Carrie Underwood's not just a cool mom, she's a regular mom. Or so she proclaimed as she walked the red carpet for the 2018 CMT Artists of the Year Awards, her six month-pregnant bump swathed in sequined Tadashi Shoji.
"I feel like I'm a working mom, pregnant, I got my stuff to do, you know," she explained to E! News at the Nashville event, "it's just an interesting job I have, but I'm just like every other pregnant lady trying to go to work."
Which is true if you ignore the fact that her nine-to-five requires designer mini dresses, four-and-a-half-inch stiletto sandals and posing in front of an onslaught of cameras and endless rows of screaming fans. Or that her return from maternity leave involved a month of rehearsals for her six-month, 60-show Cry Pretty Tour 360 whilst writing her just-released health guide, Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life. (Not to mention that time she performed twice at April's ACM Awards in Las Vegas 11 weeks postpartum, squeezing in a moment to pump before she hit the stage.)
Other than that, she's just muddling along like everyone else, she swears. "We're still figuring out our groove, to be honest," she explained to E! News' Carissa Culiner at the ACM awards last April of how she and husband Mike Fisher, 39, are handling their new life as parents to both 5-year-old Isaiah Fisher and 13-month-old Jacob Fisher. "And I don't know if we'll ever figure it out, you know."
In the meantime, she's content to show images from the postnatal workouts that have knocked her literally on her back or tweet about the time her eldest dubbed her "Carefree Underwear" instantly sending her back to her elementary school days because, as the 36-year-old singer put it to E! News, "That's life."
Because fans are so used to the perfectly appointed persona that glides down red carpets, "For some reason I feel like, I don't know, people expect more of us 'celebrities,'" she continued. "And also everybody's very busy showing the highlight reels of their lives, right?"
But behind the sold out arenas and designer labels, "I mean, I'm a mom first and foremost. That's my favorite," she said. (No wonder Isaiah believes she lives to wash his clothes.) "I love my job, but that's my favorite role to play in, to be in," she continued. "And, yeah, it's just, life is messy. We're all just figuring things out and it's a big ol' mess and it's fun."
Credit eldest Isaiah for livening it up a bit as he does a bang up job in his role as big brother. Even before Jacob's arrival last January, the preschooler was all in. "He's such a sweet guy," the seven-time Grammy winner shared with E! News at the CMT Artists of the Year Awards in 2018, "and he'll look at my belly and be like, 'Your baby's getting bigger.' He's going to be a great big brother."
His fascination with his new sibling only grew after Mom and Dad brought him back to their new Nashville-area spread, the dream estate they began designing together back in 2016. Though Underwood admitted to struggling with the juxtaposition of her two sons—"Immediately when you come home with your baby, my other son Isaiah just seemed like a big boy," she lamented to E! News—it's been heartwarming to watch them bond.
Noting how much he "loves" his elder sibling role, she said, "He calls Jacob 'My baby. Where's my baby? How's my baby? I wanna kiss my baby.' It's really cute."
And, actually, pretty invaluable. "He's always willing to help if I ever ask him to go get me a diaper or something," she said in a Today interview last year. "He's task-oriented, so he really likes to help out."
And then there's the fact that the "Love Wins" singer wasn't sure she'd ever have the chance to experience this level of chaos.
As she hinted in that first unguarded interview with Redbook's September 2018 issue, 2017 had been "a very soul-searching year for me." Life as always, she shared, "is full of ups and downs, and I might have had a few more downs than ups last year."
There was the literal one, of course, the so-called "freak accident" that saw her tripping on a stone step while taking her dogs outside, breaking the fall with her face and ending up with some 50 stitches and a metal plate in her wrist. But then there were the series of emotional tumbles that she kept private up until the point she turned up on CBS Sunday Morning to discuss her new disc Cry Pretty.
She had pinpointed 2017 as the moment she and the hockey pro would expand their family, but three subsequent miscarriages in a 12-month stretch left the American Idol champion devastated, questioning her previously unshakeable faith.
"I had always been afraid to be angry," she explained. "Because we are so blessed. And my son, Isaiah, is the sweetest thing. And he's the best thing in the world. And I'm like, 'If we can never have any other kids, that's okay, because he's amazing.' And I have this amazing life. Like, really, what can I complain about? I can't. I have an incredible husband, incredible friends, an incredible job, an incredible kid. Can I be mad? No...and I got mad."
She funneled her emotions into the recording studio and her sixth studio album, telling Vulture, "I'd have a terrible day at the doctor's office and then come into a writing session and be like, 'I'm sorry guys. I might suck today. I just got some bad news.'" But ultimately those raw feelings transformed themselves into a gold-certified disc, the best selling country album since Luke Bryan's 2015 effort Kill the Lights.
