I’m here at the Annual WALC conference in Appleton. WALC is the Wisconsin Association of Lactation Consultants. Their conference is the annual gathering of breastfeeding professionals from all over the state (plus a little Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois) right here in Appleton. To talk about babies and breasts. Lactation Consultants, RNs, MDs, WIC Counseors, LLL Leaders……..it’s a veritable Who’s Who of Boobs. And me.
This is maybe my 5th year attending the conference. I started attending when I was a La Leche League Leader. At the time, I was in waaaaaay over my head. It’s a technical conference. Packed with really smart, really experienced professionals. I was afraid they’d figure out what a poser I was. But I learned SO much. And I left completely fired up over lactation. I was ready to conquer the world, one nursing mom at a time. The speakers were so inspiring. They still are. Many of them are authors and doctors that I feel like I “know” from their writing and their advocacy. Lactational Celebrities……..It’s great to hear them speak in person. (At a different conference, I met Jack Newman. I love Jack Newman. So much. Everyone was having him sign their copy of his latest book. I didn’t have the book with me. But I was SO tempted to whip out ……something else….. for him to sign. SO close. And I bet he would have done it…..)
Anyway, I love this conference. Each year has a new highlight.* I now attend as an exhibitor. I set up a booth for Mom and Pop Place and I get to show off all the products we offer for breastfeeding, baby wearing, diapering, teething, playing and more! I get to schmooze all the breastfeeding professionals in the state and (hopefully) convince them how awesome my store is. I love this conference because it’s a chance to see so many people that I only get to see once a year! LLL Leaders I used to work with, LCs that refer clients to me, nurses from all over the state. Our paths sometimes never cross in person, except here at WALC. We dish about what’s going on at their hospital or on their unit. We talk about all the new products and services I have. They suggest useful products I might consider bringing in for their clients. It’s like a big Boob Reunion. I even get to chat with the “Other Adria”. The Adria from Madison who works in lactation. We were both LLL Leaders at the same time for a few years. The existence of 2 Adrias in LLL seemed to blow people’s minds. We got a lot of each other’s mail and messages. Now, we have a nice name-bond that we get to renew once a year at WALC!
It’s a big conference this year, about 300 attendees! It breaks down as about 294 women and 6 men. Of the 6 men, one is usually a speaker and one is the AV guy. Usually, we close down the men’s bathroom and take it over for ourselves. This time, there is another conference in the facility and we had to let them use the men’s bathroom. Let me tell ya, 12 stalls is not enough for 296 tea-drinking women of child-bearing age with a 15 minute bathroom break.
But, I digress. Again.
I love this conference. I sell a bunch of stuff. I talk to old friends. I hear amazing speakers. I still leave fired up to change the world, one nursing mom at a time.
*Highlight: When we’re in the middle of a session on Nipple Trauma which includes an amazingly graphic slide show and the young hotel workers are trying to quietly set up the beverage service in the back of the room. And simply hearing the word “nipple” might make them snicker, both they are surrounded by a video feed of larger-than-life pictures of bleeding breasts NO ONE wants to see. They don’t know where to look. It’s like the usual nursing in public dilemma. In IMAX size. There ain’t no Hooter Hider for that………