Monday, 25 July 2011

r.i.p amy winehouse

To say drugs have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, both voluntarily & involuntarily, is probably the worlds biggest understatement. I try to not let that define me, but it is difficult not to at times. Despite realising I don't have to follow a career working with addicts or develop friendships & relationships with certain individuals because my primary motivation is to save them from themselves... it is still hard to divorce myself from all things drug related. I don't know how detrimental that is at the moment- I mean, it is not stopping me from moving on and I'm getting a good political and social education as I am constantly following drug policy in various countries, and drug cultures around the world for example. Though, its inevitable I remain pretty sensitive when people comment on the subject, especially if it is derogatory. When Amy Winehouse was found dead this Saturday 23rd July, the news spread rapidly aided by Facebook, Twitter & texts to name a few. I found out within moments of the news breaking; I turned off my TV, locked up and left for my sisters house a mere 10 minutes away. When she opened the door she asked me "Oh my god, have you heard the terrible news?" and I must say, my stomach knotted as it was the same thing I had been told when I lost my close friend to suicide. She must have picked up on this because she immediately told me, stopping my mind from conjuring a list of disasters that might have befallen one of my family in the time it took to leave mine and arrive at hers. This is the same thing I do when I get a phone call in the early hours of the morning, before I pick up the receiver my mind is racing through a million-and-one tragedies that I might be told in a moment, and I guess its my way of preparing. As I logged online, I prepared myself for the harsh comments and cruel words and I wasn't let down I can assure you. They seemed to outweigh the 'with sympathies'. Maybe I shouldn't expect too much of others who haven't had direct experience with addiction, or at the very least learn to not be so offended. But I can't help it. And I couldn't. I went through a list of them, declaring she was just a dirty junkie that deserved to die. "Good riddance smackrat" was another. "She bought it on herself", "She wanted to die", "So what?" and "What about soldiers dying for our country? Or the tragedy in Norway. Why is she getting all this coverage?" I probably shouldn't have wasted my time but I felt I needed to explain to the person that our culture holds celebrities in extremely high-esteem and they always receive major coverage, and until we find politics more pressing than reality tv stars or singers, deal with it. Or buy a different paper or watch a different news channel. People were saying she got what she deserved, and she wanted it. I very much doubt it. While you are in the depths of addiction, you care little for living and you think little of life and you may believe you would prefer death to it. But once you get clean, that feeling goes instantly in most cases. Others commented that she didn't want to help herself, even though she had access to some of the best. Who knows, if she had lived longer, her recovery may have been right round the corner, or a year, 5 years or 10 years down the line. It takes people a long time to end up like they do, so its only plausible it will take an equally lengthy amount of it to change. An addict needs to hit rock bottom, I know that is a cliche but it is true, and only then do they know things have to change, and they either make the first step or they don't. Up until then, you can try whatever you want and so can they- but it will be unsuccessful in getting them to get and stay clean. Its absolutely awful she will never have this chance. Any loss of life is greatly sad, but it especially leaves a bitter taste in the mouth if they happen to be young, and at 27, Amy was precisely that. When a death occurs at the age of 80 or so, you can console yourself with the fact they had a good innings, and lived to really experience many things... and despite the lifestyle she had 27 is still far too young to go. I am 23, 27 is not that much older, and I don't believe at that age you are remotely wise or mature enough to decide whether you wish to piss your life up the wall until you end it. You may think you want to, but on reflection- on sober reflection, they usually discover its not the case. I cannot begin to imagine for a second how her family must be feeling. As it is so soon, there will be feelings of utter disbelief. Comments suggested it was a long time coming, and her family would be prepared, but thats not true. It doesn't matter how long somebody has been carrying on living a destructive life, no matter how much you think you are prepared for it, when it happens, its surreal and unreal. In fact, the longer somebody goes on with their hard living, the more shocking it usually is because their bodies coped through such abuse, you think it will forever. I know this from personal experience. The grieving process is notoriously difficult. I can't imagine what it would be like with the added pressure of being in the spotlight, and having all and sundry commenting on your daughters life and what you should of done to help her, what you didnt do..,. and of course those comments on how she put herself there and basically deserved it. Poor family. I hope wherever she is now, she is at peace. I know I am totally oversensitive to the topic of drugs, and I probably need to toughen up. I can take it when people say things against me, I have incredibly thick skin, but I always feel more hurt for others and feel the need to defend them. And this case is no different, even though I never knew her. I have to wonder though, would Amy be dead if our drug policy weren't so bloody useless? Maybe not. Probably not.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

