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Episode 11: Mom Journey: Breastfeeding at 19 & Being a Single Mom

, March 25, 2020

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Jacqueline Kincer  00:36

Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you guys here today. This is a unique episode and sort of the beginning of a series that I’m going to be introducing to you as part of the breastfeeding talk podcast.


And this episode what I’m doing, as I’m bringing on a listener of the podcast to share her own breastfeeding journey. And what I want to do is highlight various breastfeeding journeys. Some have been difficult, some have been easy, and some have faced numerous different challenges.


And what’s unique about Serena’s journey that she’s going to be sharing with you today is that she became a mom at 19 years old, she also went through a separation from her partner, became a single mom, and then found a new partner and had more children and breastfed them as well. So there are some listeners out there that may be in a similar situation as her. She’s also even more incredible that she started her own business amidst all of this having children.


And I just think she’s absolutely incredible. And Serena is one of my favorite people that I’ve gotten to know through an online program that we’re in together. And so I’m just so excited to bring her on and share her journey. And I wanted to let you know as listeners that if you have some breastfeeding journey that you feel, at the end of the day, is something that is empowering, something you’d love to share with the listeners of this podcast. Let me know, you can go on my website breastfeeding, talk and actually apply to be a guest. Or feel free to just head over to Instagram and send me a DM. Let me know a little bit about your story.


And if it sounds like you’re a good fit for the podcast, I’ll send you the application and we’ll go from there. So without further ado, let’s bring Serena on. I’m so excited for you to hear her story.


Welcome to The Breastfeeding Talk podcast, Serena, I’m so excited to have you here. Serena and I connected through such a funny story. I was featured on another podcast called The Mind your business podcast with one of my mentors, James Wedmore, who I absolutely love and Serena connected with me hearing my episode there. And what’s so cool about this is she’s really other than my own story that I’ve turned told on the podcast. She is the first mom’s story that we’re bringing on to share and I want to share just so many different perspectives because there are so many different types of women’s enterprises, moms, and many types of different breastfeeding experiences and situations. And I want to just really highlight the just diversity of breastfeeding experiences.


And maybe there’s a part of Serena’s story and the journey that you will resonate with or learn something from because she’s got a lot to tell.


So just a little bit of an intro with her. She is a mom. Breastfeeding has been such a huge portion of her adulthood and she’s very passionate about it and supporting others, especially young moms because she became a mom at age 19. And she actually lost her own mom when she was 13 shortly after she gave birth to her baby sister. So I don’t want to steal Serena’s thunder and go into her whole story.


Welcome, Serena! I’d love for you to dive in. And just tell us a bit about your background, becoming a mom, and that tragic experience with your own mom and your own family.


Serena Shoup  04:17

Awesome. Thank you. I’m so excited to be here. So I’ll just jump in with it. I became a mom at 19 with my high school sweetheart and so breastfeeding has been a part of a lot of my adulthood. I started at 19. I’m in my 30s now. When my oldest daughter was 10 years old. I started again.


I started all over with two more kids. And so a huge portion of my adulthood has been surrounding breastfeeding. I’ve been super passionate about it. Ever since I was 19, I went straight to college after I had my oldest daughter, and I breastfed through college until she was about three years old, even. I’m not sure exactly how you want to go about talking about my story if you had different questions about it. Yeah, I kind of wants to dive in.


Jacqueline Kincer  05:31

What was it like breastfeeding and going through college? I personally experienced that. And a lot of my clients, I was saying this to Serena, before we started recording. I very rarely have clients as young as 19 here and there, but most are 25. Plus, definitely, most are in their 30s. So I’d love to hear you share what that was like being in college and breastfeeding a baby.


Serena Shoup  05:56

Yeah! I was fortunate enough. So she was born in 2005. I had her in December. So during my first semester at college, I was pregnant. I had her over my Christmas break. And instead of going back into full-time classes in person, I was able to enroll in school online at my university.


So in 2005, the online classes were just starting to kind of take off as part of the university curriculum. So I was fortunate enough to be able to take a “full load of courses to keep my scholarships”. And I did online courses from home for that semester, until she was I guess, she was about eight months when I went back to in-person classes,


I had her enrolled in the Child Development Center on my university campus. And my schedule was, that I would go to class, all day, Wednesday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while she was at the Child Development Center. And I would actually between my classes, I would go to the daycare center, nurse her and hang out with her and have lunch. And they were super supportive of that.


It’s worth also mentioning the area that I grew up in New Mexico, it’s fairly common for young women to become moms at such a young age if that makes sense. I was one of five girls that graduated pregnant from high school. So culturally, it’s very accepted there. It’s not the total norm, but it’s pretty normal that you have lots of young moms, what wasn’t as normal was that I was actually going to college and finishing college. So I’m pretty fortunate to have had a great support system at my university to have my child on campus. And be able, to visit throughout the day.


