Life Story of Rachel Burnham, VeePN COO of MarketingPosted on 19th August 2021
My name is Rachel Burnham, and I am a COO of Marketing at VeePN. Many people say that I am very lucky in my life because they see my professional accomplishments and impressive results. However, they will never know what hides behind the scenes of my successful career and many achievements. Being a 33-year old working mom is not as easy as it seems. I want to share my story to inspire all women who are in a difficult situation not to give up. Remember that you can always take advantage of any circumstances.
Years at the University
I entered the University of Florida and chose Marketing as the sphere in which I wanted to get an education. And I never regretted my choice. I was so excited about my studying and getting new knowledge that all the professors said that with my ambitions I can have great future prospects. I always received excellent grades and exceeded all my groupmates in all ratings and competitions. I realized that marketing is the sphere where I want to achieve high results.
When we had an opportunity to work in real companies as practicing students, I always tried to do my best. Experience and work in real-world conditions were the key things for me. Apart from getting theoretical knowledge, I always tried to go deeper and find out how everything works. Practical experience was very valuable for me, and I planned to earn a good position in one of the companies I worked at.
However, I had to overshadow my career plan because I started dating my first husband, Carl, when I was 18. I was young, emotional, and ambitious. He was 23, and he was much calmer and wiser than I was. With him, I felt safe and comfortable. We had so much In common that it seemed that I’d known him for my whole life.
Beginning of a Family Life
After dating for 2 years, he popped up the question. And I became the happiest bride in the world because I was going to get married to the man of my dream. Despite the fact that I haven’t graduated yet, we decided to move in together and make a wedding. We rented a tiny apartment and started our family life there. Carl made huge progress in his career and started earning good money.
I was still studying at a university, and when I found out that I was pregnant when I was about to start my last year, I was worried about my future. Although I wanted to graduate, I decided to focus more on my family and become a mum. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I felt so much love and support from my husband that I chose family and children.
The Birth of My Son
I will always remember my pregnancy as an amazing time in my life. I couldn’t wait to meet my baby and become a mother. I’ve always wanted to have children, and me and Carl were excited about becoming a family. We were so happy when we found out that it was a boy. We were always dreaming about a son.
When I was 21, I gave birth to my son, Mike. The moment I heard him crying was the most emotional and the happiest moment in my life. I can’t say that being a mother was easy for me. There were so many new responsibilities in my role as a mother. I had to extend my leave of absence to 3 years because the child needed my attention most.
When Mike was a newborn, he was like any other child of his age. He was so cute, cheerful, and emotional. I still remember that unforgettable feeling when I heard him laughing for the first time. As soon as he turned two years, something has changed in his behavior. It was my first child, and I had nobody to compare him with. The older he became, the more.
At home, everything was more or less okay. Nevertheless, in the playground, I started noticing a huge difference between him and other children. Mike wasn’t interested in anything, and he didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t listen to me and didn’t answer my questions. I was concerned about these things, and I decided to go to the doctor to find out the reason for such behavior. When we were told that our child is autistic, we couldn’t believe it. It was a shock for both of us. It took us months to put up with this fact and start figuring out what to do next.
Mike became calmer and more reserved. He almost didn’t talk, but I thought it was okay for a boy. When something went wrong, Mike got so nervous and could cry for hours about little things. Almost every day, he cried many times, and when I was asking what is wrong, he couldn’t explain what happened.
The things that worried me the most were that he didn’t point at the objects. He grabbed my hand and pointed with it. He didn’t show interest in new people, toys, or animals. But the worst thing was that he didn’t react when I called him by his name. I even remember when I could lose Mike in the crowd because he didn’t turn his head. I felt like the worst mother in the world. After several months of such huge stress, I told my husband that I can no longer handle it alone. I can’t say that I gave up, but I felt that I start being an enemy of my own son instead of a caring and loving mother. When I googled the symptoms, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I went to the special center not to disprove that my son is an autist, but to ask them for help.
We decided to ask for help from professionals because neither our local specialists nor we could deal with his problems, and as a mother, I felt that Mike was feeling worse and worse. We found help at the ABAH center. The first thing that impressed us was the attitude. They helped us when we were desperate. Mike started attending special classes. In addition to them, I needed to spend much time with him at home doing special exercises and playing special games to improve our interactions.
