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Jackie Montesinos Suarez

SAP deputy head, North America Communications

Jackie's Story

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Jackie Montesinos Suarez

#ThankfulforSAP: Flexibility to be the best advocate for your kids

by Angela Schuller

When Jackie Montesinos Suarez went to the hospital to deliver her first child on September 6, 2010, she was relieved. For three months, she was on strict bed rest and when the big day came, Jackie was 39 weeks along, and she thought she could put the stress she felt behind her and just focus on getting her new baby boy home. What she didn’t know then was how seven minutes would change everything for her little boy – and for her.


September 6 – Labor on Labor
A long-distance runner most of her life, Jackie was in top shape as she labored so she wasn’t surprised when her labor was going fast. But because the baby was coming so quickly, the medical team didn’t notice his heartbeat had dropped and the umbilical cord had become wrapped around his neck. When the doctor realized what had happened, he told Jackie she had to deliver with one final push. She did, but she didn’t hear the baby cry.

Instead, she heard ten doctors and nurses trying to resuscitate him and her own voice trying to make sense about what was happening. "I kept asking ‘why isn’t he crying? Why can’t I hear him crying? Why will no one answer me,"  Jackie said. She was told he swallowed meconium, and they were working diligently to suction it out, so they didn’t want him to cry. They also told her he fractured his skull from the force the doctor had to use to get him out on time.

September 6, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.
Three hours passed before Jackie got to see her baby, Andy, again. "He was hooked up to a ton of machines, with tubes helping him breathe," she said. "I couldn’t hold him, but I was allowed to give him my finger, and the solid grip he had on it was surprising to me." That grip gave Jackie hope when she finally got to hold him 48 hours later, and helped her get through the next 8 days Andy would spend in the NICU.

While Jackie and her husband tried to be strong during those days, seeing Andy pricked and prodded repeatedly was difficult for the new family, but even more unsettling to Jackie was hearing the numbers of Andy’s Apgar scores (where the baby’s condition is evaluated at one, five and ten minutes after birth) playing over and over in her mind. "I was told Andy’s scores were not good. Andy’s were all close to zero – something that would haunt me for years," Jackie said.

Navigating Andy's journey
Jackie and her husband knew Andy would experience some delays as a baby, and had him in occupational and physical therapies by the time he was six months old to help him get where he needed to be. But at 12 months old, Andy was experiencing feeding issues where severe acid reflux gave him some sensory delays with his mouth, including speech. Jackie immediately contacted Early Steps, Florida's early intervention program to find out what else they could do for their son.  

Over the next several years, Jackie and her husband got Andy enrolled in several therapies (OT, PT, speech, and others), and scheduled additional testing from a number of specialists along the way (neurologists, geneticists, developmental pediatricians) to make sure he was getting everything he needed to thrive. "At times, I felt like my life was revolving around doctor visits," Jackie said. "It was a revolving door of consultations, speaking to experts and getting educated on what was next." And while his therapy schedule has ranged over the years from intensive (several hours a day) to less frequent, Jackie said she could use flex time to be where she needed to be with Andy. This is something that has been key for Andy’s treatment and development.

A special program for Andy
With additional testing, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together as far as a diagnosis for Andy: he has a mild generalized encephalopogy (a brain disorder), sensory and audio-processing disorder, ADHD and learning deficiencies. Andy’s doctors wanted to put him on a series of medications, but Jackie decided to pursue a different path.

When Andy entered first grade, Jackie heard about a special program, Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families’ PCP, an intensive summer program for children with the deficiencies Andy has, particularly addressing the ADHD. It was intense – it was a 10 hour day for Andy, an hour drive from home and required weeknight parent training several hours, but Jackie felt lucky Andy was accepted as one of children funded by a federal grant. The program had 8 teachers and specialists in a classroom for the 15 kids. "I am always asking myself ‘Am I doing enough'," Jackie said. "And this seemed like such a great opportunity with successful proven results."  

She was right. Jackie said the program changed his life. "Andy came back to school in the Fall, able to keep up with the other kids in the class. Even his teachers and therapists were in awe of the change," Jackie said.

SAP made it possible
The past eight years have had their ups and downs for Jackie, but she says flexible work arrangements have made it possibleto be at every appointment with Andy, including the FIU program Andy took part in during the summer. Working mostly from home, Jackie believes working a flexible schedule helps her be the best advocate for her child. "I feel more prepared to fight for Andy. I’m able to talk to every single therapist and doctor directly," Jackie said. "I’m the first person he sees when he gets home from school. It’s great to work for a company that allows me to do what I need to do, and respects the fact I need to. I’m always on the job, and it’s not a sacrifice to my son and what he needs." And while Jackie appreciates the flexibility, she said she also could develop in her career, taking advantage of different communications roles in recent years, including a six-month fellowship."It’s never held me back," Jackie said."I travel a bit, but I can always tailor it to the schedule we have, even if that means delaying a trip for a day because I have to be at a meeting with one of Andy’s therapists on a certain day. I’ve always gotten to do everything I’ve wanted to do professionally." Asked if she would ever leave SAP, Jackie firmly said it’s not in the cards for her. "On occasion, you get hit up by a recruiter, but people at SAP really understand that family at home comes first and that’s priceless."

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