For years I’ve covered the Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge for The Progress. Last year, while on maternity leave, I participated as a new mom.
This year I did both.
It would indeed be a challenge.
I wondered how I was going to carry my 20-pound child while holding and focussing my camera at the same time… without dropping either one.
I’m right-handed and I shoot with my camera in my dominant arm. That would leave the weaker arm holding the heavier item.
I always walk around at an event when photographing, looking for different views and angles, but holding a nursing baby for five minutes while walking around talking pictures seemed very unlikely — I’m not a bodybuilder.
I figured I would need to be seated somewhere were I could see the sea of nursing moms in order to get a good image. On the stage would be the ideal location.
So there I was, sitting on a chair, at the corner of the stage waiting for the 11 o’clock start time. I had my nursing pillow on my lap, my trusty camera on the floor to my right.
I would shoot from the chair, unable to move, but I had a great view.
I had this challenge figured out. Easy peasy.
It was 10:57. I picked up my son and got him into position, his legs kicking in excitement knowing he was about to get milk.
“One minute until latch-on,” announced the organizer.
My son was already nursing, as were many other babies.
I carefully leaned over and picked up my camera. I had my baby in my lap, and camera in my right hand. I was ready.
“Okay, it’s 11 o’clock! Raise your hand if you’re nursing.”
I raised my camera to my eye.
My son immediately stopped nursing and looked up at me with great wonder.
Being 14 months old, he can’t yet form sentences, but I’m sure I knew what he was thinking.
‘Mama, what are you doing?’
Crap. I had a new challenge at hand.
“Son, drink your milk,” I said, turning his head back to his snack.
‘Oh yeah, milk.’
Okay, he was back on. I took one photo.
‘Hi Mama. What’s that click…?’
“Milk, son. Milk,” I said, turning his head away from me again.
‘Right! Milk. I like milk.’
He continued to nurse. I quickly snapped a few more photos as a group of women proudly sat with their hands in the air as volunteers counted the number of nursing moms.
I briefly joined them, able to raise my left hand for a mere two seconds while shooting. But the simultaneous shooting and nursing didn’t last.
He was off again, looking up at me.
‘Oh look, a camera!’
I let out an audible sigh.
“Focus, child. We can’t be counted if you’re not nursing. Drink your milk.”
‘Milk! I forgot about my milk.’
He latched on again, and I shot a few more frames before realizing he was off, yet again.
I looked down at my son. He slowly turned his head back to me, a smile gradually growing on his face. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Mama!” he exclaimed.
I laughed and stroked his head. At least he was having fun.
The next five minutes continued much the same. Latch on. Back to shooting — click! Latch off. ‘Oh hi, Mama.’ Reset my son. On. Click, click! Off. ‘Mama, what’s going on?’ Reset the boy.
It was multi-tasking to the extreme.
I can safely assume this juggling game was a glimpse of how entertaining motherhood will be for many years to come.
Welcome to the distracted world of raising a toddler.