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don’t leave this open on your coffee table

don’t leave this open on your coffee table

August 6, 2006

Because unless breasts are popping out of a bikini top, they are offensive.


Jen
wrote about the babytalk magazine on her blog also and shared photos of herself nursing her babies. So I though I’d share one of mine too.

Nursling

This photo is several months old and is the last time that Miles nursed. The last time I nursed a baby. The last time I will ever nurse a baby. A whole large part of my existence that came to an end is captured here.

He had been slowly weaning himself, first cutting down to nursing only a handful of times a day, then to once a day, and finally to skipping entire days. He was ready to wean. I was ready for him to wean, most days. The other days I was a weepy mess over my bay-bee and sufferring with rock hard boobs.

He had gone for more than a week, and I thought we were done nursing, when one day he climbed onto my lap and asked for “num-num” His little hand reached up and stroked my cheek. He brought his long legs up onto my lap and hooked them around my other arm. I felt the weight of his huge melon head in the crook of my arm. He looked me in the eye and periodically would pause to smile.

It was like he needed one last nursing for closure before he moved on with his big boy, bad ass self.

I happened to have my camera sitting next to me and snapped this picture. How often do you photograph the last of something, a turning point?

It amazed me then, and amazes me still, that my body could grow a kid. Nine months of gestating and then however many months of solely nursing. It makes me wish I could be kinder to myself and let the body hatred go, but well, that will probably never happen. I do hope, however, that my daughter will see photographs like these and appreciate her body, not buy into the images that we are all force fed by the media. And so that is why I share my photograph.

For my daughter. For all the other daughters. So I never again have to hear another woman say nursing breasts are disgusting, shameful, and something to be hidden.


Update: Go here to find links from other mothers who have posted photos of their nursing babies and written about this very same thing.

Posted by Chris @ 6:32 am  

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Comments

  1. Heather says:

    Beautiful! I wish I had captured pictures of my babies - I never knew when the last time was.

  2. Katie says:

    Lovely picture! I nursed all my children (although the twins the least, I still feel bad about that) and I don’t have any pictures. I never had any rude comments when I nursed in public, in fact a guy friend (whose wife refused to breastfed) always wanted someone to make a fuss so he could stand up for me. I think the majority of the US is okay with it, it’s just the minority is so much more vocal.

  3. Nicki says:

    That is a gorgeous picture. How amazing that you were able to catch such a milestone on camera and how sick that society would ever deem this inappropriate.

  4. Nicki says:

    How sweet and perfect!!!

  5. wookie says:

    I do have to wonder though… I nursed both my kids, yet the sight of someone elses (or my own) exposed breasts makes me uncomfortable. Not ashamed or dirty, just that it’s something that should be more private? I’m not big on people kissing in public either, and I don’t think that’s shameful, just private.
    It doesn’t offend me, I don’t think they should go away or be banished or cover up, especially in the heat, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little uncomfortable.

  6. Jamie says:

    What a beautiful picture! Thanks for sharing the photo and your thoughts. I don’t really understand all the hoopla over the BabyTalk cover when we see much worse on regular TV (I blogged about it on Friday). It’s sad that our society has such mixed up views on what is “inappropriate.”

  7. Caren Story says:

    You should check out http://www.shapeofamother.blogspot.com
    Its a great site…goes along with what you’re talking about. Great picture though. I wish I had taken pictures of my girls nursing.

  8. Jeanelle Paige says:

    My 2 year old is still nursing and I nurse her right in front of my 8 year old son, 6 year old daughter, and 3 year old daughter. I too want them to know that it is perfectly normal, not shameful and that they should be comfortable with you they are. Great post! I hope I will be able to take a pic of my baby’s last time!

  9. Kristie says:

    I scrapbook, and much is said about how we all take so many photos of “firsts” … first time to take a bath, or eat solid food, army-crawl, or take those first few tottering steps, etc. But rarely are people able to capture the “lasts” on film, for when do you know it will be the last of something? The last time your baby will crawl, once they figure out how to walk, or the last time they’ll spin around just for the fun of spinning, or the last time they’ll nurse, as you were lucky enough to capture so perfectly.

    I remember the weaning … I remember my youngest daughter latching on, only to hear something interesting on the tv or for something bright and shiny to catch her eye across the room and her to whip her head around, practically removing my nipple at the same time (ouch!) :) But I don’t remember the exact LAST time … so I think it’s great you have a photo of yours.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Chris says:

    That picture is beautiful. It makes me think of the last time I nursed Jack. Holding that perfect little baby in my arms, giving him nourishment. Aw, now I am crying! I do miss those days curling up with the baby and feeling like it was just them and me.

