Chocolate and Childbearing: There Are No Rules

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Chocolate and childbearing —
they both go straight to the hips.
This mama always says mothering
a baby is like a box of chocolates:

Indulgent, frustrating, full of kick-
yourself-in-the-ass regrets and the
addictively divine kind of amazing

stuff that was made just for you.

I bonded with my child mentally
as I held that first positive pregnancy test;
I couldn’t feel him, but I knew
he was there and I was committed.
I bonded with him emotionally
as we shared dreams while he grew
in my body, then when we finally
met after working together through labor
and sharing moments of comforted relief together.
And I bonded with him physically
by how I chose to be responsible for him —
that is, in part, by breastfeeding
and babywearing and bedsharing
and looking out for the rules.

My favorite thing about breastfeeding
is there are, so be it, no rules to follow.

Wear a cover for privacy when you’re frustrated
trying to stick on that nursing shield just right. Or don’t,
because fighting a cover is just another thing to worry about.
Nurse your baby on demand. Or nurse on demand
except when you’re working outside the home and
your baby feeds from bottles with another caregiver instead.
Nurse naked with your infant in the bathtub you fancied up
with lavender oils and rose-scented candles just for this purpose.
Or nurse in one of the next full season’s worth of
peekaboo-material nursing tops and dresses
you bought just for this purpose.

Share the gorgeous intimacy of your real,
unedited mothering life with friends and family
on your social media — the pictures of your baby’s
first steps and first tumbles too; family kisses and hugs;
first latch on the breast; trying out solid foods…
Or keep all those photos for yourself, maybe for posterity,
in a diary or a journal. Breastfeed all by yourself with no partner
to bring you provisions or a heat pack or a cup of water.
Or share the feeding with your neighbor or sister
or Auntie or someone at the daycare whose name you’ll
never remember. It doesn’t matter what anyone perceives
of your life — except your children, they are always watching.

And if they ever question one day how to be present in their own
lives as their authentic selves, they can entrust their memories
of you as the foremost example of doing so.

There are no rules to follow.

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