And then Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the beginning of college, I just spaced it out to where I was taking evening classes on those days. And she was with her family.


So yeah, that’s kind of how it was through college. And then I also worked because I ended up splitting up with her dad when she was about a year and a half old and had to find a job. And so I utilized my family network and people would help babysit in the evening. So I can take night classes while I work during the day and on the weekends. And it was rough but I made it and we’re also alive.


I used to feel really guilty about how often I had her in daycare and with other people helping her but as I got older I realized the example that I was setting for her was that you can persevere through everything. She’s seen me graduate college so in her mind, that’s kind of like the norm for her so she’s gonna grow up knowing that she could accomplish anything and her mom was able to go through college as a single mom and graduate.


And then I went on to study for my CPA exam and all that kind of stuff. So pretty much her whole life she’s seen me studying and working towards another goal.


Jacqueline Kincer  10:03

And yes, I hear what you’re saying about how hard it was. But I also hear how well supported you were with this on-campus, childcare, and family, and you made it happen, regardless. And I love that.And one of the things that you had told me actually was that you gave a persuasive speech about breastfeeding laws in your public speaking class while you were in college.


I want to hear more about that. What exactly were you talking about there? Because I mean, there’s so much progress that has happened in the last 13 years regarding that.


Serena Shoup  10:48

Yeah! I think back then, it definitely was not a right in every state for a woman to breastfeed in public. So now pretty much the law is wherever you’re allowed to be, you’re allowed to breastfeed your child in public. Whether you get shamed for that or not, is another story.


But I’ve been lucky enough to always have been in areas and communities where I’ve never felt weird about breastfeeding in public. When I was younger, with my first I was pretty modest about it. I would cover up and stuff. This time around with my next two. I didn’t even care about that. But laws, like you said, laws have definitely changed in that realm,


I took a public speaking class, I can’t remember what it was toward the end of college or more towards the beginning, as like I might have mentioned before, I breastfed her until she was about three.


So that was the majority of my college, feeding her. I did supplement though, because like I said, I had a family helping a lot. And so I did supplement with formula at the beginning. I probably didn’t start that, not like the way it began. I probably started that around four to six months, supplementing with formula when she was with my mother in law.


Jacqueline Kincer  12:17

And were you pumping at that time too, or just supplementing because you had so much going on with your course schedule and workload?


Serena Shoup  12:24

I was just supplementing. I would only pump to basically relieve pressure. I didn’t have an electric pump. I had this hand pump that La Leche  League was able to give me and so that was a resource back then. Which has been around for a really long time. I’m sure your list is over 60 years old.


I remember when I had my baby, I had her in the hospital. And I do remember. I don’t know if it was a nurse or a lactation consultant that came in to make sure that the latch was good, and all that kind of stuff. But they did offer to connect me with La Leche League and have an in-home visit after we went home. But I don’t know if it was a shame, embarrassment, or anything along those lines. But I didn’t utilize that resource.


I was afraid of anyone coming into my house and judging me for being a young mom and if they were going to judge the way that we live because we’re young and we don’t have nice furniture. And we lived in a double-wide although it was clean. It wasn’t trashy where we’re on drugs or anything like that. But I was so concerned about feeling judged by being such a young mom and we weren’t married. So there was that too.


I want to chime in there because I have noticed that in my practice there have been times when before having an office space where families would contact me and ask if they could come and see me they did not want me to come to their homes.


Jacqueline Kincer  14:15

And ultimately I convinced them it’s alright, I will come to you and they give me their address and they’re kind of like Hmm you know, maybe isn’t in the best part of town or whatever. And I have no judgment but they don’t know me, they’ve never met me before.


And I try to reassure them over the phone and even women in a nice areas and in beautiful homes. I walk in and they apologize, even though it literally says when you book an appointment with me it says, please don’t!  I’m not a guest.  Don’t offer me water!  You don’t need to offer me anything when it comes to your home. You don’t need to clean it. They’re like, Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. The house is a mess. You just had a baby so it’s okay!


I’ve been in a lot of different situations and I can’t speak for every other lactation consultant out there, but I hear what you’re saying. And I have heard it from other moms just that uncomfortableness of wow! Someone might come into my home, and what are they gonna think of me? And then maybe partially too, what if I’m not doing this right? And you want the help, but there’s that kind of fear is what I’m hearing you say?


Serena Shoup  15:28

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I even dealt with it this time around, because I had a home birth with my last one. And so the midwife comes to visit a couple of times before the birth to make sure that you have your kit and everything is ready to go. And she knows how to get to your house and all that kind of stuff, like a practice run.


