Mamas At Work: Jasmine Ellis Cooper On Being Pregnant For ‘Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard’ And Being Anti Mommy Guilt

Kareem Black/Bravo

As far as experiences go as a first-time mom of a newborn, Jasmine Ellis Cooper has had a wholly unique adventure. The first chunk of her pregnancy, she carried her son without people knowing she was expecting while filming the hit Bravo series Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard. Much of her pregnancy was experienced without having her husband, Silas Cooper, by her side, as the Army officer who also works in finance has been on deployment in Eastern Europe. She has since given birth, and presently cares for their son, Silas “Si” Geplay Cooper Jr., without the physical presence of his father. We all know the first weeks and months of motherhood are an adjustment. But when I asked Jasmine how she’s doing, you know, really doing with her two-month-old, her face lights up as bright as the sun is the day of our chat in New York City.

“I really am good and I’m going to hold on to that as long as I actually am really good,” she tells ESSENCE, noting that he is already sleeping better than most infants. “Truly, it has been great. I hear this stage of newborness is awesome, so I like it here. I don’t have to worry about running around behind him or anything like that.”

It’s also been a huge help that her circle of support is ever-present, so she’s never really alone despite her husband’s temporary absence.

“My mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, and my granny have been a great corner of just support. None of them live here except for my sister, and the rest are flying in every month. I am very, very grateful that they love their grandbaby,” she says.

While she’s certainly basking in the moments with baby Si, Jasmine can’t say enough good things about her support system, who step in and allow her to have a break, and to work. Within four weeks of giving birth, the new season of Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard premiered, and she needed to promote it, which she’s been doing the entire season (the finale aired on May 19 and a reunion, that’s already been filmed, is on the way May 26). Knowing her son is in the best care, whether he’s with her or the women in her life, allows her to operate with a clear mind — and conscience.

“I’m not built for mom guilt,” she says. “The notion that if I am not with him or holding onto him every second, I’m a bad mom, I can’t do. My mom, people around me are like, ‘You’re doing great. You’re finding a balance.’ But also I know as a person, when I focus too much on other people and trying to be perfect for everyone, my cup is empty and I don’t work and function well that way.”

“So from the moment I gave birth and how I took care of myself until now, I am constantly like, oh my God, I love spending time with my little fat cheek baby, but also let me go for a walk. Let me go see if some of my friends want to go have dinner tonight, and my sister can watch him,” she adds. “I really do try to remind myself that my life is going to go on because there’s going to be a point when he’s 18 and he’s out of the house, and what do I want to have accomplished at that point? So yeah, between my doula and my therapist, two Black women who really hold me down, they really set that tone for me to figure out what I wanted that to look like for myself before he even came.”

Mamas At Work: Jasmine Ellis Cooper Talks Being Pregnant On ‘Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard’ And Not Being ‘Built’ For Mommy Guilt
SUMMER HOUSE: MARTHA’S VINEYARD — “S2 Premiere Party” — Pictured: Jasmine Cooper on Thursday, March 21 from 9 Jones — (Photo by: Bryan Bedder/BRAVO)

This balance is groundbreaking because it’s not something she watched her mom have. Jasmine’s mother had her when she was a teenager and had to spend a lot of time working to provide for her family.

“She didn’t have that balance per se. It was work and survival. And for me, I’m very, very blessed to have my career ambitions, maintain friendships, maintain what I want motherhood to look like,” she says. “For me, in addition to marriage. I’m literally, not breaking generational curses, but creating new cycles. That’s where I’m at. So I didn’t see it demonstrated, but I knew I had to create it for myself if I wanted any chance at a happy life.”

This has been essential while Silas has been away. The idea of caring for their first child without him physically able to be there, though he was present for a brief visit shortly after baby Si was born and they have communicated on WhatsApp during his deployment, could have been a heavy weight for Jasmine to hold. But the ability to maintain connections while on this new journey has been great for her mental health.

“I didn’t want to feel alone. I didn’t. So if I need to be a little bit more social to feel connected to the outside world, I will. If I need family to come in so it’s not just me and the baby, I will. If I do need it to be just me and the baby, awesome too. Whatever I need, I want to be able to act on,” she shares.

And social she has been. The second season of Summer House was full of opportunities for Jasmine, then on her way to her second trimester, to have fun with her colorful friends up and down Martha’s Vineyard, whether throwing parties at their holiday house, riding bikes around the community, turning up at the bar or twerking on a yacht. A baby don’t stop no show.

She kept her pregnancy a secret for as long as she could, until the outings planned by the friends became a bit too adventurous and her pants started getting a bit too tight.

“In the beginning I was like, I’m still here to have fun. Yeah, I’m not drinking, and I’m pregnant, but I’m still here to have fun because, like I said, I need y’all. I’m leaning on you guys to feel like I’m a part of something while the love of my life is far away. And so what that looked like was a lot of energy in the beginning. But right around that time when we had rodeo day, I wasn’t fitting half of my clothes,” she says.

“I was just a little bit more tired, still fun and present, but just everything took a little bit more energy, and I fitted less of my clothes. So yeah, that led me to be like, okay, now’s the time because we’re not having drama. We’re good. Let me just say it real quick before something happens, because in this house, as you know, things happen very quickly.”

After sharing her big news, which the house was ecstatic about (though most had privately conversed about the possibility of her being pregnant prior to the announcement), the rest of the summer came and went with Jasmine free and open. She was the mediator to help arguing roomies take a step back. She was also already in mommy mode, helping her cast mates when they were having an emotional moment or not feeling their best. After starting the season not knowing where she stood with everyone, she ended it back in the center of her Martha’s Vineyard family.

“I feel like I got what I needed at the end of the day. I had a great time,” says Jasmine, who notes Noelle and Nick as her two favorite roomies from this season. “We had so much fun this summer. And in the chaos that was happening, I was there for a lot of people. And I think once I shared what I was going through, the condition that I was in, everybody was really supportive of me too, in different ways.”

But this season of Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard is not over and done with. After some commotion from fans of the show, the group will have its first reunion. And while most Bravo reunions are a whirlwind of confrontations and shade trees being launched, she says for their first one, they’re keeping it cute, literally and figuratively.

Mamas At Work: Jasmine Ellis Cooper Talks Being Pregnant On ‘Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard’ And Not Being ‘Built’ For Mommy Guilt
SUMMER HOUSE: MARTHA’S VINEYARD — “S2 Premiere Party” — Pictured: (l-r) Bria Fleming, Jasmine Cooper, Shanice Henderson, Amir Lancaster, Summer Marie Thomas, Nick Arrington, Noelle Hughley, Jordan Emanuel, Alex Tyree, Preston Mitchum on Thursday, March 21 from 9 Jones — (Photo by: Bryan Bedder/BRAVO)

“I personally don’t feel like everyone’s going to resolve everything at a reunion, but I think for the viewers, with this being our first reunion, a lot gets addressed, and there’s a lot more clarity, and it’s a lot of looks.”

As for what’s next, the gang are all hopeful to be greenlit for a third season. For Jasmine, who says the hope is that she and Silas will be back on the vineyard this summer (baby Si will be with the grandmas though), being able to have their experience as a group year after year, the fellowship it provides, and the representation offered of a young all-Black cast is a significant thing, and she’s grateful for every opportunity to present this aspect of her life, Black life, with viewers.

“It’s a privilege,” she says. “For those who summer and have been on the vineyard, there is a huge amount of integrity that we aim to approach this show with, but also we’re just being us. So that balance and that duality, it is really dope.”

She adds, “My hope moving forward is that we continue to share the diaspora and all of our stories. Just having the show continue is a win, in my opinion.”

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