made it through, completing all the holiday traditions we had made thus far as a family.. but we were very ready for these tables to turn. They did.’
Poor babies: Kelly said that after she learned she was pregnant, it was a ‘hard and exhausting’ month and a half for them because their three daughters were extremely with pneumonia
Hard time: Kelly said her latest pregnancy was her toughest one yet. She pictured last year on the day she learned she had a brain tumor
Concerns: Following her diagnosis, Kelly was worried about how she would be a mother to her three daughters
Kelly said that after a strong dose of antibiotics, their daughters started to regain the weight they had lost and act like themselves again in early January, around the same time Matt learned that ‘his back had completely healed.’
‘I got an MRI on my brain that showed no residual from surgery & everything looked normal,’ she added. ‘We finally felt like we had caught a break. The past 15 months have really taken a toll on me and my family.
‘Next month will mark a year from my brain surgery. It is a year that has helped my family grow in numbers and in strength, but it is a year that I never want to revisit. #StaffordStrong.’
In October, Kelly urged her fellow mothers to make time for their own self-care as she continued to recover after having her brain tumor removed.
She confessed that she initially ignored telling signs, like feeling dizzy and lightheaded, putting her weak spells down to caring for three daughters, who were all under the age of two a the time.
Health: Kelly opened up about her brain tumor and surgery in October while urging other mothers to prioritize their health
Journey: Kelly underwent surgery in April 2019 to remove a benign brain tumor called acoustic neuroma, which threatened to leave her without her hearing if left untreated
In a personal essay penned for ESPN, Kelly said, ‘If there’s anything I want people to take away from my story, it’s for mothers. If you ever feel the slightest bit off, you need to take the time to get it checked out. You don’t have to put everything on your back. Sometimes, you need to take some time to make sure you are OK.’
Kelly added that if she had put things off any longer, she would have lost her hearing. She went into detail about how she ignored the tell-tale signs that something was off.
‘The first moment I was really concerned was last January. I was in Michigan, and had just gotten a massage. When I walked out, I just didn’t feel right,’ she recalled.
‘I was lightheaded and it felt like the world was spinning around me. I texted Matthew: “I might need you to come pick me up.” But then I waited a little bit in my car, and started feeling better, so I drove home myself.’
However, one week later, Kelly felt lightheaded again but this time she was holding her baby girl Hunter.
Recovery: Six months post-surgery, Kelly wanted to encourage other busy moms to ‘make sure they are OK’
Busy mom: Kelly said being a mom to three girls kept her so busy she put off getting her health checked. She is pictured in 2017 with her then-newborn twins Sawyer, left, and Chandler, right
‘The room started spinning around me and I felt like I was going to fall down. I almost threw Hunter to Matthew, because I didn’t want her to go down with me.’
‘Looking back, there were other moments over the past year where I was feeling off,’ Kelly added.
WHAT IS ACOUSTIC NEUROMA?
It is a slow-growing, benign brain tumor that starts in the cells that surround the nerves
Common age of diagnosis is 50
Occurs in every 1 in 100,000 people
Symptoms include: one-sided hearing loss, ringing in ear, vertigo, balance problems
Source: Dr. Jennifer Ashton on Good Morning America
‘Like when I would show my girls how to do a front roll or twirl in ballet class, then immediately felt dizzy, or like I couldn’t balance. I mean, those were things I had done my entire life, and suddenly they were difficult.
‘Maybe I’m just aging, I had figured at the time. My mom quickly shot that down. I wasn’t even 30.’
Matthew urged Kelly to get checked out, but being so busy caring for her three young daughters, she put things off.
‘As a mom, you’re always on the run. You’re chasing after your kids or worrying about your family.
‘You tend to put yourself on the back burner. So I didn’t feel the urgency to go to the doctor,’ she wrote.
The day she almost dropped Hunter, she was due to go to California on a family vacation.
‘While she initially thought she was too busy to go to the ER, she went to get checked out before the flight.
‘My blood work looked great. My vitals were fine. Doctors offered to do an MRI, but I said I didn’t have time.
‘So they gave me Antivert, which is a medicine for vertigo, and we left for vacation. The problem was, the medicine wasn’t having any effect on me.’
While in California, Kelly scheduled an MRI after Matthew talked to the Lions’ team doctor about what was going on.
