Denise Bidot, 32, broke fashion industry boundaries in 2014 when she became the first plus-size model to walk multiple runways during New York Fashion Week. Since then, she’s become a global staple on the runways and much needed voice for a lifestyle movement called "The No Wrong Way Movement." She is also the mother to 11-year-old Joselyn.
I became a mother in 2008 when I was 21-years-old. I had just started my modeling career and was scared to tell anyone I was pregnant because I was booking all of these lingerie jobs and didn't want to miss out on any opportunities. I was scared to death.
Joselyn, my daughter, was totally planned. She was not a mistake. I was young, yes, but I had been with her father for a very long time and we were engaged. I felt like I had the rest of my life planned in my head. “I know exactly how this plays out,” I thought.
And then I had her and it was nothing at all what I had thought. All of my plans went out the window--and for the better. She gave me so much more incentive to fight for my dreams and to prove that I wasn’t a statistic. It forced me to dig deeper and fight stronger than I ever could have imagined.
Joselyn was born May 18. Earlier that week, when we went for our doctor's checkup, they told me that she was going to be late—that I was not even close to dilated. They told me to “enjoy this weekend.”
So, I went out! All my friends are Tauruses so I decided to spend my last hoorah, my last childless night, celebrating all of their birthdays. I put on my heels, my jeans, a full face of makeup and I went out like in that scene of Knocked Up: full big belly, dancing in jeans and a wife beater with a blazer, my pumps and everything! You could not catch me without heels in those days.
After dancing, I had a few friends who came to spend the night at my place. At around 4:30AM, my water broke. I had wood floors and I heard it happen. It felt almost as if I was peeing.
All my friends had just passed out and I was like, “Guys! We have to go to the hospital!” I hadn't even taken my makeup off yet! My mom still, to this day, thinks I did my makeup to go into labor.
We went straight to the hospital. Full face of makeup. Four thirty in the morning. And to be honest, it's just like Joselyn to come this way. She is a Taurus and has had FOMO her entire life. She never wants to miss out on anything, that night’s party included.
So, I went into labor at the hospital and next to me, I heard this lady that sounded like she was being murdered. I asked my nurse what was wrong with her and was told she had waited two hours to get an epidural. I just remember thinking to myself, “as soon as you can get it, just get it in.” But when they went to put the epidural in, I jolted forward. I'm not used to having to hold that part of my back out.
The nurse: "Look, I'm going give this one more try. If you don't hold still, you could become paralyzed. And I won't try a third time." I was so scared to be like the lady in the next room, sounding like I was being murdered, that I held the most still I have ever been in my entire life.
I gave birth in this new maternity ward at the time in L.A. and they had this button that you would press for more epidural. So I was…I was happy! Chatting! And you know, when you're young and you're like, "Everyone can stay in the room!" Almost everyone was in the room with me except for my friend's boyfriend who, respectfully, was like, "I think this is a moment when I step outside." It was like a big party. Everyone kind of continued on from the night before.
I finally started dilating and they told me they’d have to take the button away.
“If you don't feel anything, you can't push," they said. I never thought of that. They removed this button that had been my salvation for the entire day.
Once it happened, it happened really quick. There was this moment when her head was clearly coming out but the doctor was at lunch. The nurse was like, "Feel her hair!" I was like, "I don't know how I feel about this!" But, wow! She had a full head of hair, which explained all the heartburn I had-an old wives’ tale, but very, very true.
The pushing was not very long at all. You remember so many details, but not necessarily all of those details. Maybe the mind wants to forget certain things. But I remember immediately grabbing her trying really hard to breastfeed.
I also remember immediately getting put with a lactate specialist. They were good for nothing. The first day they had to give her formula. My mom was so upset about this because she had breastfed me for three years! But it wasn't a decision I got to make. It was very much like, “your child is hungry we have to make sure she has food.”
We tried to breastfeed for a week. It was very painful. It was very strange. It just didn't happen. I would have loved to. I think there is definitely a connection and a bond that happens. And I could be mistaken--I'm not a doctor--but the whole notion that your kid is smarter and wiser because of it? My kid is a genius and she didn't get breast milk for more than like a couple drops for a week. She was shown love and I don't think she ever missed out on anything.
I went back to work a month after I had her and it was for a lingerie client. My mom came to stay with me for two months because she knew that I would need her--and I did. I got this e-mail for a job. I had Joselyn May 18th and the job was supposed to be on June 18th. I only even brought it up to my mom for us to giggle at the absurdity of this potential job. But my mom was, "Denise, you have to do it! This could potentially be the start and or end of anything.”
So I did it. I never stopped modeling again.
It was strange, but I was being shot by a woman photographer and it was an all-female crew. There was something really empowering about knowing that I just birthed this child and could come back and still live my dreams.
So much of the narrative that is given to moms is "I had a child and all my dreams ended.” You see these stories, like, on The Voice or these reality shows, and it's always, “Now I'm fighting for my dream!” But, you never had to stop! I want to be that person who shows the world that there is no limitations! You can grow together with your child. Most of my first experiences as a cultured human have been with my daughter by my side. I just think of how much that influences her and who she'll become. It makes me really proud and happy for like the kind of human I'm gifting to the word.
Today, my daughter is 11-years-old. She’s into skateboarding and TikTok and gaming. I would like to think that she's learned a lot from me, but I've learned so much from her. She keeps me young. Dance parties at our house are probably the most fun. She is my best friend. My life would be so boring without her. I've always talked to her like an equal. I have always been very transparent with her. I want to make sure she's well equipped to be a human in this world and a good one at that.
When I think back at that first year of motherhood what stands out is no sleep. I think the first year is really trial and error. Even if you read all the books, even if you have someone who just had a baby a year ago, every experience is different. You can't predict what's going to happen. And you just have to try your hardest and be alert and pay attention to everything--and baby proof the hell out of your house! Children will get into the weirdest places in the world. Everything that you don't think will happen will happen. So be prepared.