And then she comes again after the baby’s born to check up on us, which is really nice, by the way, not having to leave the house for the checkup. Oh, yeah. Um, but yeah, even though with it kind of at that point, because I was like, Well, you know, whatever. This is it, though. This is what we’re having the baby.


Jacqueline Kincer  16:09

Yeah! I’ve definitely had families that I’ve known that had a home birth, like in an apartment, and they were concerned about their neighbors hearing stuff. And I’m like, well, you know, they’re just gonna have to deal with it. And if you’re up on an upper floor.


Everybody’s journey is different. And I feel like you have just really persevered, not just even the fact that you were able to breastfeed and continue that but to do it for as long as you did.


And, you mentioned your mom a little bit. She’s coming to the story here a couple of times. I’d love for you to share a little bit more about her and your relationship with her because it sounds like you were fairly close to her. And you had learned a bit about breastfeeding from her from your siblings as well.


Serena Shoup  17:07

Yeah, absolutely. So my parents divorced when I was in third grade, and my mom remarried a couple of years later and had two more kids with my stepdad. And by that time, I was in fifth grade when my little brother was born. And so I witnessed her breastfeeding from the beginning. And the awesome thing about being able to be exposed to something like that when you’re young, is that’s all you know, right? That’s what my mom did. I saw her do it. I didn’t see her struggle whatsoever with it. She just knew that was what she was going to do. And therefore when I had a baby, I knew that’s what I was going to do.


Side note, I really struggled when I let my mother-in-law feed my baby formula because I really didn’t want to give her formula, but that’s the situation we were in. I always knew I was gonna breastfeed when I got asked at the doctor’s appointment about breastfeeding. Are you going to breastfeed? formula? I just always was like, why is this even a question? You just knew that’s what you would do? Because you had that example? Yeah.


So there’s something to be said about, like different things. I think you had touched on this in one of your previous episodes, about being in a culture where you’re around that when generations kind of stay in the same community and use and you grow up around other, you know, your aunts and sisters and whoever that is breastfeeding, and just kind of ingrained when you’re around it. And that’s what our culture is kind of missing, I think.


Jacqueline Kincer  18:57

And one of the biggest, there’s several why’s, for what I do and why I do it. One big one for me is because there are many of us in this generation who come from families, we were not breastfed, or we weren’t breastfed very long. And it was undermined.


And there is that generational wounding that has happened. And if we can succeed, as breastfeeding mothers in that capacity, we have the power to set that example and standard for the next generation, so our own children and our grandchildren.


And not only that, we often end up healing the previous generations as well. I cannot tell you how many consults I’ve had with mothers and grandmothers of the mother present. And they’ve just said, Oh my gosh, this is so wonderful. I’m so glad you could help you know her to breastfeed. I couldn’t do it or I didn’t have this kind of help. I was told my breast milk was bad. Especially women of color. I have heard that so much.


And then wound up there with the history of nursing and things like that. And so, you have already had a wonderful example from your mother and you’re continuing that generational line of breastfeeding can work despite all of these life challenges and it’s not that other people are not capable or not weak.


We don’t know everyone’s circumstances. But you went through a lot, and you still made breastfeeding a big part of your mothering. And really came out triumphant with graduating college. I mean, the fact that you went to college is amazing. The fact that you still graduated. That’s huge. So then I’d love to hear a little more about beyond that, and then your next two children that you had.yeah. So let’s see, where are we then graduating college?


Jacqueline Kincer  20:57

And then so and if you want to dive into this, too, so it sounds like you had a partner there. And then that didn’t that relationship end? And then there was some sort of transition going on there as well.


Serena Shoup  21:16

Having a young baby that I’m still breastfeeding. And, I mean, we could totally go down a rabbit hole with the effect that your own emotions have on your baby when you’re breastfeeding.


And how being in a non-healthy situation is just really not healthy all around for everybody involved. But yeah, there was definitely a lot of conflict with her dad. And in hindsight, I was probably dealing with postpartum depression, I was definitely dealing with emotional abuse and some narcissistic behavior.


And it seems to have a negative ripple effect on my baby, like, on nights or evenings or whatever, when I was really upset, and I would still try to breastfeed her, whatever it just would like, I don’t know how to even explain it. But her temperament would change to match whatever mine was, and I don’t know if that is necessarily breastfeeding or just, I mean, babies can pick up on things. So if we were even just in the same room, that probably would have happened.


Jacqueline Kincer  22:39

Yeah! There is a lot to say about that. And I appreciate you being open. And sharing that because, having postpartum, mental, and health issues, is very common. But on top of that, when you’re dealing with emotional abuse, and you’re trying to just, I mean, you’re single mothering it, I have not been there. So I can’t say that I know what that’s like, but hearing you share it really sounds like you felt alone in a lot of ways.


Serena Shoup  23:18

So, yeah, when that relationship ended, I continued on my path to finishing college and being able to provide for my daughter, right, that was my main that was, that was my why that is the reason why when I graduated high school pregnant, I still was like, dammit, I’m still going to college because I got to provide for my baby.


And I just made it work because I knew I had to, I wanted her to have a different better life. Right?’ That’s everyone’s goal. No matter how you grow up, you want your kids to have a better life than you. Absolutely good, bad, mediocre, whatever, that was our parents’ dreams, that’s gonna be our dream.


So it was like a non-negotiable for me. I was still going to finish college. And then now that we were split up, I knew I was going to be on my own. So I wanted her to have a good life. So I finished college and when I finished college, at that point, well, I kind of skipped a little chapter.


We ended up getting married after she was born. And then split up a year and a half later, it took a couple of years to actually get divorced. So people weren’t cooperating and so when I finished college, we were finally divorced. And I really, my goal was to get out of my hometown because I was still in my hometown.


My goal was to get out of my hometown and give my daughter a better life. When you’re married to somebody, and then you get divorced, generally, it’s really hard to move out of state. But that was my goal. So at that point, I actually had sole custody of my daughter. Because my ex didn’t show up to a Child support hearing. And the judge asked me when I wanted and I said, I don’t care. I don’t want any money. All I want is custody of my child, to be able to move away when I’m ready. And so I got it. That’s what I got, I got lucky, really, I really got lucky because most judges are not going to grant that kind of thing.


But when it got to the point where I was graduating, he knew that I was going to move because that was always my plan. I wasn’t even planning to move out of my hometown after high school, but that plan changed, obviously. So the next best time to do it was after college. And when he realized that I was going to be moving, he took me back to court to try to get custody, or at least shared joint custody, so that I would have to have this permission to move.


Jacqueline Kincer  26:25

So that sounds if it wasn’t already stressful enough, and your life is a better life for you and your child. Now you’re being back into this. So you’re still breastfeeding through this time, too?


Serena Shoup  26:40

No, not at that point. He was four when I graduated college. So it had been like a year since I stopped breastfeeding. But we ended up going through court battles and all that kind of stuff. I ended up being able to still move. And at that point, I moved to Tucson, Arizona.



So I moved to Tucson, and I got a job there. And I started working at a CPA firm. Because that was my path. After I finished my accounting degree. I wanted to work for a CPA firm and see if I actually wanted to get my CPA license. So that’s what I did.


I worked there for a couple of years. And then I started dating a guy that lived in California. And we started getting serious. And so then I moved to San Diego. And I brought my daughter along with me at this time, she was five and a half maybe. And so that’s currently where I’m at.


I’m not with the guy that I was dating then anymore. I’m with a different guy that I met at work years later. And he and I ended up having a baby four years ago. And then we had another one almost two years later. So I am three children at this point, I’m done with children. Well, not like children, but I’m done having children. And I just weaned my last baby a couple of months ago. A couple of months. Oh, yeah, he was two.


Jacqueline Kincer  28:36

Oh! You’ve done amazing!


Serena Shoup 28:41

Thank you.


So if we jump back to when I had my second daughter, who’s now four. I breastfed her until she was one when I found out I was pregnant with my third. And I actually continued to breastfeed her. I was still breastfeeding her when she was one. I was still breastfeeding her when I found out I was pregnant. I breastfed her all through my pregnancy.


I did go through a little window of time where it was pretty uncomfortable. And she was at a point where she probably would have been ready to wean but I wasn’t quite ready. I wasn’t listening to the signals. I just kind of let it go. And then at that point, it was fine again. And so I nursed her until after my son was born. I tandem nurse them until she is almost three.


Jacqueline Kincer  29:46



So yeah, this is a little bit rare and I love that because I’ve tandem nurse as well. Did you find that to be  a really great experience for you? Do you like your children? Or you know, I’m sure there were probably some ups and downs


Serena Shoup  30:06

Definitely some ups and downs. There were some really amazing moments like when they would hold hands when they were both.


Like, they would literally breastfeed at the same time and hold hands kind of like twins probably due. And it would just melt my heart. There were other times when I could not see my son, even when he was like a brand new baby, he would get really jealous and like, kick her if she tried to nurse while he was nursing, even on a separate breath. You know what I mean?


Jacqueline Kincer  30:37

Yeah! She was like this is my mom!


