Being Mama: Nicky Hilton Rothschild

For this fashion designer, being mama to Lily Grace is “everything.” Here, Nicky talks to The Tot exclusively about her pregnancy, Lily Grace’s birth, and why she’s “the strict parent.”

Georgia Nerheim

Chances are, you have a few preconceptions when it comes to the name Nicky Hilton. Party girl. Wild child. You get the gist.

But for Nicky – who was born with the somewhat imposing moniker Nicholai Olivia Hilton, and now goes by Nicky Hilton Rothschild – those days are over. Like, seriously over. Nowadays, she’s all about being a full-time mama to her daughter, Lily Grace Victoria Rothschild. “I love everything about being a mom,” she says. “I love waking up and seeing her little face every day. I love walking around our neighbourhood with her. I love cuddling her and feeding her and just seeing where the day takes us.”

Nicky speaks about Lily Grace with such joy, it’s easy to see that the pair are smitten with each other, and that Nicky has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. Her husband, the financier James Rothschild, is “a hands-on dad”, says Nicky, who’s up every morning with Lily Grace before he heads off to work. After that, it’s mama-daughter time. “Lily now sleeps through the night,” says Nicky, “which is very exciting. When she goes down for her morning nap, sometimes I go to the gym, but sometimes I just take a nap, too! The rest of the day is a mix of playing, feeding and more napping. We go for lots of walks in our neighbourhood, which I really love.”

Nicky, who has worked as a designer in many capacities (designing handbags, jewellery and a capsule collection where each piece was named after a woman in her family), fell pregnant three months after her wedding to James. “It just sort of happened,” she says, laughing. “No treatments, no special diets, nothing like that. Just – boom – pregnant.” The pregnancy and birth were similarly straightforward. “I actually loved being pregnant. I have a lot of girlfriends who didn’t like it, but I have to say that I loved it. And I have no complaints about the birth – I left my house at 2am with contractions, and Lily Grace was in my arms by 7am. I know that’s unusual for first-time moms, usually it’s a lot longer than that. But when I asked my mom about her births, she said they were all quite fast, so it probably made sense that mine was quick, too.”

Nicky’s mom is, of course, Kathy Hilton (her father is Richard Hilton, heir to the Hilton hotel fortune). While we might associate the Hilton name with growing up under the glare of the spotlight, Nicky says her childhood was “amazing.” “My mom and dad were so young when they had us kids, and because of that, they just took us everywhere. If they had a work trip, we went along with them. We just slotted into their lives. They were kids themselves, and they just included us in everything they did. I think being so young made them great parents, actually. They just did what came instinctively for them.” As for the Hilton family value she’d most like to impart to Lily Grace, Nicky says it’s a commitment to giving back. “When we were little, my parents would encourage my sister and I to raise money with neighbourhood bake sales,” she says, “and then we would take the money, go to the toy store and buy toys which we’d then take to the children’s hospital. To be taught from such a young age that what you have, in your own house, isn’t the norm for everyone, is such an important lesson. I’ll be instilling it in my daughter just as my parents did with me.”

Nicky says that, when it comes to Lily Grace, she is “definitely” the strict parent. “It’s funny, because my girlfriends have told me that motherhood has made me softer. But James and I know I’m the strict one. Lily Grace is on a really strict sleeping schedule – I use Gina Ford – and I know that I’ll be the one laying down the law later! My husband laughs because he says I’m such a softie with our animals.”

For Nicky, who has also penned a book – 365 Style – and is working on some design projects she’ll announce soon, going back to work after having Lily Grace has its benefits and drawbacks. “The biggest challenge at the moment is being scared I’ll miss something,” she says. “Everything is changing so rapidly that I’m afraid I’ll miss those ‘firsts.’ When she cut her first tooth, I was in a meeting. I was devastated. I try as much as possible to schedule meetings and other appointments during her naps, so I don’t miss out on anything.”

As for advice for other mamas, Nicky says she only has one piece: get all the sleep you can. “I thought the sleep thing was an exaggeration, but… you never sleep. You never sleep! So get as many naps in as you can.”

Photo by Georgia Nerheim