I took the CLC class in February. I was excited about this class for several reasons. I was excited to move from informed peer to a certified lactation counselor. It gave me a personal sense of validation towards the work I was doing. I was also excited to get a deeper understanding of the technical knowledge behind why it is so important to breastfeed. I decided to travel to Pennsylvania to take the class. I have family not far from where the class was, so I was able to get some help with my son while I went to the class during the day.
CLC is a great experience and way to get 45 lactations education hours in a one-week time frame. It is A LOT of work. Lots of research is going to be presented and it is mostly lecture which a few instances to collaborate with class mates during the week. So be prepared to absorb as much as you can and rely on your short-term memory for the exam on Friday.
The exam had me shook. I didn’t have the time to spend studying like crazy in the evenings outside of the homework because when I got from class for the day my son wanted ALL my attention. I really was so unsure about how I did. Jenn had found a scholarship for me to attend the class, so I was TERRIFIED of failing and wasting resources. Turns out I had no reason to worry. Not only did I pass, I got a 91%!!! I guess you could say I’m kind of smart.
One of the major drawbacks of the course is I found that it was not culturally inclusive enough. Most of the time I felt like I was in a class taught by white women, to white women, so they could help other white women. It just wasn’t representative in the difference’s women of color experience. Yet, half of the class’s participants were women of color. It was clear from the conversation among us that others noticed this too. Yes, there were a few photos of women of color sprinkled in and I recall maybe one slide of data that broke out the racial differences in outcomes but that’s about it.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this feedback had ever been received. I also wondered about the diversity of the organization. I went to their website and found that there was very little. Which made sense based off of how I experienced the class. Don’t get me wrong, I gained a lot for taking this course and I feel like nothing but great things could come from making it more racially inclusive.
None the less… I’M A CLC NOW YA’LL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m sure any entrepreneur you ask will tell you business can be unpredictable. Feed the Babes has a strong referral base but when you are in the business of babies, you run on their schedule. Some weeks have been super busy and others…not so much. Interning with a private practice is different than being in a hospital or outpatient setting because it’s no nine to five. In addition, there are some moms who don’t want a student at their visit. Whatever their reason is I am totally understanding, and they are entitled to make that call but it means that’s one less opportunity to learn from and one more day spent at home.
January was incredibly hard for me. After such a great and fairly bust first week, we went through a referral desert. For three weeks I was only able to attend one consult. I was otherwise just at home with my son. So, for days at a time I felt like I was at home just wasting away. Jenn tried to encourage me to read through some of the books she had given me, but I just don’t learn like that. I would have closed the book and retained nothing because I didn’t have a tangible experience to tie it to.
Jenn is one of the busiest women I have ever met so not having consults gave her time to other things and she did see a few moms in that time but those were ones who didn’t want a student in attendance. This whole journey was a drastic change in my life. I am adjusting to the highs and lows. Not every day is full of awesome breastfeeding work. I had to just take everything one day at a time. If you are working with a mentor I would suggest having a plan for how to fill down time. My plan was to work on the online program for 45 of the 90 lactation education hours needed for the exam but due to finances, I had not purchased it yet. Since then things have changed drastically, we are in an upswing and I am loving it but now I know things may not always be busy on the referral side and I’m better equipped to handle it.
Jenn’s connections and faith in me opened other doors to help fill that time. I am now busy even on our off days. I want to focus on my experience with my road to IBCLC here, so I won’t talk about my other work too often but Jenn as a mentor will always find opportunities for you to succeed and she has definitely done that for me.
This week we saw a mom that really made me feel the WHY in deciding to become an IBCLC. To respect this moms privacy, I can't go into any details on her appointment but what I say is her desire to nurse her baby was deep. I felt connected to her on another level because of that. The strides we made during her visit were monumental to her and seeing that growth in the moment made me so emotional. This is my WHY. This is what my community needs.
Disclaimer: I am still in catch up mode ya'll. So if things seem a bit out of order that's why. I am getting caught up on my thoughts and experiences so bear with me!
So now you know my story and here I am in the full swing of things. My first day out on a consult with Jennifer was actually December 31st, 2018. Of course, I can’t talk about the details of the appointment but how I felt is another thing. I was SO excited. I felt like I was a kid going into the first day of school. Most importantly, I wanted to make a good impression on Jenn. By this time, I had met with her a few times and talked regularly but I was still on edge a bit. It’s a big deal to have a mentor and to have one to invest in you in such a short amount of time. I didn’t want to do or day anything that might have her second guessing her decision. I have since found that Jenn is one of the most down to earth and understanding people I have ever encountered. Not only do I have a mentor but like a sister-friend that’s helping learn a new field of business.
At any rate back to our first visit. It was far. Like an hour drive from home far. I am not a fan of driving long distances so that will take some adjustment on my part. Jenn is a road warrior. Driving an hour for her is like going to the corner store. After the visit we had lunch and then stopped into a pediatrician’s office that does a lot of referring to the business. It was an early morning and a long day, but I remember driving on my way home thinking man I’m tired, but it was a different kind of tired. I was not exhausted from spending hours sitting at a desk, doing mindless tasks I didn’t enjoy and wasting away. I had fun learning and seeing what a day could be like for me once I’m finished. On many days in past jobs I would walk out of work and think gosh, I haven’t walked outside into fresh air since I walked in 8 hours ago. I loved not feeling like that after a day’s work and it still feels as good now.
I have a few visits under my belt now. I am still in the phase of observing but am much more comfortable now. Observing is nice because although I am like a fly on the wall it allows me time to see how the visits are built out. I am listening more intently to the examples Jenn uses to explain topics in a relatable way to moms. I like learning new things so of course I want to just jump right in there and get to work but observing gives you less technical experience and more interpersonal communication skills when it comes to the business.
My professional bio can be found under the "about" tab. Here I will be capturing my growth in the breastfeeding community on my way to IBCLC. Join me in experiencing high and lows. I promise to be as raw as possible. This journey is so closely tied to my experiences as a new mom so you will also find that aspects of motherhood sprinkled in here too. Happy Reading!