Coming out of my Test-Taking Fog…


So the IBCLC exam is over…hopefully.


July 27th, 2015-the date that I had been dreading since I decided to try to take my career on a new course. All over the world, thousands of candidates were sitting for the IBCLC exam in hopes of a passing score.

I’d like to say I didn’t study that much for the exam, you know, in case I fail.

But the truth is, I worked harder than I had for something than I had since college. I studied very hard for many hours, read textbooks and made notes and then studied those. I looked up current research, used flashcards and even made my own quizzes on Quizlet. I poured over clinical pictures, protocols and case studies and probably did over 1,000 practice questions.

And with all that, I was trying to learn a new job in a new hospital with new co-workers and working more hours than I had since my first child was born…

My social life suffered-I turned down invitations to breakfasts, lunches, drinks, concerts, girls’ night outs…

My hobby life suffered-there was no sewing, crafting, embroidering, blogging, link parties, garage sales, furniture painting, estates sales or flea markets…Heck! I even put away Pinterest-very hard for me to do…

Most importantly, my family life was upended…my house was constantly disorganized, laundry was done in between study sessions, dinners made on the fly…

I constantly felt guilty that when I was studying, I should have been spending more time with my boys and my husband. I was stressed and cranky and not very patient at times. Many times.

With all this studying and preparing, I still walked into that exam very nervous because I had heard from previous test-takers that it was the hardest exam they had ever took. I’m not allowed to discuss test content, but I can say-They were right!

It’s not enough to just know the facts-you have to be able to apply them.  And because it is an international exam, it can become tricky. For instance, we have a tendency in the U.S. to think that our way of doing things is the only way-not the case.

With a nervous stomach, my heart pounding and sweaty palms that could’ve used some Botox injections, I took the train into the city and checked into my exam site.

When I read the first few questions, I felt like this-


As the test went on, I gained a little more confidence. It took me about 3 1/2 hours to finish…and when I did, I felt a lot of relief. It was over.


I walked out into the late afternoon sunshine on a busy city street and felt very discombobulated. I couldn’t figure out which direction to head toward. I actually shook my head back and forth to try to focus! I started walking west, I think, and heard all these footsteps running behind me. Confused even more (and a little worried there was something weird going on), I turned around to see my husband and children running toward me!

Best feeling because all I wanted to do was hug them!

Turns out my mom and sister and niece and uncle, my husband and kids, all planned to surprise me after the exam and take me out to dinner in the city.

How awesome is that!



I had an adult beverage to start with…


Can you blame me? (Truthfully, I really wanted about 10 of these but I do try to set a good example.)

After a great dinner with lots of laughs and pasta, I went home with a full belly and felt both mentally and emotionally exhausted, like I had spent the whole day crying. I couldn’t wait to go to sleep and just sleep peacefully without this exam hanging over my head like a big, black cloud.

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

But then it happened—I woke up at 4 a.m. in an absolute panic, dreaming about the questions and how I answered them wrong. Trying to remember the wording and if I picked the right answer, trying to remember all the facts and data and wondering if I applied them correctly, thinking about all the sacrifices of time and money and energy that went into this and wondering if I just really  f*#%ed it all up.

Not  good feelings at all. Yucky, icky, stinky feelings of fear and dread.

I’ve been wandering around looking like this

upper lip baby

I won’t find out if I passed till late October/early November. That’s a long time to feel like s*!t.

So I’ve finally started to put on my big girl panties. It is what it is, there’s no changing anything now. I do know that I put a lot of work into studying for this exam and did the best I could. If I fail, it’s because my test taking skills were lacking, not because I didn’t have a head full of knowledge.


I learned so much in the past five months! You can’t take that away from me…and, I’m still helping mommas and their babies and I love it! That’s not going to change. So for now I just have to sit back and try not to focus on it.

Wish me luck!?!?




5 thoughts on “Coming out of my Test-Taking Fog…

  1. Yet another heartfelt, inspiring post Kathy. You did a fabulous job of managing it all. You are woman, hear you roar! So proud of you…we all are!

  2. Hi Kathy,

    It’s been awhile since I told you how much I enjoy your writing. Your Erma Bombeck style is so engaging, that I find myself starting once again at the beginning of your blog and laughing as if it is the 1st time I am learning of “Nellie” or shaking my head in agreement about “Mom Goggles”.

    I have found your most recent blogs about your last day in the NICU and then your exam experience, especially encouraging. I have been with the same company since college graduation and while it feels reassuring that I could likely retire from this job, I too have been yearning for something more satisfying and fulfilling. Kathy, I am inspired by your perseverance, entertained with your humor and so very thankful that you have shared your thoughts and feelings with your followers (me!).

    I hope you find some time to enjoy these last few weeks of summer break!


    Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2015 14:29:13 +0000 To:

    • Mary, I’m so glad you enjoy this! Your words are so sweet. The only advice I can give is that branching out into something new is scary AND exciting! Knowing you, I have confidence you could do anything you put your mind to. Life is too short to just go through the motions…

  3. WHen I saw you a few weeks before the exam, I didn’t realize the amount of hours and sacrifice you’ve been putting in for this. You are definitely a go-getter! I’ll be praying for your peace and sanity as you await your results. But I really can’t imagine it being anything but a big fat PASS! and how nice that your family met you for dinner. You have an awesome support system! But that’s probably because they have such a great model of support in you!

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