18 JunThe Accidental Lactation Teacher – From housewife/mother to airline secretary, to student to nurse to practitoner to teacher Part Two


I didn’t “marry well” as my mother would have politely put it and my husband was often out of a job while trying to put himself through school.  Whenever that happened I had to step in and go to work to support the family.  I managed to learn how to maintain breastfeeding with my second and third child while being a working mother and the youngest breastfed until she was 4!  The working mother was more of an oddity back then.  I often took jobs as a secretary or receptionist.  One of the secretary jobs was for TWA airlines in reservations……..so  the 1960’s school push to send girls to secretary or airline careers sort of came true for me in those working years!

It was when my youngest was 4 that my husband got a good steady job and I could leave the work force.  Happy was I to be able to stay home!  Being mother to my children was a joy and I hated to have to leave them to go to work.  While doing the dishes one day a strong thought came over me to go back to school.  My immediate response was, “Right, with my learning problems? No,” I argued.  The thought prevailed.  I woke to it, fell asleep with it and I couldn’t shake it.

During that prior year as a La Leche League leader, I had given a guest lecture to a class at California State Los Angeles University School of Nursing on the topic of breastfeeding.   To quiet the voice, I phoned that contact to inquire about entering the nursing program.  “Oh, you’d be a great nurse!” she replied.  It was my dream of being a doctor but maybe a nurse was close enough.  Following her direction to the admissions office, I applied and was turned down for admission.  They couldn’t admit me because I had flunked out of pre-med at University of Illinois.  I was actually pleased to be able to quiet the “go to school” thoughts until the admissions counselor said, “Valley College will take anyone. Why don’t you try there?”  All the way home I heard, “Valley College, Valley College, Valley College”

So armed with my University of Illinois “flunked out” transcript, I went to Valley College hoping they would turn me down.  I was actually pleased with the letter that arrived denying me admission until I read the last paragraph.  “If you wish to contest this decision, please meet with Dean Lewis on Friday at 3pm”    Dean Lewis, Dean Lewis, Dean Lewis… began the thought.  I determined to say nothing to Dean Lewis as I took a seat in the chair in front of his desk.

“Well, let’s see,” he began.  “It has been 10 years since University of Illinois and a lot of life happens in that time.  I will admit you for one semester.  If you get anything less than a B, it will be your last semester here. Do you want to accept that?”

I shook his hand, went out to the grass of the quad, sat down and surrendered.   I realized it was futile to fight where I was so obviously supposed to go………..to be the other 1960’s school-suggested career for girls…….., a nurse.

I took Psychology, Sociology & beginning Chemistry.  Having failed Quantitative Analysis and Qualitative Analysis chemistry at the University of Illinois, beginning Chemistry was easy.  I got two A’s and a B.  To overcome my learning disability I figured out I could memorize if my body was moving.  To keep the knowledge in my brain, I had to use it constantly.   And I found if I read for short periods, then got up to put a load of laundry in and then back to reading, that worked too.   As an adult I’d found a way around the challenges my learning disability.

I completed my prerequisites and applied for the nursing program.    I was told there were hundreds of applicants and only a small number of spots available in the nursing program.  I was told my chances were slim.  I just smiled as I wasn’t in charge of this journey.  I was in the next class. I remember thinking on the first day of orientation, “What am I doing here?”

I found I was good at the clinical rotations but slugged through the nursing theory.  If it made sense, I was all over it, but if it didn’t, it was harder to remember.  At graduation the other young grads asked me what hospital I would apply to?  “Haven’t thought about that yet,” was all I could say.  When I did look at hospitals, I was offered night shifts.  I knew that wouldn’t work for my family.  So I found myself a nurse but why had I done this?  Where was I to go next?

4 Responses to “The Accidental Lactation Teacher – From housewife/mother to airline secretary, to student to nurse to practitoner to teacher Part Two”

  1. Susan Mocsny Thomas says:

    Loved this! Never would have guessed you had an LD in addition to your LC! Just goes to show you how many brilliant people learn differently. Long time no see since I left SoCal with my ex to Massachusetts in 1996. (Used to be Susan Baker.)

  2. Kendall Cox says:

    Such an inspiration! So glad you listened to those persistent messages you received along the way to continue your journey to lactation teacher. You have taught and mentored so many over the years.

  3. Dianne Neilson says:

    Just received this gift of your article from a thoughtful LC friend….it’s been many years Kittie but I will never forget you and your wonderful support as our pediatric nurse practitioner in Pasadena for Brett & Brie as well as your reassurance with beginning breastfeeding and encouragement to pursue my LC education and credentials…one of the most rewarding choices in my life! Have to share that Brie just made me a grandma last week! Best week….best role….birth doula, mom, pp doula/LC and grandma! She made me proud! Hoping you are well and enjoying life wherever you are. Our home has been Seattle these past 15 yrs and now retirement bound. Doug sends his love too.

  4. Pat Rizzo says:

    Thanks for sharing. Life’s journey takes interesting turns. So glad you listened to your inner voice. You have affected many lives as an LC.

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply