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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby born to heroin addicted Mom

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.

BIG difference.

And again, at age 2.

Heroin Baby

Normal Baby

Big Difference.

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.


  1. powerful. It makes me want to quit my job and go and take a heroin addicted baby home from the hospital and take care of it. This description just inflames my baby nurturing instincts. And I've seen that type of flat between the eyes/top of nose features on a student before(I teach elem. school), where there are problems with the student,either in learning or emotionally or both,..usually both. There are often also apparent physical differences in the ears.
    So glad that you've been able to do what you've done for your grandchildren...and that you're sharing this info. for other parents whose children are addicts that may be pregnant.

  2. @Beachteacher. That flatness is from one of several things. Marijuana, opiates or alcohol. They all cause it. The most severe being Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The flatness of the bridge AND flatness of the upper lip ridge is a DEAD giveaway for FAS. It is one of the criteria they use to diagnose FAS. Also, the pointy chin and triangle shaped face, along with small stature. If you see ALL FOUR, it is FAS. No question.

  3. So so sad. Beautiful little half-pint.

  4. @Annette. Thank you, we like her ;)

  5. Did the bio mom use anything else other than opiates during pregnancy? How is the pre-teen coping with middle school, boys, and all the drama that follows? I know she was the one who had the most exposure to her bio mom.

    Thanks for posting FM :) Much love to you and the girls.

  6. @Sydney. Looking at 1/2 Pint, we are pretty sure that she poly abused, including alcohol. 1/2 Pint has all four diagnostic criteria, but the psychiatrist ALSO said she has significant neurological impairment. I was like WHAT>? this kid had an I.Q. of over 160 at age 6!! He looked me straight in the eye and said, well, what if her I.Q. was GOING to be over 200? That is significant.

    He said if you have a child who was going to have an I.Q. of average (100) and they have an I.Q. of 60, then that is the SAME difference than one who would have been 200 and is now 160. Just because she is incredibly gifted does NOT mean she doesn't have significant neurological deficit.

    I still haven't gotten over that.

    The oldest definately has RAD, but has attached to me really well. She is beginning to emotionally attach and trust other family members.

    We, of course, are doing everything possible for all of them, as we have done in the past, and will continue to do. They see a counselor at least 2x a month, and are followed by a psychiatrist every 2 months.

    They will be fine ;)

    Thank you for checking in!!

  7. I must say 1/2 pint is such a little cutie. Love Love .Love. the missing teeth picture.

    The pre-teen years were the hardest for me, so I worry about Pint getting through all of the stress of puberty and middle school with the additional complication of a junkie mom. I think about you guys so often and send my love out across the universe to you. :)

  8. i never heard of that flatness on the bridge/between eyes. is that medically documented?

    if i ever became pregnant i dont think i could ever ever use. i just couldnt. HOWEVER doctors tell you to not give up your methadone, as this can cause spontaneous abortion. a catch 22 for sure. however, heroin addiction stopped my periods from even starting, so i doubt i could even get pregnant (not that ive tried- no way)

    a so called "friend" of mine just gave birth, and her baby is home with her in her horrible bedsit after going through a heroin + methadone cluck. social services are in the picture but here in the uk, it seems they couldnt just take the baby away without giving her a chance first... odd.

  9. @Naomi C. Yes, well documented. In fact, you can just simply google diagnostic characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and they will all pop up. Unfortunate.

    And, watch out! Even though you don't have periods, you CAN get pregnant. My daughter did it with two of her kids. yes, heroin stops your periods, but it does not completely stop ovulation.

    Think about getting a birth control implant or some such that you don't have to remember to take, or think about using. I think that is probably safest for you and the baby you don't want to have. Much cheaper than abortion, and much easier all around.

    Yes, quitting methadone will cause a spontaneous abortion, as will quitting heroin.

    It's a shame in U.K. that they can't remove the baby. In the U.S., they pretty much take the baby at the hospital if the child tests positive for anything excepting marijuana. And now, all babies are tested, even if you look like you are white, rich and married they test. Good on that in my book. I might feel different if things WERE different, but since they aren't.....


  10. I feel sorry for the kid who also get to suffer the consequences of the mother's addiction. On a lighter side, it is comforting to know that there are grand moms who will do anything to nurture, protect and care for these kids.