While filling in for Hoda Kotb on TODAY with Hoda and Jenna Friday morning, model Ashley Graham spoke candidly with Jenna Bush Hager about the joys of being a new mom, posing for cover shoots during the pandemic, and the sweet story behind her son's name.
"I am in heaven," Graham said. "I love being a momma. He is so cute and so sweet and so happy and when my husband and I were naming him, Isaac means laughter, and we just really wanted a happy, laughing baby, and sure enough we got him."
Graham said that despite the trying times brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, she's enjoyed being able to spend time with her son and husband Justin Ervin, which she "never would have been able to carve out" with her normal schedule.
"The best parts are when he just looks at you and knows it’s you, mama, and he smiles," she gushed. "That smile, that gummy, toothy (smile), it’s just the best."
It's not all sweet moments in quarantine, though — Graham said that she and her husband were recently sleep training Isaac, which led to some tough nights — but she's surrounded by support. She, her son, and her husband of 10 years have been staying at her mother's home in Lincoln, Nebraska, along with her mother's boyfriend.
"It is quite a party every single day," she laughed.
While Nebraska is a marked change from her time in big cities like New York City and Los Angeles, she said that spending time in the home she grew up in has been a joy.
"I've never enjoyed Nebraska as much as I am now," she confessed. "Isaac loves being outside, my husband likes to be able to just get in the car and drive away. ... There’s open air here, rolling grass. We’ve just been making the best of it."
She said that she and Ervin have even been looking at buying property in the area.
"It's a nostalgia being back, and summertime in Nebraska is the best. It just really is. You don’t get a bad day here. Now, when winter comes, my mind might change a little bit, but I don’t know," she said, laughing. "Making snowmen with a one-year-old could be pretty fun too."
The family spirit of the past few months has even crept into Graham's work. While in quarantine, she posed for the cover of Harper's Bazaar and did a full photoshoot for Harper's Bazaar U.K. Both projects were done by her husband, who is a photographer and cinematographer himself, with some help from her mom and her mother's boyfriend.
"My husband's taking the picture and Mario Sorrenti (a photographer and director) is on the other end of a Zoom call, directing Justin on what angle (to use)," Graham said. "...I never knew that I was going to have to do literally everything, and thank god I’m quarantined with my husband who is a photographer and cinematographer, because it just makes life a lot easier when it comes to creating content."
Graham said that despite the chaos, she's enjoyed the new challenge of trying to do her job from home.
"It has been so fun to step outside of the norm," she said. "Yes it’s been hectic and chaotic at times, but I think these are moments where people are getting creative, and at least for me it’s bene a whole sense of creativity that I never knew I could actually tap into."
Graham also said that Isaac's birth has given her a new perspective on the work she wants to do. The model is known for her inspirational, body-positive photoshoots, but they've taken on a new meaning in the past few months.
"I think for everything that I’ve ever stood for, it’s about women being and feeling great in their skin no matter who they are, but now as a mother I think it’s even more important because I’m not just a role model for people who follow me, I’m a role model for him," she said. "Now, having my body completely change and stretch marks and extra weight and my hips and my stomach have shifted into new areas, I just want women to know that things will change and it’s most important to just continue to love yourself."