If you’ve ever breastfed, you know how emotional it can be. From latching to weaning, the journey is full of tremendous highs and paralyzing lows. It’s also extremely intimate; breastfeeding forms a bond between you and your babe that is hard for others to understand. But one woman is hoping to shed light on this very personal experience. Blogger and influencer Maya Vorderstrasse recently shared a pair of breastfeeding before-and-after photos that capture all the joy, pride, sadness and pain.
The photos, which were posted on Instagram, show the first and last time Vorderstrasse nursed her daughter. And while the pic on the left portrays an exuberant mama — because hello first latch! — it’s the image on the right that caught many followers’ attention because of how raw it is. In it, Voderstrasse feeds her daughter for the last time, through heavy tears.
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The first and last time my precious Hazel ever nursed. I didn’t know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess. Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my Hazel ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don’t know what it’s like to not nurse anymore. As I looked behind the camera, Tim is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought Hazel her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it. Tim has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can’t wait to go back to it once she doesn’t ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way. Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to Tim: “I did my best”. He hugged me and responded with: “No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all”. I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛 *my lazy boob has no clue about what’s going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻 **thank you Tim, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩👧
“Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me,” Vorderstrasse wrote in the caption, “as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my Hazel ever again” — and that reality hit the mother of two hard. “I have been nursing for so long, that I don’t know what it’s like to not nurse anymore… I didn’t know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time [but] right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.”
Of course, there are countless reasons why, one of which is the aforementioned bond that breastfeeding creates. “I was her comfort, her safe place,” Vorderstrasse explained, “and I hope she still finds me that way.” And while we have no doubt Hazel will still turn to her mama for plenty — I weaned my daughter years ago, and she still comes to me for hugs and kisses, and when she has bad dreams, I hold her through the night — we completely understand the heartbreak (and ache) Vorderstrasse feels.
Vorderstrasse did add that things are going well with weaning: “We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier.” But it’s still a process: “The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense… I can’t wait to go back to it once she doesn’t ask to nurse anymore.”
The post struck a chord with plenty of moms. It’s been liked nearly 42,000 times and shared on numerous outlets. It has also received thousands of comments, most of which convey the same sentiment: We’re right there with ya, sister. There were also a few good jokes about swollen boobs. (Because boobs.)
But one thing’s for sure: This too shall pass, and we have no doubt Hazel and her mama will emerge on the other side of weaning happy, healthy and still very much in love.