Posts tagged: connecticut breastfeeding portraits

Breastfeeding in the Kitchen

breastfeeding in real life series by CT photographer Stacie Turner

Cate and her Beautiful Girl

Connecticut breastfeeding portraits

Hi Cate. Let me start by saying how awesome you are. Not only are you fabulous personally you have done beautiful things to my core strength and upper arms and turned me into a Pilates zealot. How did you get started doing Pilates?

When I was 16, I hurt my knee playing basketball. My mother, who is a chiropractor, had me work with a therapist at her office on a Pilates Reformer to rehabilitate my knee. My entire body got much stronger from the training, and looking back, I think I was a much better athlete the last year of school because of it. During college, my mother no longer needed the machine, so she let me bring it up to my apartment, and my roommates and I goofed around on it for a few years. After college, I was working as a personal trainer. I found a Pilates certification to take as continuing education credits, and it changed my life. Right away I saw how much more effective Pilates was compared to traditional personal training. I made all my clients switch to Pilates, and haven’t really touched a weight since then. And I’m happy to say that several of those personal training clients are still doing Pilates almost 10 years later. Thanks to my fabulous staff, we’ve been able to service many more clients, and now have three locations, in Hartford, South Windsor, and Glastonbury.

Tell me about Evolution Pilates?

I wish I had a great story about how that began, but really I just opened the business because there was no where else to work. Several gyms offered Pilates back then, but none had equipment, and I really believe the equipment is what makes Pilates so unique. I was 25 when I started the studio, so I had no real business plan, no mission statement, and no idea what I was doing. My parents lent me some money to buy equipment and some IKEA furniture… and I just opened the doors. During the first couple years, I had about 20 clients, and their experience is really what gave the studio a mission and a personality. Currently, Evolution Pilates offers individual training and group classes, to provide an opportunity for more people to afford training. I like to think of the studio as an education center, more than a gym. Our clients learn about how their body’s function, how to move more efficiently and pain free, and for many of them, Pilates becomes a very healing form of exercise, where they get to take a break from the many stressors of our everyday life. We also provide training for Pilates instructors, which is a part of my job I am very passionate about. Our industry has had so much growth in the past 10 years, that it has really diluted the quality of instructors. I like to make sure that anyone who trains under me becomes an excellent instructor, by helping them dig deeper into their understanding of anatomy and learning styles, and communication skills.

Now, I have no idea how you manage running a business the size of Evolution Pilates with a baby. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced juggling motherhood with business ownership?

Remembering my name. Remembering to put on underwear in the morning. Not letting the kid pull my breasts out in front of my male staff, who can’t handle the breastfeeding. ;) But seriously, everything has seemed a little overwhelming this year. I definitely have had moments when I feel like I’ve taken on a little too much. When I get overwhelmed, I try to remember that this craziness won’t last forever, and that most people are very understanding and supportive of how hard it is to be a new mother. Technology has been my savior with managing the staff and the schedule. Thanks to smart phones and online scheduling, I can do some of my work while breastfeeding. My clients have welcomed the baby at work, which has been the biggest blessing. I really feel lucky that I am able to have her with me at work most of the time, because I am still breastfeeding. The interaction with all my clients has really helped my daughter’s personality blossom. And I believe it has saved me a lot of guilty feeling of abandonment. I am most grateful for the “wind beneath my wings” people… Cami’s dad is really hands-on, and she has two wonderful grandmothers, so I have plenty of help with childcare when I can’t have her with me. My business partner, Kelly, has taken on a lot of my training hours that I’ve had to let go of, and my office manager, Carolyn, has expanded her job responsibilities to include being my brain.

Cami is adorable, of course. Tell me about her. What’s the best thing about being her mother?

This kid just blows me away every day. When I was pregnant, I really underestimated how much I was going to love motherhood. I imagined I would deliver her and go back to work 3 days later, as if nothing had changed. Wow, was I wrong. As soon as she came into this world, all I want to do is hang out with her and watch her grow up. From day one, she has been a really curious spirit, eyes always really alert, taking everything in. As she’s gotten more mobile, she’s turned into a real spitfire. She’s got that good kind of devilish look in her eyes, like she’s always looking for some action. Cami’s is very physical (which isn’t a surprise because her father and I both are), so she spends a lot of her time climbing around on the Pilates equipment… and often eating it. As long as she’s rested and fed, she’s always happy. And I guess that’s really how I get through those overwhelming stressful times. Anytime I’m about to crack, I just take a couple minutes to focus on her, and all the bad stuff melts away. She’s like a little happy pill for me. She makes any obstacle worth overcoming.

What is one thing she does that makes you melt?

She does this hysterical breathing thing that sounds like she’s blowing her nose, but with her nostrils flared. I had no idea what she was doing for the longest time, but now that she can stand, she’ll walk up to my clients and do it in their face while their exercising. I think she’s imitating the forceful exhales we use in Pilates to engage our abs. It is so funny. And if I can pick two things, she also walks around all the time with her arms out and eyebrows raised like she’s saying, “What? What did I do?” That’s pretty hilarious too.

If you could tell her one thing, one bit of wisdom, what would it be?

Never stop trusting yourself. This child was born with courage and curiosity and good instincts, and as long as she trusts herself, she’s going to do great things.

Any advice for other people juggling work and parenthood?

Breathe. And remember that if there’s too much to do, work will still be there tomorrow, but the baby you have today won’t be the same baby anymore. This first year has been so amazing and has flown by so fast. I will never regret the work mistakes I made or the things that fell through the cracks, because it was so much more important to witness this little miracle do her thing.

This is my body you eat…

Now, I don’t think it’s a mystery to anyone that I do a lot of breastfeeding portraits. Heck, you can download my 2010 Breastfeeding Week Poster if you are so inclined. But generally in those pictures I aim, when I shoot, to bag the serene and lovely part of breastfeeding. You know that part, as you gaze lovingly down into your baby’s eyes, rapt with his perfection, not a care in the world.

Then your kid gets older and you have the baby in a sling, nursing, while you play Candy Land with another child and have the phone on your ear trying to schedule the washing machine repair man to come.

Or is it only my life that’s that chaotic in reality?

Breastfeeding is still awesome, of course. But it’s not quite as tranquil. I’m working on a personal series trying to capture the breastfeeding mother in her natural environment, as it were. My friend Heidi, who is a bundle of awesomeness, volunteered. We got in 2 shots before the turtle incident. This was one of them.

breastfeeding in real life fine art portraits

(No turtles or children were harmed in the turtle incident. The child did not actually fall into the pond in his turtle quest. However, it was deemed wise to get up and go check on him.)

Sometimes it Matters

Years ago I took pictures of a woman nursing her baby with an SNS, which is an aid used by women with low milk supply to help them supplement their own milk while still breastfeeding. I hadn’t thought of it in years. My favorite image from the session was one of her older daughter. But yesterday she told me that those images had really helped her heal emotionally and that she had shared them with other women with low milk supply and they had been inspired to take pictures of themselves nursing with the tubes and that they too had found that recording images of themselves nursing their baby with the SNS in plain view had helped them.

Photography isn’t a particularly noble job. Photographers don’t heal the sick or educate the young. But every now and then it matters.

Beautiful mama nurses her baby with an sns in a portrait taken by Connecticut photographer Stacie Turner