Today is World Asthma Day — from now through Mother’s Day, we’ll be sharing the stories of moms across the country who are fighting for clean air and safe communities. This was written by Jen Lushbough, a Moms Clean Air Force volunteer:
When my daughter, Lily (right), was just one year old, she was hospitalized for the first time due to asthma. Lily is my youngest of three kids, so naturally I had thought myself a “weathered” mom, ready for anything parenting threw at me. But nothing could prepare me for the terror that set in watching my daughter struggling to breathe, her lips turning blue, her tiny body limp as a ragdoll.
Since that first visit, Lily has been hospitalized four more times in her short three years of life. Due to her asthma, she’s unable to fight off respiratory viruses the way that other kids do. Our family lives day to day in Lily’s asthma zones — green, yellow, and red — that determine which medication she needs and when she needs to be taken to the ER.
We live in northern Minnesota, where the air is relatively clean. But I still see Lily struggling for breath and coughing when we’re around idling cars or clearing her throat on summer trips to the lake when she’s around idling boats. A refinery explosion happened recently just ten miles from our home, making the air even more difficult to breathe.
In many ways we are lucky. We have great health insurance and the opportunity to relocate if the air gets too hard for Lily to breathe. Too many families don’t have those options and resources. Clean air and clean water should not be a privilege.
Working with Moms Clean Air Force helps me feel like I’m taking control. It’s scary to be so helpless, watching my daughter struggle in a state of fear. Motherhood is overwhelming. But Moms Clean Air Force has given me the opportunity to take action in whatever way I can — from bringing my family to DC to meet with my representatives to signing a petition or making a phone call while my kids are napping.
It’s shown all my kids that their voices are powerful, that they have the ability to make a change. I’m proud as a mother that I’m raising little humans that are engaged and interested citizens.