303. That is number of days Rylan has been on this earth. 303 blissful days. 303 nights of rocking and nursing this babe to sleep. Over these last 303 days with my 3 boys I have felt continually on the edge of over joyed and overwhelmed. Our days can go from calm to chaotic in a blink. It seems like time is never on my side. Whether it be because there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that I want to or because there are too many and I am counting the endless minutes until bed time because I really just need a break. No matter what kind of day it has been I always look forward the little bit of rare quiet time I get to have with Rylan alone. With three kids long as the days can feel time some how flies by. 303 days... gone. And so I cherish these moments in the rocking chair with Rylan. Rocking. Nursing him to sleep. Every night I look down at that ever changing angelic little face and try to make note of every detail. Every hair on his head. The way that little tuft in the middle stands straight up. His long lashes. I softly trace the features of his face. Knowing no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I sit and study this little person. The things I think I will always remember... start to fade. If I could freeze time long enough to capture just one of these nights... well I would give just about anything.
I have seen on so many social media sights all of these beautiful some even breath taking photos of mothers nursing their babies and thought to myself I need to do something like that. So I asked on one of these forums for a recommendation for a photographer that does breastfeeding portraits. The responses poured in. Women posted site after site all with photographers that specialized in this area... who knew it was so popular? Not me. But I was quickly learning that not only was it popular but absurdly expensive. "Nursing Sessions" as they are referred to commonly cost $200 for a 15 minute photo shoot. $200 for 15 minutes?! I do not know what kind of shot you could actually get in 15 minutes but people must be willing to pay and take what they can get if that is the going rate. Another common theme... moms dressed in long white gowns. A crown of roses upon there head. Nursing their baby in a river. While their other children or possibly their significant other lovingly gaze at what I imagine Mother Nature herself might look like. That is so not me. While I absolutely appreciate the artistic eye that composed that scene and can see the beauty.... I can not remember the last last time I dressed as if I stepped out of the bible and nursed Rylan while partially submerged in water as Seark and Aidan frolicked in the distance underneath a rainbow that perfectly arched over my head as my husband caressed my back and gawked at the beautiful creature we made together. Oh. Right. I have never done that and quite honestly would feel completely ridiculous even posing like that for a minute. I would feel like a fraud. And most likely look like one with my tattooed arm and children that would interpret frolic as wrestle. Although I admit I might pay to see my husband engaged in this type of scene.
So I looked through every photography site. Sifting through the overly posed and overly priced. Second guessing whether or not this was even for me... when I came across Astin Benedetto Photography (check her out on facebook). Beautiful. Candid. Natural. Real pictures of moms with their babies and knew instantly that she was the photographer I wanted use. I emailed her and she replied immediately. She had an opening the weekend coming up and so that was that. We booked our appointment. I looked through hundreds of breastfeeding portraits. Poses. Different looks. Went through my closet agonizing over what would be the perfect out fit. Spent too much time in front of the mirror dressed in everything from prints to solids... t shirts and dresses. Ugh what to wear or not to wear. After putting an exhausting amount of thought into it I heard Rylan crying. I ran upstairs to get him and sat in the rocking chair to nurse him. Then it was like a light bulb went off. I wanted these pictures to capture our experience. Our everyday. The time I wished so desperately to freeze. And this was it sitting here with Rylan. In this chair. In my pajamas. Just me and him. So at 1 am I sent Astin an email telling her that.
In no time the day for our photo shoot had arrived. I suddenly felt anxious... even nervous. Would it be weird sitting in front of a stranger with a camera breastfeeding my baby? Was I crazy to think that given that scenario she would really capture anything that truly represented this precious time? Probably not. Maybe I should just cancel. Or just get pictures of Rylan done instead. I mean it is ridiculous to think that such intimate moments can be recreated for the camera... right?! But there was no time to cancel and truthfully I had nothing to lose. If the pictures didn't live up to my vision I wouldn't be disappointed because I never believed they could anyway. If they did... well that's a big if.... but if they did I too would probably pay the $200 for 15 minutes. Luckily that's not what she was charging... not even close.
Astin came over and got set up. She is warm, sweet, and so friendly yet professional at the same time. One of those people you meet and they immediately make you feel at ease... almost like you have known them for much longer than the short emails you exchanged and the brief introduction at the door. I got situated with Rylan who was ready to eat and chatted with her about everything and nothing while Rylan nursed with frequent stops to check her and her equipment out. And when Rylan finally drifted off to sleep she tip toed around. So quiet and careful to not disrupt or disturb his dreamy state. She was an absolute pleasure. I was happy the shoot itself went well. No meltdowns. Not even a hint a awkwardness. But did she get the shot? The end result was exactly the vision the I had. So much so it brought tears to my eyes. I got more than beautiful pictures. I got my wish. A perfect moment.... frozen in time. Photography is an art.... freezing time is a gift. Thanks to Astin Benedetto Photography I will always have this image to go back to when I find it hard it remember every detail of these 303+ nights...