35 weeks and 2 days

Since the 15th May, when I found out I was 6 months pregnant, things have changed dramatically in ways I never thought possible. My life is entirely different and it is still early days. Certain professionals around me at the moment (and believe me, there are a lot) are telling me to be cautious and prepare for a sudden dip in my mood & huge stress- both of which they see as triggers for drug use. And they are telling me to be prepared for the fact I will have no incentive to not use, as I will no longer be pregnant. It is hard not to become offended when they say such things. I know I shouldn't think myself exempt from relapse, or temptation at the very least, but what nobody seems to listen to is I had been clean since last year anyway, before the baby was concieved, so I had made changes before. I didn't just find out I was pregnant, then decide to get clean, or have a baby to push myself to get clean. I had enrolled in college, attended (and now completed; got my diploma and am off to University this September for my BA (hons) Social Policy)... something that would have been impossible if I were still submerged in the using culture. If you compare 7 years on, with 8 months off, it doesn't seem that impressive. But I can assure you, during those 7 years I never went anything near that length of time abstinent. Despite what it had done, and was doing, to my life the sickness that a user needs to develop; a sickness of what it does to you, your life, your family and friends, relationships, opportunities, your health was not yet there. But 2010 saw an ephinany of sorts, and I knew it was no longer viable to continue as I was. I really became frustrated, bored and tired with the life I was living and knew I had to do something- which was stop using. Simple as that. Though to suddenly turn your back on 7 years of well, not friends, but aquaintances, routine and living life in a way you had become acustomed to was hard. But easy at the same time, once you wanted it bad enough. Even though financially I had more income than I had ever had in my life at this stage I never once got tempted to use. And I could have done, easily, with more than enough money left over to live and pay bills. Using had run its course. So I try and explain to the professionals I am over and done with it, but they treat me as if I am exempting myself and have my head stuck in the clouds. I don't. I know how unbelievably tough motherhood is going to be. Once I found out I was pregnant, the life I had already put to bed was well and truly dead and buried forever, without exception. I have an obligation to my son to give him the best life I possibly can, and I come second to that now, regardless. I am not being silly, but I know I will not go back and use. Ever. It is done, its over and done with. It already was. But now this just reinforces that. The whole time I was sober, never once did I yearn to use, even when I had a really bad problem. When I found out I was 6 months pregnant, I didn't have so much as a cigarette, or a stiff drink to help with the shock. That moment, I just knew it was over. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I am not in some dreamworld thinking motherhood is going to be easy, and hell, I've seen the best of them break down in tears and say they can't cope. So will I probably. But it will pass, as it does, just not with the help of any substances thats for sure. I have complete faith and trust in myself. I could never ever drink or use when I looked after my twin nieces or nephew, as I knew that was a no-no, an inconceivable thing to do... so I certainly couldn't do so to my own child. What makes it so good is, I feel better than I have in a long long time. Before, the thought of being alone with myself, with my own thoughts and feelings without a buffer inbetween scared the hell out of me. Now, I am completely at peace being sober.

