Today, we have an interview with Kristen Beddard. Kristen is an American writer living in Paris. I discovered her work nearly 3 years ago on Instagram and really enjoyed her vignettes of life in France. She is the founder of The Kale Project and mother to one-year-old Grady.
She currently has a new book coming out called Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes. Below we talk about how she navigated her fourth trimester with Grady, her experience with breastfeeding and resuming a work schedule.
If I remember correctly, you welcomed your daughter last year. I know research and development of a book can take awhile, but how did you manage to write your book and have a baby all in what appears to be the span of a year or so?
To be honest, the deadline of the book was a year earlier than I would have liked but the publisher wanted to release it in spring (Paris in the springtime!) and because the kale trend isn’t getting any younger. I worked on the proposal off and on for around a year and then signed with my publisher in November 2014. My daughter Grady was born in March 2015. I worked on the first 30,000 words or so and the chapter outline until her birth, many of which were already well developed from working on the proposal. After the birth, I made sure to be as productive and efficient as possible while writing the last 60,000 words. It was not easy because my time alone to really focus was not as frequent as it was before she arrived and she’s never been the baby who just “sleeps” while I work.
Did you plan for and have postpartum support after the birth of your daughter? In the sense of cooked meals, someone who held the baby while you showered, etc.
Yes! My mom! I’m an only child and Grady is her first grandchild and she had retired a year earlier so the timing was perfect. She arrived two weeks before Grady was born (at 41 weeks and 4 days), was present for the birth and then stayed for a month afterwards. We rented an Air BnB not far from our apartment and she was absolutely wonderful and so helpful. She is a great cook – I talk a lot about her and the influence she’s had with me and food in the book – so I was very spoiled to have her cooking for me during the postpartum phase. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have her with me for emotional and physical support.
I think that women in modern day, western society, feel this pressure to try to do this all on our own when in reality, motherhood was not meant to be done without help. For centuries, women had their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and communities all helping each other out with knowledge that had been passed down through generations, a spare hand (or even breast!) and more. I tell any of my expecting friends to hire a doula for anything they might need if they will not have help from a family member. It will make such a difference in the first few weeks.