Kealia Ohai Watt, a professional soccer player, and her husband J.J. Watt, a newly-retired professional football player, became parents for the first time on October 23, 2022. Their son, Koa James Watt, has been an enormous blessing in the couple’s life, but that’s not to say being first-time parents is easy.
In an interview with PEOPLE, the 31-year-old mother revealed the many highs and lows of being a new parent – describing it as a ‘huge transition’ as the professional athletes learn to shift their focus from themselves to the newest addition of their family. She’s hoping her words resonate with other new moms.
“As a mother, you don’t really understand how, when you have a baby, how difficult it is,” said Kealia Ohai Watt. She expressed her deep gratitude for all the help they’ve received from friends and family since welcoming the baby, but there are still a lot of growing pains they must overcome in the coming years.
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“You don’t realize before you have a baby, you’re selfish, and you can do whatever you want — you can go workout, you can go to work and do your job, and your world revolves around you. And when you have a baby that is over, obviously, that’s your number one concern,” she explained in the PEOPLE interview.
Keep in mind, professional athletes are creatures of habit – more-so than the rest of us. Asking any pro athlete to step away from those habits, whether it’s working out, practicing, or preparing for an upcoming game, creates a whirlwind of emotions. And that’s exactly what Kealia has experienced in the past year.
Still, the excited mother wouldn’t change a single thing about the life she and her husband have created. It might be a hard transition, but seeing her child grow little by little each day makes it all worth it – especially when she sees her little one crack a smile. It’s those precious little moments that warms them.
And, while the couple used to take pride in their accomplishments on the football pitch (for Kealia) or football field (for J.J.), they now take the utmost pride in their son’s little accomplishments throughout the day – for example, finally getting their son, Koa, to sleep through the night or getting him to eat well.
Kealia Ohai Watt Has Advice for New Parents
Kealia Ohai Watt shared a message with other new moms who are going through the motions and learning how to navigate their new life as a parent. She wants them to know that every mother is going to have moments of struggle and even trouble as they adjust – but that should be expected and accepted.
“You’re not always going to feel like this is the greatest job and role in the world. There’s going to be days that are really hard, and you feel like you’re failing, and you feel this is so difficult, but that’s normal,” she said. Becoming a mother (or father) is a learning and feeling process – just like anything else in life.
Kealia also talked about the incredible partnership she has built with Cord Blood Registry, a company that preserves your baby’s stem cells via the cord blood. Newborn stem cell preservation can potentially help treat dozens of health conditions – such as helping to rebuild the immune system to help fight disease.
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“We just thought if we ever looked back and didn’t do this, we would be so mad at ourselves,” added Kealia Ohai Watt. She also expressed her gratitude for J.J. Watt, who she describes as ‘such a good dad.’ And now that he’s retired and a full-time father, he’ll get to spend a lot of time with his son.
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