Category Archives: Baby
I worked on a piece about full-spectrum reproductive care for the New York Times Sunday Review with my frequent collaborator, writer Alissa Quart.
Buffalo Womenservices is unusual because it is a birth and abortion center in one. It is part of an effort to reframe reproductive care as a continuum — the phrase for it is “full-spectrum reproductive health” — that spans both birth and abortion. Facilities for each are typically distinct.
Combining the two in one place underlines how many women experience both birth and abortion. Three in 10 women will have an abortion in their lives; eight out of 10 will give birth. About 61 percent of women who have an abortion already have at least one child.
Kayla, the nurse pictured here, gave birth at Buffalo Womenservices before returning to work as a nurse who assists during the abortion procedures, taking breaks to pump breastmilk for her infant daughter. Like her co-workers, she believes that women’s choices around terminating pregnancy and around the way in which they give birth are related forms of essential reproductive choice. The facility’s doctor noted that all pregnancies are not the same, and women have a range of reasons for what they decide to do with them.
The women whose abortions I photographed were already mothers, and both of them took the interests of their children into account when making their decisions. The facility’s doctor expressed frustration at people’s tendency to project their own experiences onto other people’s complex lives.
I’ve just promised to read a book on the critical theory of photography each month this year.
It’s the kind of thing I always want to do but never think I have the time. But Jo Lien, a photographer and English professor in Idaho, created a blog circle and it was just the commitment device I needed.
We started off with Henri Cartier Bresson’s The Mind’s Eye, and the quote that stayed with me was this: “[Photography] is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”
I recently photographed a stay-at-home father and his corporate lawyer wife for my project on Women’s Work. HCB’s words helped me ignore my thoughts that I should be photographing something grittier, or breaking news-y, or farther away from myself. I feel strongly about birth and other kinds of women’s work, and it’s relevant to my life.
My head is curious, my eye is interested, and my heart is full when I photograph these things. So on I go.
Here are some photographs of Aaron, Miki and baby Oliver during their evening routine: dinner, bath, and a family reading of Harry Potter. A framed picture in their living room says:
The measure of a man is not the size of his
paycheck, the car that he drives or the
clothes that he wears.
It is the strength of his hands that hold
you close, the intensity of his smile when
he looks at you and the size of his heart
that will always love you.
I love you, dad. Oliver
Feel free to read the other blogs in this circle, starting with Annie Morris’ post (her photographs are dreamy and beautiful, and she lives in one of my favorite places in the entire world).
But before she went back to work, Jen had to get through dropping her baby off for his first day at daycare. The morning was hectic and rushed, but everyone made it out of the house (and Jen remembered all of her breast pump supplies).
She looked forward to being around other people and using her intellect more, but she felt a strong pull toward her kids as she left them at a local daycare. Jen’s working two days a week now, but her days in the office are intense and the work tends to leak into her days at home with baby Wiley.
I photographed Talia Braude, a 39-year-old self-employed architect and single mom by choice, for The Daily Beast. Paula Szuchman wrote about women who aren’t waiting for a partner to come along before starting a family.
Talia’s matter of fact competence and sweetness with her baby Rian are impressive, and I loved photographing this little family.
I photographed anthropology professor Carla Bellamy and her daughters Dessa and Margo for the New York Times Sunday Review recently. Alissa Quart wrote about the high cost of child care and the middle class moms who are struggling to afford it. Says Bellamy:
“It’s not a tragic story, but is tiring and tiresome. I have a career, I work really hard, and yet I get no break.”
And what does my baby do while I photograph working moms? Hangs out and eats at daycare with Alexxis, Iris, Elia and his friends (or, when he’s home sick, naps while I rush to get computer work done before he wakes up). Center-based daycares like William’s are the second-most common childcare arrangement for young children of working moms in the U.S.
Tomara works in administration at a university and takes classes so she can become an academic advisor. Her work is slow while classes aren’t in session during the summer, and sometimes the afternoons drag as she waits to go pick up her son Spencer at a home daycare in her neighborhood.
In 2011, 13% of young children with working mothers in the U.S. attended home daycares like Spencer’s.
(More photos of Tomara and her wife Kamdyn here.)
Tomara used all of her sick days to supplement her short maternity leave, so she doesn’t get paid when she has to take a day off. This situation isn’t uncommon in the U.S., where 40% of workers don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act’s protections.
I photographed Tomara and her wife Kamdyn as they got baby Spencer ready for the day. I’ll be photographing them as they work and live during their son’s first year.
Jen and her husband work in communications for non-profit organizations, and they are both dedicated to social justice, work and family. I recently got to photograph Jen at work and, later, giving birth at home. Her husband, friend, midwife and three-year-old daughter Olive watched as baby Wiley joined the family.
Working mothers have been in the news lately – have you noticed? We’re trying to Lean In and Have it All all over the internet and the airwaves. But working women critique these conversations, saying that Marissa Mayer’s office nursery and Sheryl Sandberg’s financial resources make their experiences out of touch with most women’s lives.
When I was pregnant, I was terrified about the ways my baby would change my work. Photography is one of the most important parts of my identity, and I didn’t know how I would integrate it into my new life. Would my finances work out? How would I schedule my unpredictable freelance needs around a child’s need for stability? Would people in my field think of me as “just a mom”?
So I started this photo project following three women who, like myself, love (and need) to work as they navigate the shifting demands of work and parenting.
I’ll be posting work from the project as I make it. This first batch follows Petrushka, the Program Manager of an arts education non-profit and mother of an eight month old girl.
(And yes, my work has changed – but I like it. More on that in another post.)