My Promise to Myself and My Children
This is a story shared by #MOFAS by a birth mother. Sharing of experiences is so important to prevention efforts as it really highlights the need for education and support. It also brings to our attention the understanding that women are not drinking alcohol during pregnancy because they want to harm their babies.
Written by a birth mother.
I am a single mother of three children. Each were prenatally exposed to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. I want to take the time to state that in no way did I use to intentionally harm any of my children. They are my greatest gift in this world. I grew up in a very low income household where my parents were divorced, and both of my parents, and their significant others used, abused, or sold drugs and/or alcohol. This was a normal environment for me. I received confirming messages from friends as well. In the community I was around, drinking and/ or using drugs, especially alcohol and marijuana, was not something too be looked down upon. Even while pregnant. The education piece just was not there. I had no knowledge of effects of prenatal exposure from alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug for that matter. There was no stigma associated with use during pregnancy. This was not a real issue, and the problems associated with our children were not because of our use. They were spoiled, bad, didn’t listen, or any other number of excuses. Again, this was because the education and knowledge was just not there for us.
At 23 years old, I was a mother of a three year old who had been prenatal exposed to marijuana, as well as a very disruptive home life. I also was using methamphetamines at this time on an all day every day basis. I had just found out I was pregnant. I used meth and marijuana my first month of pregnancy and started having severe complications due to a tear in my uterus. At this time, due to the meth and marijuana that was in my system I was referred to the Mother’s First program. I went to 70 days of inpatient treatment followed by a longer term inpatient/ halfway house program for 8 1/2 months. At this longer term program, my three year old son was able to come live there with me. The program provided child therapy for the children there. After my three-year-old’s first session the therapist came back and told me that my son didn’t know if I loved him or not. He didn’t know if anyone loved him. This was due to me rarely being around physically or emotionally, his father being in and out of prison due to his own addiction, and being bounced around from place to place. He also did not know if after I would leave if I would ever come back. Hearing this was the realization that my use had definitely negatively affected my child. I had felt that same exact way growing up. I promised myself then that I would learn as much as possible about being a mom as I could. This was also the start of my promise to myself and my children that I would get sober, stay sober, and work as hard as possible to change my life around for the better.
I am currently in active recovery and have been clean and sober for 21 months. I am currently still dealing with the effects that my prenatal use and lifestyle have had on my children. My oldest has had the most serve effects at this time. He is currently receiving therapy and skills services four times a week. I can say that he has improved tremendously in the last four years. I am currently in sober living, work full time, go to college, and an contracted through MOFAS. All of these opportunities have helped made me see that I can be greatly successful in life. It is a long hard road, but I wouldn’t change anything about where my life had taken me. I am an active and loving mother who is doing everything I can to help my children. I know today that I have made a million mistakes in life, but it ‘s not the end of the world. I am a great mother, person, and friend. I am working hard to continue to better myself and my children. I will not stop supporting and teaching as many women as I can to help them through their own struggles with addiction. Thank you for taking the time to read about my story.
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