“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” ~ Jim Carey
I’ve been asked numerous times “Why are you a lactation consultant in private practice? Why did you leave the hospital you used to work at?”
One reason, the main reason actually, is time. Being able to take the time to really get to know my patient. Being able to spend several hours in my office with a breastfeeding mom and baby who have come to me for help. By the time the visit is over I am (almost always) confident that mom and baby are on the right path and will be able to sustain and enjoy their breastfeeding relationship.
Being employed as a lactation consultant at a hospital had many perks. I had a steady very, very well paying job with benefits. My position entailed a lot of responsibility and autonomy. I loved being in charge of breastfeeding support and patient education. It was the best job I had ever had. But still, there was something lacking.
I wasn’t able to provide the level of support breastfeeding moms and families needed once they had been discharged home and began facing challenges that they did not expect nor were prepared for.
When I would try to find lactation consultants in private practice to whom I could refer patients I found that the few who were out there were busy, which was a problem as these moms needed help today, not a week from tomorrow!
So I traded in my scrubs and my white coat (actually I still wear a white coat sometimes!) I gave up my salary and my paid vacations and the security of a steady paycheck, to earn the most valuable currency there is – the effect one has on others.
As the lactation consultant and patient education coordinator at the Birthing Center where I was last employed, I set the expectation that I would be “on” 24/7. When a mom reached out for help the staff would call me or email me, regardless of where I was and what day of the week it was. I would always answer (in part because that was what my mentor, one of the most wonderful human beings and excellent IBCLC’s that it’s ever been my honor and pleasure to know and work with, did.)
The phone calls and emails from breastfeeding moms asking for help after they’d gone home were sometimes heart wrenching. I spent countless hours at work, in the evenings at home and on weekends, talking to desperately worried, emotionally and physically wrung out moms whom I had helped in the hospital. The trust that they placed in me was too precious for me to not respond to.
Starting a private practice was a leap of faith, but I didn’t just hope, I believed, and now know, with every fiber of my being, that I could better serve the community by providing support and care after a mom had been sent home.
As we grew we decided to change some things about our business model, having seen that there’s also a real need for a brick and mortar store in our community. A store where expectant and new moms can shop for comfortable, affordable maternity and nursing wear.
Running a business and keeping up with the latest education and innovation in the field of lactation support has been doubly challenging. But…as a woman, a wife and mother of three young children who returned to school at the age of 38, earned a degree in nursing, became a certified Lamaze Childbirth Educator, earned her credentials as an IBCLC while collaborating on starting and growing the lactation and patient education department at a brand new hospital Birthing Center, who most recently opened a brick and mortar business which grew out of the Limited Liability Company she started 9 years ago, I believe I am up to the challenge! However, I would be remiss in not mentioning that all of this, every single one of my accomplishments, would not have been possible without the support of my wonderful husband and family.
I am quoting some excerpts from an inspiring speech (by Jim Carey) to describe my experiences since the two plus years that we’ve opened for business:
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
…the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all your glory…Take a chance on faith as well. Not religion but faith, not hope, but faith. Hope walks through the fire, faith leaps over it. You’ll only ever have two choices; love or fear.
Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.
I’ve had to leap over the fire while holding fast to my faith in myself and to the knowledge that I can make a difference in people’s lives. Even as fear waits in the wings, my heart remains playful as I experience again and again, the joys of touching and being touched, by the lives of others.