I’ll bet you have 4,367 photos of your baby.
How could you not? He’s adorable! But, how many of those photos actually have you in them? Not so many, right? You’ve got the “mom with new baby in hospital” shot, “first feeding” photos, “mom and baby heading home” shot, maybe a few semi-formal “parents and baby together” pictures from special occasions, holidays or family gatherings.
Baby grows, but you’re there too.
As the weeks and months go on, long beyond the newborn phase, you’re probably the one behind the camera taking the photos, not being the subject. A few slightly-out-of-focus “selfies”, compliments of your smartphone, may make up the majority of photos featuring you and your baby together at 6 and 9 and 12 months, perhaps with your disembodied hand offering a toy or spoonful of baby’s first food.
But day and night (oh boy, night) for hours and hours (oh boy, so many hours), you’re there, breastfeeding your baby, or pumping for your baby. Feeding and holding and cuddling and wrangling (okay, sometimes wrestling), lounging on the couch, sitting in your favorite nursing chair, or side-lying and nursing in bed hoping for just a little more shut-eye. Capture it with a photo.
Please take pictures along the way. Breastfeeding (and pumping) is so often a hard-won battle, requiring significant time, effort and dedication. Whether you’ve breastfed for two weeks, two months or two years, you’ve worked pretty darned hard to make it that far. Your nursing photos will later serve as visual, sometimes visceral, reminders, helping you document the various stages of nursing when your child was younger.
When I asked on twitter if moms had photos of themselves nursing, many mentioned with regret that they did not, hadn’t thought of it at the time and now wished they did, or, only had nursing photos from the early newborn days but none with them nursing their older babies. Moms who are exclusively pumping (one has even named her pump: Fiona!) agreed they should take some photos to commemorate the many (many!) dedicated hours spent attached to their electric companion.
Every day memories:
I’m not talking about professionally done photographs with you, perfectly groomed and wearing a white linen nightgown, nursing your angelically dozing baby while partner stands by with a supportive smile and hand lovingly resting on your shoulder (those are nice photos, too). I’m talking about the everyday, real-life scenarios of nursing or pumping for your baby, spit-up stained sofa and all, at home, at work, and out and about. How you really spend your time. When it comes to skin, show what you’re comfortable with – that’s why there’s a delete key - nursing photos can be detailed or discrete, and kept as public or private, as you’d like. The key thing is that you’re capturing the moments now, to trigger the memories, later.
Consider documenting scenes like:
Your six week old, peacefully milk drunk, lips slightly parted, trickle of milk leaking from the corner of her mouth. Your thumb up to the camera, Yes finally, believing this breastfeeding thing is really going to work out after all.
Your four month old’s funny new habit, hand reaching up to “gently” <wince> pat your cheek while nursing.
Your nine month old wriggler, latched on and giggling as he holds up his toes for you to kiss and nibble.
Your 11 month old, nursing in the Ergo, almost asleep, as you walk around the aquarium with your preschooler.
In Twenty Years
With a photo, you can look back and will clearly recall the pattern of the nursing pillow that sat on your lap for umpteen hours (when you really, really needed to pee), how you so carefully arranged the remote, phone, iPad just so (oh, how quaint and old-fashioned that iPad will seem!), the water bottle just inches out of reach (how does that always happen?), and the posters on the wall of the pumping room you visited three times a day, five days a week, month after month at your workplace. You’ll remember it all, with fond nostalgia (maternal amnesia) and probably a strong sense of personal pride for the hard work and special time that it was.
Maybe you’ll want to share these photos – and memories – with your child in the future, (I think you probably will), but you won’t ever even have the option if the photos don’t exist.
Do you have pictures of yourself nursing your baby, or pumping? Can you imagine looking back on these many years in the future?