Inspirational story alert! American Idol star Jessica Sierra – once referred to as the ‘Fallen Idol’ – is all set for a comeback! After being imprisoned in solitary confinement for over a month, the 24-year-old mom to son Kayden Cash, 6 months, knows she can handle any obstacle that comes her way. Jessica opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her struggles with addictions and how rehab “saved” her life, her troubled childhood and how she strives to be the best role model and single parent to her young son.
CBS: How is Kayden Cash doing?
JS: “He’s good. He’s actually teething right now so he’s a little bit fussy. He’s 6 months now.”
CBS: How has motherhood changed you?
JS: “Before, I didn’t have anyone to worry about or take care of but myself. And now everything that I do is for him now. If I go shopping for myself, I end up going to Babies ‘R Us and buying him stuff.”
CBS: What are the greatest rewards of motherhood?
JS: “Everything! I wake up in the morning and there he is smiling at me. He just started sitting up on his own which has been great. Just everything – I love everything about it! I’m definitely not getting enough sleep, but that’s ok.”
CBS: What are the biggest challenges of motherhood so far?
JS: “He has something called Hypertonia which is high muscle tone. He has to do physical therapy for that. The hardest part is just wanting everything to be ok and not being able to fix it. Being a mom, you just want to protect your kids from everything – so it’s been hard.”
CBS: Is Hypertonia a condition that can be treated?
JS: “Sometimes. In more cases it can be treated, but a lot of times it can be a sign of other conditions like cerbral palsy or multiple sclerosis. We just need to watch him and treat him as we go along and hope for the best.”
CBS: How do you not drown in the ‘what ifs’?
JS: “There are times that I do! I don’t know how I will deal with something like that – but I will. There are times that I do drown in the ‘what ifs’ and I cry and ask ‘How did this happen,’ or ‘How can I fix this?’ There are some good signs – like for instance he’s started sitting up on his own. We’re working on him crawling but it’s really difficult for him because he has muscle spasms and he gets irritated. Hopefully over time he will work through it. It’s just one minute at a time sometimes. He’s extremely fussy sometimes because of it. The doctor says it’s not painful, but it looks like it is. It looks like he’s trying to do things and he can’t and he has these muscle spasms and I feel like it’s painful for him.”
CBS: Have you connected with other moms or groups that have children with this condition?
JS: “Not yet. If it turns into CP or MS I wil definitely join groups for that support.”
CBS: What is a typical day like for you and Kayden?
JS: “I’m working on him sleeping in his own bed right now. For the first couple of months I did co-sleeping with him. So now I’m working on him sleeping through the whole night in his bed. It’s going pretty well, but he gets pretty fussy at about 4 a.m. and I get up and try to put him back to sleep and stay asleep in his bed. That’s been a little difficult. Sometimes I’ll give in if I’m really tired. Then around 8:30 or 9 a.m. he wakes up and we just hang out. Lots of tummy time and working on crawling or sitting up. We’re working on him saying ‘dadda’ and mamma.’ When we go to the rehearsal studio, he loves the music. We’ll come home and go for a walk around the neighborhood. He takes his naps around 12 and then another one around 6. He goes to bed around 10 or 11. I don’t know how he got himself into a nap at 6. He gets up around 8 and he doesn’t want to go back down until 10 or 11 p.m. I’m trying to change him into taking an earlier nap but that hasn’t really worked out too well.”
CBS: Do you have a nanny helping out?
JS: “No, it’s just me and my boyfriend.”
CBS: Is that Kayden’s father?
JS: “No that’s not Kayden’s father. Actually it is my producer, so I knew him the entire time I was pregnant.”
CBS: Are you keeping the identity of Kayden’s father private?
JS: “Yes. And we don’t co-parent. I’ve got full custody of Kayden. The father chooses not to be involved. That’s ok with me as long as the choice is made and he’s not going to come in and out of Kayden’s life. I don’t want to have to explain that to Kayden, so it’s easier for me to just let that go. I grew up with a mom that was in and out of my life and that is hard on kids!”
CBS: Has this made you want to be there for Kayden even more because of your experience with your own mother?
JS: “Oh yah! I had a babysitter one time for Kayden who came highly recommended. But still I was calling every 30 minutes. It felt horrible. It’s so hard to leave him. I know I’m going to have to get some help eventually when I go on tour, but it makes me really, really nervous. Especially with his problem. He’s high maintenance because of it. I will have to find somebody who is able to understand the problem and have a lot of patience because it can be very overwhelming sometimes.”
