Yesterday was yet another boring day spent shadowing one of the lactation consultant at the hospital. Besides the long hours and the long commute, the absolute worst part of my job right now is that I have to go through three months of orientation before I am able to practice independently. This is a requirement of the particular hospital I am at and isn’t typical of the profession. I did not know about it prior to accepting the position and for a type A, independent person, such as myself, it is a special form of torment. There is something utterly miserable and defeating about being 38 years old and feeling like you’re back at square one.
But…the last consult of the day was a set of preterm (born before 37 weeks) twins. They were doing fine given their size and age but will need a great deal of help with feeding. The consultant that I was shadowing was working with the mom and Baby A when Baby B began to spit up and cry. The other parent wasn’t available to hold the crying babe so I volunteered for the “job” of holding and calming Baby B. The only way the tiny infant would settle was to hold her upright near my shoulder and snuggle her under my chin while I swayed. The previous ten hours at work had crawled by but the twenty minutes I held that baby were over in a blink. People often think that, as a lactation consultant, I get to hold babies all day long. In truth, if I am doing my job right I shouldn’t be holding babies much at all. They should be being taken care of by their parents. Although I am quite fond of babies, I didn’t choose this career so that I could hold newborns all day long. My greatest passion is in empowering parents with information and skills and helping to ensure that tiny humans get the best possible start in life. That said, those 20 minutes spent calming that perfect baby girl were a rare respite of bliss. I’ve been smiling on and off about them for the past 24 hours.