I have reduced my meth to such a level, which is uncomfortable (to put it lightly) but its something I wanted to do. There are many myths surrounding methadone use during pregnancy but the simple truth is it is extremely dangerous and 100% advised AGAINST to stop use. It causes miscarriage and early labour. My doctors were even apprehensive to let me reduce it even. They explained to me when you are pregnant, your level of blood doubles almost, so a lot of women need to increase their dose. This is why I am feeling so bad, my dose is decreasing when my body needs more. I know it can be dangerous, but I don't think I am doing it that way; by the time its the next day and time for my next one, I'm just starting to hit the gagging and puking stage. Saved just in time. Up till then, I am experiencing poor sleep, chronic toothache, bones hurt, sneezing, watery eyes. Its horrid, but the last thing I want to do is to go up. And I am not going to either. When he is born, I am going to carry on reducing, and switch to subutex. During this time period, I am going to apply to go into a detox or save up for Detox5 which is the private option. I wanted rid of the liquid handcuffs, and even moreso now I am to be a Mum. Obviously, I want the 5 day option, so my son can stay with my mum or sister (my family all have our 4 homes within 10 minutes walk of each other, i am the only one thats street isn't directly connected to the others). Though my son comes first, and maybe I shall not want to leave him for even that long, and I have to make sure I'm ok and well enough to look after him, so if that means leaving it until after my university degree (its 3 years long) then so be it. What is paramount is my son, and being well enough to care for him. Thats all.

I had my scan yesterday at 8am and basically, I have them every week. This was because my amniotic fluid dropped so low. Then, it went back up again and was fine. Then it went low again. The scan I had yesterday measures the fluid and checks the placenta and umbilical cords blood flow. Next week will measure babies growth. They don't do measurements weekly as the baby doesn't grow substantially enough each week to make a significant mark on the graphs they plot to determin adequete development. So, a really nice male doctor done my ultrasound, and I was with my friend Tom for support. Everything was fine; infact, the doctor said it was "fantastic". It was sweet, sweet relief. I had a clinic appointment in the afternoon at 4pm, which I was told I didn't need to go to as things were fine, but I thought I would go anyway. I did and the consultant had nothing to say- which was lovely, as previously, there was always some bit of bad news like "this baby will be coming early, prepare yourself". It was all positive. Well, the doctor said the baby is STILL breech and next week I shall be 36 weeks, so if he is in the same position they will try and turn him. This worries me slightly, as when there is low fluid, the cord is less buyoant and there is a risk the cord can get wrapped round the babies neck. So you have to be ready for an emergency C-section which is fine, but they are going to have to put a central line in my neck (which involves a local anaesthetic and them using ultrasound to find a vein to insert a needle into) before so if something does go wrong, they can give me anaesthetic RIGHT AWAY. So, I am wondering if they will. The procedure is called an ECV and is successful in about 50% of cases. I can feel the babies head still lodged well beneath my ribs. He doesn't want to move ANYWHERE! awkard little so-and-so.

Good news on the Dad front. I was really worried his Dad wasn't going to bother with him. I think I jumped to conclusions too quickly, as I didn't really take into account how shocking it must have been for him to hear the big news. It was a shock for me and I found it hard to believe and I was the one carrying the boy and could see it clearer than anything, moving around all day long! Of course, who knows how he will be when he arrives but he calls every day, has come round to see me regularly, and is due to again tomorrow. Its difficuilt for both of us, or well, not difficuilt; foreign. This is for both of us, our first child. Its unknown territory. I haven't asked him for anything- financial, psychological etc. but he has offered, given, supported and if he keeps it up after the boy is born then great. He treats his nieces like I treat mine, and has a very similar relationship. For all our shortcomings, we are fantastic aunts & uncles. I thought the worse, but I have a good feeling. I don't think he is the sort of person that could ignore his own child. I very much doubt it.