Serena Shoup  30:42

So there were definitely some challenges like that. And then it started to happen a lot. And so at that point, I was like, done. I was like, Okay, we’re done nursing. You toddler. Her name is Kiera. We’re done nursing you. And so then we’re, we’re down to one at that point. And then I nursed him until right after his second birthday. And honestly, I didn’t think he was actually getting that much breast milk at that point until I decided to wean him cold turkey. And then I realized how much he was actually still getting.


Jacqueline Kincer  31:24

I hear that from so many moms where they’re like, I don’t know if he’s getting anything and I’m like, they totally are, but you just don’t feel it.


Serena Shoup  31:33

Yeah, it’s crazy. Because anytime he would nurse it just felt empty. I was like, Okay, I don’t think he’s really getting anything. But he was still waking up a lot at night and wanting to nurse and I was over it. I was getting to the point like, well, we’re four years in nursing and being pregnant and stuff. So it’s like, I was ready to stop.


And so the way we actually ended up waiting for weaning is I took my oldest daughter to Disneyland, and we stayed two nights. Even though it’s like, only a couple of hours away, we stayed two nights, and I left the little kids with their dad. And before I left, I told my son, Callahan, when I come back, there’s gonna be no more milk. And so I just kind of prepped him before I left. And when I got back, of course, while I was gone, he slept through the night and he was fine for his course.


I know, myself included, but I’ve had many clients where they’re like, I don’t know, my husband’s not gonna be able to handle it. And you come back your husband’s like, I don’t know what the big deal is slept fine for me. And you’re like so angry.


Yeah, so that happened while we were gone. But then when I came back, of course, he started waking up and asking for milk. And I just stayed strong and say, Nope, it’s all gone. Even though obviously I was engorged!


Jacqueline Kincer  33:03



Serena Shoup  33:03

I just told him it was all gone. I wore t-shirts that were up to my neck. So it was difficult for him to get access. And for me to be able to stand my ground. That’s what I had to do. Because it was hard. I wanted to release the engorgement. I wanted to comfort him but I just would say no, no milk is all gone. But I’ll rock or I’ll cuddle you and he didn’t throw a fit. It was pretty amazing. He would ask for it. But then he’d be like, okay.


Jacqueline Kincer  33:36

Yeah. And I think that’s important too because what you’ve said is really, he was two. So the normal age of weaning for humans, if we just go by our biology and physiology and everything that we were made for is the earliest age would be two.


Serena Shoup  33:55

So he was two. So you know, technically Yeah, he should have been more or less ready, some children go longer, and that’s okay. But I always try to encourage the moms I work with and anyone who’s listening that it’s important that you listen to your body especially like where you said, you’ve just been breastfeeding for so long and you know, maybe had some, a lot of sleepless nights and you were like, You know what, I’m ready for something different in my life. And you know, I have some moms and myself included, I’ve been there as well where I thought well you know, self-winning at all costs. But that isn’t always the best strategy when it comes to ending your breastfeeding journey.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:37

So I really like hearing your perspective and what worked for you and that you recognize what you needed.


Serena Shoup  34:45

Yeah, and to be honest, when I weaned him, or when I was considering weaning him. I had tried it a couple of times, and I told my partner, I’m just gonna need you to put him to bed at night because I don’t have the strength to not nurse him.


But logistically that didn’t work for us because he works late, and he comes home after the kids are in bed often. And then I just gave up on trying, I was like, Well, I can’t like I don’t have, I know this about myself, I don’t have the follow-through to be able to say no. Like, every night, so we had to wait until the opportunity presented itself.


And I was like, All right, I’m gonna take my oldest daughter out of town for a couple of nights and you can stay home with the kids. And after I come back, then I’ll be ready to wean him. Because it was also like when I left for two nights, and I was like, wow, this is amazing because I hadn’t been away from either of the two little ones ever. overnight. So when you do that, like opening up a whole new world,


Jacqueline Kincer  36:02

You’re like, wow, I’ve been missing out. This is really nice.


Serena Shoup 36:07

Yeah, so that gave me like the little push to come back and be like, excited about it. Like, then at that point, I was like, planning out, okay, now I’m going to start doing girls’ trips. And I’m gonna like, I’m gonna plan at least once a month to either do a girls trip, like some girls thing, or like a vacation with my partner where we hire a babysitter, which we have done since then.


Now, we stayed at a casino in San Diego for a night. We hired a babysitter to come over for 24 hours. And we went on a 24-hour date.


Jacqueline Kincer  36:43

Yeah, I love that. That’s awesome. It sounds like you kind of had a little celebration. And I think it’s important for you to celebrate that new stage of motherhood for yourself. Because, I think, sometimes I hear women talking about the grief that they might feel. And that is very real. And I’m not denying that. But I also think you should really celebrate how much you’ve given to your children and take some time for yourself. So I’m really glad that you did that. Because I think that’s just a wonderful way for you to reward yourself!


