Since welcoming fraternal twin boys with husband Bryan Greenberg last fall, Jamie Chung has been candid about the challenges of motherhood and her struggle with postpartum depression. Now more than eight months into motherhood, the Dexter: New Blood actress appears to have found her groove. Though she admits that Greenberg's suggestion to relocate the family to New York City when the babies were just 6 months old was "madness," the move has come with some sweet new memories, too.
"It's really special to have them here," Chung says of settling into Brooklyn, where the boys just enjoyed a baby swing for the first time in their local park.
"There's so many firsts that we're discovering and it's so fun to see their faces light up," she adds. "We're introducing new food, so that's always really fun. Some you can tell they don't like, but the ones they like — like a tiny bit of bagel and cream cheese — they're like, what is this?! It's been really fun. I'm the kind of person that loves to work, and it's the first time that I haven't worked at all, really, in eight months. It's been a blessing because I've been a full-time mom, and it's the hardest job that I've ever had."
The former Once Upon a Time star did recently take time out for a project close to her heart: nurturing the connections between infants and the fur babies they live with. Coinciding with the brand's new launch of diapers featuring Disney 101 Dalmatians prints, Chung hosted Huggies' Baby Academy for Pups in New York City last month and spoke to Yahoo Life about how her own dog has responded to her new arrivals.
"I have a fur baby named Ewok and he is my number-one baby," says Chung, who uses Huggies for her eczema-prone babies. "I think it was great having him as a couple because it gives kind of a crash course to care for something aside from ourselves in terms of planning logistically. And when we decided to have a family, our number-one concern was, how is he going to be around the babies?"
Trainers advise getting a dog accustomed to their changing environment — and the new furniture that'll come with it — ahead of a baby's arrival. Because her boys were born prematurely, Chung and Greenberg didn't have that luxury and were scrambling to get their home ready during that "really tough and scary time." The couple was, however, able to come home from the hospital and introduce Ewok to the twins' scents and sounds.
"[We were] bringing home baby smells to Ewok, playing sounds and noises [like] baby cries and rattling their toys around Ewok," she says. "That was a great thing because dogs are sensory, right? They smell really well; they see things and they hear things. And then when the babies were home and they were able to go for a little walk around the block, we did it as a pack."
Fast-forward several months, and Ewok "still really loves" the boys and the new routine they've established, particularly the walks he gets to take with everyone after their morning feeds.
"It's great when he is excited in the mornings," says Chung. "When we're feeding the babies, he'll come up and sniff their hair to make sure it's them and sniff the bottles. It's really sweet to see the relationship."
While her boys — who were carried by a gestational surrogate — are now being introduced to solids, they also drink formula. Chung says that her family was luckily only briefly impacted by the recent shortages, but she remains upset by the hoarding of supplies she saw during the formula crisis and the assumption that parents who run out of formula can just resort to breastfeeding.
"I think it's so hurtful. I read, like, 'just breastfeed,'" the Sucker Punch star says. "It's not that easy. All my friends had babies at the same time and it's like, you have to go to a lactation specialist. It's a whole thing and I can see my friends going through it. That's something that I haven't experienced obviously, but their bodies are going through it after just having birthed their child. And now the stress of having to feed ... "
As far as her own challenges as a new mom, Chung says she and Greenberg didn't have much help when their twins, who are fraternal — "one looks like Bryan ... and one looks more like me" — were born. The actors initially decided to "hunker down" and do everything themselves. And while they are both very hands-on, the couple has since given themselves permission to reach out for support when they need it, even if it's just asking a friend to come over and take Ewok for a walk.
"It was so important to realize, like, it's OK to ask for help because there are times where we're both struggling," she says. "We're both sleep-deprived and we don't know what's going on."
Ultimately, motherhood has taught Chung that she's "resilient."
"It was one of the hardest things, especially the adjustment of no babies to two, and not having help during the day and trying to juggle work and trying to keep our marriage strong," she says, adding that the process has involved "lots of therapy."
She's also learned how to "carve out a little happiness and joy for myself, and how to keep my own identity while still having my kids thrive."
"It's all a balance that I think I'm constantly trying to juggle, but it's important," Chung says. "I think you'll go down a dark path unless you make sure that you take care of your mental [health] and your well-being so that you can take care of your kids and give them the best possible life."
—Video produced by Becky Horvath.
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