  11. Lilly says:

    It wasn’t until I became a nursing mother that my breasts became a normal part of a functioning body instead of something to be judged for their size (or lack thereof) and beauty and hidden from view because of someone else’s feelings about them. I was able to think of them as just normal body parts and lost my modesty about them. It was a great feeling.

    That photo is beautiful and your writing also.

  12. Jurgen Nation says:

    Chris, I heart you. Your an inspiration. If I ever have children you had better be ready - I’m going to have your number on speed dial.

    It makes me sick that people find this offensive. I can understand some discomfort that makes a person turn away in public or something, but, at least for me, the discomfort isn’t about it being gross or offensive. It’s about watching a moment so private you look away out of respect. It’s a shame that people find something so natural offensive. What the hell else could better capture the reason we’re all here, the definition of motherhood?

    I’ll stop rambling now.

  13. Kateri says:

    Beautiful. And what a moment to capture. I hope I have a camera handy the last time I nurse a baby.

    I posted links to a whole bunch of nursing photos on my blog. You might want to check it out.

  14. Erin says:

    I’m completely with you on this. My one year old is still going strong on nursing and I have my third baby on the way. It’s so odd to hear anyone say that it’s disgusting.

  15. kate says:

    Thanks for sharing. It’s a beautiful photo. I have lots of photos of myself nursing and I nurse in public all the time. Thankfully, I rarely get looks and have never gotten a comment. I also hang out with a bunch of moms that breastfeed all the time in public. There are only a couple who are embarassed or hide with a blanket (which is fine, if it’s your thing. It’s just not mine) I’ve been thinking about posting about this on my blog. I just haven’t since I really have a knitting blog… Maybe I should knit a boob.

  16. briana says:

    Lovely photo. I love how you phrased your feelings about your body “makes me wish I could be kinder to myself and let the body hatred go.” I have that conversation with myself almost weekly. It is so hard to be kind to ourselves, but when we take a closer look at what our bodies carry us through and are capable of, it is so beautiful. I remember just after delivering my son, a good friend came to visit me in the hospital and told me to “remember what my body just went through and be kind to it.” I think those were powerful words for me in the months to follow. I try to remind myself of that from time to time when my inner voice gets too critical.
    Now that my son is weaned, I miss it. I have a couple pictures of him nursing earlier on, but none in the final days. I wish I did now.
    Thanks for the great post!

  17. Heather says:

    This picture is so beautiful Chris. I am a mess of tears right now, remembering this exact moment for me, 6 years ago. I wish I had taken a picture of Gabriel’s last “mummys” as he would call it. He would climb up on my lap and his little chubby fingers from his left hand would search my neck for my hair and he would twirl it in his fingers while he nursed until he fell asleep.

  18. kris says:

    A beautiful post.

  19. Daisy says:

    wonderful. sniff. sob. beautiful. THank you for your courage in sharing something so personal and meaningful.

  20. peepnroosmom says:

    That was beautiful. I remember the last time I nursed my baby, too. We have a couple of pictures of him nursing. At the time I thought taking pictures was a little weird, but now I treasure them, because I know I can never get that special sweet time back.

  21. Jo says:

    That is a precious picture. I dread the day when I realize I have nursed for the last time.

  22. kate says:

    I was at my girlfriends on Friday night and she had the magazine on her coffee table face up on top. No one thought anything of it, her husband did not even notice until I mentioned the controversy over the cover and he could not believe people, mothers would complain about something so natural.

    My girlfriend and I were amazed at the small minded woman in our society!

  23. TC says:

    That is truly lovely. A momento of the turning point in yours and his life. I am touched just looking at it. That anyone else could feel anything else but awe over that sight is completely beyond me.

  24. Jennifer says:

    That photo is beautiful! I wish I had one too. I still mourn that my baby boy stopped nursing way before I was ready, at 16 mos. I hated to give them that first bite of solids. I also couldn’t believe that my body could produce and grow something so beautiful (though obviously, I don’t take sole credit). Thank you for sharing the picture.

  25. T in HD says:

    Thank you for sharing that special photo, Chris. It is beautiful.

    Your comment about appreciating your body… I remember the first time I ever looked at my body in the mirror and felt pride and appreciation. It was not after having lost a few pounds. It was the day I came home from the hospital after having my first child. I stood in front of the bedroom mirror and looked at that empty “baby house”–a bulge of a tummy. I felt this rush of admiration and appreciation for my body and what it had done for me, what it had given me–my baby girl. I remember how unique that feeling felt. I’d never experienced it before. I would love to lose some weight, get a toned flat tummy and hell, look like a model! But this body has carried and birthed my children and nourished them in the first years of life. It’s an incredible feeling.

