Becoming a mother is always hard. But becoming a mother during a global pandemic? That's a whole different undertaking. Maybe you've lost work or income, or been forced to navigate early parenthood with the help of a village, or felt your heart break every single day that you can't introduce that sweet new baby to their grandparents in person. Whatever the case may be, every mama to a pandemic baby has faced the disorienting reality that is feeling your entire world change, all while the world around you changes right along with it.
See: Ashley Graham, who just hosted The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and used her monologue to get real (and really relatable) about new what new motherhood looks like when set against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
"Recently I started a new job and that's probably one of my favorite jobs ever. I became a mom," Graham shared. "My son, Isaac Menelik Giovanni came into the world on January 18, 2020. He made it just in time for the world to shut down."
First of all, props to this mama for referring to being a mom as a job—because that's what it is! The supermodel opened up how the pandemic affected her family. Specifically, she discussed the "role reversal" she's experienced since moving back in with her own mom (and her mom's new boyfriend). Graham touched on the challenges of putting her baby to sleep (and even sleep training her son) while sharing a roof with them—and anyone who has ever attempted either of these things while with extended family members knows how challenging they can be.
Ashley Graham on Being a First-Time Mom During the Pandemic www.youtube.com
But for Graham, there's been a significant upside to pandemic parenthood: She was gifted a long maternity leave and extra bonding time with her firstborn, which is invaluable—but also most certainly not something every mother has received, with or without a pandemic. "Some working moms have to go back just after a few weeks, and that's assuming that they even get a maternity leave at all," she said. "It's like these employers are like 'hey, congratulations on growing a whole new human from scratch but like, we really need you back at work like, A-S-A-P. It's not okay. Not okay at all.'" We couldn't agree more.
Graham also got real about some of the other realities of new motherhood that have little to do with the pandemic, like the, ahem, logistical concerns that nursing moms face. Sleep training as a breastfeeding mom, for example? "You can't fully understand what it's like until you're lying in bed in the middle of the night listening to your baby scream while your boobs are leaking everywhere," she shared. "It's really sexy."
And then there's postpartum hair loss (hello, massive clumps of hair clogging your shower drain!). "Did I mention that all of my hair fell out? Well, at least my hairline. Because it did. I had postpartum hair loss and it's also a really sexy thing that happens after you have a kid," she revealed. "And I say that it all fell out of my head, because you know who thrived during that time? My armpit hair." Raise your hand if you can relate, mama.
New motherhood can always feel isolating, but it has to feel even lonelier for mothers who can't see or hug the people they love. That's why we're applauding Graham for opening up about the things so many new moms experience—maybe it'll help a struggling new mama realize she isn't alone. And that matters so, so much.