About a year ago I put together a project photographing women breastfeeding their children. The idea for this project was one of those ideas where something from within me compelled me to do it. I had never taken on anything like this before. I wasn't even sure how people would respond to it. Partly because breastfeeding openly is such a hot topic these days but also because I was asking these women to let me come into their homes and photograph them while they fed their child .
But the response was amazing. So many women were open to this idea and loved it. They told me their stories of their labor and birth and their journey with breastfeeding. The bared it all. They were not nervous or afraid. They were so proud. The one thing I heard the most about their interest in being photographed was being able to remember these days, the days of this intimate relationship only shared between their child and themselves.
I felt this so powerfully at the time because I could feel my own breastfeeding journey with my son was coming to an end. There were moments were I felt a relief to have my body to myself for the first time in almost 2 years. But I was also so saddened by the loss of this relationship, one that only belonged to him and I. The loss of that connection between my son and I. This was his first real step towards independence and it was heart aching. This made this project all the more emotional for me and drove the need to do it.
One day while I was photographing a friend and her son, she was telling me how much she loved what I was doing and that she hoped that I was able to do photos of myself too. Photos of myself. This totally hit me as one of those "umm, duh" moments because this thought hadn't even crossed my mind! I had already photographed a number of women and was in the midst of saying good-bye to breastfeeding my son and it hadn't even occurred to me to do exactly what all these other women were hoping to preserve!
So finally, I dialed in my camera settings, turned the self timer on, and sat on the other side of the lens.
And you know what? The photos from that day are some of the most cherished photos I have of my son and I. I feel so emotional towards them that I haven't shared them with anyone but my husband until now.
But it is time. I asked so much of my subjects to be open with me and share something that is, yes, a part of their daily routine, but also a very personal bond between mother and child. It only seems appropriate that I too am open to sharing what I have asked of others.
So here I am. Pushing myself. Being vulnerable. Opening up. Baring my heart. And being proud.
(Within two weeks of these photos being taken, Noah decided to stop breastfeeding all together. I was just in time.)
Happy Breastfeeding Week!
The rest of The Breastfeeding Project can be found in previous posts on my blog.