For women in business, there’s a certain beauty in being an entrepreneur. Of course you get to set your own schedule, which can help when caring for children during the summer, but more to the point, you get to set your own everything.
Celeste Bowyer Chapko is a full-time mom and a full-life entrepreneur.
“Music has always been a part of who I am,” Chapko said. “In high school, I sang in the choir and played trumpet in all the bands.”
Naturally, Chapko knew that music would play a big role in her life. She attended Indiana University, knowing that she would study music, but wasn’t sure how she’d use it. She didn’t want to be a teacher, and she didn’t want to be a performer. Her research led her to Saint Mary of the Woods, a Catholic liberal arts college, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in music therapy.
“I like that music therapy can help all different kinds of people,” Chapko said. “I was looking to work primarily with children and adults with developmental disabilities. We can work together with music to meet their individual goals.”
Although she worked in the field for several years, Chapko struggled to find full-time work.
“It’s been a recognized field for about 70 years,” Chapko said, “but there weren’t that many jobs in Northwest Indiana 15 years ago. I just didn’t feel like I had a community or mentors to support me.”
Chapko took this as a cue to return to Indiana University and earn her master’s in education.
“I thought I would do a career shift and work in special education,” Chapko said, “but I was only a teacher for a short amount of time because we started having kids.”
While she was growing her family, Chapko went back to music therapy part-time. Simultaneously, she was training with her doula.
“I would never have met the person who told me about doulas if I wasn’t teaching,” Chapko said. “I had a doula for all my children, and I also trained under that doula.”
A doula is a person who provides support and guidance to women during labor.
When Chapko was pregnant with her third child, she began to feel that something wasn’t quite right.
“I started experiencing rage and anxiety,” Chapko said. “I reached out to my OB and found a therapist who told me everything would be fine.”
Everything was not fine. After giving birth to her daughter, Chapko was dealing with severe post-partum depression and anxiety. At seven months post-partum, Chapko sought psychiatric care.
“I felt like I had no choice,” she said.
Chapko spent nearly a year trying to find the right cocktail of medications, but nothing was helping. Finally, she found Beyond the Baby Blues, a monthly support group for moms dealing with post-partum issues.
“I felt better after my first meeting,” Chapko said, “but I thought there should be something like it available in Lake County, too.”
She worked with the Porter County group to start one in Lake County, but found that mothers needed support more often than once a month.
Chapko started an individual support program and began running a warm line. A hotline guarantees pick up, but a warm line assures a call back within 24 hours.
“The warm line lets me talk to moms, help them find resources, and invite them to participate in the individual program,” Chapko said. “I do a one-on-one intake to determine their needs, and then initiate a month-long texting program.”
Back when she was focused on doula opportunities, Chapko started Childbirth Melodies. That business has grown substantially over time as she has leaned in to mother’s advocacy.
“When I was struggling post-partum, I never had peer support,” Chapko said. “It could’ve been such a benefit.”
Childbirth Melodies thus evolved to accommodate the broader needs of maternal mental health, providing both individual and group peer support, and music therapy for moms with post-partum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
“It’s important to prioritize mental and emotional health,” Chapko said. “These things are very treatable, especially with peer support, therapy, and maybe medication.”
Chapko’s entrepreneurial spirit has pushed her along this path, providing every opportunity to pursue the things that matter to her most. She is able to care for her children while running a successful business, and this is a meaningful intersection for her.
Now, Chapko is preparing for the next iteration of Childbirth Melodies.
“Childbirth Melodies was the name of my doula business, and it fits well because I was combining that with music therapy,” Chapko said. “Everything grew out of that.”
Chapko wants the name of the business to be more inclusive of the services she intends to offer.
“I want to offer what best fits the needs of the community,” Chapko said. “Northwest Indiana Center for Maternal Wellness is much more inclusive.”
If you are struggling with perinatal or post-partum issues, you are not alone. Check with your healthcare provider, and consider exploring a monthly Beyond the Baby Blues meeting. Or reach out to Chapko at Childbirth Melodies or NWI Center for Maternal Wellness.