Addiction and Pregnancy Collide

...with a swipe of the pen, I was no longer a mother. I walked out of that building with nothing and drove to the city that would take everything I had left.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test – it was positive.

I was in the midst of my disease, using substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone and alcohol. I was using every day from the moment I woke up until I finally fell asleep days later. I was already a mother of a three year old little girl, she was already without a mother and now I was pregnant again.

My first thought was to have an abortion, it seemed the only way at the time and I felt as though I would never be able to stop using.

Every day I woke up in denial of what was happening; I secretly prayed to miscarry, I started using even more heavily hoping it would move the process along. I would use, get sick and then use again. The days dragged on. I made several appointments for an abortion, but the shame kept me from keeping them.

I never went to the doctor for fear of judgment, fear of being thrown in jail or worse…my family finding out that I was using while pregnant. There were so many emotions I felt every single day, and every single day I hid those emotions by drinking and using. I would research the options I might have if I were to reach out for help and be honest about my struggles. I never found any information regarding the issues I was facing. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough or maybe there weren’t enough resources at the time.

When the Day Finally Came

The days continued to go on, I was using with anyone who would allow me to and believe me if you have money no one cares about the baby growing inside of you. I remember laying in the bath tub caressing my stomach, telling my baby I was sorry and I wish I knew how to do better.

I thought every day about what was going to happen when I went into labor. I made grand plans and many excuses. But nothing prepared me for the day I finally went into labor. I remember having severe pains, I prayed that it wasn’t time. I wasn’t ready. I laid in a tub full of warm water and it didn’t help. It was the early morning hours and my daughter was asleep on the bed. I held her tiny hand knowing that everything was about to change…and I had no control over what was going to happen next.

Everything was intensified because I had just smoked methamphetamine the night before. When the ambulance finally arrived, I was already six centimeters dilated.

I had no money and no gas in the car, so I was unable to drive to the hospital. I called 911 and told the operator I was in labor and I needed an ambulance. I was walking back and forth, having contractions every two minutes. Everything was intensified because I had just smoked methamphetamine the night before. When the ambulance finally arrived, I was already six centimeters dilated.

The nurse in charge of the OB department was my mother’s best friend. I remember her asking my mother if I was under the influence. My mother was hushing me, telling me “calm down they are going to know you are on something.”

I barely remember what happened next, but I do remember the doctor bringing my son around the curtain and showing me his beautiful face. Many emotions came rushing through me, but I was still very detached from the entire situation. I remember someone saying “something’s wrong we need to send him to the NICU.”

Reality Finally Hit Me

The nurses placed me in a room that seemed dark and empty. It was there that I found out my son was having breathing difficulties. People came in and out and I could feel and see the disgust that was written all over their faces.

I named my son Kaiden Jeffrey. He was born with Tracheomalacia, along with being addicted. Kaiden suffered for several days with withdrawal symptoms. He shook uncontrollably, cried intensely and on top of all that he could not breathe on his own. The doctors quickly figured out that they were unable to help my child. They transferred Kaiden to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

While my son was in the hospital, I continued to struggle with my disease. I was living with my mother, Child Protective Services were involved and directing me to attend an intensive outpatient program. I was not ready and continued to drink and use. I remember calling the drug test hotline to see if I was to test that day. I would hear that I had to test and then walk directly into my parents bar area and take shots of tequila. It was 6:45AM.

I was sent to an inpatient treatment program in Riverside, CA. I was able to take passes to go and visit Kaiden. I remember one of the last visits I had with him. I held him and stroked his face saying softly so no one would hear me “mommy loves you but this is hard, I don’t know what I am doing, I am so sorry.”

What’s Wrong with Me?

Every part of me wanted to stop but I couldn’t. I remember walking home from that visit, I walked right into a liquor store and bought small airplane bottles and drank them as I continued to walk back to that treatment center. I returned under the influence and was discharged that evening.

I had to call my mother and inform her of my discharge. I could hear the disbelief in her voice, she was so confused about how her daughter could continue to drink and use while her son lay in a hospital bed dying slowly. I wondered too; I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to control what was happening to me. Any mother would have stopped the moment she found out she was pregnant, but not me. I didn’t know it then but I suffered from a disease that controlled me without my permission.

Shortly after I discharged from the program we got a call from my sons doctors, they needed me to come in for a sit down. My son had had a major attack and was placed under sedation in a medical coma. I walked into his room, all the tubes coming out from every part of his body made me cringe inside.

We met with the doctors and they informed me that his quality of life was low and we would have to make a decision to either take him off life support or continue allowing him to suffer. Part me of was almost happy that this was going to be over, but now I know that that part of me was driven by fear and selfishness.

Shortly after, we made the choice to take him off life support.

Saying Goodbye

Everyone from the family came into his tiny room to say their goodbyes. I remember watching the nurses crying and I wondered to myself “why can’t I feel like they do?” The thoughts I had were those of running, using and covering up what little feelings I had left. I wanted to disconnect from everything that was happening.

The thoughts I had were those of running, using and covering up what little feelings I had left. I wanted to disconnect from everything that was happening.

