Saturday, May 4th, 2013
She has traveled the world reporting on social injustices–with an emphasis on the plight of women and girls. She has brought awareness to the underground world of human sex trafficking. She has been a fierce advocate to toughen the laws and prosecute those who prey on the weak and vulnerable. For more than two decades, Lisa Ling has been a fighter for those who don’t have a voice. She is journalism at its best.
Now this life-changing woman has given life–to a baby girl, Jett Ling Song. How has that impacted her world? Her perspective? Her career as host of Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN–The Oprah Winfrey Network?
I sat down with her at Mom2Summit, where we had a mom-to-mom conversation.
Me: I ran marathons, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and motherhood, more than anything, totally kicked my ass. You’re only 8 weeks in, so you’re still in the fog a bit. But you have done so many things and traveled the world. How has the adjustment to motherhood been for you?
Lisa: I’m just going to say this: So far, it’s easy because we’ve had a really easy baby. She only cries when she’s hungry and has a dirty diaper. But every single person keeps saying, “Just wait, it will change.” And it’s just changed. She now, for the last couple of days, has been almost inconsolable, just crying all the time, hungry all the time, so I’ve definitely been deprived of sleep. I’m definitely someone who doesn’t need a lot of sleep…but that part, lack of sleep, has been really really difficult. And just to figure out what the needs are of this little life. On the one hand it’s been hugely gratifying but it’s definitely not an easy process.
Me: We’ve all been there. How are you handling work right now? Are you taking some time off?
Lisa: I gave birth in March, I’m not traveling until June. But I already started to work again. Two weeks after, my mind got really numb and I just really needed adult engagement. I got an opportunity to work on a show in LA, to shoot part of a documentary, and I just had to go for it (laughs).”
Me: Wow, 2 weeks out, that’s pretty amazing!
Lisa: Well, it started at 2 weeks but I didn’t actually start shooting until about 4 weeks out. And I had to pump in people’s homes…but we are lucky in that we have had someone helping us. And I think that’s something people need to convey because you see all these celebrity moms out there and the perception is they can do it all, but they have sooo much help. And it’s kind of an unfair image to project for many women, because it is really hard and if you have help, you should indicate you have help. Because it’s not fair to put all these false thoughts in people’s heads.
Me: Yeah, I get it. I had a night nurse for 3 weeks and kept her for 7 months. I had to have sleep to function with baby #2.
Lisa: For me, having help is the benefit of waiting. Fifteen yeas ago I would not have been able to afford help.
Me: So she is 8 weeks, which means what? She’s rolling over?
Lisa: Not quite even rolling. Just starting to smile and laugh out loud. But there’s something miraculous that I have to brag about. On her first day of life she was laying on my chest and her head popped up and she looked at me. The nurse said, “I can’t believe what I just saw. That this baby held her head up.” And from that day on, she has been holding her head up.
Me: I saw your ultrasound on Anderson Cooper. Is she living up to her reputation as an active baby?
Lisa: Not really. She sleeps nonstop, but she is obviously very strong.
Me: How has your husband Paul adjusted?
Lisa: Paul has been wonderful in that there is not much that he can do. But he really does make an effort. As soon as he comes home from work he is the first to volunteer to change the diapers for the rest of the night. I have to acknowledge him for that, but the truth of the matter is there is not a whole lot he can do.
…I will say my husband in 8 weeks is a different person. He’s never been an overtly affectionate person. But the way he is, the way he just looks at her…he will kneel next to her crib for an hour just staring at her. The look in his eyes is something I’ve never seen before.
Me: I know my husband found parenthood just as profound as I did.
You have an eco-friendly home. How eco-friendly are you as a mom?
Lisa: I wish I could say I was doing cloth diapers, but she just sh-ts too much. Let’s put it this way: you know the first day after you have a baby, they want you to have one poop and one pee in one feeding? My daughter had five poops. She was quite the overachiever. With the amount of diapers I go through there is no way I could do cloth. We have converted to all eco-friendly products, so we’re making an effort but we’re not overzealous about it.
Me: I think the first day with Fia we went through 23 diapers. I also found that I was pretty crazy about not using too many paper towels before my kids came, but I swear that has gone out the window. I use so many. You will probably find the same thing when she starts eating. Because then they can really start to make a mess.
Lisa: This is going to be the best thing for me because I am notoriously OCD. Notorious. In some ways it is helping to make me heal (laughs), so to speak.
Me: Are you a clean freak?
Lisa: I am. We have a lot of glass in our house and when my niece runs towards the windows, I am like “Noooo! Stop!”
[pause--here is where I tell her about how my hypnotherapy helped cure my cleaning obsession.]
Me: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve had so far?
Lisa: Sleep when your baby is sleeping.
Me: Are you following it?
Lisa: I’m trying to. I’ve never been a huge napper but now I find I need it. Especially because I’m running on fumes.
Me: Any bad advice? (she thinks for a bit…)
Lisa: Chinese people like to bundle their babies up (into like four layers). My baby is sweating like a beast. But I find my baby stops crying when I take off some of the layers. So that is the bad advice I got from the Chinese aunties.
Me: How was your birth? Did you go into labor?
Lisa: I had a planned C-section and I cried the entire day before I had the baby.
Me: How come?
Lisa: I was just terrified. Because life as I knew it was going to be different forever. I have always been kind of a control freak and this was something that was so completely out of my control. I was inconsolable.
Sidenote: I get it. I had 9 months of therapy because I was so worried I’d love Wayne Sanchez more than my kid. But as we moms know, it just doesn’t happen that way.
Me: I found that in the beginning, as much as I loved my baby, there was this major adjustment to the mundane and tediousness of the day. I remember just trying to hang in there with it but not sure where my purpose was. How was the adjustment for you? You mentioned wanting to work a little bit after 2 weeks.
Lisa: I felt very cloistered in my home and needed to flex my mind and get engaged and have a little more adult conversation. I felt like I was getting a little numb. I love being with my baby, I absolutely love it. But I also love to have adult stimulation and that’s really important to me. I think I’m a better mom as a result because I have enriched myself. And that’s not for everyone. Not everyone needs that.
Me: Did you feel guilty leaving?
Lisa: No, not really because I really do feel like I’ll be better for her.
Me: What made you decide to have a baby?
Lisa: Being together with my husband. I hadn’t wanted to have a kid until I met my partner. We’ve had a couple miscarriages, but I’d always felt if we weren’t successful biologically, we’d adopt. Certainly life has changed in such a positive way. But for those women who are struggling [with whether to have a kid] an important message needs to be conveyed that if you decide that having kids isn’t for you, that’s okay too.
Me: Tell me about your involvement with Dove.
Lisa: I’ve always been a huge proponent and fan of their campaigns. I would love to see more brands follow suit.
The idea of trying to make girls feel unstoppable is a message that needs to be projected and promoted. Too often girls feel insecure about their looks. I mean 6 out of 10 girls stop doing what they love most because of what they look like. And if you think of the images that are so pervasive and the kinds of women girls are growing up revering, it’s a little daunting.
And now, as a mother of a daughter, it does scare me. I applaud Dove for wanting to instill a sense of self esteem in girls across this country and to actually put their money where their mouth is, and to give it numbers…to try and inject self esteem in 15 million girls by 2015. When they asked me to be part of it I was so in.
Me: Great. It does have a powerful message. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk. Now go home and kiss that baby.Add a Comment