How many of us have pictures (or hundreds of pictures) of us snuggling our little ones? And pictures of our parents snuggling us, and so on and so forth? Probably all of us, I would venture.
But how many of us have pictures of us snuggling our little ones… from the inside?
Rebecca Saxe is a professor of neuroscience at MIT and a mother: and she does. Saxe had an MRI done of her holding her two-month-old son, Percy, and the results are stirring up lots of feelings in the parenting world.
Inside of a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner that was modified to fit both mama and baby, Saxe waited until Percy was fast asleep on her chest to get the images taken (Don’t worry, MRI doesn’t use radiation and there are no known harmful effects!). Even the slightest movement can blur an MRI, and each MRI takes minutes to complete. Planting a kiss on her baby’s head and waiting, she produced some of the most unique and beautiful images of a mother’s love that we’ve ever seen.
“What’s captivating about that image is the relationship that it depicts,” Saxe told TODAY. She goes on to explain that, after her first child was born, she spent hours laying with him inside of the machine, hoping to track the development of his rapidly growing and changing brain. “It felt like my experience of being his mother and my experience of being a neuroscientist got suddenly and deeply intertwined,” she explained.
So, when she decided to modify the machine so she and Percy, her second child, could hop in together, she wanted to share the images with the public. While some people found them slightly grotesque, according to Saxe herself, “others were drawn to the way that the two figures, with their clothes and hair and faces invisible, became universal, and could be any human mother and child, at any time or place in history.”
We have to agree. The contrast of Saxe’s fully developed brain with her infant’s thinner and more fragile skull is meaningful, in that it highlights the mother’s protective care for her defenseless, but quickly growing, little one. Saxe even points out to Smithsonian that some people were drawn to, “the way that the two figures, with their clothes and hair and faces invisible, became universal, and could be any human mother and child, at any time or place in history.” Wow.
We applaud this mother for excelling at parenting and her very important work- and the way she seamlessly blended the two in this meaningful photo.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.