Leah and Jacqui’s Cleo story: Trusting ourselves, our knowledge, and regaining our balance
When Leah and her wife Jacqui slipped into crisis mode as they faced unexpected parenting hurdles with their young son, Cleo was there to catch them. With a level of support and guidance not found elsewhere, Leah was able to regain her balance and remain at work.
Leah enrolled in Cleo after hearing great things about the unique support it provided from a co-worker who emphatically advised her to enroll and make use of the benefit. Leah heeded the advice and enrolled on behalf of her family. Her wife, Jacqui, was also able to create a Cleo account so they could both access Cleo’s resources and message their Guide with questions related to parenting their two-and-a-half-year-old son.
The timing was fortuitous, as several months later, Leah and Jacqui found themselves in uncharted territory. Their young son had recently transitioned to a new preschool and began to struggle with separation anxiety which snowballed into resistance to attending school altogether.
He was showing signs of a speech delay and having trouble with potty training (the latter, they would come to learn, being intertwined with the former), and in place of any meaningful support, Leah and Jacqui could feel themselves being pulled into a world of developmental assessments and early interventions in which they lacked any sense of control.
Finding themselves in a spiraling crisis, and incredibly challenged to meet the competing demands of parenting and career, Leah turned to Cleo and “dumped a wall of text” into the Cleo app to her Guide, Natasha, who was immediately responsive and receptive to what they were going through. Natasha checked in with Leah and Jacqui to better understand their situation and what support they needed and then quickly connected them to Alexis, a pediatric speech pathologist and member of the larger Cleo care team.
“Alexis was really neurodiversity-affirming. She was one of the first people in the whole early intervention swarm of urgency who offered a sensible approach that allowed us to own the process and slow it down which has been really helpful.”Leah, Cleo member
“The focus has been on trusting ourselves and our knowledge of our kid and our experience. It felt really empowering to take everything at our own pace and not at the pace of the outside world where all of a sudden everything was going wrong,” Leah adds.
Before she was able to connect with her Cleo Guide and various specialists, Leah thought that she may need to leave her job in order to navigate these new parenting challenges. But she found crucial support at a highly vulnerable time—Alexis granted Leah the space to slow things down and regain more control of the situation. With the support of her employer, and upon Alexis’s recommendation, Leah took a week away from work during which she found a new preschool that was a much better fit for her son and his needs.
“So much of what you do as a parent is late-night typing into some app. It’s great to be doing it in a place where I’m actually connecting to qualified professionals who have my best interest and mental health in mind,” Leah notes.
“Yes, I could also type up all my problems on an Internet moms group, but [Cleo] is so much better, and I don’t know how I would get a service like this if I didn’t have it through my work.”Leah, Cleo member
Alexis eventually became Leah’s and Jacqui’s Guide, which they’ve found especially beneficial. Forming a supportive relationship with a speech therapist outside the patient-provider setting has allowed for a unique, and more human relationship.
“It’s like talking to a friend who has your back and has the expertise and experience you need. She is someone we can cry on the phone with. It’s a supportive approach as opposed to prescriptive. I’ve gotten that from everyone we’ve spoken to at Cleo—from our initial Guide, to help finding a more inclusive preschool, to the support I received following a pregnancy loss and even one of the potty-training specialists—the approach has been really consistent in that supportive and affirming way.”
For the millions of women who stepped away from their careers in the past year, pediatric health concerns—including increasing rates of behavioral issues and neurodivergence—have loomed large. Cleo fills the gaps in healthcare and parenting support that leave so many working parents, in particular mothers, vulnerable.
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Thank you to Leah and her family for letting us be a part of their parenting journey. Please note that stock photography is used here to protect their privacy.