Two Roads Don’t Always Diverge

People often ask me why and how I continue to build career goals in both media and health care. I think some of it comes out of genuine curiosity about the logistics of maintaining two time intensive jobs, and there is certainly an element of (legitimate) concern for my balance of work & playtime. But I think some of it stems from not understanding the fusion, the intermediary, the common ground that exists between photos, movies, babies, and health.

While the naysayers may never get it, this has been one of the most incredible years of my life in terms of my career. Sort of like the birth of twins, two entities arrived at the same time, just in different rooms. I work at the hospital where my parents met — the very building that housed the beginning of their life together as a family — which in its own right is one of the best places possible to have a baby in the Twin Cities. I moved my tiny little photo side-business from my parents’ house into an actual office, with an actual logo on the door and photo canvases on the walls.

When I decided to become a nurse, I knew that I wanted labor & delivery from day one, but I didn’t think I’d get such a coveted job without years of experience. When I spent hot summer days editing photos in the non-commercial setting of an attic, I dreamed of a day when I could invite a client over without having to inconvenience my family, without looking quasi-professional nested within a domestic residence. But since my trajectory had been reset to nursing, it seemed highly unlikely that this day would ever come.

As the two dreams continued to be parallel roads, graduating from school and building a photo client base, at some point they made a little sweet love and merged into one gnarled and twisty road of blended people, places, and topics. I got the first labor & delivery job I applied for and the studio space fell into my lap over one casual cell phone call. I’m not totally sure how any of that happened, but I’m not asking questions.

In the past year I have photographed families after being their labor nurse, offered photography advice to dads struggling with brand new cameras in the birth room, and offered on-the-fly lactation advice to photo clients who were having breastfeeding issues. I produced a film about birth doulas, the exact film I’ve wanted to make for five years, and then was able to put RN next to my name in the director’s credit.

The most joyous element of all this interweaving is my co-workers, both at the hospital and at Enlightened Mama, the childbirth education & resource center that puts a roof over my Emily Rumsey Photography creative space. These nurses and midwives have taught me clinical skills and kept my chin up on days when I felt like a kindergartner holding a Fisher Price stethoscope. These childbirth educators (and their rad husbands) have celebrated and promoted my work in everything that they do — lamaze class students can’t escape without a little free PR from Enlightened Mama. The two jobs aren’t obviously related on a resume, I realize. But the blending between feels seamless some days, like today when I just overheard an Enlightened Mama client gushing about her birth experience at HCMC in the next room. My ears couldn’t help but pick up the unsolicited review and produce a little smile as I typed.

In high school, I had an English teacher who permanently changed my view on writing, on reading, on ways to document one’s vision of the world. I cannot remember if it was in his class that I first read “The Road Not Taken,” but I know it was somewhere on his syllabus. He encouraged, almost demanded, that we find a new way to state or analyze something — to never make the statement already stated.

The poem has always resonated with me, and I always wanted to be the kind of person who chose the road less travelled by. I’m starting to feel that by NOT making a choice, by sticking with both media and health care…that has made all the difference.

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