CBS: How do you keep it all together: being a young, single mom who has a child with a health condition?
JS: “I just love him so much. Also, I was a live-in nanny before I did American Idol for a 3-month-old and a 3-year-old.”
CBS: You’ve been referred to the ‘Fallen Idol’ because you’ve dealt with addictions and legal problems. Did you struggle with addictions prior to being on Idol?
JS: “Yah. I was really young and I didn’t even know I had a problem. I didn’t know about recovery. I never tried to get help or anything. I was drinking before Idol. During American Idol, my mother passed away and my drinking got really bad. After Idol, I was introduced to cocaine. The second I tried it, I couldn’t stop. People warned me not to start it, but I didn’t listen. Once the coke addiction started, everything got really bad really fast. It was like a roller coaster ride. It was going and I couldn’t stop it.”
CBS: Do you think you turned to drugs because of your mom’s death?
JS: “I think I turned to drugs for a lot of different reasons. There was a lot of stuff in my childhood like emotional abuse. My mom was a drug addict, she actually died of a drug overdose. She was in and out of my life as a child. My father took us in and wouldn’t allow her to come and go as she pleased. So I didn’t see her again until I was about 13 or 14-years old. At that point in my life, I was a really angry, angry child. I didn’t want anything to do with her. I said some really mean things to her. Then she died and I had to live with the fact that I was never able to apologize for the things I said. I didn’t mean it, I was a kid. So there was a lot of guilt and anger built up inside. It felt like when I drank and used I didn’t have to think about those things so I just continued to do it.”
CBS: It sounds like you didn’t have enough time to process the emotional abuse you had endured as a child.
JS: “I didn’t and at the time, I didn’t want to. I didn’t know how to. Those feeling were so painful and at the time I didn’t know ‘how’ to feel feelings at all! They were so foreign to me. As soon as I started to feel something, I just used more to cover it up. I didn’t want to feel it.”
CBS: You’ve since appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Is that what helped you become sober?
JS: “That was my first time doing rehab and I didn’t know anything about rehab. I did it and it was an amazing experience. It definitely planted the seed for recovery for me. After Celebrity Rehab, I didn’t stay sober, I relapsed, but because that seed was planted I kept coming back and eventually the judge sentenced me to rehab for a year. That definitely saved my life! I’ve been sober 2 1/2 years now.”
CBS: Is it hard to stay sober?
JS: “I really don’t think about it. Especially with Kayden, I have so much to think about with him. I guess there are times I’d just really like to sit back and have a beer but I can’t, so I don’t.”
CBS: So you were clean and sober during your pregnancy?
JS: “Oh yah.”
CBS: You’ve been to jail. Was it really scary?
JS: “That was horrible! That was probably the worst experience I’ve even been through. Worse than rehab! I was in solitary confinement for a month and a half. So 23 hours out of the day I was locked in a room and for 1 hour I got to come out. Only 1 hour a day.”
CBS: Why did you have such a severe sentence?
JS: “I think it was because my celebrity status. Anyone who comes through there with any kind of celebrity status, they have to take the measures to keep them safe and away from the media. It was horrible! Especially because at that time I wasn’t sober so for a month and half to be in a room with myself, by myself, with nothing but my feelings and my emotions and all the things I had been running from for so long, and then didn’t have anyone to help me deal with those emotion and feelings was the hardest part. It was horrible.”
CBS: Did you address those demons once you entered rehab again?
JS: “Absolutely. Once I got to rehab, I was given a counselor and I saw him once a day for a full year. He was so amazing and he helped me get through all of those emotional milestone throughout my life that I was running from. He was so amazing. I know there’s probably still a lot of stuff that I haven’t yet dealt with, but the major things that I needed to deal with, I definitely did. Everything else, I’m still processing and working on.”
CBS: You are so strong to have survived all of this and you’re only 24-years-old!
JS: “Yah, I feel like even though I’m only 24, I’ve experienced more things in my life that most people shouldn’t have to at such a young age.”
CBS: Is it hard to be a recovering alcoholic and substance user in Hollywood?
JS: “It is! It absolutely is! Since I’ve been sober I’ve gone to red carpet events and it’s hard. A lot of the red carpet events are held at a bar or a club. You go in there and everybody’s drinking and they look like they’re having such a good time. For a brief moment you think to yourself, ‘I wonder if I could have a good time like that and just have a drink?’ But I know that I can’t so I don’t even go there. What I mostly do is I go there, I do the red carpet event, I mingle for a little bit and then I leave. I don’t stay any longer than I have to. I don’t stay long enough to party. I just do what I have to do and get out of there. I have to get home to my son.”
