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Sara McCombs (they/them)
Sara McCombs (they/them)

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2019 Year-End Reflections: From Nowhere to Somewhere.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I’m a thinker. An analyzer. My mind is always churning.

I’m always contemplating something, whether its the past, the present, the future, various side projects, random curiosities and what if’s, or really just about anything else that catches my eye. I just like to think.

So taking a moment to look back at 2019 wasn’t too far of a stretch for me. While I typically evaluate my progress month by month, there is real value in looking at the year as a whole.

January - March

January still had my husband and I reeling from our daughter’s birth and subsequent health problems. (Despite being over a year ago!) We’ve thus far managed to get the severe GERD under control and have a hypoallergenic diet due to her milk-protein allergy. Additionally, she lacks sufficient motor control of her mouth to move non-bolus foodstuff from the front of her mouth to the back to swallow. To say we experience significant choking with every meal is not an understatement. It’s become so commonplace it no longer phases my daughter.

Our stress levels are quite high, and we reach out to our state’s Birth-to-Three program for some help. In the interim, we start teaching my daughter some simple sign language as she does not speak.


I started as a student of The Moms Can Code School, cohort 2. This program rekindled my dreams and passions and gave my motherhood some sanity amid the chaos. There were days where stress was so high that only my projects gave me focus. I will forever be thankful for the support and friendship I found here.

May - June

Growth as a developer, growth as a Mom, growth as a family. So much growth.

May through June had me focused on learning Ruby, brushing up my pre-CSS HTML knowledge, learning CSS better, getting a second look at Ruby on Rails, learning to write more consistently, volunteering as a copy editor, building my portfolio, and taking all the advice and knowledge from my amazing mentor and putting it into practice.

Family wise, we begin nutrition, speech, and developmental services for my daughter. We have therapies basically twice a week here in our home and continue to teach sign language to our daughter. Choking is still a significant issue, and every meal has my nerves frayed and rattled.


Our final project presentation for The Moms Can Code School occurs, and we graduate from the program. YES!! But so much withdraw as I no longer have a supportive community to lean on. We have all gone in different directions. Priority number one was to find a supportive community to grow with.

I learn I was awarded a scholarship to Flatiron and am ecstatic I can continue to achieve the goals I set for myself almost 18 years ago. I’m excited to keep moving and keep growing but sad not to be pursuing further education with my previous cohort support group. Those ladies were a blessing on many many rough days.

August - November

I begin Flatiron as a part-time student, I’m still doing therapy with my daughter, and her speech is developing, although slowly. Choking is still an issue, but now it’s not every meal or even every day. We’ve made a lot of progress and no longer need to rely upon sign language to communicate with our daughter.

School wise, I’ve gone through two modules within the Flatiron curriculum. I’ve created a website scraping Ruby CLI data gem after my favorite book series (Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, of course) and was asked to demonstrate it during a cohort “show and tell” webinar.

November brought to a head some health issues of mine that had been stemming since my daughter was born. I experienced anaphylaxis from an unknown allergen in a conference room during a continuing education seminar. As well as, my anemia was finally dubbed solely from iron-deficiency and not an underlying health issue.


December has been a hard month. I won’t lie. I’m usually quite the stoic individual, but this month has held more bad news than an optimist like myself can bear.

Flatiron kept me quite busy building a Sinatra web app and pushing me to find ways to have stretch goals with my coding. I absorbed the material like a sponge but needed ways to drive that learning even more. My project review went exceptionally well (I passed), and I’m determined to see that project blossom into something more.

Now onto that bad news.

The first Monday of the month initially held a dream job interview that I was utterly vibrating with excitement over. After months of working on level after level of “interviews,” I had finally arrived to have a chance at a unicorn position. But, the universe knew more than me, and it was thankfully rescheduled for that Friday.

The very next day, our family received a blow we are still recovering from. My husband, the sole income provider for our family, was laid off from his Senior Technical Support Engineer position after 7 years of exemplary performance and dedication. The reason? There’s an official answer, of course, but we had seen the proverbial writing on the wall several months ago. The company was trying to cut every corner possible to appear profitable while actually being a sinking ship of morale. He was already starting to look elsewhere for a job but didn’t expect the need to be so immediate. Let’s just say our emotions were all over the map that week.

Friday finally rolls around, and I have what felt like a stellar interview. Even though under the surface, I know that so much is riding on this interview for my family.

After an almost two-week wait, I learned I wasn’t extended an offer via the sweetest rejection letter I’ve ever received. I’m generally not one to let rejections sting so much when I know I did my best. But this hurt. This was much more than a loss of the opportunity to work for a dream company, it was the loss of any income for my family. It was the loss of knowing we can pay our bills. It was a loss of peace of mind.

More allergy testing came back, and even though the specialists could not figure out what caused the anaphylaxis, I’ve now got more food allergies to add to the possible triggers list. I am the “proud” owner of 21 food allergies and/or significant sensitivities. No dairy, no eggs, no soy, no garlic, no hops/brewers yeast, no coconut.. and many more. But those are enough to convince you I’m living on coffee and cardboard. BUT! I feel so much better since cutting out the new allergens. I am even off four allergy medications that were an attempt to control the near-constant allergic reactions I was experiencing.

Additionally, I also received my first iron transfusion and already noticed a difference. I look forward to my next round of bloodwork to see the changes.

Christmas came and went, thankfully. My family made sure my daughter had a good Christmas and understood we couldn’t afford to buy or gift them much of anything this year. Let alone were really even in the spirit of the holidays.

So now what?

The phrase “Do it anyways.” keeps driving me forwards lately. My mental health has been a little gloomy as of late, and my writing is suffering as a result. Words are hard. Code is hard. But I’m doing them anyway. I simply cannot just stop. I’m not a red person, I’m a green person... green means go. So I will simply keep going.

The job hunt for my husband is now his daily focus. He’s applied to more jobs than he can remember right now and thankfully has an onsite technical team interview coming up. For me, the job hunt is still a real thing, but I have far fewer opportunities I’m a candidate for. Finding a company that is willing to take a chance on me is a pretty tall task it feels. But I still have Flatiron to finish, and with that continued education, more opportunities will arise.

Goals for 2020

I’m not in the mindset for great goal making right now, but I know that will change in a week or so. I need more time to grieve the forced transition my family will be going through to give much thought to myself and my personal growth. But I can say, graduate Flatiron and get a fantastic remote job that values personal growth is on that list.

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