Allure Magazine’s Michelle Lee On Having Her 3rd Baby After 11 Years
This Editor In Chief is about to have her third baby at 44! Now, after 11 years since she was last pregnant, Michelle embarks on an entirely new stage of motherhood. Here, this beauty guru chats about having two older kids with a baby on the way. Plus, how preparing her team for maternity leave, her clean-ish pregnancy beauty routine, and top tips for getting out the door looking cute when pregnant. @heymichellelee
Wow, I’m in awe — your third baby! How are you feeling?
For each of my pregnancies, I had horrible morning sickness up until the 5th or 6th month. And the same for this one! Although now that I’m near the end the queasiness is long gone— I have about three weeks left! —Overall I’m doing pretty well, but around 4 o’clock every day, I hit a wall, and my back needs a rest.
You have 2 kids — ages?
Ethan is 14 and Gabby is 11.
What does that feel like to be pregnant after 11 years?
Honestly, it’s wild. Your body remembers certain things right away. But my life is so different than it was 11 years ago. I think I’m busier this time around, which has made this pregnancy go quickly. I don’t have time to think about it! Plus, it’s true what they say about second and third babies: you’re just not as stressed out about everything. Childbirth doesn’t scare me. I know what I actually need to buy versus what’s a waste. I will say: technology has changed a lot since the last time I was pregnant. I can’t believe how much breast pumps have improved. And diaper delivery! Total gamechanger.
What was your path to this pregnancy — what is the story?
I thought for the past ten years that I was good with two kids. We had our boy and our girl, and they’re amazing. Seriously, the best, sweetest, funniest kids ever. But something shifted about a year and a half ago. I had this strange biological urge to have another one — partly sparked by the panic of seeing how quickly our kids have grown up. It made me sad to think that we’d never experience a little one again. So, I talked it over with my husband, and we decided it was now or never. AND when I think about what’s essential in my life, yes, my career is important, but at the end of the day, life is all about family and your loved ones.
Any crazy cravings?
Nothing crazy. But my tastes have shifted. A small example, but I typically can’t stand ice water because it’s just too cold. But now I want ALL the ice. And I love anything sour. I like to put a splash of tart cherry juice into ice water — it tastes so delicious right now.
Most looking forward to becoming a mom of three?
It’s been adorable to see how excited my older kids are about their upcoming sibling. I’m looking forward to seeing them interact. The significant age gap worried me a little at first because I wondered how close the 3 of them would be. But the more I’ve talked to other people who have similar situations, the more I think it’s going to be very cool for all of them.
Most nervous about becoming a mom (especially after being out of baby stage for awhile)?
I don’t think we fully remember what that first sleepless month with a newborn is like — I’ve certainly blocked it out. But I’ll have to keep reminding myself that that stage goes by so quickly.
Any hacks or wellness secrets you can share for feeling better or being able to continue working during pregnancy?
Treat yourself! If you want to lay in bed all day on a Sunday and binge watch Netflix, do it. I’ve also gotten into the idea of making my bedroom more spa-like: light a candle, turn on spa nature sounds, do a face mask, and just relax.
What do you do to feel good during pregnancy — massages, nails, etc.?
I LOVE an excellent prenatal massage. I got one early on at Chillhouse in Soho, plus the Four Seasons Downtown has a great HATCH Mama prenatal massage and is conveniently located near our office. I’m also a huge nail art fan so I’ve kept that up. I do my own nails most of the time and luckily there are lots of great polishes that are 10-free and even 16-free now, like Paintbox and Sally Hansen’s new line. There’s also a fantastic organic remover by Karma Naturals.
What is your plan for maternity leave and going back to work?
I’ll on maternity leave for about four months. I have a fantastic team here at Allure, who I’ve delegated duties to, especially our Executive Beauty Director Jenny Bailly. And I’m going to do a weekly phone call with the team, more so I can help them remove any barriers that could come up.
Any advice to women that are nervous about getting pregnant because they work or have a big career?
It’s natural to feel nervous about being out of the office for several months, but you need that time to recover physically and emotionally and to bond with your baby. Please don’t feel guilty for taking the time and enjoying it. That said, do leave your team in good shape, feeling like you’ve done your best to make the transition smooth. You don’t want people feeling resentful while you’re out.
What are you listening to (fave podcast) or reading these days?
My husband is an executive coach and doing work with Stanford Behavior Design Lab director BJ Fogg who just came out with the book Tiny Habits, which is all about how setting new routines starts with accomplishing small changes. So, I’m reading that.
As for podcasts, I’ve really gotten into true crime. I finished a lot of great ones like Dr. Death and Dear John and have moved on to Dateline’s series now. I also love Conan O’Brien’s podcast. Listening makes my commute go so much faster!
How do you take time for yourself to reflect as a busy woman and mom to three?
I try hard to make weekends and nighttimes just family time. My daughter loves baking, so we’ll take time on a Sunday and do that together. Or we’ll all find a show or movie that we can watch as a family. Our latest was The Mandalorian. I typically don’t send emails or Slack messages past 8 PM since I also want to set a tone with my team that they don’t need to be on-call at all hours of the day. But it also helps to set a tone for me: I genuinely believe you can’t be the best, most creative editor if your entire life is work only.
If you had 5 extra minutes a day, how would you spend them?
At the moment, any spare time I have is spent kicking my feet up and resting. I also have this back massager called a Tiger Ball, which is like a firm rubber tennis ball on a rope. When I lean against it, it really gets into this one spot on my back that’s tense, and it’s so satisfying.
Have you overhauled your beauty routine with pregnancy?
For a while now, I’ve been transitioning a lot of my skincare routine to be cleaner, so it wasn’t a difficult shift. There are certain ingredients I’ve paused using, like retinol and a lot of acids, plus I’ve stopped doing chemical exfoliation.
What is your beauty regime?
For the body, I’ve been using Dr. Bronners body soap and also Necessaire body wash and lotion, as well as Kora Organics lotion and body oil, which I like to mix. I’ve also been slathering Mutha’s body butter on my belly every night. For hair, I had already been using AG Naturals shampoo and conditioner, and I love various hair masks as well. Makeup hasn’t changed that much. But for skincare, some of my holy grail products have been Peach & Lily Glass Skin Serum and Drunk Elephant C Firma.
Your pregnancy style in one word?
Dresses. Everything. (two words 🙂
What’s your go-to power look?
For work, I’m usually a big dress person anyway, but especially while I’ve been pregnant, midi dresses have been my best friends. For my last two pregnancies, I did not look cute—it was all Uggs and sweats and just bad. So this time around, I’ve been committed to looking cute and wearing heels every day. I’ve also tried to stack my closet with pieces that I could still wear even after the baby is here.
3 top tips for getting out the door looking cute pregnant?
1. Be mindful of proportion. As my belly gets bigger, I like to play with dimension and will roll the sleeves on a jacket or play up a skinny ankle boot.
2. Mascara and blush make ALL the difference. Everyone has two products that make them feel pulled together. For me, curling my lashes and applying a few coats of mascara opens up my tired eyes. And blush makes me instantly look alive. At a minimum, I’ll do those even on a lazy weekend, and it makes me feel better.
3. Play with prints and colors. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly worn solids or a fitted black tank dress, but in general, I love having fun with prints and color. As we’re doing this interview, it’s winter and freezing, but I’m wearing a bright red teddy coat, with a red and purple dress. There’s absolutely no reason to relegate yourself to dull shapes or prints while you’re pregnant. Have fun!