Jenny Wu On The Good, Bad And Fab Of Motherhood
For this fashion lawyer-turned-blogger, breastfeeding struggles, #boymom chaos and a strictly non-strict parenting approach are all in the mix.
What are the good, bad and fab parts of your world? These are the three parameters of life according to Jenny Wu. And at this particular point in time, much of Jenny’s ‘good’ can be found in her sons, Desmond, 4, and two-year-old Pierce. “It’s such a fun age right now!” beams the fashion lawyer and blogger, whose remarkable job title we will soon explore. “Des is finally recognizing his little brother as a peer and they have started playing together. I love just sitting back and observing the interactions between them because it is pure entertainment.”
Jenny also shares in the shenanigans – certainly if her Instagram account is anything to go by. Snapshots of the fashionista with her boys in tow, on hip and in hand playfully interrupt her style and beauty content (which, while polished, often falls victim to photobombing by Des and Pierce). Theme park visits and freewheeling adventures abound in her family life, but Jenny’s own childhood looked quite different.
Born in Shanghai and raised in Los Angeles, Jenny grew up feeling a lot of resentment toward her mother, who she describes as the strictest of tiger moms. “It wasn’t her fault,” Jenny wrote in one of her blog posts.
“Being a strict disciplinarian was part of her cultural identity. She grew up in Communist China, where censorship, uniformity, and overachieving were part of the country’s shared constitution.”
Jenny was forbidden from watching TV, going out with friends, or talking on the phone on school days. “I was an angry and rebellious teenager and didn’t have a great relationship with [my mom] until I went off to college,” says Jenny.
“Now that I’m an adult and a parent myself, the resentment I felt has turned into deep understanding. We all show love differently and her strictness was her way of showing love, of protecting me.”
By comparison, Jenny’s own parenting style is more laid back. “I’m very affectionate with my boys and try to use positive reinforcement instead of punishment to influence their behavior. I’m open to advice and parenting tools and have been taking a parenting class since Des was four months old,” says Jenny who, prior to becoming a parent, was no less studious. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a law degree from the USC Gould School of Law.
“This really goes back to my tiger mom, who pretty much instilled the idea that I could either be a lawyer or doctor when I grew up. Fashion lawyer was the compromise I made for myself – I was still a lawyer but I got to work with creatives in a space that has always excited me.”
After law school, Jenny worked as an in-house counsel for LA fashion company tokidoki, where she says collaborating with the late Karl Lagerfeld for the tokidoki X Karl Lagerfeld dolls was a highlight. In 2010 she started Good, Bad and Fab – a fashion, beauty and style blog that would garner partnerships with Saks Fifth Avenue, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Shopbop, and help her land a spot in Season 26 of The Amazing Race.
In 2016 – three years after quitting her day job to blog full-time – Jenny and her then-fiancé, Michael Burns, featured on Season 8 of HGTV’s House Hunters Renovation. Not long after finding, gutting and renovating their first home, the pair were dining at West Hollywood’s E.P. & L.P. when, while finishing their last glass of wine, the topic of Jenny’s late period arose. They decided to pick up a pregnancy test from Target on their way home.
“I stumbled into Target slightly buzzed and got the pregnancy test, came home, took it, and once I saw it was positive, my buzz was completely gone,” Jenny recalls. “I started crying happy tears and was absolutely ecstatic. We’d been casually trying so it was something we both wanted but you’re just never fully prepared for something so life-changing.”
Almost nine months and an elopement to Maui later, the newlyweds were vacationing in Terranea when Jenny felt stomach cramps. “I thought it was indigestion from the burger at dinner because it was still two weeks before my due date. I slept through it and in the morning the cramping was gone, but I felt slightly off.”
Back in LA, Jenny’s doctor determined that Jenny was, in fact, in the early stages of labour and needed to get to hospital within the hour. The duo dashed home for a shower, had a speedy ‘last meal’ at Lemonade and stopped by Walgreens for snacks on route. “I was expecting to give birth any minute after checking in but I ended up being in labor for over 22 hours,” says Jenny.
“They finally had to induce me because I’d stopped dilating. I don’t think the epidural was working properly because I was in so much pain when pushing the baby out. After pushing for over 45 minutes, they finally used the vacuum to get him out. Nothing went according to plan, which is true of everyone’s labor story.”
Jenny hung up her Louboutins and, for the most part, nestled comfortably into motherhood. Breastfeeding, however, was a pain point.
“We couldn’t quite get the latching right to the point where my nipples were so cracked and bloody,” she says. “It got so bad I’d cry during every breastfeeding session.”
After weeks of persevering and seeking advice, Jenny decided to pump exclusively. “It was a hard decision because I felt guilty for not being able to do something that seemed so natural and easy for other moms. But once we started pumping and bottle feeding, I noticed that Des was eating more and sleeping better which made me feel good and at peace with the decision.”
Another challenge arose when Jenny fell pregnant again, and discovered she was having a second boy. “I guess I’ve always assumed I’d have a daughter – a mini-me and a benefactor of my purses and shoes,” says Jenny who, like as many as one in five expectant and new mothers, grappled with gender disappointment.
“But as soon as I saw my little Pierce, I knew our family was complete. He is so delicious, so bright, so funny, and lights up all of our lives. So even though being a boy mom isn’t what I’d envisioned, it’s who I am and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Plus, just the idea of having three kids makes me feel exhausted.”
Pierce arrived in speedier, less-painful fashion than his brother, but the same could not be said for Jenny’s placenta. “After trying to push it out for 30 minutes, my doctor had to manually remove it which put my body into shock. I was shaking and felt violently nauseous for a few hours. Again, nothing ever goes quite according to plan.”
When asked how her self-care habits changed after becoming a mother, Jenny says at the start, she neglected all of them.
“In fact, brushing my hair in the morning was a win! But now that I’ve had a few years under my belt, I’ve started to bring back self-care. I clear my head by taking yoga classes and going on solo walks. My self-care habits are not as elaborate or extravagant as they used to be but I think it’s important to carve out small chunks of time for myself so that I’m the best version of myself for my family.”
While continuing to share the Good, Bad and Fab of life across her blog and social channels, the COVID pandemic has seen Jenny returning to lawyering, this time as an independent legal counsel for creatives and small businesses. With Michael also working – as a software engineer for Google and YouTube – a live-in nanny has made the juggle manageable since Pierce was one month old. “My parents also come over once a week, and we’ve finally put Des back in preschool,” says Jenny. “It definitely takes a village!”
“Now that things are opening up again, we’ve had fabulous weekend adventures together. I’m excited to watch my two boys grow up and to share pivotal moments with them. Their childhood years are so precious and so fleeting and I just want to be there to soak it all in – the good, the bad, and the fabulous.”
- Australian TV Presenter, Edwina Bartholomew, entered motherhood in the midst of a global pandemic, in the public eye and just as her husband lost his job. In this interview Edwina reflects on 2020, the beauty of living in a newborn bubble as well as the power of having a mother’s group.
- For over a year, mama of two Ashley Corinne has been chronicling her family’s move from the US to Mexico on her blog, That Black Family Abroad. Full of wit and wisdom, she’s here to chat about pregnancy, childbirth and why she swapped the windy city for Oaxaca, Mexico.