Chrissie Swan wept on radio this morning as she revealed she's been smoking while pregnant.
“Over the last year I have taken up a habit I thought I kicked for good years ago, smoking the occasional cigarette, in total secret and never more than five a week," she revealed during the Chrissie and Jane at breakfast on Mix Melbourne.
“I never told the chippy or my friends I'd taken it up again and I'm not sure I ever would have come out of hiding and acknowledged I was addicted, but this week a pap photographer snapped me smoking a cigarette whilst alone in my car and I knew it was only a matter of time before it became public."
If you're not a smoker, your first reaction to her confession was probably horror: how could she do that to her unborn child?
My response, on the other hand, was pity. Because I've been there – I secretly smoked during my pregnancy. It wasn’t just difficult for me to give up smoking when I was pregnant – it was almost impossible. I never dreamed that I would smoke while I was pregnant. But I did.
When I started smoking I hated it. I remember so clearly the smell and the taste of the sulphur, as I used match after match trying to get that damn cigarette lit so that I could look cool. That’s the only reason I smoked, quite honestly – it’s what the cool kids were doing.
This was about 25 years ago. There was a lot of cigarette advertising – not so many anti-smoking campaigns.
But, just like we warn kids today – one cigarette leads to another and before you know it you are in the throes of addiction and it is more insidious than you know.
I smoked all through my teens, although I hid it from my parents – well at least I thought I did but if they have any sense of smell (and they do) they would have known I was a smoker. I didn’t care – I thought I was getting away with it and by that time I was in love with smoking, it was part of who I was.
When I tried to start a family I knew that I would have to give up smoking but I also knew it would be a breeze. But I told myself that if I wanted a baby so much, surely the love that I had for this unborn baby would negate any desire for a cigarette.
It didn't, because it’s not that simple.
I justified my smoking, I talked myself into believing that one or two cigarettes would do no harm to my unborn baby after all people fall pregnant without even knowing it all the time and they drink and smoke.
When I miscarried I didn't blame the ciggies, I just smoked more because I was so gutted and now, in my mind, I had more reason to smoke.
When I fell pregnant again I vowed not to smoke, so I put off confirming that pregnancy for as long as I could. And when I found out I was pregnant I had one last cigarette as a farewell. And then I had one more because quitting was so damn hard.
Today, Chrissie revealed she was “horrified that even though I know that smoking whilst pregnant is bad for my child, I couldn’t stop, I'd try but I couldn't, telling myself just one can’t be too bad, knowing that it was. When you’re in denial you can justify anything.”
And I get it, Chrissie, I do.
I know many people will be up in arms, we all know it's a serious health risk. But, as a smoker I know how hard it is. I know it doesn’t mean you love your unborn child any less.
We need to support the Chrissie Swans, the mother’s battling to give up smoking – the people that have to write their posts anonymously because they are too afraid to admit to the world that they put their babies health at risk.
Giving up smoking, like any addiction, is infinitely harder than you think and if you haven’t been there I hope you never do.