The first time I smoked a cigarette was when I was young – about ten or eleven. It started with stealing butts out of ashtrays, and by the time I was in high school I was hanging out in front of gas stations trying to get older men to buy cigarettes for me with my allowance. By 17 I was at a pack a day. Turning 18 was a relief because I didn’t have to get anyone else to do my cigarette shopping for me.
I smoked throughout my first pregnancy and quit when I went into labor with Gaia. I quit for a solid 3 months, then stole a smoke from my mom while she was at the store. It wasn’t until 5 months that I picked the habit back up for real, but when you work you don’t a break unless you have a an excuse. Unfortunately smoking is the most acceptable way to take a break. And so I was a smoker again.
I smoked throughout my last pregnancy, too. Anders was born happy and healthy and I took a mere 2 day break before resuming the habit. I took all the precautions a smoking mother should: wore a tee shirt or jacket over my clothes, tied my hair up tight, and washed my hands up to my elbows afterwards. Although I toyed with the idea of quitting my entire pregnancy (and even made it four days cold turkey once), I had no desire to quit once I became a mother of two. The daily stress of managing two kids was too much to deal with. I just didn’t even try.
Last week I was in a surprisingly good mood and so I talked with my fiance about quitting. I realized that smoking actually stressed me out more because as a smoker I assumed that having a cigarette would relieve normal overstress. And when they didn’t I found myself disappointed, waiting again for the next cigarette hoping that one would do the trick. They never did though, and it was a cycle I couldn’t get out of.
So we talked it over and I admitted cold turkey wasn’t how I would succeed in such a task. After researching some options, we decided to start with the patch. The next day he came home from work as a medical assistant with Nicoderm CQ samples. I finished out my pack Friday and started Saturday with the clear patch on my shoulder. That night I ahd a craving, but I voiced it out loud and my fiance went and loaded me up on bubble gum. I bummed a cigarette on day 3 from my neighbor, but never got around to smoking it. On day four I lit it up, but three tiny drags in I decided I didn’t want it anymore.
Although I do get habitual cravings to do the action of smoking, the nicotine patch is a lot easier than I imagined from my experiences trying to go cold turkey. I have so much time now that my routines aren’t bogged down by my next “smoke break.”
I am posting here to let you guys know that I’m very serious about quitting. I know the fact that I was a smoker wasn’t exactly publicized, but the truth is I was ashamed of it. It’s a disgusting, pointless habit and I plan to stick with this mission to quit for good.
Here are some things that are working for me:
- Stay busy. I spent so much time smoking before that I didn’t realize how much time took from my day. To compensate I’m finishing tasks more efficiently and picking up old hobbies. I recently bought a Kindle previously loved by Courtney of Optimistic Mommy and have it loaded with wonderful books to keep my mind off of the cravings.
- Use your hands. If you are addicted to the act of smoking like I am, keeping your hands busy works wonders. If I get an intense craving I have my crochet in an easily accessible place and my kitchen stoked with ingredients for bread dough. Nothing beats stress like punching down a good, delicious loaf of bread.
- Chew all the gum.* Oral fixation is common place among smokers. I have chewed so much gum the last week or so I could build a chewy, taffy tower. Loading your common smoking hang-outs with gum or snacks instead of smokes. I keep my gum where my cigarettes used to be, so if I find myself wandering over there I can grab gum. My dad kept a giant bag of jelly beans in his car when he quit.
* Note: Nicorette is a great tool for quitting. I have some, but the warning label clearly says not to use it with the nicotine patch. If you decide to use the patch, make sure to stock up on good chewing gum.
If you have other tips that helped you to quit smoking I’d love to hear them. Please share your story in the comments section and help encourage other people who may stumble across this post for support.