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Winning the battle to quit smoking

You can quit

Before they had kids, mom Kelly Kilmer and her husband were smokers. Smoking about a pack a day, they made the occasional half-hearted attempt to quit, but admitted that they liked to smoke. But knowing how unhealthy it is to smoke, and wanting to be good role models for their kids, it became clear that they had to quit, once and for all.

Going cold turkey and then some

When I became pregnant with our first child, I went cold turkey. Morning sickness and the thought of affecting our growing child made it a pretty easy transition, and David had to stop smoking around me, since the mere whiff of cigarette smoke made me retch. In a bid to avoid divorce, he even brushed his teeth after smoking. He made several serious attempts to quit before the baby was born, but never made it more than a few days.

As our first daughter got older, he decided it was more important than ever to quit, since he didn't want to model unhealthy behavior. Plus, our then two-year-old was beginning to pretend to light up when she saw him do it outside. This made us both cringe.

Over time, he went through all the tried and true methods - cold turkey, nicotine gum and patches, herbal remedies, and finally hypnosis. Nothing lasted more than a few days. He attended a smoking cessation program through our HMO and the doctor told him he was in the top 10 percent of people who have the hardest time quitting. Not exactly encouraging.

Falling off the wagon

Meanwhile, I was working full time and parenting, and the idea of a cigarette started to sound really good. So, I started sneaking over to his studio at night after our toddler was in bed, and having a social cigarette or two. My claim to fame was that I never would smoke more than five a day, but since I was still breastfeeding, I felt guilty all the time. Once I started though, I had to have at least one a day "to keep my sanity." One night, in an Internet breastfeeding chat, it came out that about half of us were doing some minor cigarette cheating on the side. Although I counted myself among the guilty, I felt compelled to send out information after the chat about minimizing contaminants.

Worried about the long-term life-shortening consequences

When I found myself pregnant again, I again stopped smoking immediately. Since I was only an occasional smoker, it was much easier this time around, and I started to really nag my husband to quit too. He again tried several times throughout the pregnancy, but each time failed. I was starting to get discouraged, and also worried. I didn't want him to die of lung cancer!

The hard knocks of quitting

It was hard because he was utterly miserable during these times. It was so bad, I considered going out and buying him a pack of smokes, just so he'd stop being so cranky. Is that ethical? I couldn't stand it! He would lie around all the time, lethargic, irritable, and depressed. It seemed like having him smoke was preferable to this. When he arrived home from work, I would hopefully ask, "Did you cheat today?"

Knowing that he had a history of depression helped us to make some sense of things. He had been on anti-depressants before, and had noticed a decrease in his desire for cigarettes during those times. When we started to see advertisements for Zyban which is a derivative of Wellbutrin, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, we thought maybe this was the answer. Unfortunately, David is allergic to it, as evidenced by itchy hives all over. Smoking was preferable to that, too.

So here we are, with a three year old who occasionally pretends to light up, a baby who will be doing the same thing before long, and a mom who is starting to crave cigarettes again. Not good. Ironically, David had experienced a bad depression again, and started on a new antidepressant, so the time seemed ripe to try again, once his mood was stablized.

The struggle seems unending - but worth it

I had planned a trip to Chicago to visit family, and David said that this week to himself was the perfect opportunity to quit smoking. It sounded like a perfect plan to me. The girls and I wouldn't have to put up with his bad attitude and overall crankiness, and he would have less stress with us gone, theoretically making it easier to quit.

When I called on Day 3, he was still smoking. Seems he had some undue stress at work, so he couldn't quit yet. On Day 5, he had quit, but was obviously struggling and cranky. Upon our return, he had clearly fallen off the wagon (I smelled smoke on his shirt when I hugged him), and he is still struggling.

I even miss our evening social cigarette together, and miss his normally cheerful mood, but it is clear to both of us that it's time to do it once and for all. We both know how unhealthy it is to smoke, and we want to be good role models for our kids. If we're lucky, I won't even strangle him before he gets over the physical side-effects.

Need motivation to kick the habit for good?

Harmful effects of smoking on kids
10 Reasons to quit smoking
7 Expert tips to quit smoking for good

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