Serena Shoup 37:14

And that was my intent. That was absolutely my intent, because I was so afraid, actually that I was going to be really emotional when I weaned him, and I think I have like one good shower cry. Like, when I was in the shower, my boobs hurt. I’m trying to express a little bit just to relieve the discomfort and like I cried a little bit. And then I was like, Alright, I’m good.


But what actually ended up happening instead of like, major grief, which was, which is what I was expecting for a couple of weeks, you know, with the hormones balancing out and stuff. What ended up happening was rage. I had crazy, crazy rage, I was just angry, like, I was short with my kids, I was  yelling, and like, I’m not proud of it. But I just want people to know that that’s a possibility,  your hormones are changing.


And you might be expecting grief or sadness or a little bit of the blues, but end up getting hit with rage. So if you do it’s normal, I think it’s a possibility. So don’t discount it. And don’t beat yourself up for it because it might be less or less within your control than you realize. And that’s really, really important.


Jacqueline Kincer  38:32

And I’m so glad you said that because you can experience postpartum rage at any time. And it may be associated with weaning, it may be associated with the immediate postpartum, and may be associated with going back to work or just popping up randomly. And, there are hormones at play. And there are so many factors. And it’s usually a sign that we just really need to be taking good care of ourselves and slow down.


And again, you took some time to know, just go be with your partner and experience. You know, just that little bit of a separation, right? So just because you leave your babies or toddlers or whatever, doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. In fact, it might be the thing that makes you a great mom.


Serena Shoup  39:19

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so we’ve kind of run through the entirety of your breastfeeding journey, but you said something and I wanted to just normally. It’s not like a topic that I really cover in this podcast necessarily.


Jacqueline Kincer  39:36

You know, we’re really focused on the conversation around breastfeeding, but I know for me and I shared this on my episode about my journey breastfeeding my son, which you know, I left a career that I loved, and there’s someone I’m going to be bringing on the podcast here very soon. Her name’s Kendra Hennessy. She’s from mother like a boss. If you haven’t checked her out, go check her out. She’s going to be incredible, but she kind of helps moms who left the workforce and are suddenly not working.


And she helped support them. And you went through the whole college thing, you said, You came to Tucson, and you became a CPA. So you have started your own business out through all of this journeying of mothering, breastfeeding, and all of that. And I’d love for you to just tell our listeners a bit about what that experience has been like, because I started my own business, breastfeeding my son. And it definitely wasn’t easy. And it was obviously very rewarding.


And now today, I am able to do this podcast and things that I wouldn’t have been doing had I gone back to my corporate jobs. So I’d love to hear just a little bit about that from you,


Serena Shoup  40:47

Yeah! It’s kind of funny, and I’m going to, take it off track for a second, where a lot of people when, you have kids,  you had a life before children, whether it’s a career, or hobbies or all of the above, and you have children,  you kind of like losing your old self, right?


And you have to create a new self if you will. And even though being a mom has been like the majority of my adulthood, the first time I had my first one, the first time I had my first and I had my first one, I went straight from basically being a teenager to a mom. And so I didn’t really ever struggle with the identity shift.


But this time around, since I had built up a career, and I worked in corporate, I had worked my way up to a pretty high-up position in the company I was working at, and then I got pregnant and left and had the opportunity.


And I’m so grateful for being able to stay home with my kids because I didn’t get to with my first one. And I really, that was like, my only stipulation. I was like, that’s fine. We can have kids, but I’m going to stay home with them because I didn’t get to have my first and I really want to experience that. And I just had a different appreciation for being able to do that. That being said, I still miss my job.


Not necessarily the job itself. But I miss having another purpose. Right? So I started and I had worked so hard to get to where I was in my career and get my CPA license and all that. And I didn’t want to just tuck it in the trash. And so I decided to start doing bookkeeping at home just to keep myself current. And then I was going to catch up on my continuing education.


And I made that decision when my second daughter, my now four-year-old, was about one. So like when a baby’s around one year old, that’s sort of when you start coming out of the dark forest. That is postpartum and then you start feeling like okay, now I’m ready to find myself again. And so for me, that was starting my business. Shortly after that, literally a couple of weeks after I had made that decision and started going on that path of starting a business and catching up on my CPS. I found out I was pregnant again. So I was just like, whatever. I’m just gonna power through the pregnancy.


Serena Shoup  43:37

So I started building a business while I was pregnant and had a toddler, which I mean, it’s possible I wouldn’t highly recommend it, but it’s possible, depending on how ambitious you are.


