Lactation Consultant Journey, One Year In….


Well, it’s been a year since I started working in the Lactation Department of a very busy Mother/Baby unit… I passed the BIG EXAM last summer and officially became an IBCLC…

I have learned A LOT in the past 12 months, changing up my career and switching from NICU nurse to Lactation Consultant. My job is still stressful, but in a very different way. I still get to work with mothers and babies, just in a separate capacity. I still love what I do, which is a blessing in so many ways.

I came up with a list of items that I learned this inaugural year as a Lactation Consultant…(these are just my humble observations so please take them with a grain of salt.)

1.) Think of healthy, term newborns as primarily what they are…mammals that are born to survive. And to survive, they must eat. Newborns have an incredible innate need and ability to suckle and, along with a sequence of reflexes they are born with, they can find their mother’s breast to nurse. In a most natural setting (read: natural childbirth), they don’t need much assistance at all. Check out The Breast Crawl video and be amazed! However, I must confess…in the past year I’ve not witnessed a natural childbirth. But the good news is, most newborns, even if the mother had an epidural or some kind of painkillers, or a cesarean section, will easily find a way to nurse within the first hour of birth.

2.) New moms are very emotional, especially first time moms. This is a no-brainer, right? Understandably so-their hormones are all over the place, they are tired, most are in pain, some didn’t have the birth experience they wanted or expected. Their lives have just been drastically changed. Depending on the day or the course of the moon, I’ll have a whole section of moms bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. They’re sometimes overwhelmed, overjoyed, over-tired, over-doing it…Sometimes I get teary because I remember how hard it was to be a new mom and trying to breastfeed and I understand what they are feeling.    ~Hugs.~    Hugs help a lot in this situation. And the permission to feel what they are feeling.

3.) Speaking of the birth experience, forceps, a vacuum delivery and/or Nubain are NOT my friends. Again, my own humble observations-but most babies that have experienced any of these things during birth seem to have a  hard time latching onto the breast, maintaining that latch, and nutritively suckling. Most of the time they won’t open their mouths wide enough (are their little heads aching?) and the mother ends up sore. (Think smashed nipples). Or their suck is a bit dysfunctional, they cry intermittently and can’t settle, and generally have a hard time in the first few days. Now I don’t mean they won’t breastfeed well eventually, it just might take a little more time and work.

4.)The most successful mothers at breastfeeding are those that made up their minds to breastfeed before they got pregnant or early in their pregnancy, or have breastfed before. These moms have usually taken some prenatal classes on breastfeeding, read some books about breastfeeding, are educated on the benefits of breastfeeding. They drink in every word you say, will call with any questions, are very thankful for all the help given to them.

5.)Some moms want to give breastfeeding a try. It can be very rewarding when the baby latches on successfully, the mom doesn’t have pain with feedings, she decides to exclusively breastfeed and everything works out well. On the other hand, some women are really ambivalent about breastfeeding and will try because they think that’s what they are supposed to do. Maybe a family member or husband is pressuring them and their hearts aren’t really into it. In this case, I have learned to look the mother in the eye and ask her what SHE really wants, deep in her heart. I’ll try to educate her on all the benefits of breastfeeding, for her baby and for her.  And I’ll be supportive either way.

6.) Female relatives are EXTREMELY influential regarding a mother’s breastfeeding decisions. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends…they all have a part in the breastfeeding mother’s psyche. Especially influential is the new baby’s maternal grandmother. Surprisingly, sometimes more than the father of the baby. If a mother’s mother breastfed, it definitely seems like breastfeeding is on the agenda for a new mom. Conversely, many times I have had the baby’s maternal grandmother sabotage the new mother’s breastfeeding dreams. So listen up all you Grannies out there! Be supportive!

7.) Cultural norms are hard to break. Example-some moms insist colostrum doesn’t have enough volume or nutrients to satisfy a newborn’s need and they must supplement with formula. This mind-set has been in play for generations of certain cultures. No matter what information I give them, no matter how I try to convince them there in no formula that can touch the nutrients of colostrum, they will not trust me or believe me. (Again, there is usually a family member influencing them.) We definitely need more education out there-in my opinion, it should start in health classes in schools! So I have to sit by and know all those antibodies and nutrients and good bacteria forming in the baby’s gut from the colostrum will get wiped away with a supplement of formula. Ugh.

