Even Ashley Graham has noticed how many models became new moms during the pandemic!
The 33-year-old runway star welcomed her first son, Isaac, in January 2020 before the global lockdown began.
Since then, Iskra Lawrence became a mom in April 2020, Gigi Hadid gave birth to Khai in September 2020, Emily Ratajkowski had baby Sylvester in March 2021 and Karlie Kloss gave birth to Levi in March 2021 as well.
"It's amazing how many mommy friends I have now," Ashley tells E! News in an exclusive interview. "They just appeared."
She knows first-hand how nice it can be to "have friends around that you know you can call on a whim, whenever you've got a question about baby world or pregnancy world."
That's why she's open to swapping tips with fellow moms and setting up playdates. When Karlie welcomed her first baby with Joshua Kushner this spring, Ashley commented on the model's Instagram post, "I can't wait to meet you Levi!! Play dates are going to be so fun!!"
Now, Ashley tells E! News that she FaceTimed Karlie last week, and they finally set up that playdate. "I'm so excited because we're both back on the East Coast now," says the author, who recently walked in Michael Kors fall winter 2021 fashion show in New York.
And just last week, Ashley met up with EmRata for lunch and a catch-up.
"When you sit down with another mom, all you kind of talk about is like being a mom," Ashley reflects. "And you try not to do it, but ultimately, that's all you talk about."
However, she has one rule that she sticks to when discussing parenthood with her friends: "I always say, 'Do you want the advice?' before."
It's a priority for Ashley because, as she has experienced, "There's just so much unsolicited advice that you get when you're pregnant… You feel bombarded by it a bit, so I think the best thing to do when talking to anyone who's pregnant or has just had a baby is, like, make sure they want the advice before you give it."
It seems her friends are eager to hear her words of wisdom. As Ashley recalled, "Emily actually said, 'Yes, I want the advice, that's why I'm talking to you.'"
Of course, Ashley values her one-on-one time with her husband, as well as her pals.
She and filmmaker Justin Ervin, who have been married for more than 10 years, recently got home from their first-ever vacation together without their baby, who is now 16 months old.
Before the spouses' road trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Ashley obviously had to get her tan on with her go-to self-tanner from St. Tropez. As the Global Brand Ambassador, she used her own St. Tropez Tan x Ashley Graham Limited Edition Ultimate Glow Kit ($55) on the Thursday before their weekend getaway for a sun kissed look.
"I feel like it's better to have a faux tan than one that the sun gave you, just because it's better for your skin. And I've learned that the hard way many a time," Ashley explains. "For me, being tan makes me just feel confident. I feel like I want to be naked more," she laughs, adding, "It doesn't matter that I'm still 25 pounds up from Isaac, from being pregnant. Like, I'm like, 'Look at me!' … It's like a confidence-booster to have an extra glow."
That's why she's excited for fans to get their hands on the kit as summer heats up. "I used it when I was pregnant," she continues. "You can do one layer and have a little sun kiss, or you can do a couple layers and leave it on for three hours and be like ultra, ultra tan."
Ashley notes how "weird" it was to finally get some alone time with Justin during their SoCal trip. "It felt like it was before we had Isaac and were just like giddy, in love, in each other's faces."
In fact, they had such a magical time at their coastal retreat that they've decided to implement a new policy into their marriage.
"We were like, 'OK, these three nights away made us have a new rule,'" the former America's Next Top Model judge shares.
Their first rule was that they don't go longer than two weeks without seeing each other. Now, the couple has decided that "whenever we can" (with the stipulation that the timing is TBD because we're all "coming into what a new normal is"), they are going to start going away with each other more often, even if it's just for a couple of nights.
Why? Well, in Ashley's words, "Because marriage is important and being connected to your partner when you are married is important, especially when babies come into the mix."
She jokes, "I need my alone time with me, and I need alone time with my man."
It's part of a larger realization she's made during the pandemic about needing to prioritize her mental health.
According to Ashley, she has learned "that I need more alone time than I ever thought I did," adding, "I carve it out of my schedule. And Justin's really great about giving it to me and taking Isaac. Or my mom is also super helpful."
The American Beauty Star host goes on, "I think people have realized it's more important that you focus on the things that actually matter, and I feel like this past year alone has allowed me to focus on taking care of my mental health, along with my physical health. It's like the two go hand-in-hand, but really I think that there's an emphasis on the inside, and it's not necessarily as much about the outside as it was before."