  26. Melora says:

    What a beautiful picture! I wish I’d thought to photograph my kids nursing — it sure got to be a drag at times, but what a wonderful way it was to spend quiet time with them, and I loved how loving and trusting their little faces were when they were nursing and looking up at me.
    I weaned my son at two and my daughter at three, and a year later she is still occasionally saying that she is not too old for “boo boos” (and I say no, but with regret that it is something I won’t be doing again). As others have said, I find it incredibly sad that our society is fine with images of models and movie stars baring everything but their nipples, but a breast serving its primary function is deemed obscene.

  27. Jennifer says:

    That is a beautiful picture. My husband took a few when my son was little but none came out as well as that.

    Beautiful picture. Beautiful post. Both so perfectly capture the magic of nursing.

  28. R says:

    So touching. He looks so peaceful and content. After months of waffling between wanting/not wanting to wean (mostly because of social/family pressure), I said “eff it”, I’m nursing this baby for as long as he wants. Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful things to see and I just don’t understand why some people are afraid of the nature of breasts.

  29. Deborah says:

    Beautiful! Both the picture and the story! I nursed all 4 of my children, my last being my only boy, and knowing he’d be my last. I was the first in my family to EVER nurse a child, so when I had my first daughter, 18 years ago and my mother and sister came, their first reactions were actually, “Oh, you’re doing THAT? GROSS!!” I was horrified! I left the comfort of my livingroom on one occassion only to nurse, and after that, it was, hey, if you’re uncomfortable with MY nursing my baby in MY home - you find the door. For something so completely natural, it’s unbelievable how unnatural people find it to be, yet will welcome young girls clothing to be something of a strippers!! Sickening! I only wish I had a picture so lovely as yours to scrapbook for myself of my children nursing. When I see Moms nursing now, I just lovingly look and coo at them, I can’t help myself. I’m not looking at their boobs, just the beauty of the act of nursing a baby that is so NATURAL!

  30. Antique Mommy says:

    Absolutely. I take medication for a chronic illness so I was not able to nurse my baby. I feel like I really missed out on something special.

  31. Rebecca says:

    That is a beautiful photo! I have a photo of the exact last time my last baby ever nursed, because I had to start a non-compatible medication later that day. It’s too sad for me to post, though…

  32. Michele says:

    Thanks for the beautiful picture and beautiful post. I weaned my son two weeks after his first birthday but I am going to let my daughter nurse longer if she wants because she will be my last baby. I was horrified by the negative comments regarding the BabyTalk picture, especially by the woman who had breastfed her kids and yet didn’t want her kids to see the picture. What could be more amazing and awesome than the human body providing nourishment for a baby??!?!

  33. Lisa says:

    Wow, that picture brings a tear to my eye. I nursed all 3 of my children and didn’t know to just now, how I missed breastfeeding. What an incredible bonding moment between the two of you that you captured. Off to fetch a tissue.

  34. Susan says:

    Oh I love that picture. I’m so glad you posted it, and that you were able to save–and savor–that moment.

  35. Christina says:

    Oh how I wished I had a picture of my last nursing, he weaned so quickly compared to my others I was caught completely off guard that we were done. Thanks so much for sharing, what a beautiful moment.

  36. amybee says:

    The irony is…is that if more woman saw pictures like Chris’ and the ones on Kateri’s site, more women might be encouraged to give breast feeding the old college try. There’s no “right” way to do it…it *can* downright awkward, but if we just had more pics of real women, we’d realize we were not alone. Thanks for sharing, real women!

  37. Y says:

    You know, I never gave a shit what anyone else thought about me breastfeeding my kids. I think it’s beautiful and amazing and seriously? People who think anything other than that can SUCK IT.

    I posted pictures of my daughter nursing when she was only 3 weeks old and perhaps I’ll repost that entry now.

  38. Carola says:

    The picture is beautiful!!! I love the way he is looking at you. The most precious moments I’ve lived in my life are the ones I have shared with my baby while she is nursing. It is truly a miracle and I am very scared about it being over…I know it will happen, but I just want it to last a bit longer…every extra day is a gift for me.

  39. Novaks8 says:

    ahhhh my eyes!!!

    Joking!

    That is beautiful Chris.

    My baby is still nursing. She is cutting way back and it makes me so mad that some people question me as to how long I am letting her nurse.
    Umm that is MY business.
    It’s not like she is 12 or something!

    I know that all too quickly she will not even want a hug, much less to nurse.

  40. Krsitin says:

    Wow! What and incredible momement & picture!