8.) Which brings me to my next point…Sometimes formula is necessary and it’s OK! Occasionally there really is a problem with milk supply and the baby is losing too much weight. First rule is to Feed the Baby. Sometimes it really is too stressful for the mom to breastfeed and it’s causing her way too much tension and angst. Maybe I am a dysfunctional Lactation Consultant but give that mom a bottle and some formula! Is it really worth her getting so upset and feeling so bad about herself as a mother?  NO! There are so many ways to mother and love a child and breastfeeding is not the only way.

9.) This was surprising to me-Pacifiers and artificial nipples really can mess up breastfeeding success. As a former NICU nurse, I believe pacifiers are necessary in the NICU. It helps the babies calm and decreases their stress and pain. With a healthy newborn, I hate to say this, but be careful. Some babies can go back and forth with no problem. (My first child.) Some develop a preference. (My second child.) I originally thought the term “Nipple Police” was a funny way to describe a lactation consultant, but now I understand. It’s true, a baby can get confused by artificial nipples.

10.) This might sound bad, but I find it more and more to be true- Dads are on their phones A LOT! Ok, ok-I don’t want dads to seem like they are not interested in their new babies or supportive of their wives, because that is simply not true. But It seems like in today’s society with cell phones and texting and social media, extended family and friends want to know what is going on with the new family every minute. It seems like dads are handling most of the social media and they are on their phones a lot. Meanwhile, I am trying to help the mom get their baby latched correctly. And all I want to say is, “Please, get off your phone and listen to what we are discussing because YOU are going to be home alone with your wife in the middle of the night when you three go home, not me.” In our social media rich society, I don’t even think parents realize how much time is being taken away from bonding with their child by their cell phones. But it seems like a lot…

11.) If a mom comes in with a plan to exclusively pump and give expressed breast milk with a bottle, there’s a reason for it. I don’t ask questions or try to persuade the mom to put the baby to breast. She has her reasons and I am just there to support her. Furthermore, if a mom comes in and her plan is to exclusively give formula, I support her in that too. Motherhood can be a rough journey and no one should judge anyone else.

12.)Visitors, as well meaning as they are, can make breastfeeding more difficult. Babies put out early feeding cues-signs they are getting ready to eat. They lick their lips and put their hands to their mouths and root around.  It’s the best time to try to get baby to latch on. Well, chances are if countless friends, fraternity brothers, extended family and so on are visiting, the mom doesn’t want to pull out her breasts to feed the baby in front of them. (And the dad doesn’t want it either.) And some time goes by. And baby gets hungrier. And then cranky. And then Snickers Hungry. So hungry they change personalities right in front of your face. Yeah, not an easy time to try to latch onto the breast. Downright impossible to get a frantic newborn to latch on. Not to mention the new parents are exhausted from perhaps not a lot of sleep the day or night before. You know, what with the labor and birth and all. So you get the picture.

13.) I am very, very busy during my work day. Most days, the lactation consultant is the most popular person on the unit. Where I work, almost all the moms want to breastfeed and there are usually two lactation consultants on the unit. We carry a phone so the moms and dads can call when they need help. This means our phones are ringing frequently. Some days, it’s constant. Sometimes I’ll have a line of moms waiting for me to see them. There are moms who went home who need help whose phone calls we have to return. Moms that need an outpatient visit to solve a breastfeeding problem they might have. There are breast pumps that need to be rented. Medical-Surgical Units calling about drug compatibility and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Support Group that needs to be moderated. Breastfeeding classes that need to be taught. Supplies that needs to be reordered…it can get overwhelming. So rest assured, if your lactation consultant takes a little time to get back to you, it’s not because she is having coffee at the nurse’s station—she’s most likely running around like a chicken with her head cut off.

14.) Patience, Patience, Patience!!! Practice, Practice, Practice!!! When you learn something new with someone you’ve never met before, it can be a little awkward. Perplexing. Frustrating at times. Same is true for breast feeding. Yes, it’s natural. Yes, it’s what mammaries are made for. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a little work and a little problem solving. After all, I wouldn’t have a job if it was that easy. So I’ve learned to counsel my moms on giving themselves a break. Whenever doing something new, it takes a little time, some energy and bit of fortitude. I would like to teach them to trust their bodies and themselves but that is something we learn on our own. And in the end, the rewards for all that patience and practice is priceless.

