— Travel the world over and you’ll find mothers who attach great importance to their babies’ naptimes. For them, a nap is a sacred interlude that is not to be trifled with; their motto is, in essence, “Let sleeping babies lie.”
But back in June 2010, a new mom in Finland found that her tiny baby girl slept soundly. Very, very soundly. So soundly, in fact, that the mom felt emboldened to take a little chance during a nice, quiet siesta.
Unaware that what she was about to do would lead to a book deal and a blog with millions of fans, mom Adele Enersen used blankets, pillows and stuffed animals to create a little forest scene on a carpeted floor in her home. She carefully carried 2-week-old Mila to the “set” as she slept, then topped the scene off with daisies from a bouquet she had received in the hospital after giving birth.
Enersen snapped a photo of Mila that she knew would be a hit with loved ones. When she posted it on Facebook, though, her friends went bonkers. Their reaction was so encouraging that she took a photo of Mila sleeping in a new scene the next day ... and again the next day ... and then another idea came to her.
“I started to think that a lot of our family is not on Facebook, and that’s what made me think of creating a blog,” Enersen, 33, said in an interview from her home in Helsinki. “That was the reason that my blog was in English — so our family could read it no matter where they lived.”
Just two weeks after launching her Mila’s Daydreams blog, Enersen gasped: Her site had almost 1 million visitors.
“At first I was really scared,” Enersen recalled, noting that her maternal instincts kicked in as she fretted about her family’s privacy. “I thought, ‘What have I done?!’ ”
But a flood of positive feedback from parents and grandparents around the world made Enersen and her husband stop and think.
“The Internet is so full of bad things, and my blog was only trying to [share] beautiful things. We realized that people need to have something like that,” Enersen said. “Once I understood this couldn’t be stopped, I knew I just had to own these photos so I can protect them.”
A surge of creativity
Enersen’s whimsical photos of her sleeping newborn daughter are now captured in “When My Baby Dreams,” a photographic picture book that went on sale Tuesday, Jan. 3. The book contains photos that Enersen featured on her blog along with other images that she refrained from publishing until now.
The book opens enthusiastically with this explanation: “After Mila was born, I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep! But Mila wanted to sleep for hours and hours, so while she rested all I could do was stare at my baby and wonder ... What was she dreaming about? After weeks of watching Mila sleep, I finally started to see her dreams, so I decided to take pictures of them.”
What follows is a series of adventures enjoyed by Mila in her dreams. Appropriately, the first photograph in the book is the forest-scene photo that started it all. Then, with a little help from colorful fabric and small props from around the house, the adventures become ever more fanciful. Mila travels through space as an astronaut, rides a leopard, towers over a city like a giant, surfs in the ocean, soars across the sky like a superhero and sprouts a butterfly’s wings. Enersen took all the photographs when Mila was 2 weeks to 4 months old.
Each photo is mesmerizing — even though Enersen jokes that she’s a more serious “fabric scruncher” than a photographer. She said she’s been astonished to have her work compared with Anne Geddes’.
“I didn’t really think of real photographers in those moments — I was just a mother taking pictures of her own baby,” she said.
Enersen, who is on maternity leave from her job as a copywriter and concept designer in advertising, said her pregnancy with Mila was challenging. She had to spend the final weeks of it on bed rest.
“I felt like I was brain-dead when I was pregnant, but then after giving birth my creativity just exploded for a while,” Enersen said. “I had ideas every day — I’d realize that my old cardigan could look like an elephant, and from Mila’s clothes I got a lot of inspiration.”
Enersen is now pregnant with her second child. She and her husband, composer Lasse Enersen, are excitedly anticipating their newest family member’s arrival in the spring.
Does a new baby mean that a book sequel must be inevitable? Enersen said she isn’t sure yet.
“He or she deserves something, so I’m sure I’ll do something,” she said. “It’s just that Mila is a very wild toddler right now, so I’m not sure how I’m going to keep her out of the [new baby’s] pictures!”