Jacqueline Kincer  43:57

Like, did you feel like you really needed, like, if you wanted to create a certain lifestyle for you and your children that you went forward and push through with career stuff?


Serena Shoup  44:28

Like we’re in a pretty good position where we can live Okay, on one income. It was more for me it was more to utilize my background and my education to give me something to like a goal to work towards like, even if it’s not a goal to start a business, but for any arm, any new mom or any mom who has older children to have something to work towards for herself, whether it’s mastering a new hobby, or skill, or like starting a business like it’s really important to have goals to work towards.


So that’s really what it was for me. Plus, I wanted to have a little bit of spending money. Right? So in my situation, it wasn’t a complete necessity. But it has morphed into more of it’s not necessarily a necessity at this point. But  I have goals to grow my business to a certain point. So that my husband’s partner, while he’s not technically my husband, my partner can retire from his job, and come work with me because he also has a CPA license and an accounting and finance background.


And that’ll be part of our plan to like, be able to travel more and work from wherever, because my business is completely virtual. And so now it’s becoming a bigger vision than what I started out with.


Jacqueline Kincer  46:11

And I have to say, I think I’m gonna bring her on here because she has a unique breastfeeding story. But I was chatting with one of my good mom friends about this. And so, like, I started a moms group, and I used to be really involved in that in the latte league.


And I feel like I immersed my identity in motherhood, and not just motherhood, like breastfeeding my baby, you know, and it’s definitely obviously a part of my identity today, even though I’m no longer breastfeeding.


But, you know, I really felt like I lost myself and that initial postpartum with my son. And it wasn’t until sort of my purpose found me in many ways. But when I decided to start my business very much like you, it wasn’t a necessity. But I knew deep down at my core that there was a part of me that was never meant to just be a mom, who is just solely a mom.


And that was my work, I knew that there was another bigger purpose that I’m supposed to be here doing, and yet wanted to create more freedom for my husband and my family and things like that, as well. So I can definitely relate and now was chatting with my mom’s friends about this. And she was like, Yeah, I don’t identify with like that mom’s stuff anymore. She was like, you know, these moms night outs or whatever she’s like, it’s girls’ night out. It’s not mom’s night out. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m kind of at that stage now too. And, and maybe it’s just that our kids are a little older. But when you to me, and I know a lot of moms, it feels like initially, you’re kind of in this fog, right? And when the fog clears, you come back to who you are as a person. Yes, you are a mother. Yes, you may be a breastfeeding mother. And those are pieces of your identity. But it doesn’t need to become your whole identity, right?


You don’t need to lose yourself in this. And in fact, like you said, how your mom was this amazing example to you with breastfeeding. You can be this amazing example to your children by being the entrepreneur that you are.


So I think that’s so powerful for any of the moms listening to this who are wondering, you know, should I go back into the workforce? Should I start my own thing, you know, what you just said about your business that it’s virtual. I think that’s incredible. Like for moms out there who may be listening and they’re thinking, I would love to have that kind of, you know, lifestyle or freedom or whatever that Serena is describing, you know, maybe they’re even interested in doing what you do. Do I think you mentioned you, have a blog, maybe you can share that with us, but just where would you suggest a mom like that starts where she’s thinking, You know what, love love being with my babies, but there’s something else out there for me?


Serena Shoup  49:01

Yeah, I honestly would start with figuring out what you’re passionate about, like before you had kids what were you passionate about? And then looking at what skills you have I will say this if you’re a mom and you run your household you can probably run a business you may not realize it but if you pay the bills and you manage all the schedules and get kids to practice and packing lunches and managing the maintenance on the house scheduling things to get repaired and all that like you’re running a business right now.


Oh, I could not say that better and if you’re like most moms and you research the heck out of every car seat baby Matra sweet like pacifier whatever, right like you are in it to win it and ya know, you’re gonna like ace any job interview. Don’t forget Yeah. Like acquired a massive amount of skills right now and you are the ultimate multitasker.


So yeah, and then I would say like, a lot of like, all those skills that you use to run your household are prime skills for being like a virtual assistant, if you want to work virtually, there are lots of programs out there. If you have if you happen to have a bookkeeping background, you absolutely are accounting, you absolutely can do that virtually. I work virtually, with the majority of my clients, I barely got my first local client recently. But the rest of my clients are in other states, other cities all over the place. Wow,


Jacqueline Kincer  50:57

That is so awesome. And just because of like the timeliness of this episode, I actually just met with my accountant this morning to do my taxes. And there’s no reason why I really needed to go there in person other than he’s a jolly guy.


But also with this Coronavirus, COVID-19. You know, I think what a lot of companies and just people are realizing is we don’t actually need to be filling up office space with people, for a lot of things, we don’t have to meet in person. Now, that’s not saying that everything can be done virtually.