They spent lots of time with him and did various exercises according to the ABA system. It means that they taught Mike to copy the gestures, moves, and even the simplest actions. For us, playing games with cards was very helpful and I could notice tiny improvements every day. Moreover, they taught him how to interact with other kids and play with them. It was such a relief for me because I hoped that soon Mike will start going to kindergarten.
Finding a kindergarten was another challenge I haven’t expected. This was the first time when I felt that the distance between me and my husband is growing. Our first attempt was such a pass. We went to the first kindergarten nearby and they agreed to help us. I felt so relieved because I needed time to get distracted from all this stress and therapy. I wanted to come back to my own life. But after a few weeks, they explained to me that Mike doesn’t get along with other kids and is considerably slower than other children of his age. We decided to look for another place.
We hoped to find help in dozens of other places, but most of them refused immediately. Those, who tried, told us that they can’t give enough attention and one teacher even told us that Mike’s behavior is unbearable. I told them that the only unbearable thing was their attitude. But I didn’t give up till I knocked at the doors of all kindergartens I knew. And finally, we found a perfect place where Mike felt comfortable and the teachers paid much attention to his needs.
Therapy was quite expensive, so my husband took on more projects while I was taking care of Mike. I noticed considerable progress after a few months of therapy. When I was 24, we were accepted to the inclusive kindergarten, and he could count and say many words; Mike could interact with others almost like an ordinary child.
At that time, I decided to finish my education and started going to university again. It was so hard to combine it with therapy, and I lack time for anything else, even cooking. It was a challenge for me, but I knew that I won’t achieve any results without making an effort.
I know how difficult it is for parents whose children are not like others. I know what it’s worth to accept your child as a whole. Moreover, I want to say: it’s normal to feel lost and devastated. It is normal to feel frustrated and bitter. Only after experiencing all these feelings can you get up, shake off and move on.
My Husband Left Me
As soon as it seemed to me that things are finally getting better, there was another piece of news I wasn’t ready for. My husband started spending more and more time at work. I appreciated his help because it lets me focus on my education and therapy with Mike. Soon I found out that it wasn’t the only reason.
Carl was having an affair with his colleague. I saw a message on his phone while he was in a shower. At that moment, I felt shocked. I couldn’t realize how he dared to do it. He claimed that it was my fault because I spent too much time with our son and forgot about him. He said that the woman he had an affair with made him feel special and that it lasted over 6 months.
I felt terrible and helpless. A 25-year old woman with an autistic son betrayed by her husband. This was all so sudden, but I decided that I’m not ready to put up with it. I wanted a better life for my child and me.
Divorce and Looking For a Job
I can’t live with a person who betrayed my son and me. In the same evening, I packed my and Mike’s things and went to my parents. I immediately filed the divorce papers and sued Carl for alimony. I realized that I had no right to give up, and I had to move on for my child. I wanted to give Mike the best I could.
And I started looking for work. I lacked experience, and I had to do any work I was offered. Nobody wanted to hire a single mother, and I had different jobs. It was so exhausting and stressful because I had to combine it all with therapy and keep on educating Mike at home. I am extremely grateful to my parents, who helped me so much at that time.
They were babysitting him when I had to work. They learned how to treat such children. My parents were so loving and caring that I was confident that Mike is safe and okay while I’m working. I took numerous projects to build a solid portfolio. I also paid much attention to self-education and completed numerous courses.
I Found My Dream Job
After almost a year, when I was 26, I got a job as a marketer. Then I realized that it’s time to put my knowledge into practice. I was given an important project I worked very hard on and launched it.
It is under NDA so I can’t tell much about the details. It was my first experience so I paid attention to every detail and absorbed all the information that I could use in the future. All I remember is that I had to put in a lot of effort to make it profitable. I needed to do my best in communicating with other companies and convincing them to cooperate with us.
Signing each contract was a victory for me. When the company started gaining profits, I felt so proud of myself. I realized that it was my hard work and negotiating skills that helped achieve new heights. Soon I realized that I was ready to take responsibility for much larger and more complex projects. I felt so confident and grateful to myself that I didn’t give up even in my hardest moments.
This series of contracts was extremely successful, and I gained a reputation as a valuable marketing specialist.
For my hard work, I was given a new opportunity to work in a young but prospective company VeePN as a COO of Marketing. Since that time, I’ve been working as a COO for 5 years. Soon, Mike and I moved into my dream apartment and started living separately from my parents. In a few months, I met my second husband, John. He made me feel special and filled my life with love and care.
My piece of advice for all women: never give up, no matter what happens. When life gives you a lemon, make a lemonade and enjoy it!