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40 For 40 : Katie Skaggs

Registered Nurse Certified in Maternal-Newborn nursing,

IBCLC (International board-certified lactation consultant),

Co-owner of Coming Home (in-home lactation and family consultant), & soon to be CEIM (Certified Educator of Infant Massage through infant massage USA)

"I started dancing when I as three years old. I graduated high school and moved to Richmond and then spent ten years dancing professionally with the Richmond Ballet. My first year in Richmond, I was diagnosed with Lupus at just 18 years old. That first year, I wasn't sure if I would be able to continue dancing as my joint pain and inflammation was so severe. I had an incredible rheumatologist who got me on track with immune suppressing mediations and I was determined to keep going. While my autoimmune disease was not the ultimate reason I retired, it definitely made my career more challenging. I also had to have two ACL reconstructions during my time in the company. I learned never to take one day for granted. I danced each day "full out" not knowing when my career would be done and I'd had my final dance. I never wanted my lupus to be an excuse; I used it as a challenge, not a crutch.

Katie's 2007 retirement performance with husband Phil Skaggs ©

After retiring from the ballet, I felt really lost. I felt like a piece of my identity was missing and I thought I'd never find another career that I would be so passionate about. During nursing school, I had this amazing clinical in which I was privileged to watch a mother give birth. It was in that moment that I found the beginnings of a new calling. After graduating nursing school, I started working at VCU Health on the mother-infant unit, and I've now been there for eleven years. Five years ago, I became an IBCLC (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants). I love working with families in these intimate moments and being an advocate for maternal health. I had also struggled to breastfeed my first son, and when I was fortunate enough to have a lactation consultant/friend visit me in my home during those first few really hard weeks, it made such an impact. At that point, it became a dream of mine to partner with my dear friend and begin our own venture by providing families with the same kind of support in their homes. Together we launched "Coming Home RVA," this year, and it's been such a joy to be able to meet these new mothers wherever they are- physically, mentally, and emotionally."