Just two weeks after the birth of their baby boy, Ashley Graham and husband Justin Ervin recorded an episode of her Pretty Big Deal podcast to introduce him to the world. But before we got to see tiny Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin, his proud parents told viewers and listeners the beautiful story of how they welcomed him into the world.
“I feel like I’m ‘aww’-ing all day long,” Graham said, when talking about seeing her baby boy and his dad. The new mom is so smitten, in fact, that she says she feels energized even when she wakes up with him every two to four hours in the night.
We could take that as proof that she is a magical unicorn, if Graham and Ervin weren’t also so open about how they arrived at this positive, content state. The earlier months of her pregnancy, for example, were tough for the model. In a previous podcast, Graham talked to Shay Mitchell about prepartum depression.
“It felt like an alien was taking over,” she said of how she felt she had lost control of her own body. “I had to go back to the basics of what affirmations were. My words have power.”
One of the keys to understanding and accepting her own feelings was to befriend other mothers. Ervin too made it a point to connect with other dads and dads-to-be.
“It was great to have that network because it’s hard for adults in general but men in specific to have these fast bonds unless you’ve been through something together,” said the filmmaker.
The couple said they made a pact with each other to maintain their strong relationship when the baby came. As part of that, they decided to go on a peaceful mini-vacation on Graham’s actual due date. With her midwives’ approval, they made the three-and-a-half-hour trip from their Brooklyn home out to Sag Harbor in Long Island.
“It was really a time for us to connect,” Graham said. That’s when the reality hit her that everything was about to change. “I had a moment when I just started sobbing, ‘I don’t want this to change. I still want you and me.’ ”
A week later, on January 18, the baby was ready to make his entrance into the world, and Graham reacted to her first real contractions with surprising nonchalance. They even went out to breakfast, and Graham kept her appointment for a yoga class. In the middle of her class, however, her water broke.
The couple had opted for a natural home birth, a decision they’re still quite happy about.
“You would have been freaking out every moment in a hospital bed,” Ervin said to his wife.
When the baby was coming out into the birthing pool, Ervin was a part of the whole process.
“Seeing you with tears in your eyes and saying ‘I can see his head’ gave me so much strength to just push him out,” Graham said, tearing up. “I really needed that.”
Ervin recalled the moment when Isaac came out and looked him straight in the eyes. “I recognized him and it was like he recognized us,” he said. “We all had that moment that was like, we’re a family.”
Having gone through natural childbirth makes her feel invincible now.
“I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do,” she said. “There’s nothing that could come my way where I say, ‘That’s too hard. I can’t handle that.’”
When baby Isaac woke up from his nap, he made his big podcast debut. He’s an adorable little black-haired bundle, of course.
Ervin said he came up with the name Isaac back when he was in high school and would speculate with his sister about what they would name their children. Menelik is the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Giovanni is a name they came up with to honor Ervin’s partial Italian ancestry, and since it’s the Italian version of John, it’s also a nod to both Graham’s and Ervin’s grandfathers.
It’s too soon to tell much about Isaac’s personality, but so far, he’s certainly keeping his parents entertained.
“My favorite part is after he’s done feeding and he wants to have play time conversations, and he does all these different faces,” Graham said, imitating his expressions. “He’s ever changing. He just wants to say something. It’s so cute!”