Young: Dr. Jennifer Ashton said that Kelly was incredibly young to have had an acoustic neuroma as the average age of diagnosis is 50
Post-surgery: Kelly, pictured with Matthew and her parents, shared this photo to Instagram in April 2019, revealing that she had underwent the 12-hour surgery to remove the rare tumor
Kellt wrote that she was terrified when she received the results.
‘A few days after the MRI, we got the results. The medical term was an acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma. There was a tumor sitting on some of my cranial nerves. I was told I needed to have surgery to remove it. And I was terrified.’
‘Not at first. At first, we didn’t have any idea of where this was going to go, and we just needed to figure out how to deal with it.
‘But as the day went on, my fears started to show themselves. What if this thing gets taken out and something goes wrong? What if something happens before that? My biggest fear is not being here, and not being here to raise my girls.’
When the surgery was scheduled, Kelly was told that there was a 50 per cent chance she would lose her hearing.
Exhausted: The Georgia-native posted this photo in May 2019 describing how ‘exhausted’ she was in the hospital after the surgery
Support: Kelly, pictured in 2015, said Matt was her rock during recovery
Thankfully, everything went as planned, and Kelly praised her doctor, Dr Greg Thompson, for his patience.
‘I can’t say enough good things about him. A few times, he stopped the surgery because my audio waves went dead. His patience is what saved my hearing. He made everyone stop and wait until the wave return.
‘Matthew told me, “If it’s good news after the surgery, I’ll be standing on your right side. If it’s bad news, I’ll be on your left.” I don’t remember much after waking up, but I do know he was standing on my right side,’ she continued.
After surgery, Kelly had to relearn how to walk with the help of a physical therapist — something that she initially couldn’t manage.
‘I remember looking at her and I was like, “Nope.” I felt dizzy just sitting, there was no way I was getting up. I felt really defeated that day. She said she would come back tomorrow. I was dreading it, dreading it all morning, waiting for her to come back.
Surgery: Kelly shared this video of herself relearning how to walk post-surgery
Praise: Kelly praised Dr. Greg Thompson for being ‘patient’ during her surgery and saving her hearing
Support system: Kelly said her longtime love Matthew was ‘incredible’ during her recovery
‘I grew up playing so many sports, putting one foot in front of the other should be second nature for anybody. But for me at that point, it was really tough,’ she continued.
Not being able to see her daughters for two weeks after surgery was also a difficult part of the recovery, but she praised her husband for his selfless care throughout.
‘Matthew was incredible during the whole process. He was literally by my side at every step,’ she said.
Kelly admits she sometimes ‘still has bad days,’ but in the six months following the surgery, she had taken to boxing for exercise.
‘Boxing is the best workout I can do. It’s not only so tiring physically, but for me, it’s exhausting mentally.
Lows: Kelly said the hardest part of recovery was not being able to see her three young daughters while she remained in hospital
Recovery: The mom-of-three, pictured after her surgery, said she still has some ‘hard’ days where she is ‘foggy’
‘My brain is having to figure out all these moving parts… and at a very fast pace. Sometimes I get dizzy, but I know that’s my brain learning and it’s good for me to push it,’ she wrote on Instagram at the time.
Donation: Kelly took to Instagram to thank the Detroit Lions team for donating to the Acoustic Neuroma Association
Football games, or anywhere that involves loud crowds, are no longer a major part of Kelly’s life.
‘I’ve only gone to one football game this year. They’re exhausting for me…but the noise and constant action would be tough for me.
‘This football season, in general, feels different for us. We have a different outlook.
‘Matthew is still going out there and doing everything he can for the team, but going through this, you realize that in the end, family is the only thing you have,’ she said.
‘These days, I feel pretty good. Days are longer. Some days are hard — some mornings I wake up a little foggy, and know I have to take the day a little slower.
‘It’s rarer for me to get dizzy. Background noise can be tough (but also good — sometimes I don’t hear what I don’t want to hear).’
‘I’ll probably look into hearing aids for safety reasons soon. I do hope to go to football games again, but I don’t want to injure the ear we worked so hard to save,’ she added.
‘The doctors said it would take about a year for me to feel symptom-free and have the same energy I had before. October 17 marks six months. I’m really excited to hit that marker.’