15.) Which brings me to the next lesson, It’s such a beautiful experience when you witness a new baby breastfeeding.  The mom and dad smiling down on him or her. It’s like the stars have all aligned and all is right in the world. It’s peaceful and gentle and hopeful. It’s how we as humans have survived for thousands of years. The truth is, breastfeeding is so much more than just delivering nutrition to a baby. It’s about bonding, learning about each other, recognizing smells and voices and different cries. It always amazes me how content a newborn is at his or her mother’s breast.

And finally…

16.) For me to do my best at my job, I need support as well. This comes from hospital administration, managers, doctors and nurses. Everyone needs to be on the same page—to support breastfeeding and breastfeeding moms. I learned I am very lucky to have this support from the hospital and management where I work. In fact, the hospital I work at was recently designated as Baby Friendly, which is HUGE! You know the saying—“It takes a village…” and it couldn’t be more true in this case.

So as I look back, I smile. I have had some rough patches in the past year but I learned and grew as a person. But truthfully, I am looking forward to many more years of learning about this amazing profession and how I can make myself a better advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeding families.






Saying Good-bye To Bailey




If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

– Sally Evans (written for Shoo-Fly)

Two weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to a very loved family member named Bailey.


We got her from a wonderful man named Al in North Carolina who owns and runs Trugrit Bull Mastiffs. His dogs are show dogs and champions, but we just wanted a loving, family pet and boy, did he deliver what we wanted.

She was born in January of 2007 and she came home to us in March of the same year. My boys were 5 and 3 years old at the time and I remember thinking she thought of them as her littermates.


Here they are meeting her for the first time…

I am so sad that she is gone…

She was such a part of our everyday lives and now there is an emptiness and loneliness and an aching that hits me when I least expect it.

I am kind of surprised at how much this is hurting me. After all, she wasn’t my spouse, or my child, or one of my parents. I knew she had a life expectancy of 8-10 years. I’ve had dogs my whole life and had to say good-bye to all of them. Yet I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her. She truly was, in my case, “woman’s best friend.” She was my whole family’s best friend.

She was there for birthdays…


She was there for first days of school…


She was part of every Christmas…


And the boys always had to snuggle with her before bed…


If we had a hockey tournament out of town, she went to my parents’ house and was treated like a queen and had their dog to play with…



And she went on every vacation with us and even thought she could take over the driving…



She watched as we left for school, or work, or practices, or just going to the grocery store…


And she waited patiently until we came home…


She was sweet and loving and loyal and true. She had a calm personality but was easily excited when family and friends came to visit. One of the things she always did when visitors she particularly liked came over, is find a sock from somewhere and offer it up to them; big, friendly tail wagging and knocking over things in her path.

She liked to play hide and seek with us in the house. We would hide and call out for her and she would search until she found each one of us in our hiding places. And then she would jump around with joy at having completed her task.

She loved to go for walks around the neighborhood and would prance and strut her stuff in her big, strong dog way. Strangers were always stopping us to ask about her and she always had a kiss and a wagging tail for them. I’m afraid she probably wasn’t a very good watchdog, I’d never seen her show any aggression toward any other dog or person. Instead, she just sniffed and wagged her tail at them. I’m sure if she felt we were ever in danger in any way, she would have been there to protect us.

She even knew how to tell time!-She ate at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day and if I was even a little late, she followed me around with a little bark to let me know it was food time. She patiently waited for me to make the boys’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunches and drooled until I gave her a lick of the butter knife.

I can’t even look at peanut butter without getting teary for her.

Her most favorite thing, the thing she was best at, was loving us.

In our busy household, she was always a calming presence, always ready to be hugged and petted. They say petting an animal releases oxytocin into the brain, the feel-good hormone that calms and relaxes a person. Sitting with her, her head on my lap after a long day, was therapy for me.

If my youngest son had a bad day, Bailey was who he went to first, speaking softly to her. Her answer was always licks to the face and a head on his shoulder. Then he was ready to talk to us about what was bothering him.

I miss seeing them playing together in the yard.

If my oldest son was frightened by something, Bailey was there to comfort him also.  Her presence was reassuring as he learned to navigate some independence at home.

I miss seeing them rough-housing together.

She waited for my husband by the door to come home from work everyday, excited to see him, and that now the whole family was home together again.

I miss seeing her greeting him home.

I miss the everyday moments with Bailey.

