Every mother's breastfeeding journey is uniquely their own. Some savour it. Some struggle. Some barely get started. However, no matter what your journey has been like, any mum who breastfeeds for an extended period is likely to feel emotional when it comes to latching for 'the last time'.
We were reminded of this fact in a recent post by Instagram blogger, Maya Vordestrasse - and she's got us thinking about how we capture, reflect on and honour this special time in our lives.
Look how far we've come
Maya's post shows two photos. On the left, the first time she nursed her daughter Hazel. On the right, the last time.
In each photo she has her arm raised. And in each she attempts a smile - despite having tears streaming down her face in the second picture.
She wrote in her caption, "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."
Take the photo
As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words - and looking at Maya's post this couldn't ring more true. Having these two 'bookend' images placed side by side shares a story of what Maya and Hazel went through together over the past two years. We bet when Maya looks back at this, she'll remember how that last time felt. She'll remember how that first time felt. And she'll remember all those small, seemingly non-significant moments in between - the late night feeds, the snuggles, the love.
These feelings aren't ones any of us want to lose - so maybe it's an idea you could adopt yourself? You don't need to share it on social media, but having photos of that first and last time will forever be a special memory you can hold onto as they grow.
Maya wouldn't have done so without her husband's prompting, to which she notes, "Thank you Tim, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever."
"I was her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way"
The end of breastfeeding is the start of a new chapter, and Maya reminds her fans that it isn't necessarily an easy transition.
For her family, the end of this journey has come with Hazel moving into a big bed in her sister's bedroom. To ease the transition, Maya has had to step out of the bedtime routine for awhile so that there is no begging for boobies.
"Tim has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings," Maya shares. "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.”
We think that sentiment is one all breastfeeding mamas need to hold onto.
Why is it so hard to love our bodies?
Taryn Brumfitt wants women to love their bodies, but I'm not sure it's an easy ask.
Dear parents, do NOT blame yourself for your terrible toddler
Here's all the reasons why their behaviour is not your fault.
Have we gone too far with ‘breast is best’?
Is it possible that women now feel ashamed when they can't breastfeed?
This mum's breastfeeding yoga photos are dividing the internet
Some think it's incredible, others think it's dangerous and over the top.
6 ways to avoid daylight saving messing with your child's sleep
The change to daylight saving time can really interrupt your child's sleep routine, but it doesn't have to.
The Santa dilemma: "Will I ruin Christmas?"
To Santa or not to Santa?
Dear pregnant mum. Let's talk about all the GOOD stuff coming your way!
There's a lot of talk about the tough stuff coming new parents' way, but there's so much wonderful stuff, too!
"Give us both six weeks" – the sweet open letter every new parent needs to read
Spoiler alert: it's from the point of view of your baby.