First, they are almost ALWAYS born pre-mature. Additionally, they are usually very small, regardless of fetal maturity. There is something called SGA, or Smaller than Gestational Age. Heroin (opiate) addicted babies are usually SGA. That's because Mommy was more inclined to feed her Heroin habit than to eat well so the baby can grow adequately. When Heroin is your primary food source.....Well, let's just suffice to say that deep green veggies like spinach, broccoli, other things like foods heavy in calcium, iron, protein, you know, the BASIC building blocks of good health? Well, in an active addict, those things are just not high on the food scale of importance.
The babies lungs usually are underdeveloped. They often cannot suckle at all. They have a depressed suck reflex and so cannot eat on their own. Doesn't matter, breast fed or bottle.
Yes, they do encourage breast feeding in addicted babies. Why? Because through breast milk, the baby gets some heroin, and that makes it easier for them to go through withdrawals.
How sad is that? A mommy has to use and breastfeed to keep the baby comfortable. Yah, bring a baby into the world, and then as it's first meals, give the baby some HEROIN!!
Here is what they look like right after they are born. In Neonatal Intensive Care.
She was at this time, not even 24 hours old. notice the oxygen, the tubes. That's because she can't breathe yet on her own. She was almost 5 pounds.
Here she is at a 5 weeks. She is only 2 ounces over 5#. She has gained a whopping 3 ounces in FIVE weeks. Notice how small she is compared to a man's hand. The man is just 5'6" and does not have large hands. She is still on oxygen at 5 weeks, still can't breathe on her own. She has been in NICU the whole time.
She still cannot eat on her own.
Finally, at 1 3/4 months old, we get to feed her. I am holding the bottle, notice how at 7 weeks, she still looks like a small newborn? She weighs just 5.5 # at 7 weeks. She doesn't get to go home yet.
Now, at 6 months old, here is the heroin addicted baby, held my her pap, and a normal baby the same age, (1 week older). The normal babies mother had pre-natal care and was not an addict.
here is the normal baby, being held by her grandmother (not me) I have cropped out the Granny.
And again, at age 2.
Clearer eyes. More animated. and did you perhaps notice the space between the eyes? The bridge of the nose on the addict baby is much wider, flatter than that of the normal child. That is heroin. Not enough to stand out, until you get older. Here is a pic of 1/2 Pint, the 8 year old, also addicted to heroin at birth. She is 8 years old now, and the size of a small SIX year old. The space between the eyes becomes more and more apparent with age. You will DEFINITELY notice it here.
The bridge between her eyes is almost flat. That's Heroin. This one didn't get to detox in NICU. This one got to detox in my arms at home. It was horrible.
She started withdrawing at about 12 hours old. Just after she got home from the hospital. She cried for three days straight. She tried to eat constantly, just to quiet the horrible cramps and irritability. I wrapped her tightly in a receiving blanket and sat in a darkened room for most of it.
Detoxing babies can't take light, noise, movement, and are very sensitive to touch. Motion makes it worse. All of the things a Junkie goes through when they detox, the baby goes through when she detox's. Only the baby doesn't know what is happening. Actually, as far as the baby is concerned, THIS detox thing is the ONLY THING SHE KNOWS SO FAR. What a wonderful way to bring your child into the world. Into the most excruciating pain imaginable..what a wonderful, motherly thing to do to an innocent child.
Now, because they are safe, and have always been safe, and have always been loved and taken care of, they are okay. So don't go all mushy and feeling bad. I protect my oldest 3 grandbabies.
The mom still has the one that is first pictured up there. She hasn't grown very much. At age 4, which she turned 2 weeks ago, she is about the size of a normal two year old. In fact, she still wears 2 toddler size.
But yeah, there are problems. Even with getting the oldest before RAD could affect her too much, she is bonded very closely to ME, but not to anyone else. She still has problems attaching to anyone but me.
The younger one I have, who is 8, is the most normal in that I have had her all along. Oh, yes, she was born addicted. But, the differences are STAGGERING.
The oldest, not born addicted, but exposed to junkie parenting has MAJOR problems emotionally, with RAD and with a host of other issues.
The younger, born addicted but taken immediately by me and with me being the primary caregiver, is socially normal, has normal feelings, normal 8 year old problems (for the most part) and normal responses to things.
The moral of the story?
I don't know that there is one except that IF your daughter is having a heroin addicted baby, GET THE BABY AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. Have the hospital test the baby for drugs. If there are drugs in the baby's system, you will (in most states) be able to take her home from the hospital yourself. The mother will not. Actually, many hospitals are doing this as a matter of course now, testing newborns for drugs. That is rather sad, but all things being considered, I am glad they do.
If you are a normal mother, you have nothing to worry about. If you are a druggie mom, be very very scared.
Us grannies are out there, and we WILL rescue our grandbabies if we are able.