Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Melissa's Story: Why I Do What I Do

By Melissa Florence, MA, IBCLC, RLC

The number one question I get asked is “How in the world did you decide to become a lactation consultant?”  That is a very good question because looking back my goals were to get married, become a nurse/teacher and have 3 children all before I turned 30 (because 30 is old). Ha!  I am now a 35 yr old divorced and single mom to one awesome girl.  It is funny how things change, how we change.  If you know me well then you have heard me say at least once “Everything happens for a reason,” and that is so true. The good and bad happen to us for a reason. So what does this have to do with me? If I had not had my daughter I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Before I had my daughter I had decided to “try” to breastfeed. I had my daughter in September 2003, and breastfeeding went well for a few days then rapidly went downhill. At this time in my life I was going through a divorce, was living with my parents and had very little money. I was a WIC mom. When things started getting rough I called the lactation consultants that I was told to call. I was one week post-partum and had a C-section. I was not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, nor was I supposed to drive, but I wanted to breastfeed so bad that I ignored all of that --  my child comes first! I set up an appointment and went in. I had $50.00 to my name. The appointment was around thirty minutes, and it cost me $45.00.  Twenty five minutes into the consult my daughter latched and started nursing well! I was ecstatic until the time was up. I asked if I could stay until she finished and was told, “Sure, but it will be another $45.00” which I did not have. I pulled my daughter off (she was screaming), put her in the car seat and walked out. Needless to say we both cried the whole way home.

"Everything happens for a reason." 

The next few months were spent nursing, pumping, supplementing and popping fenugreek like it was candy. All while going through a divorce, dealing with a newborn that had horrible reflux and a not-so-great latch, who was screaming almost all the time and absolutely could not be put down. So when I say I feel your pain, I really do! I would say that I had the “perfect storm” of things going wrong.  After 4 ½ months I dried up -- no more milk. It was because of the stress I was under. I was devastated, and I was ticked off. Why couldn’t anyone help me? Why was it so hard to find breastfeeding support? I made a decision that “God willing” I would not let what happened to me happen to another mother.

 I was raised in believing that if you have a problem you fix it yourself. That is what I set out to do. I wanted to figure out where I went wrong, learn how to fix it and help other moms in the process.  For the sake of this blog not being 10 pages long I will fast forward a little bit. After much, much research on the internet I learned that not only did the tremendous amount of stress I was under lead to my breastfeeding demise, but the fact that I have hypothyroidism also contributed to my milk troubles. Wow!  During all this time Jesus and I became BFFs. I prayed and talked to him constantly, “Please Lord help me understand why this is happening to me. I know there is a reason.” Little did I know just what God had in store for me!

In 2005 I received my Bachelor's degree; my daughter was 2 years old. In 2008 I became a CLC (Certified Lactation Consultant).  In 2009 when my daughter was 5years old I received my Masters degree in Maternal & Child Health with a focus in lactation. In 2010 I received my IBCLC certification!  I stayed busy! I spent numerous hours away from my daughter going to school. I had many sleepless nights working on my thesis while my wonderful daughter was next to me sound asleep. The three things that got me through all of that were
1. God (remember we were Bffs. We still are…) 
2. My family’s love and support. They helped take of my daughter so that I could pursue my passion.
3. My daughter. I wanted my daughter to see that you CAN do anything that you put your mind to. That no matter what happens, God has always “got your back” and that family ALWAYS helps each other out in times of need. Lastly, I wanted to show my daughter that everything happens for a reason.

God put me through all of this so that I could help YOU!

In 2011 I had the tremendous blessing of becoming a part of A Nurturing Moment, The M.O.M. Foundation and the ministry of helping all moms. It was then that God revealed the reason.

 So here is God’s reason for what I went through, the good and the bad. God put me through all of this so that I could help YOU. He allowed this so that I could help ALL mothers who need breastfeeding support. I went through this so no other mother would go through the pain that I went through, if I can help it.  I am a part of The M.O.M. Foundation because I was that mom who needed help and didn’t have the money to pay for it. If God had not allowed me to get married, have a baby while going through a divorce and struggle to make it all work there is NO way I would be able to do what I do today. 

So, if you need help, I am going to be there for you physically and spiritually. I will help my moms succeed, I will pray for every mother that I work with and I will NEVER turn away a mom because of her inability to pay for my services. Remember, at one time I was “that” mom!  So that is why I do what I do.

You can bless The M.O.M. Foundation tomorrow.

Tomorrow if you go to Woody Anderson Ford and test drive a car they will donate $10.00 to a non-profit of your choice. If you have time tomorrow it would be a blessing to The M.O.M. Foundation if you could do this for us and in turn for the moms that we help everyday. I am truly blessed by God to have the privilege of working with Glenni Lorick, of helping moms, and of showing everyone -- especially my daughter -- that God is good and that “Everything Happens for a Reason”!


  1. all the years I have seen you at your previous employer and at ANM I never knew the reasons behind your career choice, but what a wonderful story! So glad you made it though with the positive and gracious attitude you have. Thanks for all that you do in providing the best start possible for every mom and baby you work with! God bless - Angela (the one who always asks if your daughter is riding horses, yet)

  2. Thank you for sharing your are an inspiration!!

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart and you have been so helpful with all of my nursing issues, also. It's always a joy to see you at ANM.