Thursday, February 10, 2011

Portrait of an activist mother

Today Josie and I went to visit my friends Jen and Joe and their daughter Brielle.  Josie loved getting the chance to play with her favorite little girlfriend, plus the their bunny, fish, and new puppy (how lucky is this kid?).  And I was excited to get the chance to take some photos of Jen nursing Brielle, who turned 2 in October.  Jen is an amazing mother and a soon to be Doula who is passionate about mothers and children (she is also, by the way, the one who left the comment about asking if birth support could be considered an art form, which of course I told her it obviously was and much more!).  She is also starting to work on writing a children's book about a nursing toddler as a means to educate people and fight the misconceptions in our culture about breastfeeding past infancy.  She asked me if I might help her illustrate something like this with photos, and of course I said yes!  I think it is a really cool idea and can think of no one better to write about this topic but a person who has lived with the struggle of choosing what is best for her child in spite of cultural pressure.

These shots above were sort of just a warm up for me, Brielle actually didn't nurse for more than a couple of minutes while I was visiting so I didn't get to take many shots.  I'm also still a bit unsure of myself when shooting portraits; I'm not real comfortable directing people and I want to get as natural shots as possible, but I know I could have improved on these if I had worked with my subject a little more.  Oh well, there is always next time, we only had a few minutes anyway.  It was really nice to get to shoot a moment like this between a mother and child.


  1. Beautiful!

    The book is a wonderful idea. I practiced extended breastfeeding with both of my children and was fortunate to have a fantastically supportive pediatrician. I had been initially concerned because he was an old school doctor, having been around a long time. My worry was that he might have gotten stuck in the generation my mother was in: the one where they sold formula as being best for the baby, but I needn't have worried. He was wonderful! He reassured me that without the invention of formula, pacifiers and bottles, all children would and SHOULD nurse into their toddler years.

    My first child nursed until he was 2 years and 7 months. He would have happily continued nursing himself to sleep at night, but I was far too pregnant and uncomfortable with his sister. By the time she turned two, my body was thoroughly tired from nursing and being pregnant (6 consecutive years worth!), with the added fatigue of chasing two babies about, but I held out until she was the same age for weaning that her brother had been. Have to be fair for my girl. :) So, two years seven months was our number, though they both would have gone longer had their mama not wimped out on them.

    Those years were so sweet. My children are healthy and bright. I will always know that I did my best in giving them what they needed most during those years, despite the fact that only my doctor, the books I read and my mothering instinct were in support of how I managed our breastfeeding experience. No one in my family really understood. They didn't strongly refute me because they knew I wouldn't listen to them, but they also didn't approve and I found myself reciting passages from books and quoting our doctor all to justify the fact that I was making NATURAL decisions.

    At one point, I looked a book or books written for both the mother and the nursing toddler. I found a few but none of them seemed to be what I really wanted, so I didn't end up purchasing any. I hope this book fills that void.

    Sorry for the ramble! The short version of this comment is: Yes! Birth support is an art form! and YAY! for the book. :)

    I feel so passionate about this even five years after having weaning my youngest baby, but hadn't even realized that I feel just as strongly now as I did then. Thank you for reminding me of this topic so near and dear to my heart.

  2. Misha, don't appologize, thank you for the ramble! I'm glad this gave you the chance to remember a special time in your life as a mother and feel strongly about this again, this is exactely the sort of thing I'd like to do with my photography, use it to highlight important issues. I should get you and Jen in touch, I'm sure she would appreciate some input from other mothers who nursed toddlers when her project gets further along.

  3. Most definitely an important issue ~ reading your reply, I was reminded of an incident on Myspace a few years back where a blogger had posted photos of a mother nursing and infant, and the photos were removed by Myspace because they deemed them indecent. This happened approximately three years ago! I still can't wrap my mind around the implications of such an idea and what it means for our society as a whole that this is accepted?!

    Yes, please give my contact info to Jen. She can find me on FB via my blogger. (I would give you my email addy here but have learned to be a bit selective when posting it publicly.)

    When you post photos and stories igniting this type of beloved communication and passion, then you are definitely on the right track! Go, Meg!

    You have captured beautiful moments here.

    Thank you :)

  4. These are so special! Nursing pictures are so beautiful. <3