Sarah Hollis is a 35 year old art teacher at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and currently 28 weeks pregnant. Since starting smoking at the age of 12, she’s had a long history with trying to quit.

“It was the 90’s, and everyone around you smoked. You could even smoke in the mall.”

Her mother never smoked, but her father did – in secret. If and when he got caught, he would drop the cigarette and pretend it never happened, sending her mixed signals.

Throughout her life, Sarah loved smoking: the taste, the feel and the routine it provided. She was able to count the exact number of cigarettes she would smoke on her way to school and the places along her drive where she would light up. Smoking provided a form of constant when everything else around her was crazy; it gave her a moment to relax. Her biggest triggers were routine and stress; it also helped her creative process.

“As an artist, you get into a creative routine. Smoking provided a time to take a break and come back with fresh eyes.”

Why did you quit smoking? 

When Sarah learned that she was pregnant, she immediately decided to quit smoking. She smoked her last three cigarettes, then went cold turkey.

“I felt horrible, but if I didn’t finish that pack, I knew I would always crave them. It was a form of closure.”

She knew quitting was best for her baby’s health; this was an effort to put her child before herself.

What helped you in the process of quitting?

Committing to the idea of being a mom is helping Sarah quit smoking.

“They don’t have a choice. My child didn’t ask to be brought into this world, and I shouldn’t subject him or her to cigarettes.”

She also quit caffeine; this is helping her refrain from smoking as the side effects of quitting caffeine are worse than the cravings from quitting smoking.

What advice do you have for other moms?

“The idea that quitting could be temporary made it easier. Pregnancy isn’t permanent and the idea that I could go back was helpful throughout the process. But I hope I don’t.”

Sarah advises other moms to not be hard on themselves.

“Smoking is a strong addiction. Try your best; that is all that you can do.  Your body isn’t your own when you’re pregnant, which can be difficult, especially if you have an addiction. Don’t shame yourself; it only makes things worse.”

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We’d like to thank Sarah for sharing her story with us. If you’d like to share yours, please complete this form or contact us at info@cradlecincinnati.org.

And if you’re trying to quit smoking, there are resources in our community that can help. You can also receive free, over-the-phone counseling by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.