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Since announcing in October 2021 that she and husband Bryan Greenberg had welcomed twin boys via surrogate, Jamie Chung has been candid about her struggle with postpartum depression.
"I think it comes in waves," says the Real World: San Diego alum. "I think some moments are really good and then there's other moments where I give in to the sadness and also the stress." While postpartum depression is typically linked to hormone fluctuations that come with pregnancy and birth, it's something that other parents, including fathers and those who adopt, can experience as well, according to PostpartumDepression.org.
Chung spoke with Yahoo Life as part of her work promoting baby commerce and registry company Babylist, saying one of the things that has surprised her most about motherhood is "how hard it really is."
"I feel like there's a lot on our shoulders keeping these little babies alive and keeping them healthy: having to sacrifice and give all of yourself to your babies," she says. "I think I'm still going through [postpartum depression] to be honest. Some days — some moments — are really great and I try to focus on that. Talking to my friends is really helpful, talking to other parents is extremely helpful and so is staying in touch with therapy."
Chung says her sons were born prematurely but are doing well.
"They're getting healthy," she says. "We're just trying to figure out the sleep stuff now, that's our biggest challenge. They're just starting to smile — just kind of coming into their own. They're just starting to recognize our faces and our voices, so it's all very new."
Other than her surprise at the difficulties of parenthood, Chung says she's also been taken off-guard to find that she's not as capable of being a "tough parent" as she thought she'd be.
"I think my parenting approach is giving in to cries," she says. "I thought I'd be able to do a better job with sleep training or letting them self-soothe. I thought I was going to be the stronger one out of the two parents and I am certainly not."
Instead, it's Greenberg who often encourages Chung to let the twins fuss for a few minutes at bedtime before giving in.
"I just crumble when they cry," she admits, "and I thought I was going to be a lot harder than that."
Chung describes her motherhood journey so far as "30 percent rewarding and 70 percent challenging," adding that she knows things will get easier as her babies grow. In the meantime, she tries to re-charge during moments alone, be it during a relaxing shower, through a short meditation or on a walk outside.
"It's just these little things that help me stay positive," says Chung. "I think [my husband and I] rely heavily on each other. Usually we find those moments in between feedings or when the kids go down for an hour to recharge and just continue on."
It was after a walk with Greenberg while vacationing at a Santa Barbara, Calif., glamping resort that the new mom first encountered mom-shaming on social media.
"We took the kids to our favorite place, El Capitan Canyon, and there was a stream right outside of the cabin and we decided to walk down a couple cabins to get some coffee," Chung recalls of an Instagram post she shared in December 2021. "We snapped a picture by the water and someone [in the comments] was like, 'They are 2 months old, there's no reason for them to be on a hike, shame on you.'"
"I think I saw it and thought, 'Oh god, lady, I don't even have the time to explain to you that we weren't going on an extreme hike in terrible weather,'" she adds. "I never really paid attention to mom-shaming because I never had kids, but now that I do, I don't understand it."
The 38-year-old actress says she's been intentional about slowing down, working less and being present at home with her sons whenever possible. "I know these times happen very fast and in the blink of an eye they'll be crawling and then walking and then talking," she says.
And, while she's still new to her motherhood journey, Chung says she's already gotten some great advice from other parents that she tries to remember daily.
"Accept all the help," she says. "Usually I'm a very proud person and I think I can do it myself and don't need any help, but these are the times when I have to be accepting all the help, whether it's an extra feed or extra hands."
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