Q&A With Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles

Over the last year this country music star has given birth to a baby and a new solo album.

From the WebMD Archives

Your son, Magnus, is now 11 months old. What's been the biggest revelation about being a new mom?

Children require you to be truly present in the moment. I tend to be one of those people who thinks about four to five steps ahead. That has served me well in my life and in my career, and in my success. But when your child has a need, it's all about him. It helps with your perspective. You don't have time for a lot of superfluous stuff, not even your own. It really is like a fire for the intellect: It cleans things out and lets you know what's really important.

What's been the hardest part of parenting?

The sleep! I've gone without sleep before but never really seen what this kind of sleep deprivation can do. They talk about mommy brain and searching for words? I've had moments where I literally laugh at myself. I am a woman who works with words for a living and I can't come up with the word "mirror"? "Look in the... look in the...check in the...whatever!" It's ridiculous!

How did you choose Magnus' name?

Back in 2010, we [Nettles and Sugarland partner Kristian Bush] appeared on CNN's Heroes show, hosted by Anderson Cooper, which highlights humanitarian organizations and philanthropists throughout the world. There was a gentleman from Scotland whose first name was Magnus. [Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, whose nonprofit, Mary's Meals, provides free daily meals to 400,000 children worldwide.] He was standing there in his kilt, talking about this wonderful organization, and I thought, "Magnus -- that's a really good name!" I wasn't pregnant yet but even then, my husband and I had been talking about when we did have children, we'd want an "M" name, because his last name is Miller. I thought, "Justin will love that name, it sounds so strong!" And from that point forward it was our top contender for a boy.

You're a pretty devoted nursing mom. How has breastfeeding gone for you?

I'm in the lucky camp that it came easily for me. He and I had a deal before he was born: I told him that he could cook and stay in there as long as he wanted, as long as he came out with a sweet demeanor and latched like it was his job. Not only does he latch like it's his job, he does not take a bottle, he will not suck a pacifier, he will not suck a finger. He is a mommy-booby boy for sure.


Have you written any songs for Magnus yet?

On this album [That Girl, her first solo album], I have a couple of songs inspired by giving birth and having a child for the first time, and the deep, deep love and the extreme change it is. But I didn't want the whole album to be an album of lullabies; we're all many-faceted people, so I wanted to have a well-rounded album that spoke to a lot of subjects and topics. I also write fun songs throughout the day. There's one song, "You Are So Precious to Me," that I've sung for him since he was little, and he just lights up and smiles. Hey, I've written songs about constipation!

Do you have any new tour plans yet? Will you bring Magnus with you on tour?

Tour plans are in the works. The plan is that I'm going to go out the beginning of 2014. Right now I'm out on a radio promotional tour, so we are on a bus, and it's the first time we've been on a bus in an extended way as a family. It's a bit of an adjustment, but I have learned that even though I fear the transitions of most everything, babies are very flexible and resilient. I think, you little lucky duck, you have been more places in 8 months than I had until I was a young adult!

How did pregnancy go for you?

I had a very healthy pregnancy and I am so grateful and feel so lucky that I did. I toured up until the end of the sixth month, and I hosted the Country Music Association's Christmas show when I was 36 weeks! I was gigantic. I agreed to do it when I was 4 months pregnant, not knowing what 9 months pregnant felt like, but in hindsight I'm glad I did it. It's special to have that documented -- "See what Mommy looked like?"

Are you thinking of having any more?

Right now, it feels early to even say. We've always said, let's start with one and see how we like it. So while I'm open to it, I feel like it's too early for me to even have the true emotional capacity to say yes or no, I do or don't. We're giving ourselves a pause to really just enjoy him right now and in a couple of years -- or earlier if we start to feel like we're ready -- we're going to take a look.


There's been a lot of buzz in the media about Duchess Kate showing her post-baby bump leaving the hospital, and about Kim Kardashian trying to get back into shape. What do you think of all this pressure on women to "get their bodies back" after pregnancy?

Of course Kate had a bump right after having a baby. Well, duh! I think it's sad that there is so much pressure on women. Clearly, that time is so special and so precious right after you have a baby, and you're so vulnerable. It's very hard when you keep hearing those messages, especially if you're a type A, driven woman, and in the spotlight. For those of us in entertainment, how we look is a part of our job, those are the facts. But it takes 9 months for you to grow a baby, and you can expect it to take at least that to get back to really where you want it to be.

What are you most excited about in the coming months?

It's been such a year of creation for me, in having a baby and then giving birth, in a way, to another creative project, which is this solo album. There's been a lot of creation happening in my life and a lot of creative energy, and I'm looking forward to just enjoying the fruits of my labor, pun intended. I really look forward to seeing Magnus grow and blossom and start to walk and talk. I can't wait to hear what he thinks! And the same for my album: I can't wait to watch it blossom and go out there in the world and see who it touches.

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WebMD Magazine - Feature Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on September 13, 2013



Jennifer Nettles, singer.

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