My belly casting kit came today :) I just need to find someone to assist me doing it!! I have signed up for another blog under and I am just working on a layout. I decided to set it up as it will be from the birth onwards, and while I am not going to gloss over my past and my drug abuse history, I just want to use it also for pictures of my son and I and my life. For a long time after I stopped drugs, I still felt defined by them. Then I realised I don't have to be anymore. I wanted a career working with drug addicts, but then I realised I felt I should do it, as I had inside knowledge and experience. NOTE TO SELF: your past doesn't have to define you for the rest of your life. I will still have this one though. As much as I am not ashamed of what I have been through, I know a stigma is going to follow me for probably the rest of my life. A consequence of that is it will probably rub off on my son. It makes me laugh while simultaneously being angry when people judge me and look down on me for what I was addicted to. An example of this is an argument somebody had on Facebook with my sister. I responded, not offensively or anything, and the person began to throw insults at me like "junkie", "smackhead" and revelling in the fact my family had been hit with such a devestating drug addiction. I wouldn't mind, except, this person takes crack cocaine and has convictions as long as his arm. I've never even been arrested. Yet, in the hierachy of drugs, he is ok and I'm the lowest of the low. Its bizarre- I known coke addicts who have robbed old people and violently mugged others and they and others think its ok, but me... god, no, I am evil. Its a joke really. Cambridge is so incestuous, I just know there will be people who will enjoy telling their kids to tell mine what his momma used to take. By that point, I doubt I will care as I will be working with an entirely new life. I fully believe that. Well, I am 35 weeks and 2 days and boy, am I feeling the exhaustion! At the same time, I feel better than I have in years!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Baby is still in, scan later today though!

To say things are always busy is a chronic understatement! Once I finished college, I thought great, some time to relax, but no; more, time to sort everything out with not a moment to rest. After being told about my amniotic fluid plummeting to 3, dangerously low, and the baby had not appeared to grow, I was upped to weakly scans and intense monitoring- including of the babies heartbeat. Which by the way, was fine and normal every time I went. I spent the week after being told I needed to pack my bags and be on alert for a c-section, very very fraught. I had to force myself to eat, I was shakey, my muscles were so tense. It was horrible, and the way the consultant spoke to me (he was rushed, under pressure, i don't think he meant to be like that) upset me immensely and made me feel as if it were my fault, and he completely doubted me. I knew I hadn't so much as a touched a cigarette, drink, or drugs. I had my wisdom teeth coming through and they were so painful, I am even hesitant to take paracetomol for heavens sake! ANYWAY....
My good friend Tim came with me to the scan 7 days after I was told about the low fluid level, the steroid injections to mature babies lungs for a premature delivery etc. When she done the scan, she found the fluid level NORMAL! Back at over a 10! I was so relieved. My placenta was working fine, the umbilical cord was shown to be working fine. They were very suprised the fluid had gone back up, as they said it was unlikely that would happen. Looking back to the scan the week previously, the specialist had to call me back in because he had taken the leg measurements wrong and the assistant spotted it when she plotted it on the graph and found it to be noticably incorrect. As I said, they were running an hour+ late and were under a lot of stress you could tell, it was very rushed. I am wondering if he made a mistake at all? Is it possible? Who knows. He told me he hadn't grown. Last week, she didn't measure the baby at the scan, only the fluid and umbilical cord etc. When I asked why, she simply said because in 7 days, the measurements probably wouldn't have drastically changed so it wasn't a good enough indicator to go on, whereas 2 weeks gives enough time to show significant difference (or none at all if baby isn't growing) which will tell them instantly whats going on.

So, I am due to go in today at 12.30pm to get the growth scan. And I will find out if it was just a mistake, or if the baby was having a little slump and hadn't grown much, but has now had a spurt. OR the worse thing, which would be, the baby isn't growing at all. I doubt this is the case, I really do. I have grown so much BIGGER. I will have to get a photo up on here. My bump is so HUGE and I was told his movements might slow down because of lack of space, but no way, he is still moving around like an acrobat in there. My tummy moves up and down in waves and it looks so freaky! I end up cross eyed as I spend so much time looking at it when he is doing it!
Tonight, I have the gradutation awards from College. I could only take one person, so I opted for my 85 year old nanna whom I love to pieces. She was devestated during my time on drugs, as was everyone, but she always had faith in me, faith in me that I would come out of it and move on. And I have. So she was my first choice. She will take some photos there and I will get them up also.