"I was lucky enough to be around people that I felt really comfortable with," she told the outlet. "I thought, 'What am I gonna do? Go home and wallow in this all day long? No, I want to keep working. I want to keep pushing forward. This is still something that has to be done.' And I kinda needed that at the time, just to have something to stay focused on that wasn't my personal life."
Eventually, though, her home life caught up to her career successes and just when the musician was convinced she was suffering her fourth miscarriage, she learned the pregnancy was right on track.
"The road to having this baby was so difficult emotionally and physically on both Mike and Carrie," a source told Us Weekly, "so to have Jacob come home happy and healthy really fills them with immeasurable joy."
So, sure, that time she was forced to carry "my naked, poo covered screaming baby up the stairs" after she made the "rookie mistake" of leaving her diaper bag behind wasn't great. And she's not going to say she loved spending half the night awake with a congested baby ahead of the ACM Awards.
Plus tending to the needs of a growing toddler and a newborn presents an endless array of challenges. "It is harder, trying to entertain my 4-year-old and take care of my baby," as she put it to People last year. But she's quick to follow up any hit of a complaint by gushing about how great of a helper Isaiah has been.
She's even rooted out the silver lining in the endless struggle that is reclaiming your body as your own after sharing it for nine-plus months. She admitted in an especially vulnerable March Instagram post that the much-scrutinized "bounce back" hasn't been as easy as it was in 2015 when she welcomed Isaiah.
"I go into the gym and I can't run as fast or as far. I can't lift as much weight or do as many reps as I could a year ago," she shared, adding that she was beating herself up over the lack of progress. "I just want to feel like myself again...for my body to feel the way that I know it can."
But as she was pushing her way through an especially grueling weight lifting set, the Calia by Carrie Underwood designer had the dawning realization that her body grew and nourished two humans, which is a damn impressive feat.
"I promise to stop analyzing every angle and every curve and every pound and every meal," she vowed to her 8.5 million followers. "I'm going to keep staying the path because it is a journey and as long as I'm always working towards my goals, one day I'll reach them. I'm going to take it day by day, smile at the girl in the mirror, and work out because I love this body and all it has done and will continue to do!"
In doing that, she shared with Natalie Morales on Today, she began to feel truly victorious. "Moms put a lot of pressure on themselves to have it all together," she admitted. "I don't know what I was expecting to be quite honest." But once she let go of those expectations, she started actually feeling pretty great about herself.
Having mastered the tricky dance that is body confidence, she was ready to conquer life on the road with two tiny humans. She has some experience, after all, having brought an 11-month-old Isaiah onto her Storyteller Tour back in 2016.
"It's going to be a different ball game, for sure," she told The Tennessean. "My brain, I'm such a planner. I want to know how it's all going to go. But no matter who you are, you make it happen, you make it work, you get your team behind you."
Leaning into assistance, whether it's her nanny or a family member, hasn't exactly come natural for the Oklahoma native. "Accepting help is hard for me," she admitted to Redbook in 2016, "but I'm learning. Sometimes I feel guilty that this is my son's life: We live on a bus and we're in a hotel room and sometimes we're in the middle of nowhere and it's not so great. It's not all glamorous."
But somewhere between North Carolina and the final Halloween show in Detroit she began to see the beauty in all the chaos. Because there was Isaiah cruising around each venue on his pint-sized scooter. "Somebody recently called him 'The Mayor of Catering' because he's just like, 'Hi everybody!'" she shared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. "He's such a people guy. So he's living the dream."
And little Jacob had his own spot to play and gurgle to Mom when she swept in between rehearsals. "He's such a smiley baby," Underwood, set to headline the Stagecoach Music Festival in April, told E! News at last year's CMT Music Awards. "I just like to smell him—that might be weird. Sometimes I'm like, 'I just need to smell my baby.'"
And though being a working mom isn't easy for anyone, she realizes just how blessed she is to do it her way. "Going out on the road with a 3-month-old, I'm tired," she admitted on Today, "but, I mean, how many people get to take their children to work with them? As busy as we are, he's here during the day and we have a little area that he can play in and I get to see him in my breaks. How many people get to do that? I'm so lucky."
It was a feeling that had eluded her for some time, but now she's able to see that silver lining. "I feel a lot more confident in myself," she shared. "The more you go through in life, even though at the time you're not really understanding why things happen the way they happen, when you come out on the other side, you still might not exactly understand why, but you come out on the other side stronger. And you take that knowledge and what you learned from those difficult circumstances and, you know, you just figure things out."