Maya Vorderstrasse is a New Jersey mom who feeds her two babies in different ways: one by breast and one by bottle.
She wants to the world to know: Fed is best.
In a now-viral Instagram photo of her feeding Zoey, 13 months, and Hazel, 2 months, Vorderstrasse shares her journey down two different paths that are often at odds with one another in the parenting world.
“I always dreamed I would breastfeed my child as long as I could,” she wrote. “I’ve seen so many beautiful and amazing journeys through the bonding and comforting experience that it is. I breastfed my first daughter until she was 6 months old, and I loved all of it. It was our time together, so special … and no one could take that from me. I got pregnant when she was 2 months old and by the time she was almost 6 months old, my milk was gone, dried up, like, it disappeared.”
She goes on to say that her heart “shattered.” The guilt, she said, consumed her.
“We had to start bottle feeding and I thought our bond would disappear and that she would think I was not providing for her, until it hit me: nothing had changed,” she continued. “It was still our time, she’d still grab my hair and smile at me with her eyes. She was so happy. Fed. Loved.”
Vorderstrasse told ABC News she was inspired to post the photo after preparing Zoey’s nighttime bottle, right after breastfeeding Hazel.
“All of a sudden,” she said, “my mind revisited everything we had gone through. It was such a powerful memory and I felt so grateful to be at a good place today. I thought that it was not possible that other women weren’t going through this. I had the idea of posting a picture that represented my journey, so other mothers would know that they will be OK, and to not waste time feeling bad about their feeding choices.”
Vorderstrasse called the response to her photo, which has now been like more than 10,000 times, “overwhelming.”
Many women, she said, have contacted her to say they have gone through the same thing and felt alone.
“They aren’t,” Vorderstrasse said.
While she is breastfeeding little Hazel, she said in her post, there’s “comfort of knowing that if life throws me a curved ball and I have to stop, or even if I decide to stop, she will be ok. Feeding them is beautiful.”
She wants moms to know they are doing a great job, no matter how they feed their babies.
“This has been such a humbling experience,” she told ABC News. “Us mothers have to support and encourage each other. Mothering is not easy and there is absolutely no room for mom-shaming.”