Behind the Desk

Amy’s Breastfeeding Journey

Behind the Desk - Amy

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month! “Behind the Desk” is a monthly series that gives our community a chance to get to know our staff. For this installment, one of our very own International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) Amy Bohler shared how her powerful personal experience with breastfeeding led not only to a strong bond with her two boys, but a meaningful career helping other moms.

As an IBCLC in Champions’ abcProgram, Amy ensures families have the support they need to feel confident, secure, and successful in one of their first parenting challenges: feeding their baby. Amy was a breastfeeding mother of two boys and has years of personal and professional experience with breastfeeding.  Today, Amy shares her personal breastfeeding journey with us!  

Amy’s Breastfeeding Story:

I am so proud and grateful to be a lactation consultant at Champions for Children through the Baby Café. Today, though, I want to talk about breastfeeding not as a professional but as a mom. I have two amazing kiddos, now ages 13 and 7 who I nursed for about 5 years each. If you do the math that means I was breastfeeding and/or pregnant from 2007 to 2019. That’s 12 years! When my firstborn, Avery, was a tiny 9-pound bundle, I certainly didn’t see myself breastfeeding a preschooler, nor did I know that I would build a career around helping families meet their feeding goals.

I did know, though, that breastfeeding was really important to me and it was something I was determined to do. My mom breastfed me and my sister. I grew up hearing stories of myself as a nursing tot: how I would refuse all solid foods except ice cream and pickles until my first birthday and about my weaning at two years old. Breastfeeding was a part of the culture of our family, and it only felt natural that I would also nurse my baby.

Avery was born at a time in life where I was extremely vulnerable: isolated from family, in an increasingly abusive relationship, with limited financial resources. I felt ashamed at being unmarried, unsure how much longer the relationship could—or should—continue, and worried how I was going to support this new person who was totally dependent on me. I left college with dreams of being a writer—dreams that were now on hold as I figured out how to balance new motherhood with my teaching course load as an adjunct professor at the University of Boston.

But one thing was going really well for me. Unlike a lot of new moms, breastfeeding had gotten off to a great start. I had plenty of milk, no pain, and Avery was gaining weight well. I found it extraordinarily empowering that I was able to provide him everything he needed to grow and thrive. It was all from my own body with no help from an outside source. I may have been eating beans and rice for the third night in a row, but he was getting all the nutrients and immune protection he needed.

When Avery was four months old, he and I became a family of two, and after the semester ended, we moved from Boston home to Florida to live near my parents. Through our months of nursing, and all of the holding, eye gazing, and babywearing that went along with it, I had become Avery’s home. I was his security, and it didn’t matter what state we lived in. We both did better in the warmer climate and near more family.

Six years later, we welcomed his little brother to our family, and I had to relearn how to be a mom to a tiny baby as well as learn some new things. Having two kiddos in such different places in life required flexibility, creativity, and a good baby carrier. I nursed Caspian in just about every situation possible in order to be responsive to his needs and active in big brother’s life. I am certain that I normalized breastfeeding for an entire troop of cub scouts.

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. I am forever grateful to those who supported me along the way: my mom for being a trailblazer and nursing her daughters even though her mom and sister both formula-fed; the lactation consultants and other moms I met at the weekly support group—an event which became the highlight of my week during those lonely early days; and my fellow lactation consultants who continue to teach me new things even after 10 years.

Breastfeeding gave us the needed fats and carbohydrates to build my babies’ big brains, immune factors to protect against common colds and tummy bugs, water to hydrate even in the worst of Florida’s summers. It gave my boys a soft spot to land when feelings got too big, and the security they needed to explore the wide world around them. But breastfeeding gave me a lot of things too: a rewarding career and life-long friends. It gave me the confidence I needed to be the mother I knew I could be, and a sweet strong bond to both my boys that has lasted long after they (finally) weaned.

Concrete support from family, friends and even community organizations is vital to the mental health and stability of parents and children. We are so proud to be able to offer resources to new and experienced parents to ensure they are supported in their roles. Don’t forget, Champions’ Parent Warm line is just a phone call away. Our parenting experts will answer your questions, share advice, help you enroll in our programs, or connect you hassle-free to someone who can. For personalized parenting support at no cost, give us a call: (813) 673-4646 x7.