Brandi Chantalle says breastfeeding her baby girl, Zora, while getting her makeup done on her wedding day encapsulated the perfect combination of self-care and motherhood.
Zora's parents, Chantalle, 26, and Chris Francis, 27, married on January 9 in Beltsville, Maryland. Chantalle told The Huffington Post it was really important for Zora,1, to be a part of the wedding experience -- whether she needed to breastfeed or even just cry.
"Zora’s a part of us," the mom said. "I wasn't worried about her messing up the moment."
The Maryland parents previously discussed how they wanted to generally approach breastfeeding in public, Chantalle said. She started out always covering up but as time progressed they developed a more "carefree" approach to covering up in certain situations.
"It's just an extra step when you're mothering and you already have a lot going on," she said.
Indeed, Chantalle felt carefree as she nursed Zora on her wedding day. During her wedding day makeup session, she removed her robe when having it on while trying to breastfeed became too difficult.
"I know you didn't sign up for this," she joked with her wedding photographer hours before her wedding.
Her husband, who is also a photographer, joins his wife as a champion for breastfeeding and hopes society will become more accepting of breastfeeding in public.
"I guess because the way society has conditioned our minds -- the same applies to breastfeeding as it does with other things," Francis told HuffPost. "I want people to be more open to the fact that this is natural."
And as a mother raising a black daughter, Chantalle says she feels it's her responsibility to ensure Zora is affirmed and truly "sees herself" in a society that still lacks in displaying and celebrating enough positive images of black women in the media.
She sees herself as a "vessel" for Zora, who she wants to eventually claim her own identity.
"The thing that is constantly being revealed to me is that our children don’t belong to us, " Chantalle said. "Our natural inclination as parents is to like shape, mold and make our child how we are. But she has lessons she’s supposed to learn -- I am kind of like an aid."
Chantalle wants Zora to live and make decisions "consciously" throughout her life but to also enjoy being a "carefree black girl" -- despite living in a society where black lives are still marginalized.
"I feel carefreeness in itself is a revolution," Chantalle said.
Chantalle adapted her "carefree" attitude from her grandmother, who she describes as the "OG carefree black girl." Her grandmother helped raise her after her mother passed away when she was 9 years old.
Her grandmother tells her, it's been like "raising the same person twice," Chantalle says.
As for Zora, she has already served as a huge inspiration for a project Chantalle has founded: Mama & Me Wraps, LLC, where she makes matching head wraps geared for "a mama and her mini."
And as Zora is growing, learning to use the potty and weaning, Chantalle looks forward to her baby girl getting to the stage where she can soothe herself. But she'll always miss precious breastfeeding moments like, watching Zora look up and smile.
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