Thoughtful, funny, and kind, Julee is a beacon of positivity. Recently named the first Black Beauty Director at Cosmo (oh, no big deal), Julee is pregnant with her second and pretty much as epic as they come.
This rockstar mama shares her path to pregnancy from multiple miscarriages to quarantine baby, and why Zoom-life might be the perfect pregnancy life (hello, chest-up world). Plus, learning to trust her body, raising children that feel free, and sneaking in self-care throughout the day (oil up, baby!)
How are you feeling?
Compared to my last, it all feels so new; it’s been six years since we had our son, which is almost enough time to forget how it felt. While I’m certainly having moments of deja vu, so much has changed since then, even technology (the baby monitors are so fancy now!). Plus, we don’t know the sex of the baby, which makes it extra exciting.
What was the pregnancy journey?
Initially, we wanted to keep the “parenting window” short (as my husband likes to say), but life got in the way, and I was naive. After we had our son, I pregnancy for granted, assuming that I could snap my fingers and be pregnant at will, which wasn’t the case. Or rather, I could get pregnant; I just couldn’t stay pregnant.
Last year, we had two confirmed pregnancies. I went to the doctor for each, heard their hearts’ beat, and at 12 weeks, we lost them both; the first in March and the second in October.
Heartbroken and depressed, after back to back miscarriages, we decided to pause for a while to breathe and reset. Plus, I didn’t love my job and was having to commute, which added to my stress. Then I got a new job (hello, Cosmo!) just before Covid hit, so with all the change and uncertainty, we assumed we weren’t going to have a child this year. But you know how these quarantine nights go…one evening, we lost track of ourselves, and it happened, totally unplanned!
Your experience with miscarriage?
The first one, I passed at home, and the second one, I went to the doctor, and she no longer heard the heartbeat. With the second, my options were to do a D&C (Dilation and curettage) or take the medication to bleed at home. I chose to take the medication because I didn’t want to have a procedure. I’ve never had surgery or even broken a bone, so I was scared. Plus, I had already bled at home with my first miscarriage, so I was familiar with how that felt. I had to take two rounds of medication because it didn’t all come out, but in the end, this was the best path for me.
Did you wait to share the news?
After so much loss, we were cautious about announcing to anyone outside of our family. I waited to tell my boss and friends until I was 25 weeks to ensure the pregnancy was super viable.
Excitingly, my sister is pregnant too! She is about four weeks ahead of me and has been my rock through the pandemic and my miscarriages. Neither of us shared our pregnancies with the world, but we had each other and would FaceTime serval times a day. I was able to call her after throwing up all morning, and it helped stave off some of the loneliness of quarantine.
Of course, being home made it easier to keep a secret. I wasn’t out in the street or at work; no one was seeing me. By the time that I came out, I had a massive bump! With these Zoom calls, this is a chest-up-world, so no one suspected a thing, even though the second I got off a Zoom call, I would run to the bathroom to throw-up!
Did you have morning sickness?
Terrible. The worst. I was severely sick with my son until 18 weeks, lost 16 pounds, and was on Zofran. This time I hoped it would be different, but unfortunately, the same: sick until 17 weeks, on Zofran, and lost about 14 pounds! I could not eat, was nauseous all day, and throwing up all the time even though I wasn’t eating. I thought I was going crazy, and my only solace was sleep. Therefore, it was nice to be working from home with quarantine to take naps when I needed to get through it. Fortunately, I’m better now.
By the time work knew I was pregnant, the sickness had subsided. It was wild, though; I had just started this epic, iconic new job, and needed to be present, which took everything in me to do. It was vital for me to demonstrate that I could do my job at the highest level and be an asset to the company. I was keen to prove I was a rockstar before announcing that I had been doing this job for six months while also growing a human! It’s not lost on me that I am the first Black Beauty Director in Cosmo’s history. Knowing this adds a whole other level of pressure in a good way. I am responsible for proudly representing Black women; I wasn’t going to add an asterisk to my hiring with this pregnancy.
Will you take maternity leave?
I’m a little nervous as I’m just getting my footing around the ethos of Cosmo only to be stepping away to take care of my baby. At the same time, everyone is home now, so I think it will be fine. I’m an advocate of people taking their full maternity leave to check out, take care of themselves and their baby; you can never get that precious time back to bond with your child. But, I’m also someone who loves their job; I find joy in what I do and have worked hard to get here. That said, my team at Cosmo are rockstars, and I’m not worried at all. While not micro-managing from afar, I hope to stay in the loop as much as possible on the big picture stuff because I love it; I have a dope job!
Beauty and selfcare routine?
I have been leaning into beauty like never before because I can do so much more now while being home. To start, I’m an oil freak! I know you can’t prevent stretch marks, but I am rubbing this belly with oil like crazy just in case. I use everything from a Rosehip seed oil to HATCH Belly Oil and one from Klur that is Black-owned and amazing. Plus, I take a lot of baths because that feels good on my joints after sitting on my bed all day working. Lastly, I have been masking a lot during the day. I mean, I can have a whole clay mask on my face or pimple stickers while on calls, and no one is the wiser! It’s brilliant.
I had a gestational diabetes scare but just found out that I don’t actually have it. I am fine, but it was a real wake up call for me, so I’m going to stick to fewer carbs, and less sugar to be more healthy over all.
Otherwise, I have been craving ice cream, popcorn, lots of warm teas and soups, plus Caesar salad, pineapple, and grapefruit. Plus, anything salty like collard greens with ham hocks or ribs. I’m a foodie in real life, which only amplifies while pregnant, especially after not eating for three months!
I used to have my own when I was at Essence Magazine called The Color Files and would love to start another one at Cosmo, but until then, I listen to NY Times The Daily, Fat Mascara, and Beauty Needs Me.
So many magazines (because that’s what I do) plus I listen to books on Audible. I just finished The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by Andre Leon Talley and The Plaza. I’m a big fan of non-fiction, I want the real stuff.
It’s been incredible to see our non-Black allies step up and be a part of the movement. Black Lives Matter is just another iteration of the civil rights movement and the revolt against slavery before that. We have been fighting for our freedom for as long as forever; it’s nothing new. But to now see more and more people beyond our community stepping up, raising their voices, and putting their lives, reputations, and jobs on the line show me we are moving toward a more unified front in this fight.
Therefore, my hope is to raise my two Black children in a world where they can feel as free as possible, and right now, that’s not a given. While ecstatic to be pregnant and have another child, I also have trepidation and fear to bring another Black person into a world that doesn’t celebrate them in the way they deserve to be celebrated. We fight for that sense of joy for our son and will do the same for our baby. It’s a worry but also a fantastic honor.