Like walking into my bedroom and finding this…


Or friendships being formed and secrets being shared, like this…


We all grew up together as a family…IMG_1324


And when our big, strong, mighty dog that loved with all her heart got sick and started to suffer without hope for recovery, we had to do what is the hardest thing to do…

We had to say good-bye.

All four of us held her and cried and told her how much we loved her as she left our world. She can now run free again, muscles rippling, sunlight gleaming on her soft coat. I know deep in my heart we did what was right and just for her. I could not let her suffer another minute.

But, oh, HOW I MISS HER!

We are slowly getting used to what is our new “normal.”

People ask me if we’ll get a dog again…

Not anytime soon, these hearts need time to heal, especially mine. Perhaps someday our home will be ready, but I really don’t know…she would be a very hard act to follow.



Run Free, my big girl, until we

meet again!

In Peace and Tears,


Hanging on to the Warmth and Sunshine a Little Longer


It’s Mid-October here in Chicago…

And you know what that means!!!!

It’s Hockey Season!

Whoo-hoooooo! Time for the excitement and heartbreak and stinky gear and adrenaline filled games and taxi-ing the boys to and from practices, etc.

Not to mention, watching the Stanley Cup Champions and screaming at my television because it’s become way too expensive to even attend an actual Blackhawk game…

Ok, seriously, that’s not what this is about at all.

~It’s about dreading what’s about to come~

The Chicago Winter

The older I get, the tougher it gets. All the snow and cold and worst of all, all the gray, cloud covered days.

But we had a few Indian Summer days here lately and it has been delightful. I just wish it would last longer. So I am sharing a little of that.

sunshine and birdsong

This summer, my neighbors moved to Florida and Gave my family their wicker furniture they couldn’t take with them. I made new cushions for it and some new pillows to go along with.


Perfect place to read a little and enjoy a cup of tea.


If you live in a climate like I do, you know it’s best to enjoy these days because it will feel like a very long time before they’re back!




Peace & Hockey,


Being Happy…

Think about what truly makes you happy…when your soul feels content and all is right in your world.

Would you be happy if you had a bigger house, a better job, a flashy car?

Would you be happy if you were famous, or thinner, or wealthier?

Let’s Be Honest

We are happiest when we are surrounded by those we love and who love us back!

I made a pillow to remind me of who loves me the most, to remind me that there’s a plan for me, for my whole family, and to trust.

I started out with a pair of dishtowels I found at Williams Sonoma on clearance for $3.99 each. Score!


I chose an embroidery design from Urban Threads and added the “I love you”.


Now, mind you, it has been MONTHS since I used my embroidery machine, AKA Marie, so I was a little nervous. But she fired up without any issues…Yay!!!


The towels were super easy to make a pillow from…they measured 16”x16” perfectly so there was no cutting involved. I just added a zipper enclosure and it was done! Super easy project, highly recommend even for beginner sewers. (There are lots of tutorials of how to install a zipper out there on the web, but I feel sew mama sew has some of the best.)

Finished Product


If you like this square towel pillow, check out my rectangular one here.

Never forget who loves you the most and who wants you to live a happy, authentic life.



Sharing at:

The Dedicated House

Sugar Bee Crafts

Chic on a Shoestring Budget

Rooted in Thyme

French Country Cottage

Adventures Await


Monday Fundays in the Summer

The first in a series of adventures that take place on Mondays in the Summer of 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Summer is meant to be a time of fun and relaxation, iced cold lemonade on the porch, outdoor movies and sand between your toes…lightened schedules and vacations and sleeping in.

(Side note-my children NEVER sleep in. They are up by 6:00 a.m. every morning, rain or shine or snow, spring, summer, fall, winter. Doesn’t matter.)

Anyway, I decided that we should have something called “Monday Funday” during the summer. Something different, out of the ordinary.

Today, in our first “Monday Funday”, we all hopped the train into the big mid-western city that starts with a “C”, ends with an “O” and is the home to the Stanley Cup Champions. Now, we could have driven, but who wants to fight the horrendous traffic and find somewhere to park for only $50/day? This is supposed to be a Funday!  My husband, being the adventurous, handsome man that he is, took the day off and joined us, making it all the more complete.

First stop-train ride! Unbeknownst to me, children 11 and under ride for free all summer. Whoo-hoo! Why did I not know this? (Perhaps because I was too freaking busy all summer to pay attention to train fares…)

(Train fare- three adult round trip tickets=$11.00 each. One kid rides for free.)

