This week our #MamaNextDoor is Jenelle Zingg, founder + CEO of Mamma Ease and the inventor behind LUMAMA warming lactation massagers. Jenelle lives in San Diego, CA with her son and her husband. We recently had a chance to reconnect and catch up. In today's interview, Jenelle shares her experience with miscarriage, coming to terms with her (unexpected) birth journey, and building a community of and for moms, where honest conversation around motherhood are facilitated, encouraged and supported. I hope you'll love getting to know her!
Tell us a bit about yourself before you became a mother, and how did you change after becoming a mother?
I hear that many women grow up knowing that they want to be a mother someday. I was always on the fence and knew that I wouldn't have enough energy to be the mom I would want to be if I was still an elementary school teacher. Fast forward a number of years and career changes and I became more open to the idea of a family. When I met my husband, Tim, he brought up kids early on in our relationship and made it clear that it was a big priority for him. I remember thinking that I didn't want to be a typical mom because so many looked tired and instead of light and cheerful, they looked serious and stressed out. But here I am now, doing my best to stay light-hearted in this wonderful and challenging role as a mom.
How about your pregnancy, breastfeeding/pumping experience? Anything you’d want to share with a new mom preparing to welcome her child into the world?
My experience of pregnancy started in 2014 with a miscarriage. I didn't realize how much I was grieving until I started waking up in the middle of the night crying. My husband would hold me and tell me it would get better until I fell back to sleep. I remember feeling so jealous of the pregnant women I would see while trying to conceive after the miscarriage. One Thanksgiving dinner I actually had to leave the room to have a good cry as I watched my cousin pass around her beautiful baby daughter for family members to hold. We were fortunate to get pregnant soon after with our son. I had an HG pregnancy which means I was nauseous and/or vomiting through the entire nine months. I tried nine homeopathic remedies and all of the conventional ones I could find. I ended up taking a small dose of Zofran, which is commonly used to prevent nausea in cancer patients. By taking that medication I was able to keep food and water down and even go three days without throwing up.
I had a homebirth planned and labored at home for a day or so (well past my due date). We ended up having a non-emergency transfer to our nearby hospital where I had all of the interventions that I didn't want- epidural, pitocin, a huge crowd of people trying to support me in pushing my son out. After almost four hours of pushing, I ended up birthing my son through c-section. I grieved the loss of the birth story that I had envisioned. I was really into watching water births on Youtube while pregnant! But now I'm finally accepting of my birth journey and happy to be a mother to my 10lb 6oz baby boy!
What does your absolute dream version of motherhood look like?
Oh, I love this question! The dream I hope to create someday is one where we live in community with other families who have young children. We all participate in their education, take turns making healthy meals, spend lots of time in nature, and raise our families supported by a true community.
What societal or cultural messages about motherhood frustrate you and how would you like to see them changed?
Wow! This is a big one! I would like to see women have control over their bodies, their health, and their right to choose. I would like to see black women have equal access to quality health care and lowered risk of injury and death in pregnancy and childbirth. I would like all women to have at least six months of maternity leave to bond with their babies and have an opportunity to breastfeed (if they choose).
Part of our brand values are to help encourage and facilitate honest conversations around the challenges of motherhood and how we can better support new moms and their families. We especially would love to see more resources and support for improved mental health in motherhood.
How do you take care of yourself? How do you deal with mom guilt?
I try to channel mom guilt into practical ways I can be more present with my son or improve time management. Whenever I feel overwhelmed it's a sign that I'm not doing enough kind things for myself. I schedule regular exercise including short walks, lunches with friends, and the newest self-care strategy is to spend time alone in our house (and not clean or fold anything). My son and husband have recently started doing activities on their own and I love this new chapter.
What’s a topic related to motherhood, or life after becoming a mother, that you wish we talked about more?
I think there is more that could be said about preparing to become a mother. It would be ideal for us to work on the areas of our life where we want to heal old wounds and become confident as individuals before entering motherhood. This is something I think about a lot and I'm working on self-improvement for my own well-being and so that I can avoid exposing my son to unhealthy thought patterns and habits that I've picked up in my life. I'm basically working on being the parent I wish I would've had.
Do you know an incredible #MamaNextDoor shaking things up and changing the dialogue in her field? Are YOU that woman? Please email Magda (email@example.com) to share your story!
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