By Suzette Foister
I can’t believe that I am a stay at home mom, running my own business and doing what I love.I am forever grateful for this opportunity and try to never take it for granted.
Less than a year ago my life was so different. I was a supervisor, working 40 plus hours a week for a financial institution. I was so proud of what I did and I had worked hard to get where I was (despite all my obstacles).
My daughter was diagnosed with Asthma at a very young age. She was constantly sick; which meant my husband and I were constantly missing work or sending her to school with her meds and nebulizer. Those were some of my darkest days. Leaving my baby with others, to watch over her when she was struggling to breath or snotty and irritated. I think the hardest part was finding others to talk to about my struggles and getting them to understand how serious her condition was. I have been criticized for taking care of my child and following Hazel’s doctor’s instructions. I beat myself up and doubt myself enough as it is, I never needed anyone else to do it as well.
The roller coaster ride my husband and I were on, due to our child being sick, was exhausting. We would get jealous of other people whose kids were never sick, or got a cold and were over it in a few days. Every time Hazel got sick, we were guaranteed to be doing weeks of nebulizer treatments, a round of steroids, antibiotics, etc. She had pneumonia twice before age two. I remember breaking down in front of her pediatric pulmonology Doctor. I felt so defeated. My career was in shambles at the time. It was hard to focus on my career when I was absent so often. For two years straight I ran out of sick time and was taking unpaid days off. I had to file for FMLA just so I didn’t get fired.
She started getting better as she got older. After she turned 3 and had finally recovered from the pneumonia, we went almost 3 months without Hazel getting sick. I remember thinking “We are almost over this, we can finally relax and breathe a bit. She is stronger now”. I must have been too comfortable. I accepted a new position with more responsibility. I was so excited. She was doing so well and I could finally focus on my career again. One week into my new position at a new office, she got sick again. I was trying to focused on my new job (this can’t be happening!!!) We decided this time my husband would stay home with her. Again, I felt so guilty. We couldn’t allow both of our careers to suffer. So I filed for FMLA again. It was for protection, just in case the pneumonia came back.
We went on doing treatments and taking her nebulizer with her to school, for nearly three months. We had never really had to go that long on treatments, but she needed them. We couldn’t take her off.
One day in August my husband called me and said he was leaving work to get Hazel from daycare, because she had a high fever. When I got home, I took her to after-hours because I knew they would do a chest x-ray. It showed pneumonia again!!! After we got home, I looked at my husband and he looked at me, and we both knew. I was going to have to quit my job and the next day I did.
I am not a risk taker what so ever, quitting that day was the riskiest thing I had ever done. It has also been the most rewarding. My daughter is healthier than she has ever been. I now have time to focus on what I love : my daughter, my husband, and my art. I am thankful everyday for this opportunity. I also would never be able to do any of this without the support of my friends and family. The moms I have made relationships with in the last 8 months have changed my life. They push me and make me want to strive to be a better person. They remind me that we are human and we are all flawed. They remind me to have fun and build me up. I hope to always do the same for them.