The doctors unplugged the ventilator and my son slowly slipped away. I remember looking at his tiny hands, his little lips and the soft hair on his head. I was sorry, I was empty and I was left with the feeling of nothingness.

I left that hospital with one thought only “I need to get high.” I have never been good at feelings, connecting my head to my heart was never something that made sense to me. It was always easier for me to live in denial, to live without truly loving anyone, total spiritual bankruptcy was the place I lived every single day of my life.

I continued to use and along with those actions came the loss of my parental rights to my daughter. I met my ex-husband at the CPS office and with a swipe of the pen, I was no longer a mother. I walked out of that building with nothing and drove to the city that would take everything I had left.

That Moment I’d Been Waiting For

I always said I would never put a needle in my arm, but I did. I always said I would never sleep with someone for drugs, but I did. I always said I would never put myself in position of homelessness, but I did. I lived on the streets, in a crack house, I stole from innocent people. I took from every single person that ever tried to help me. I never drew a sober breath from April 8th, 2009 till September 10th, 2009.

On September 10th, 2009 I was arrested and spent the next 91 days in county jail. I remember coming to and thinking to myself “what have I done.” I called my parents asking them to bail me out and they said “hell no.” Frankly that was the best thing they could have ever done because it allowed me to sit with what was happening to my life. Sober.

Every single emotion that I had been hiding deep down inside came to the surface within a week of being in jail. I remember walking across the courtroom in shackles, my mother looking at me with tears running down her face, me thinking “this cannot be my life.” The judge looking at me, informing me that I was going to prison for three years.

In that moment I knew I had to do something different. I was walked back to my bunk and it was there that I gave up the fight. I fell to my knees. I said “God help me, I don’t know what I am doing and I am willing to pay the consequences for my actions just help me.” I truly surrendered in that moment, I had nothing left to give and nothing left to use to cover up the emptiness.

I went back to court the next week and was informed that I was being sent to a six month treatment center and would have to complete three years of probation. I didn’t know it then, but today I know that to be a spiritual experience. God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

I was released that evening, when I walked through that jail house door I remember feeling scared and hopeful. I was unsure of what was going to come next, but I knew that I was going to have to do something different. Was I willing then? I don’t know. I just know I was done and I found out that recovery can be built on done.

I entered into treatment with an open mind and a readiness that allowed me to hear what was being taught. I learned that I had a disease that caused me to drink and use even if I didn’t want to. I learned I was powerless once I took that first hit or that first drink. I learned that I was not bad…but sick.

It was at this treatment center that I truly found God and the forgiveness for myself and what I had done. I took responsibility for myself and was able to look at myself in the mirror with love and appreciation for the story I had to share.

Life-Changing Spiritual Experinces

The first spiritual experience I had was amazing. I had been in fear of writing down the things I had done. The people who came before me told me to pray – pray for the fear to be lifted – and so I did.

One day I was out fundraising for the treatment center where I was living. I met this woman, she bought a book I was selling. I said “thank you” and went to walk away. She grab my arm and said “why are you out here doing this?” I said “I am trying to recover from a drug addiction and this is part of what I have to do to stay in the facility I am at.”

I felt peace fall all around me. I wanted to be sober more than ever before. I at once forgave myself and began the journey of freedom.

I don’t remember why but I looked down at the tattoo I had of my sons name and said “my son Kaiden passed away six months ago and this is what I must do.”

That lady looked me straight in the face, grabbing both my arms and said “I bought this book for my grandson, his name is Kiaden, God wants you to know your son is in a better place and everything is going to be okay.”

I walked away with tears streaming down my face. I knew then that I had a purpose, my story should and would be told. I felt peace fall all around me. I wanted to be sober more than ever before. I at once forgave myself and began the journey of freedom.

This freedom has allowed me to help other women on the road of recovery. The very first woman who allowed me to help her also had a son die due to her drug use…and her son’s name was Aiden. This is the gift I have been given through the pain I have experienced. Every single struggle I have ever gone through has been an experience I have used to help someone else. I know today that this is my story, this is God’s gift given only to me.

My Calling Revealed

I returned to school in 2012 in pursuit of my CADAC Credentials to become an Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I began my career as a chemical dependency technician. I quickly realized I wanted to do more and was promoted to case management. Every day, I aid alcoholics and addicts in realizing their potential to do great things. I have watched people struggle and succeed. There is nothing more fulfilling than walking this road of happy destiny with people who want to live free from addiction.

My life today is consumed by recovery, every aspect of my life is helping others and living this way of life – a way that is so much better than the one I previously lived. When I think about where I’ve come from and the sadness I have experienced, only one thing comes to mind. God’s Grace.

I have dreams of opening up a sober living facility for pregnant women and women with children. I want to have outpatient services available with child care. I feel so drawn to the idea that it’s in every mediation experience I have. To me, this is God’s calling and I know it to be true. What is necessary for me to achieve my goals are the actions I take every day for my recovery and God will provide.

I hope you have read something in my story that touches you, gives you hope and helps set you free from the things that bind you.

With love,

Stephanie R.

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