"I think they all knew that I have that animal in me," the 25-year-old supermodel said of her family and partner Zayn Malik, while speaking to Vogue for the magazine's March 2021 cover story. Still, before giving birth to their daughter, Khai, back in September, Hadid herself didn't know exactly what to expect.
Admittedly, a home birth isn't what the couple had originally planned for. They had anticipated having their child at a hospital in New York City. After relocating to Pa. during the coronavirus pandemic, however, their plans had changed.
"What I really wanted from my experience was to feel like, Okay, this is a natural thing that women are meant to do," she explained. When she and Malik watched the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born — the Ricki Lake documentary about home births, including her own — after considering the regulations that the hospital would place on friends and family being present for the birth, she said, "We both looked at each other and were like, I think that’s the call."
Still, with Malik, her mother Yolanda, her sister Bella, a midwife and her assistant by her side, Hadid said the experience, at times, felt impossible.
"There definitely was a point where I was like, I wonder what it would be like with an epidural, how it would be different," she recalled. "My midwife looked at me and was like, ‘You’re doing it. No one can help you. You’re past the point of the epidural anyway, so you’d be pushing exactly the same way in a hospital bed."
Once baby Khai — meaning “the chosen one” in Arabic — arrived, Hadid needed some time to realize what had taken place. "It didn’t even click that she was out," she said. "I was so exhausted, and I looked up and [Malik]'s holding her. It was so cute."
The couple announced the baby's birth in late September with separate Instagram posts.
"I know my mom and Zayn and Bella were proud of me, but at certain points I saw each of them in terror,” she recalled. And although she explained baby Khai as "so bright," reflecting on her "peaceful bringing to the world," Hadid also noted that she and Malik aren't in any rush to have another child. “Afterward, Z and I looked at each other and were like, We can have some time before we do that again."
Hadid was then offered the cover of Vogue, at just 10-weeks postpartum. "I know that I’m not as small as I was before, but I also am a very realistic thinker. I straight up was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll shoot a Vogue cover, but I’m obviously not going to be a size 0,’ nor do I, at this point, feel like I need to be back to that,” she said. “I also think it’s a blessing of this time in fashion that anyone who says that I have to be that can suck it."
And although it was a quick re-entry in front of the camera, the new mother isn't anticipating a full return to her nomadic life as a global supermodel.
"It feels like now I’m in a different place in my life," she told the publication. "I’m veering toward things that feel more stable than being in a different country every week."
With a following of 63.5 million on Instagram alone, Hadid hasn't gone completely off the radar, and is sharing snippets of her life with a little baby girl.
Still, she plans to keep Khai's life more private while she can. "I have friends who are public figures and that’s how they’ve gone about it, and I see their kids really blossom in a different way," she said.
Most importantly, she's learned from the many parents in her life that parenting is a unique journey to take at her own pace.
"You have a kid and you’re lying in bed together and you look over and you’re like, ‘Okay, what now?’ And you ask all of your friends the same questions, and everyone has a different answer. And that’s when you kind of realize that everyone figures it out for themselves,” she shared. “And you do it in your own way, and you can take bits and pieces from people, but you’re always going to end up doing it a little bit differently. This is our way."
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