Hillary Scharmann, Holden (22 months) and Holiday (2 months)
"I remember very clearly the moment I first learned about breastfeeding. I was a fifth grader on a walk with a friend. Born in the 80's, a generation of primarily formula fed babies I thought, "Ew! Gross. I'm totally going to formula feed my baby when I get older." My friend agreed, as we both were formula fed, so doing anything out of that norm was a scary and uncomfortable choice. We only know what we know.
It wasn't until I became a birth doula in my adult life, that suddenly breastfeeding surrounded me. My colleagues and friends all breastfed their children and were proud and vocal about doing so. We still live in a country where it isn't the norm and support from trained professionals (IBCLC's) isn't readily available or even known about.
My son Holden was born safely at home in water with the support of certified nurse midwives who focus their efforts on establishing a strong start to breastfeeding. The follow up visits were integral to my success. My community of birth workers and breastfeeding advocates assisted me and inspired me to continue at the scariest, and most vulnerable moments of being a new mother with an inconsolable and hungry infant.
Holden and I had a rocky start. He was very particular about positioning. I carried a Breast Friend pillow with me wherever I went. Eventually I graduated from needing the pillow, and Holden and I found our groove by two months.
I became pregnant with my second a few weeks before Holden reached his first birthday. I didn't want to sacrifice my breastfeeding relationship because of pregnancy, but I knew that there was a very real reality that my supply would drop. I approached every day as it came with no expectations or goals. About halfway through my pregnancy, I night-weaned Holden with the support of my husband. Holden was working so hard to increase my supply, the all night nursing was resulting in no sleep for us both, and a major discomfort for me. They moved into a different room, and I was able to give my body the sleep it needed to grow a baby. Holden continued to nurse during the day, less frequently, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't getting anything, but it provided him comfort and a closeness that he was greatly depending on.
My second child, Holiday Rose, was born two months ago. She latched on immediately and our breastfeeding journey has been a breeze since that first latch.
It's amazing how my body knew to make colostrum for the new baby. After a few days, my milk came in, and while Holiday kindly accepted the gift, Holden was thrilled! That was a very important day for me and my son's breastfeeding relationship. I cried as Holden, with sparking eyes, gulped down his "milkies" again. We made it through, and were finally on the other side.
I'm tandem nursing my children. Night weaning was essential for me continuing my breastfeeding journey with Holden. I will nurse my children until I, or they, feel it is time to stop. Breastfeeding itself is natural, but the act of it is a skill that required much time, work, patience, and most importantly support and for that, I'm forever grateful for my community. The Chicago birth community works so very hard normalize breastfeeding and support new mothers on one of the hardest journeys of their lifetime. I wish that the entire US would have the resources and support that we have. I do not take it for granted."