Then the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and Ashley and her family left New York to quarantine in Nebraska, where she was brought up. Rather than cancel the shoot, we took the unusual step of asking Ashley’s husband, the cinematographer Justin Ervin, if he would take the photographs.
Shot over two days amid the rolling grassland and in the deserted towns near her mother’s home, these intimate pictures of Ashley and her baby Isaac, along with her memories of the past momentous months, are a testament to the eternal joy of family love, and the beauty to be found in the human experience even during an unprecedented crisis. Here, Ashley talks us through some of the milestones in her journey to becoming a mother for the first time.
Spring 2019 Ashley Graham is pregnant with her first baby. “I was so excited. I knew immediately I was going to be a great mum.” But the poster girl for body positivity finds it unexpectedly hard to cope with the changes of her own body. “That was the wildest part. I thought, ‘What about the things I’ve told myself? What about the affirmations I’ve gone through?’ None of these mattered because my body was changing so rapidly. It really took me some time to figure it out mentally, because it was like there was an alien taking over my body.” She thinks she has pre-natal depression. “When you go from laughing to crying in 30 seconds, you do wonder if you are OK. Unbeknown to me, that’s pregnancy!
“One of the best things I did for myself was to make pregnant friends, and then I realised I wasn’t alone, I was normal, and that calmed me down. I started to enjoy being pregnant in my third trimester.’
18 January 2020 Ashley and her husband of 10 years, Justin Ervin, have long ago decided on a home birth. At 7am, Ashley wakes up with contractions. Her plan is to continue with the day: go out to brunch, take a yoga class and get a pedicure. But her waters break while she’s doing a cat-cow stretch. “It was the first really big contraction. I started crying, and I was like, wow, game on.”
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