Ashley Graham has always openly shared her personal experiences with motherhood. For years, the model has championed body positivity, sharing glimpses of difficult times in her life and allowing others who have given birth to speak honestly and freely about their own journeys. Most recently, in a deeply personal essay written for Glamor on May 20, Graham candidly reflected on her experience of pregnancy loss, giving birth to twins, and learning to love her postpartum body.
Giving birth to twins
The night she gave birth to her twins – Malachi and Roman – Graham passed out in her flat’s bathtub just minutes into her three-and-a-half-hour labor. (Graham also gave birth at home with her first child, Isaac.) “All I remember is feeling a slight touch on my cheek, which I later discovered was actually someone slapped shit on my cheek, someone holding my hand, my husband Justin in my ear, praying, and someone stabbed me with a needle in my arm. And I remember seeing darkness and what looked like stars,” she wrote.
With the help of her midwives and her husband, Justin Ervin, Graham finally regained consciousness after losing gallons of blood from hemorrhaging. The experience was “messy” and “emotional” and laid the foundation for Graham’s difficult postnatal journey. “Like so many women, what I went through with childbirth has reshaped my relationship with my body – and I say this knowing that I am the person who has been shouting to you from the rooftops, ‘Love the skin you’re in. you are,'” she says. “Still, for me, the birth of my three children threw a lot of things out the window.”
Continuing, Graham adds, “The birth of Malachi and Roman was incredible, but the consequences were deeply crushing,” she says. “I couldn’t walk properly for a long time, let alone exercise. I was shaking, I didn’t feel like myself physically or emotionally. I had planned to go back to work after eight weeks, but I was a wreck, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I still felt like I was pregnant.”
On the experience of pregnancy loss
After the birth of her first son, Isaac, in 2019, Graham suffered a pregnancy loss. “I haven’t shared this till now but I got pregnant in January 2021 on my husband’s birthday. As it was my second pregnancy I started showing early and we were so excited,” she said. “But at the end of February, I had a miscarriage. It was devastating; it was like one of the biggest losses I’ve ever suffered in my life to date. And I understood in that moment “That’s what so many other mothers have gone through. I already had a child, and looking at him was the only way to ease my pain, and yet the loss was so acute.”
“It was devastating; it felt like one of the biggest losses I’ve ever suffered in my life to date.”
Graham continues. “I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking this must be for women who haven’t had children yet and for those who have had multiple miscarriages.” Graham describes feeling like she just had to “move on” from her grief – an almost impossible task. “I just remember cracking up a few times, just randomly, and thinking, ‘How do women all over the world do this? Because my story is no bigger than anyone else’s. who else.'”
Learn to love your postpartum body
Later in her letter, Graham describes the immense stress she felt about having to “bounce back” after giving birth. The physical and emotional toll was overwhelming. “I’ve always struggled with unfair and unrealistic standards and yet, if I’m being completely honest, I was there, expecting to roll back. And fast,” she says. “I was like, ‘You don’t understand. I was a sex symbol, and now I’m a baby-making machine and I have stretch marks all the way to my navel. What’s going on? ” Then one day I stopped and thought, ‘Fuck off, this is my life.'”
“I tell myself I’m a warrior for carrying and giving birth to my babies, for surviving the bleeding, for being the mother of my three boys, and yet I still struggle with the transformation of my body.”
Once Graham teamed up with Joanna Griffiths and Knix to create her new size-inclusive lingerie collection, Reveal Yourself, life slowly began to replenish itself. “She and the Knix team have supported me after birth in such a way that I wish every business could support women in their business, whether they had just given birth, had had a fake sleeping or having to deal with something else,” Graham said.
In recounting her journey after birth, Graham says she hopes to empower other women to speak more openly about their own experiences and feel fearless, beautiful and vulnerable all at once. “I’m still not entirely comfortable in my body, regardless of my own advocacy for body positivity,” she says. “Day after day, it comes and goes. I tell myself that I am a warrior for having carried and given birth to my babies, for having survived the hemorrhage, for being the mother of my three boys, and yet also always with the Struggling with the transformation of my body… Even as a body advocate, I’ve learned that it’s okay if the journey to love the skin you’re in is more complex than you ever could. imagine it.”