I have breastfed all four of my children for varying lengths of time, through some pregnancies and some tandem. I’ve struggled with oversupply/overactive letdown, mastitis/plugged ducts, and breast procedures while breastfeeding.
I love being an IBCLC because the field of breastfeeding medicine fascinates me. It is also because I get the privilege of being able to help so many families through some of the most important and vulnerable moments of their lives, which can truly be life-changing for some. I also find so much excitement and joy in meeting moms where they are at, without judgment, because so often IBCLCs are thought of as being closed-minded with extreme views and agendas about breastfeeding, and that simply is not who we are!
I have worked in private practice the longest, mostly doing in-home prenatal and postpartum consultations. I have also worked in the maternity unit of a small community hospital for seven years, allowing me to experience various environments, such as Labor & Delivery, NICU, Pediatrics, ICU, ER, etc. I also have a lot of experience in public health, as I have worked in the WIC clinic helping breastfeeding moms for the past four years.
I live in Pennsylvania with my husband of 18 years and my four children, ages 15, 13, 11, and 9 (three girls and one boy). We also have quite a few pets...to say the least! 2 dogs, 3 cats, 3 bunnies, a leopard gecko, a corn snake, and 22 chickens, who all have names. It is practically a farm, and we love it!
I love traveling! If I did not enjoy being an IBCLC so much, I would probably be a travel blogger. I have been to all fifty states (my kids have been to 49- all except Hawaii!), 33 National Parks; and we have visited places such as South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Mexico, and so many others. My best friend lives in Colorado, and my kids are used to me telling them that we are jumping in the car and driving there tomorrow as if I were talking about the grocery store. I think travel is the ultimate gift you can give your children, and the education they receive is unparalleled. I also enjoy skiing, wine, soaking in my hot tub, and baking outrageous cupcakes and cakes for my kid's birthday parties. I go all out!
In addition to my IBCLC certification, I also hold a BA in Psychology and Sociology, as well as an MA in Human Lactation.
In 2006, when I was publicly shamed and called ignorant for breastfeeding my baby in public- by a nurse, no less!
When I started my breastfeeding journey fifteen years ago, there was not nearly the kind of support there is now. I muddled through sore nipples, oversupply, and plugged ducts on my own. Not even Google was very helpful back then. I can pinpoint the exact moment when I knew that I would become an IBCLC.
I was nursing my then 4-month-old at an outdoor shopping mall in the freezing cold month of November, huddled by a fire pit with a bundled baby and a million layers on me. This was when a woman angrily made a beeline for me across the street. Her exact words, which she shouted, were, "Have a little class and do that in the bathroom!"
I was a young new mom, but my mama bear was stirring. I calmly told her that I would not be feeding my baby in the bathroom but that maybe she should take her lunch and eat there if she was so disturbed by what she was seeing.
She then went on a 5-minute-long tirade about how she was a nurse and knew that "breast is best" (with finger quotes and all); but you don't do it where people can see you. She called me a bunch of names and truly publicly humiliated me. Nobody even knew I was breastfeeding until this lady came along.
I just smiled at her and continued to nurse until she eventually scoffed at me and furiously stomped away. It was at that moment that I thought about how if I were not as confident as I was, an attack like that certainly could have made me stop breastfeeding. I was determined to help other moms who may be faced with similar situations.
I wish I knew her name because I would send her a thank you card with a running tally of how many new moms I have helped confidently breastfeed their babies in public, all because of her!
Trust your mama gut, it is never wrong. Hold your baby, you cannot spoil them. Don't compare your baby to anyone else, they are their own unique person, and if you listen, they tell you everything you need to know. Love them and do your best- the rest does not matter!
I was such an anxious mom and wasted so much time worrying, googling, and going against what I thought was right because my baby was not like any other baby I ever met or read about. I wish I could have gone back and just enjoyed her and embraced her for who she was!