Assisting at the birth were her partner Zayn Malik, her mother, Yolanda, and her sister, Bella, as well as a local midwife and a Zoom doula.
The early hours of labor were spent watching The Indian in the Cupboard, one of Gigi’s favorite children’s novels. The movie was one of Malik’s favorites too. “That’s something we’d never talked about but in that moment we discovered we both loved,” Gigi says.
Gigi altered her original plans to give birth in a New York City hospital once COVID restrictions were in place, and after watching the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born. “What I really wanted from my experience was to feel like, Okay, this is a natural thing that women are meant to do.”
In preparation, they set up a blow-up bath in their bedroom and worked with Gigi’s high school classmate, doula Carson Meyer.
Describing her labor, Gigi says, “I had to dig deep. I knew it was going to be the craziest pain in my life, but you have to surrender to it and be like, ‘This is what it is.’ I loved that.”
“There definitely was a point where I was like, I wonder what it would be like with an epidural, how it would be different,” Gigi says. “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.’”
Malik caught the baby. “It didn’t even click that she was out,” says Hadid. “I was so exhausted, and I looked up and he’s holding her. It was so cute.”
“She was so bright right away,” Gigi says of baby Khai. “That’s what I wanted for her, a peaceful bringing to the world.”
Yolanda Hadid has praised Gigi for her approach to motherhood. “She decided to completely take care of the baby alone,” says Yolanda, “and I think that bond is so important.”
“I’m proud of her face on a magazine, but seeing her give birth was a whole other level of proud,” Yolanda says. “You go from looking at her as a daughter to looking at her as a fellow mother.”
And Gigi has definitely been enjoying motherhood. Until recently, baby Khai has been co-sleeping with her parents in a padded DockATot. “I was a little sad to start sleep training because we loved having her,” says Gigi. “Like when I wake up and I look over and she’s already awake, laughing at the ceiling fan, I love that. It’s going to be so sad when she’s out of our room....”
“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,” says Gigi. “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.”
Gigi hopes to raise Khai on their Pennsylvania farm. She says, “I think she’ll definitely be raised here. The greenery and the farm-y lifestyle are similar to what made me feel really centered as a kid, and I think that’s really important to Zayn and me.”
10 weeks after giving birth, Gigi was back to work, shooting a Vogue cover — but with a realistic attitude about it. “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 says. “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.”
“I’m veering toward things that feel more stable than being in a different country every week,” she says. “It feels like now I’m in a different place in my life.”