Well, before my scan at midday I am popping out with Tim to get some paint for the house. I am doing the front room, hall, bedroom, kitchen & bathroom. But the living room and bedroom are my priority. As I am sharing with the baby, I am going to go for a HUNGRY CATAPILLAR theme. I got some gorgeous things for him in that style from Amazon. I will pop them up later. I love the hungry catapillar by Eric Carle, its the best. A timeless classic. I'm not into bears and fluffy things so I find the HC very cool, and I would have probably made my bedroom like that even if I didn't have a baby!!!
He is still in there........ come on boy, wait some more. I hope everything is ok today. I believe the babies father is going. I saw him the other day, which I will write about later. Love to you all, thanks for your support! Update no later than tomorrow I PROMISE!

Naomi xxx

p.s THERE IS NO HERO IN HEROIN a blog from a mothers point of view. I came across this entry, written on her sons 21st birthday. It is beautifully written, and the memories are amazing. But at the same time, as with anything related to addiction, it becomes utterly heartbreaking. I suggest reading it. I burst into tears by the end of it, and I cry at NOTHING. A very powerful piece.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

the shortest pregnancy ever

I was going to write a continuation on Thursday, after I got home from the hospital, filling in all the gaps of what's been happening etc. but things took an unexpected turn and well, I have only just now had the time to sit down and write.....
PhotobucketOn Thursday, I happily went to the hospital by myself for my scan. It was the first time I had been alone, but I was feeling positive so didn't mind. The previous weeks scan had shown him to be 3lbs 11oz which was fine but the sonographer pointed out my amniotic fluid was just above normal at 10.1 and anything deemed to be in this catagory is 10-25. She warned me just incase there was a further reduction. My sister had this issue when she was pregnant with her twins, and they had to be delivered 6 weeks premature. The maternity unit was so grossly understaffed you could tell everyone working there was seriously under pressure. It took me 2 hours to get into my appointment, and I saw a lady waiting 5 hours for hers. Naturally, I didn't mind waiting, but I can see why the others who had screaming kids hanging round their legs did. And I felt sorry for this young couple who had obviously arrived for their first scan, and he (in his soldiers uniform) had to leave as they were running so late, and return to base. Every time I have gone in for a scan, my baby has been so awkard. He never wants to be seen properly and Thursday was no different. As I was such a late booker, I had to have all the abnormality scans etc. which have been made pretty tricky by his position in the womb. The specialist consultant had seen me some weeks prior, and concluded from the ultrasound & 4D scan there were no abnormalities to face, brain, heart, limbs which put me at ease. He couldn't get a clear view of the eyes, so this is why I had to return on the Thursday. But my baby has different plans, and the consultant said he had his limbs infront of his face. When he switched it to 4D, clear as anything I saw these two little feet obstructing the facial area. Last scan, he done an internal and tipped the bed etc. to make the baby move position but he didn't even both doing that this time. Instead, he told me that I should just wait until he is born to find out if there are any problems. This really upset me, I mean, I know they were busy and understaffed and under pressure, but that little bit of extra time he could have taken would have prevented me from being like I am now: a big bag of nerves.

My amniotic fluid has dropped to just below 4. The consultant asked me if I was drinking, taking drugs etc. and I proceeded to tell him the absolute truth: no, not a thing. It was apparent he didn't believe me and told me that "well, it must be connected to something,". I explained I voluntarily give drug tests at both the hospital and my own GP surgery and I have so many people, professionals and non-professionals that can vouch for me. It must seem incomprehensible to him that somebody can just stop drinking, but there was never any discussion about what would happen once I found out about the baby: I wouldn't touch another single drop. And I haven't. I know he is probably used to people not telling the truth, but for the sake of my babies health I was upfront and 100% honest from the start, and have continued to be. As the amniotic fluid drops, it means the placenta isnt working as efficiently, so baby isn't getting all the nutrients it needs. As a result, in that 7 days he had not grown anymore- so in 7 days he went from good sized healthy baby to below weight for his age baby. He explained that the baby might have to be delivered early.