The train takes us as far as the financial district downtown so we head southeast (I think), to the Sears Tower, once the world’s tallest building. (It will ALWAYS be the Sears Tower to me, so don’t bother trying to correct my ability to properly name architecture.)


After an hour wait in many lines, security check, and a pleasant little movie about the history of the Tower, we head into the elevator and race up 110 floors in about one minute to the Skydeck.

Beautiful views of the city and Lake Michigan!

View to the South, including the Museum Campuses


All the pretty little boats on Lake Michigan


View to the North


And Then…Holy Crap! Are you kidding me?


A Window Washer, 110 floors up?! My stomach did serious flip-flops watching this guy.


Ummm….I hope he gets paid really well for this job, because you couldn’t pay me ENOUGH!  And I also wish I could interview him for my series on Interesting People I Meet. I could use more people on this topic.

(Sears Tower Skydeck tickets- 3 adults, $19.50 each, one child, $14.50.)

After all the views from the sky, it was time for some lunch! Funday Lunch!

We decided to hit some of the food trucks that were lined up outside the business centers, ripe with Traders and Brokers, Bankers and whoever the hell else works down there in the Loop.

What a variety! And, tasty!


Chicago Beef and Cheese


Pizza, of course…


I had some sort of lemongrass chicken tacos with Srirachi  Sauce and a Coconut Water(-yuck-please don’t ever order Coconut Water. Tastes like warm milk and water.)DSCN3312

And my husband had a Thai dish with pork and rice and I don’t know what else was in there, (scrambled eggs?) but it was good.


(Food Truck Lunches- about $11.00 each)

Next we decided to hop on a water taxi and head up to Navy Pier. I love water taxis, they are so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend them. 

A little Ferris Bueller reference thrown in.


But seriously, it is a nice way to travel along the river and arrive at your destination. But for some reason, there were kayakers also. Ummm, yeah, not sure I’d want to kayak down/up the Chicago River alongside all the boats and ferries floating around…

(Four one-way water taxi tickets from Sears Tower to Navy Pier- Adults=$8.50 each, kids=$4.50 each.)

So we arrive at Navy Pier which is very crowded and touristy and almost feels like a suburban shopping mall. But we head out and grab some fresh lake air and watch the boats go by.

But first, we need some beverages because we are parched! McDonald’s it is. (Did you ever notice how McDonalds’ Cokes taste better than anyone else’s?)

(Four Cokes from McD’s that took more than 10 minutes to acquire-$6.50.)

“Sailing…takes me away, to where I wanna be…” Christopher Cross


There’s also a very pretty lighthouse way out there…How does one get to that lighthouse? Inquiring minds would like to know.


After much meandering and wandering, we decided we wanted to head back to the train station and go home. (We don’t have much endurance, do we?)

But we, meaning I, needed some Haagan Dazs ice cream. Rocky Road for me, oldest son caves and asks for Cookies and Cream.

(Two waffle cones with one scoop each=$16.00!!!) “Seriously?”, I ask the girl ringing us up. “I could buy many pints of Ben & Jerry’s for $16.00!” So she gets the manager and he knocks off $2.00 from our total. So, really- $14.00 for two cones. Am I cheap, or is that just really wrong?)

We hop in a taxi headed toward the train station.

(Taxi ride, in a real taxi and on a real street, including tip=$12.50)

We are just in time for the train to depart after a pit stop to Garrett’s Popcorn. If you’ve never had it, you are really missing something special.

I’m all about the Cheese Popcorn


 And home we head, bellies full and feet hurting, on our first Monday Funday of the summer.

Coincidentally, it is also the last Monday Funday because:

A.) I am broke, and

B.) School starts next Monday.

Thank you for taking part in the first and last of this Monday Funday Series!

But seriously folks, the memories are priceless!




I love these guys! All three of them!





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!?!?



Saying Good-bye to the NICU after 20 Years…


Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

                                                                            “Closing Time” –Semi Sonic


Yesterday was my last scheduled shift as a NICU nurse.

For the past twenty years, the NICU was my professional “home”.  I never intended it to be…when I was in college, I wanted to be a Labor and Delivery nurse. That, I believed, was where I was meant to be. My clinical rotation in L&D was so exciting and wonderful and adrenaline-filled. New life coming into this world-it was a mostly joyous occasion filled with celebrations. It was hard to comprehend in those moments just before the birth that there was going to be another person entering the world who was created from just two separate cells 9 months before. One minute they are not there, and then one minute later~Boom! There’s another person on this planet.