  41. Colleen says:

    A whole large part of my existence that came to an end is captured here.

    That quote just makes me sad!!!!! I am now nursing my last baby. it will be sad to let that go. great picture!

  42. liz says:

    Beautiful.

  43. Mary Tsao says:

    Beautifully written post, Chris. I’m going to go dig up my pictures and post them.

    Love what you wrote about body image and the information we pass on to ouor daughters. Today a woman in my mothers club came over to my house and asked me if it was okay if she breastfed in front of me. I was so happy to tell her, “YES!”

    I will always support women around me breastfeeding. I was lucky enough to never feel open resentment when I was doing it (and I did it everywhere!) and that’s the gift I want to give other women. Including my daughter.

  44. Kat O+ says:

    I loved breastfeeding. When we had studio photos of the baby at 10 months old, I specifically asked them to take a breastfeeding shot. But I didn’t think to take a picture of his last time - what a beautiful moment to capture!

  45. Brigitte says:

    I wish I’d taken later pictures too, I nursed my daughter until she was 17 months. I just have the newborn-nursing picture (wish I had a site so I could post it). I’ve always been way more embarrassed about my double-chin(s) in the picture than about what little boobage shows!

  46. Angie says:

    You are so talented! How do you nurse and take a beautiful picture at the same time?

  47. Meghan says:

    Oh, reading that made me very wistful. The end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. You are a breast-feeding rock star! And the photo is beautiful.

  48. earthami says:

    I wish I had known more things when it was my son’s last nursing. I wish I had know he was going to be my only child and so I would have know that would be the last time I held a child to my breast to give him nurishment from my body.

    Your picture is beautiful, and you reminded me of how wonderful it was to nurse a child. Of the looks you exchange with your child The ones that no one else ever gets to see.

    Thank you.

  49. carolb says:

    A lovely photo!
    What an incredible memory for you!

    Breastfeeding was considered the norm when I nursed my kids, so I never felt any negative attitudes.

    When I see a mother nursing, I am moved by the stong closeness being shared - a time so powerful that I feel an intruder in a private moment.

    Oh I know sometimes you just have to feed the baby and it’s done on auto pilot, but to think you can actually grow a baby and keep it alive with your own body is amazing!

  50. rachel says:

    gorgeous photo! i’m getting teary at the idea of a last nursing. so sweet.

    I can’t find the sweet newborn pics, so I just took a photo this morning with a (gasp!) toddler nursing. :)

  51. Abbey says:

    I love it. When my babe wakes up, we’ll have to take one, too. He is getting old enough that we have talked about weaning, but I never take any steps to actually do it. I will love to have a photo to look back on. Thanks for the idea.

  52. Susan says:

    I’ll never forget how much I cried over weaning my youngest child (around 6 mos, when I had to return to work). It broke my heart. That was almost 7 years ago.

    Your picture and words bring that memory right back.

  53. Heather says:

    Thanks for sharing your photo, it is truly beautiful. My youngest daughter was truly in love with nursing. At almost 3 she still looks reverntly at my breasts and proudly declares, “those are the nummy nummies and I dranked all the milk out of them!” I hope that she can have the same reverence for her own body and all the really cool stuff it does as she grows up.

  54. ben says:

    What is it with people that the thought of a baby feeding is disgusting?

    What have we, our society, done to deserve this?

    Thank you for this wonderful essay and photo. Thank you for seeing the beauty in what you have.

  55. halloweenlover says:

    Beautiful! I totally agree. I try to be levelheaded, and it just makes me crazy and irrational when people say stuff like this. I had to walk away when I was talking to my mom because she thinks that nursing should never be in public and agrees that the magazine shouldn’t have posted that picture on the cover. I could scream!

  56. Pieces says:

    Beautiful photo and a beautiful post. I miss nursing and wish that I had photos too.

  57. Rae says:

    I love that look on his face. He’s so peaceful. In a boy that age, that’s as peaceful as they get, unless they are sleeping, which makes the nursing that much more special. Beautiful post, beautiful photo. I love how every family has their special word for nursing. Ours is num num too!

  58. Mom101 says:

    How amazing that you got the picture. Wow. I don’t regret that I weaned at 6 months, the pumping in the smelly Orlando Airport bathroom on yet another business trip was the final straw. But I do wonder what it would have been like to have nursed when she was old enough to communicate the desire verbally. Num-num: too cool.

  59. Elaina says:

    Beautiful, thank you for sharing your lovely pic.