CBS: Will you teach him about the dangers of drug and alcohol when he grows up?
JS: “Absolutely! He could definitely be predisposed to it, genetically. So I think the best thing for him would be to know about it. Be aware of it. Be aware of the situations that I went through, once he’s old enough to know about that kind of stuff. It is public knowledge and it is on the internet. I’d rather that I tell him than him discovering something on the internet. I don’t want him to feel deceived or anything like that. I’m definitely going to talk to him about it and just keep him aware of the things that could happen. I can’t stop him from doing anything. Nobody can stop anybody from doing anything. I can just teach him about it and that’s it.”
CBS: Will you be open about what you went through?
JS: “I will be open about most of the things. If he has questions, I will definitely be open to answering them. Some things he doesn’t need to know about the details. The things that are public knowledge, absolutely! If he has questions, I’ll answer them.”
CBS: So you’ll have to address the sex tape one day?!
JS: “Ahhhh, I know! He doesn’t need to know anything about it. He just needs to know that’s a consequence of what happens when you get loaded. Once the drugs and alcohol have taken over, you do things to survive. You do things to be able to pay for your drugs and your alcohol and you really don’t have much of a conscience when you’re getting loaded. You’ll do anything to keep on getting loaded. It consumes you, it consumes your life, it consumes all of your being.”
CBS: Do you feel lucky to be alive?
JS: “Absolutely, I feel lucky to be alive! There were moments when I was getting high and I thought I was going to have a heart attack and it didn’t bother me at all. I guess there was a part of me for a long time that really wanted to die. With my religion [Christianity], I could never commit suicide because it’s an unforgivable sin, but there were moments when I prayed that this would be the last moment and this would be the last time. There were many moments where I felt I was going to die and it didn’t bother me at all.”
CBS: So many young stars die of drug and alcohol abuse in Hollywood. Why do you think it’s such an epidemic in showbiz?
JS: “I think that it’s everywhere, not just in Hollywood. I think that you hear about it because they are in the public eye, so it has to be talked about. They’re followed by cameras and they’ve got fans. The media eats it up and publicize it so much. I think that some the celebrities that are in and out of rehab feed off the media attention, but some of them just need to be left alone and go and get some help. I think that the more attention they get from the media, the more they go out and show the cameras how much they can party, they can’t be told what to do, they’re ‘so and so.’ But really what they need is to be left alone and go and get some help because if they don’t they will wind up like the rest of them, which is dead.”
CBS: That makes me think of Lindsay Lohan.
JS: “Yah, it’s really sad. But I think she’s really crying out for someone to come in and help her.”
CBS: You’d be great at helping others after everything you’ve gone through.
JS: “I would love to be able to help others. Right now I go out and speak to kids and raise awareness with at-risk children about drugs and alcohol. I tell them my story and they ask questions. It’s a lot of fun to reach out to these kids. Maybe if they just get a glimpse of hope, they will be ok.”
CBS: Tell us about being in the studio and your new album.
JS: “We finished in the studio just after Kayden was born. We finished most of the songs and we just released my single, Enough, about a month ago. You can download it on iTunes. We’re working on getting radio play and I’m working on performances. Just lots of promotion for the single – that’s where we’re at right now. I wrote the whole album based on my life. Things that have happened in my past or happening right now. I just hope that people can listen to it and relate to it.”
CBS: Are you grateful for your experience on American Idol?
JS: “Oh I’m absolutely grateful! I really wish that I could have experienced it in a sober state and really enjoyed it. But the times that I do remember were amazing and it was a stepping stone and I am very grateful to the producers and the judges for giving all of us, including me, a chance to go out there and showcase our voice and what we love to do. A lot of us would never have had that opportunity without Idol. A lot of people are from small towns who come to the show and would never have been given an opportunity like that.”
CBS: Simon, who is known to be such a hard judge, said that you were musically strong. That must have been quite an honor.
JS: “It was! Everyone sees Simon as a hard person, mean and critical. But he really is a nice person. He’s definitely straight forward and says it like it is, but I think he really does care about people’s feelings. Off stage he’s very, very nice.”
CBS: Any last words?
JS: “We’re just working hard on getting the word out about my single. Please tell your readers to look me up on my website where you can download my music. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you so much.”