But there’s a lot more out there than we think. And if you have a little bit of creativity and a lot of elbow grease, you can really make it work to create anything for yourself. And like, yeah, I use virtual assistants all the time in my business.


So if you’re wondering how this podcast gets produced, I have never met the person who has helped me with this so awesome. Like, I mean, maybe someone listening could you know, if you’re looking for some reach out to me and see if I could use you. But like, I mean, this is the kind of stuff that I think we need to talk about. Because the other thing I see and maybe not necessarily playing into your story, but just amongst things that you shared about going to college and whatnot, you know, now, you know, and even then, right, there are online classes.


So, you know, you may not even have to spend money on childcare, you could be at home, you could be breastfeeding your baby, you could be taking a class and you don’t have to go through the extra expensive formula or whatever. Now I’m not saying that you’re going to get your best to learn on if you’re…



Serena Shoup  52:37

Thanks for being real. You know what, I failed my math class in college my first year. But you know, I made the dean’s list the next year, so like, it’s okay. Yeah, you make up for it.


Jacqueline Kincer  52:52

And I wasn’t even breastfeeding. I was just regular college kids. But word to the wise, do not take calculus two, as your first math class in college thought I was ready. I was not ready. So you’re an accountant, you probably would have done quite well.


Serena Shoup  53:07

Actually, that’s really funny that everyone always assumes that accountants are like super math whizzes. And the truth is, I mean, there are some that are like my partner, he definitely is a math whiz, he can do all kinds of math calculations in his head, I can’t I still count on my fingers. I’m just like, really kick-ass with Excel and a 10. Key calculator.



Jacqueline Kincer  53:31

Do you leverage that technology? For sure. Well, oh, my gosh, Serena. Thank you so much for sharing your story. There are so many elements to this. And I feel like at the end of the day, just hearing you and your tone of voice and everything, you genuinely sound really happy.


And like that you’re proud of your breastfeeding journeys, that you’ve had three different ones. And it means so much that you would just share that with our listeners because honestly, I don’t think this stuff is talked about enough. I really, really don’t. And we’re just scratching the surface here. But your story is important. And I really hope that it’s word medicine and inspiration for so many of our listeners out there.


Serena Shoup  54:14

Yeah, I’ve always had this desire of from being a young, such a young mom that I wanted. I wanted to get my message out there in some way to young moms because, and hopefully I mean, hopefully young moms listen to podcasts, right? At that age now that I’m like, I don’t know if this is cool and hip for like the young kids these days. But here listen to this podcast.


Jacqueline Kincer  54:40

Well, I will tell you what if you’re a young mom, and however you want to classify that for yourself, you know, let me know like take us to take a screenshot of this podcast to tag me on Instagram. Serena, if people want to look you up on Instagram or social media, where can they find you?


Serena Shoup  54:56

Yeah, on Instagram, I’m at Serena Shoup BPA And I’m on LinkedIn, Serena Shoup, and I’m also on Facebook, Serena, Shoup, CPA.


Jacqueline Kincer  55:12

Awesome. Well, we’ll link that up in the show notes for you guys. But if you found this helpful, if you want to connect with Serena will link up to her information, and then she just spelled it out for you there. But I just have to say thank you, thank you. Thank you, your story is important, and your story is so valid. And I learned so much just by chatting with you today.


Serena Shoup  55:31

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.


Jacqueline Kincer  55:36

I just want to say a big, big thank you to Serena, again, for having her come on the show and sharing her story. I know these are vulnerable things that you all are sharing when you share your journeys with us. So my heart goes out to you my immense gratitude. And I know that by Serena sharing her story that she’s helping so many of you out there who might be struggling, and might have similar life circumstances going on. And to just inspire you to let you know that you too can also breastfeed despite some big life events happening for you. So with that, I just wanted to say that if you have not already, your reviews on iTunes do so much to help our podcast, get in front of the ears of more listeners who need this kind of information, need this kind of inspiration and need this kind of breastfeeding talk in their life. So please leave a review on iTunes, if you have not already. In fact, if you’d love to do that, take a little screenshot, and tag me on Instagram with it…

In this episode, we are talking to Serena Shoup, work at home mother of 3 and CPA. She became a mom at 19, went to college, became a single mom, started her own business, went on to have two more children and breastfeed them! We are just in awe with this warrior mom!!! This episode celebrates the realness of Serena’s breastfeeding and mothering experience and we hope you feel inspired!

If you enjoy this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about it and know your biggest takeaway. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram Stories and tag me @holisticlactation

I’ve got a special gift for all my listeners and it’s 38 powerful breastfeeding affirmations to support you on your breastfeeding journey, so go get that free audio now at