  60. Eli's Mom says:

    How lucky you were to have captured that beautiful moment on your camera!! I am in the process of weaning Eli, so maybe i’ll keep my camera on standby for that last feeding also. Yeah for you for nursing for so long and for sharing with all of us….imagine if the cover of that baby magazine was accepted more readily, but Maxim and Cosmo (which also show as much breast as the breastfeeding cover) weren’t! (GASP!!!)

  61. Karmyn R says:

    Right - I don’t understand what the big hubbub is about seeing babies breastfeed. You’d think we were forcing them to watch pornography or something. I think it is a ridiculous thing to be upset about!!! - if more women breastfed, WIC wouldn’t have to give out coupons for formula and our tax dollars could go to something more important!!!!

  62. Suzanne says:

    too freaking cool. As a photog, I gotta say: LOVE that picture…..

  63. 1girl2boys says:

    Absolutely beautiful picture. I wish so much that I had taken a picture nursing. The girls in my office were just discussing this last week. It’s just appalling that it’s okay for part of a breast to be seen popping out of a bikini or low cut shirt, but not when it’s nursing a baby. Thank you and all the others who are posting pictures, I only wish I had one to contribute as well.

  64. Meagan says:

    You go girl!!!

  65. Tracie says:

    It is beautiful–nursing a baby–using your breasts in a way that God intended. What a treasure this photo is.

    I don’t have one from nursing my daughter, but I would be proud to post it if I did.

  66. Surcie says:

    Such sweet tenderness.

  67. Amanda says:

    First off, being offended by a mother breast-feeding is like being offended that someone is pregnant. There is nothing more natural or more real. Those people can just get over it. Bottom line.

    Secondly, beautiful picture… the black and white effect is the cherry on top. I wish I would have a photo like this of my daughter’s last nursing. But by that time, I was more ready to wean than her, so I wasn’t gung-ho about snapping flicks of it.

    Thirdly, I am still in awe (2 years later) that I was the host for this living creature that now runs around my house and eats my food. It is an undescribable thing, making a baby. The first time I felt her kick, I almost weirded out. I was like, “Dude! It’s like a parasite or something, living on my insides!” Then, I held her. I knew then that all my morning sickness, both my kidney stones AND my surgery was all worth it for this little parasite.

  68. mommyHAM says:

    Beautiful….all of it.

    The only nursing picture is a snapshot my MIL took at thanksgiving the year my son was born. It’s more about us all eating (ds included) than about the nursing though, and is not nearly as special! :(

    I nursed in public often…often, without *gasp* a blanket. But that didn’t mean I had my breasts exposed in public, the babies’ heads covered them, small as they are :) At home, company or no company, I was in my exposed element though.

    I too love the body hatred sentiment you so craftily word-smithed.

  69. V says:

    What a wonderful photo. I am most impressed that you took it yourself. A great writer and talented photographer.

  70. InterstellarLass says:

    That’s beautiful. Nursing was not a good experience for me, and I was really disappointed. I wish I had this memory.

  71. ccap says:

    That is an awesome photo!

  72. JJ says:

    I’m here via Mary Tsao via CityMama, and your post made me cry. My daughter’s last “nummies” were only last week, and I’m still kind of shell-shocked. She’s 19 months and wasn’t ready to wean, but I had to do it for a medication. I wish I’d thought to try to take a picture. Your photograph is SO beautiful (as is your child). They are soliciting photos over at BabyTalk, in case you want to put it out there further. I only have nursing photos from when my babes were newborns, but that is only because I wasn’t with it enough for self-portraiture while nursing. Anyway, thanks for sharing the beautiful photo. I’ll check in on your site again.

  73. Vanessa says:

    Wonderful picture, and I love the story behind that particular one. Beautiful. Sad.

  74. Alison says:

    Wonderful photo! It reminds me to update my last breastfeeding photo (now well over a year old) of my duaghter Katie. Katie will be four years old in January (07) I’m not sure when she will give up breastfeeding, but as feeds are as little as one every two days or so, I suspect it won’t be long. Katie is our 6th child and definitely our last, this may have something to do with why she is still breastfed…although, not because I don’t want to end the breastfeeding relationship, but because there isn’t another child on the way to give us the need to move on (I Have tandem fed my then 17month old and his baby brother with success. I did find that it was better for my fifth child to be ‘off the boob’ although she at 6 years old, still has the odd ’suck’ (she can’t do it any more though!)) So, we shall see!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  75. and now for the “momming” part of the blog… breastfeeding « quaking aspen says:

    [...] ETA: Here and here are blog posts about a recent breastfeeding related controversy. I love the comments and so forth on it. AND I’m going to add a photo, too; of course I took some photos. As a scrapbooker, how could I possibly justify NOT taking a photo of something I spent SO MUCH TIME doing? [...]