The Food of Love, Kate Evans

I have to be honest. At this point, I’m amazed I’ve made it through two child-rearing books. The amount of anxiety these books give me, after repeatedly and forcefully telling me it’s alright if I don’t do things a certain way – then proceeding to dump three hundred pages of advice that, if ignored, will turn my child into a depressed, obese, alcoholic – is getting steadily higher. I went from being the expectant mother with very few expectations to the expectant mother who’s clearly a reprobate for leaving all this research until the seventh month.

It makes me a little resentful because I’ve always trusted and loved books, and now I eye them with an air of suspicion. What will this one dictate? What will that one prepare me for that I had never even considered before? Will the pictures in this one scar me for life, and if I do feel scarred, what kind of person am I that I can be so easily damaged by photos or drawings of a completely natural and healthy process?

I miss my uncomplicated relationship with well-worn paperback novels. I miss the hours of escape the right book provides. I especially miss feeling a little guilty for reading a book with zero literary value. Reading books like this one remind me that in a very short time, my life will be drastically different, and there will be no going back to the way things were before. Sure, every few days and weeks, something will change; one of the most critical things I learned in the years I worked with three month to five year olds is that little is constant when it comes to small growing humans. This is not comforting. It’s familiar, in the way that observing and learning about anything becomes familiar after you’ve done it for long enough, but viewed through the filter of imminent arrival, it’s not comforting.

Many people find that comfort in research. I get it. I personally take more of a measure once, cut twice approach to life, but I’m not fairly confident that’s not the best approach, so I absolutely don’t judge those who want all the data possible before making a decision. That’s where books like these come in. It can be incredibly helpful to have resources like Evans’ book available both before and after a baby arrives. In fact, I learned more from reading this book than I could have possibly imagined. She’s thorough, funny, and of course, consistent in reminding me that although breast is best, formula fed babies probably won’t be horribly scarred for life.

I’m joking…sort of. On the one hand, I definitely plan on bringing this book with me to the hospital when I go into labor because I found it that helpful. On the other, I occasionally felt like taking up arms for a more neutral stance on the baby feeding bandwagon on behalf of all my friends who, for whatever reason, weren’t able to breastfeed and have amazing, well-attached, sweet, smart children who I love to spend time with.

Evans’ strength is really in the palatable way she breaks down the information a new mother might need about how to breastfeed, what kind of help to ask for if things are going awry, and how to handle the strain this process can put on a mother’s body. After I finished the book, I looked back and counted fourteen pages I’d flagged so that I could go back to those sections quickly if I needed a reference. I certainly felt better prepared to approach the process, which before had seemed like a complete mystery to me, with confidence. I’d also made note of some questions I wanted to ask the friend who’d given the book to me, a mom who had great success with breastfeeding her children and who I feel comfortable asking questions that make me feel vulnerable and sound (probably) idiotic.

I actually have a hard time imagining a better written reference guide for families interested in breastfeeding, or for those who are struggling and would like concrete solutions for their problems. It was a light-hearted read, especially considering the topic, and if I hadn’t felt the author’s occasional pressure about making the “right” choice for my baby, I would have been completely smitten. As it was, I finished the book with the feeling that I had a well-intentioned if slightly preachy friend on my side for tackling this particular hurtle of parenthood.

That being said, after I was done, I ate half a sleeve of Thin Mints and binge-watched some really trashy tv in an effort to keep from going full-on crazy mom mode. It seemed like a fair trade off for all this responsible pre-parenting…

6 thoughts on “The Food of Love, Kate Evans

  1. Oh, I’m so glad you posted this! I haven’t even begun to delve into the world of ‘post birth’ or even ‘birth’ books yet. (I’m only 21 weeks) because I’m like you: research sometimes gives me anxiety! Il’l check this one out on your recommendation, however. Thanks so much!

    1. It’s really great! It’s already packed in my bag for the hospital even though I hopefully have a few more weeks! I’ll have to let you know after the fact if it’s as good as I hope :)

  2. I still say no one’s an expert when it comes to anything related to children as each one is unique and different. That’s why my advice has always been to have more than one!

    I read all the free magazines I could get through my ob’s office. Of course, that was in the days before we all stated relying on the internet for this stuff but, if they’re still available, that would still be my go-to source for info on the subject since it so consistently changes, just like info on almost all subjects these days. At least by doing that, I stayed relatively up to date, especially during those heavily hormonal periods!

    In any case, there’s only so much a mom can do before, during or after childbirth. Just try to relax and enjoy the ride as much as possible. I know that’s easier said than done but really, I think that approach is best for preserving your own sanity as well as that of your family and loved ones. Happy gestating and birthing to you!

    1. Thanks! I’m feeling pretty relaxed now that I’ve read a few books and am starting to digest the information. I can’t predict what info will be most helpful, and I try not to let myself get to wrapped up in the details I can’t control, but it is nice to occasionally find books like this one that feel like they’ll be helpful in those first few crucial, sleep-deprived weeks :)

  3. I felt the same way about baby books with my first pregnancy. I felt like such a slacker for not being able to get through a single one of them. I remember reading Bringing up Bebe and Your Child’s brain from 0 to 5, both of which are an interesting read regardless of whether I was expecting or not.
    These days I am due with my second soon and I feel much less anxious having gone through it once. I still couldn’t read a baby book though. However I’ll make sure to check this one out at the library based on your review.

    1. I loved reading Bringing Up Bebe. My husband is actually reading it now on my advice! Congrats on your second! This book will be especially help if you had any challenges breastfeeding the first time around. You may already be an expert, but if you feel like you could use a brush up, this is a definite read!

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