I went to the fetal medicine unit and had a monitoring machine put on my stomach to measure babies heart rate. I was in there once before when I was worried about babies lack of movement, and the same nurse had to be called to deal with me when the awkard baby started playing up again. As he is breech, and in the most bizarre of positions (alternates between sitting up dead straight like a buddha or sinking low low down and lying like you would in a hammock, just alternating that for my pelvis!) they could not get his heartbeat, and obviously without that, they couldnt do the test. They had to send me off for an hour to see the consultant, in which time I moved around up and down pacing to get him to shift. That only made a bit of difference, and I had to press down the monitor with both thumbs to get the heartbeat sufficiently enough, and he kept on moving- which made it difficuilt to press the buzzer in my hand which notes everytime he makes a movement. Its amazing how many you dont notice when you are not laying down focusing purely on that,

So, between waiting for my baby to shift, my momma got off work and came down to meet me. We went into see a consultant, who was really good and thorough in explaining everything. I felt better having my momma there, as because she is in the medical field, she retains information a lot better than I and/or can explain it better for me as if you don't have the knowledge, it can be tricky to take it in. She basically said "We could be meeting this baby very soon, possibly this next week" This to me well... it was shocking but it wasn't. I mean lets face it, in about 2 months I have discovered I am 6 months pregnant, had to accept it, digest it, prepare for motherhood... and now looks like I will be having the baby too! Shortest pregnancy ever I am sure you will agree!

I had steroid injections to mature the babies lungs in preperation for the c-section i will most likely have to have if this Thursday, the amniotic fluid has not risen or has further decreased. I am scared of giving birth naturally, but I'd rather have that than him come out premature via c-section. Obviously, i want the best for him and i want him to hang on a little while longer. I burst into tears when I came out of the scan, as I know he probably didnt mean it, but the fact he didn't believe a word I said (even when it was backed up with clean tests on my hospital notes) totally upset me. And when he added it must be connected to something, I felt so small. I know many women it has happened to, and there is no explination in most cases. Just one of those things. I have done everything right, by the book since I found out. I drink litres of water every day, no caffiene, eat really well, loads of fruit, take my vitamins, exercise... and now in 7 days its gone from "fine healthy baby" to "baby hasn't shown any growth, might not be getting enough nutrients". I don't know how steady weight gain is for babies in the womb, whether it is always at a constant or whether it can vary per individual, with not much of a weight gain one week but the next a sudden surge. I mean, he did increase a lb in 14 days, and had been. Then in 7 days he didn't put on half a pound. I didn't get much time to speak to the scanner, as it was clear there wasn't time. I wish I had, it would have put my mind at ease.

Now, I am really trying hard to relax but I'm so on edge. I finished my mega essay on Marxism, and am just tying up some loose ends regarding college. All our work is marked via the external moderator next week, and we have been told we must be contactable via phone if there is an issue that needs to be sorted. I have told my tutors I could be in the hospital giving birth. That is adding to the load of stress, I feel something will go wrong and I won't be able to adjust it in time and I won't get my university place. EVERYTHING is getting to me. I just want a healthy baby. Thats all. I am being made to count his movements and that is even more of a stress, as babies dont kick all day but they said if you are unsure, get worried etc. come in immediately. I know he goes to sleep for a while, but what if I mix it up with something badly going wrong? I guess this is what motherhood is about WORRYING. A LOT. For the rest of our natural lives. So basically, guys, I may very well have a little baby boy come the end of this week. It is Aidans birthday on Thursday, would be funny if he is delivered then.
All I know is I would not be coping without family and friends. No way.

I'm not religious, I'm agnostic but funny how in times of complete hopelessness you find yourself reaching out to something, praying to something, for help. I find myself doing it, begging someone or something for hope and for everything to be ok.