In every May issue of P&N, we have the privilege of sharing a peek into the lives of five fascinating mamas. Our hope is that you’ll be inspired, but more so that you’ll feel right at home in this wonderful sisterhood.
Home: Montgomery County, Maryland
Kids: Charleigh Alaina (10), Ila Joey Stone (3 months)
First thing you do when you wake up: Pray
Last book you read: Stitches by Anne Lamott
Pregnancy craving: Ice from Cava
Favorite way to unwind: Hot shower
Most played artist on your phone: Chance the Rapper
Alexandra Elle, author and mom of two, met her husband, Ryan, by accident. The couple crossed paths on Twitter, and the rest is history, she says. After a year long-distance (him in Los Angeles, her in D.C.), he moved to be with Elle and her 6-year-old daughter, Charleigh. “Because of my career, I was able to visit LA often and build memories with Ryan. That was a very fun time in our relationship,” she recalls. Five years later, they prepared to welcome a new little love into their lives.
“During this pregnancy, he made every moment special,” shares Elle. “Our relationship blossomed even more as we prepared to bring life into the world.” The nine months were smooth and uncomplicated, much like her first pregnancy 10 years ago. “Nothing has been difficult, thank goodness! I love the kicks, swirls and hiccups that baby makes. It amazes me each and every time.”
That’s not to say that the path to parenthood was without its challenges. The couple struggled to conceive because of male factor infertility before opting to try in vitro fertilization. “I took a pregnancy test a day before we were set to get a blood test done at our fertility clinic. I just could not wait,” she confesses. “It popped up positive right away! I immediately told my husband, and we both celebrated with lots of hugs and laughter. It had been a long road for us.”
To share the news with their 10-year-old daughter, whom Elle describes as “part unicorn, part fairy, part bookworm and all love,” they took her to Starbucks a week later and had the barista call out “big sister Charleigh” when her drink was ready. “She was beside herself with excitement! It was a beautiful time for our family,” Elle says.
Now that baby Ila has joined the bunch, Charleigh is thrilled to have a younger sister, and it turns out the two are a lot alike. “Life with Ila is magic! She is easy and laid-back just like her sister was,” says Elle, who admits the long stretch between her pregnancies made her nervous for a bit. “I wasn’t sure I would remember how to mother, if I am being honest. Ten years is a huge age gap. But I remembered, and I feel so good and proud of myself.”
Despite the familiarity of being a new (again) mom, Elle is quick to note that there are a few distinct contrasts the second time around. “I am married to a man that loves me. I had a partner with me every single step of the way. And we are truly a family unit. That makes this experience immensely different,” she explains.
Her brood makes a point to spend quality time together. She and Charleigh often bake, and they all gather round to watch the weekly episode of “Blackish.” They also love to play UNO—for cash, she adds with a laugh. “Being a mother has reminded me that time is fleeting and to enjoy every single moment we are granted,” Elle says. “We see time so vividly when raising children. It blows my mind!”
That mentality extends to carving out time for herself and her work, as a writer and self-love advocate. “In order for us—moms, women—to take care of our babies, show up for our partners, careers and home front, we have to take care of ourselves,” she urges. “That is what keeps me going. I cannot fill up my loved ones if I am depleted. I would be no good for them if I decided to operate on empty.”
Elle writes almost daily, usually from the comfort of her home after dropping off Charleigh at school. Sometimes it’s for no one but herself. Sometimes she’ll share it on social media. At the moment she’s working on a new journal project for her publisher, in addition to promoting season three of her podcast “hey, girl.” and her latest book, Neon Soul, which published last year. “[Neon Soul] was born out of my need to see poetry in a way that wasn’t filled with hurt or love, but healing and rebirth,” she explains. “It’s a collection of truth, possibility and bravery.”
Much of Elle’s work is deeply rooted in her personal journey, including how she came to develop an interest in putting pen to paper. “I found writing in middle school by way of therapy,” she shares. Even so, she never set out to be an author (though she studied journalism and entrepreneurship in college before dropping out). Instead, it was a career that she fell into, as she describes it.
“I share my story because it is needed,” Elle says. “We are often taught that our narratives should be kept private or wrapped in shame. Being a writer is about telling the—your—truth and leaving an impact on the hearts that encounter the work.” And that’s exactly what she’s done.
By being open and vulnerable, Elle has created a safe space for others to do the same. “I’d hit rock bottom and the only way out of that place was to do the work and rise up. In that I’ve been able to use my story to build community and uplift those who feel like they’ve lost their voice.”