But I couldn’t find a job in L&D after graduation in the mid 1990s. Everyone wanted “experience” and I didn’t have that yet. I was just a brand-spanking-new- idealistic nurse.

I was offered a job on a Medical-Surgical floor, so I took it. I had to gain nursing experience while waiting for that L&D opportunity to open up.

Yeah, needless to say, that wasn’t my cup of tea. Back in those days, we had nine patients each with one nurse’s aid for the whole floor to help out. I felt like all I did was hand out medications and change bed linens. I didn’t feel like I was ever making a difference in their lives. I never felt like I was making their lives a little easier, a little less scarier, a little more comfortable…who had the time to do that when there was blood to be hung, peritoneal dialysis to do on four different patients, medications to be handed out, charting to complete? I often left in tears because this career that I had worked and studied so hard to join was not what I had envisioned AT ALL.

And then a new couple moved into the apartment below me. The girl was a NICU nurse at a different hospital and said they had a few positions open and that I should apply. I had spent a day or two in the NICU in college during my Mother/Baby rotation, but it hadn’t interested me at the time because it looked so scary.  Truthfully, I was so unhappy at the current job that I did apply and got the job. I thought it would be another stepping stone to finding a job in L&D.

God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

This “stepping stone” job became my passion, my love, my vocation, my “calling”. I remember walking into that NICU on my first day so full of nervousness, excitement, apprehension and fear. I had never even really changed a baby’s diaper before and now I was going to learn how to help a 500 gram, 24 week gestation infant live?

But I had wonderful nurses there to show me the way. They became my second family, my mentors, the nurses I wanted to imitate, to be like. They shared their knowledge, skills and “tricks of the trade.” After months of orientation, I was on my own.

But not really. If you work in a good environment, you are never really “on your own”.  There is always someone to refer to, to ask questions, to offer nursing advice, to save you from drowning during your shift. Everyone is there with one goal~to take care of the babies and their families as they go through such a difficult time.

And as time went on, I gained confidence and started loving it.

Every part of it.

The adrenaline pumping high-risk deliveries we were needed to be present for if the baby was preterm or distressed in utero…

The first stunning moments a parent sees their child for the first time, and he or she is connected to wires, IV’s, tubes and machines.. or gets to hold their child for the first time…sometimes they had to wait WEEKS for that moment…

The hard times when a sick infant gets even sicker and there is nothing you could do to help…

The good times when a baby who has been in the NICU for months gets to finally go home with his parents…

Seeing a family develop right before your very eyes, tentative at first because of all the uncertainty, but with time becoming more confident…

Developing relationships with the babies who are entrusted in your care…taking care of them like you would like your OWN child cared for if he or she were in the NICU…

Developing relationships with the parents who entrust that care to you…who have to leave their babies in the hospital while all they want is for their child to be healthy and home with them…

Having a part in something greater than anything I could explain…

I loved all of it.

But in the past two years, I have felt a new calling, a new passion, a new love that I would like to pursue.

I have taken a much greater interest in helping new moms and babies learn how to breastfeed. Again, this was not something I ever envisioned of myself doing as a career in the beginning, but now I do. Funny how things change and evolve, isn’t it? At first I tried to ignore it because I felt “safe” being a NICU nurse. It’s what I have always known.

But more and more I found myself enjoying this aspect of NICU nursing the most. I started reading more about becoming a Lactation Consultant. I took a week long course that earned me the title of  “Certified Lactation Specialist”.  I prayed long and hard over what to do, where my next step should be.

Am I scared?

Yes! This is a big change for me. Sometimes I feel like I am standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump off and I don’t know if there’s a safety net there.

But I’m more afraid NOT to try.

A few weeks ago, I found this guy sitting on my couch…


It was exactly –17 degrees outside that day in the middle of February, but this guy was on my couch. How he got there, I have no idea.

But he symbolizes change to me. Beautiful change.

I had gotten an email from a recruiter on Linked-in. Out of the blue. He had seen my qualifications on the site and referred me to a position that was opening up. I forwarded my email to his contact. They called me in for an interview and I went and did my best. I was very impressed with the leadership team and really wanted the job! They called me for a second interview, a peer interview.  I was really nervous, but was myself and tried to let my passion show through.

