As the first plus-size supermodel, a fashion designer, and a two-time pick for People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list, Emme knows something about beauty. Or she thought she did until she gave birth to daughter Toby Cole. "The bond you instantly share with your child is the most beautiful thing in the world," she says. Her latest project is cowriting a children's book with her husband, Phillip Aronson. Due from HarperCollins next year, What Are You Hungry For? is about filling your heart, not just your tummy.
"When my career took off, we waited to be parents. Once I hit 35, we felt ready. But it took time for me to get pregnant, and I had a couple of miscarriages. It was difficult not to let that get me down. My advice is to give yourself at least a year to get pregnant naturally and don't tell anyone you're trying -- then you won't have people checking in all the time."
"It's impossible to hide your growing belly, so play up your best features instead. I found a basic black Donna Karan dress I felt good in, plus some clothes from Old Navy, and then spent lots of time on hair, makeup, and accessories. Don't try to cover up with big clothes -- they just make you look frumpy."
"I took a CD filled with dolphin and wave sounds to the hospital, which calmed me, and an inflatable exercise ball to squat on. I tried to do without the epidural, but it was an intense 28 hours! If I have another baby, I'll go into the hospital saying, 'Hi, I'm Emme, can you give me my epidural now?' Of course, when the baby's born and you see that little face looking up at you, you forget all of the pain."
"I'm still not back to my prepregnancy weight. I got up to 265. It took me a year and a half to get to 210 and I still have 10 or 15 pounds hanging around. I swam during my first two trimesters, but in the last three months I couldn't do anything. Now, because I did the Danskin Triathlon last year, I've gotten used to running, swimming, lifting weights, and taking spin classes. I drink lots of water and eat whole grains, and most important, I'm not giving myself a deadline. I'll get those pounds off eventually, and they'll stay off because I'm taking my time and doing it right."
"I am a huge believer in baby massage. It gets the circulation going, is perfect for feet when they are learning to walk, and relaxes toddlers. Get a baby-massage book and some Burt's Bees apricot oil, and you'll have a happier baby."
"Toby's first word was 'hello' and now she babbles on and on. I was eating watermelon once and I said it was succulent. A week later she used the same sentence. Unfortunately, I said 'damn it' once, and she picked that up too."
"Toby just turned 4, so she's acting out and getting a lot of time-outs. One night I said it was bedtime, and she told me that she didn't love me. I said, 'Now you hurt my feelings, and you still have to go to bed.'"
"I prefer that Toby read or do something creative, but she does watch TV. The Wiggles are her favorite performers. I took her to see them in concert, and it was like the Beatles for children."
"Ask for help when you're at your wits' end. A baby may be small, but he or she requires a huge amount of time and energy. Don't be ashamed to ask questions. After all, how could you possibly know everything?"
Carrie Bell is an entertainment writer and reporter in Los Angeles.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, October 2005.