In the end, they are awesome enough to give me a shot at working in the Lactation Department. I truly can’t wait to start.

When I was leaving the new hospital after getting my new I.D. badge picture taken, I passed by their outdoor atrium and spotted this…

metal butterfly

I had to take a picture of it.

I am excited to take on this new adventure, I am sad to leave the old one behind. I am thrilled I will still be able to work with mothers and babies, just in a different capacity. I will never forget how truly blessed I am.

butterfly quote



A Kitchen Towel by any other name…


Think outside the box once in awhile…


I feel like I say that a lot on my blog, but I like to take ordinary every-day items and change them into something new.

I was in Tuesday Morning the other day and saw some cute kitchen towels for a good price. I thought I could use them or improve them even more with a little creativity.


My first idea is my favorite…I took the black and white towels (3 in a pack for $6!!!) and made them into a pillowcase for my new bedding.


This is a super easy sewing project that literally took about 20 minutes!  If you could sew a straight line and know how to use your button hole foot on your sewing machine, you could do this.

All I did was sew two towels together (right side facing) on three sides, leaving a short end open for the buttons. Turn your case right side out and sew button holes on the outside fabric and coordinating buttons on the inside fabric.

I even used some super-cute vintage buttons I picked up from an estate sale long ago.


Seriously, how sweet are they? They are wooden with little arrows on them.

I inserted your standard pillow in it, buttoned it up, and it was finished!


I really like the stripes and the flowers but it really needs some sort of pop of color now. Like maybe a green apple color? Hmmmm……a project for another day.

With the white towel, I stitched out a cute reminder that spring is only one month away. (Please Hurry Spring!)


The hardest, most difficult project was a “bright” idea I got to try and make the orange towel into a handy-dandy make-up bag with some vintage linens added in. Honestly, it did not turn out like I wanted but, Hey! You learn by your mistakes…

It came out all lumpy and crooked and I almost broke my serger trying to sew it up all nice and neat.


It’s still usable, just not what I had pictured in my mind.

I had some orange towel scraps left over so I thought I’d make a little travel soap carrier/loofah.


Another easy thing to sew, and it could be embellished in many different ways. I think it would be really cute if it had a little rubber ducky embroidered on it or someone’s name or initials. Perhaps for a child? Hmmmm….another idea.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas. Now get your bad self sewing!



Sharing with these great link parties

Chic on a Shoestring Budget

The Shabby Nest

Karen’s Up on the Hill

Between Naps on the Porch

The Dedicated House

Fat Tuesday in Chicago


Happy Mardi Gras!


One of my favorite, favorite, favorite cities is New Orleans. When you visit there, it’s like visiting a city in another country. There are so many cultures, traditions, legends…not to mention the wonderful food and colorful people.

I’ve been to New Orleans at least ten times and every time is an adventure. My oldest brother lives there so I get to see the city from a local’s perspective, not so much a tourist’s perspective.

Well, today is Mardi Gras in NOLA, the culmination of many weeks of parades, parties, balls and celebrations.

Bourbon Street is a sight to be seen!


Mardi Gras Parades are one of a kind!

mardi gras parade

Each Krewe will host a ball, a black-tie event and the costumes are out of this world!


We don’t have anything like this in Chicago…not even close.

But we do have Paczki Day!!!!


Paczkis are incredibly delicious doughnut-like treats that bakeries prepare the day before Ash Wednesday. They are a Polish tradition and are melt-in- your mouth delectable mouthfuls of sugar, fruit and flour.

My wonderful friend Noreen had a bunch of us moms over this morning after we dropped the kids off at school.

Paczkis Galore!!!!


Chocolate Cream, Raspberry, Cherry, Custard, Apple, Apricot, Chocolate-Chip Cream Cheese filled….Yum, Yum, Yum!




So much sugar and goodness, we had to wash it down with some fresh made cappuccino made by Noreen’s husband.


Needless to say, I was a bit wired this morning!

But I did manage to continue my Fat Tuesday by making a New Orleans dish for dinner…

Cheesy Grits and Shrimp!

(I didn’t snap a photo of this because I was too busy shoving it into my mouth.)

And for desert, Bananas Foster with vanilla ice cream!


You know what all this means?

Fat Tuesday = Fat Kathy

Oh my!