Motherhood is hard.
I’m sure we can all agree on that. Being a young mother is even harder; especially with all the stigmas out there associated with it. But when addiction is thrown into the chaos of parenthood, there becomes a whole new meaning of the word “hard.”
My life changed in January of 2014 when I found out I was pregnant. I had just turned 21, I was in active addiction, and I knew my life was going to drastically change. I went to the hospital to make sure the baby was okay.
I had been using drugs and drinking and was scared of the possible damage I had already done. Luckily, everything was normal. I was scared, but also happy, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted this baby.
I had two choices—stop using and take care of my body and baby or keep using and face the consequences. The choice to stop was a no-brainer at that time. I consider that one of my many “God moments.” There are many times in active addiction, we want to make the “right” choice, but it is hard to actually pursue. By the grace of God, I stopped using and decided to fully commit to sobriety.
On September 18th of 2014, my almost eight pound, healthy baby boy arrived. My pregnancy was amazing—no problems or complications, and my labor and delivery was the same way. God is good, right?
It was love at first sight.
He had that newborn smell, tiny hands and feet, and a whole head of dark brown hair. My heart grew bigger than I could have ever imagined that day. I couldn’t wait to go home with my perfect baby and dive right into motherhood.
I never talked about addiction or my disease, because I simply never thought I was an addict. I stopped using when I found out I was pregnant. I could always just stop, right? The real struggle was in staying stopped.
I received pain meds through my IV during labor, and I was happy to hear I was getting a prescription to take home. My doctor knew nothing of my struggle with opiates, and there was no question during discharge. I left with a prescription for pain pills.
The prescription was gone in two days.
I kept strong for a little while after that. I was on maternity leave from work, and life was good at home with my dream baby. Still not considering myself an addict, I was smoking weed whenever my son was asleep.
I went back to work after a couple of months, and life got hectic. Working a stressful job and taking care of my infant son with his addict father started to slowly break me down. My son’s father remained present through all this, along with his whole family of addicts.
Surrounded by addiction, saying no while being in denial about my own only lasted so long.
One is too many, and a thousand is never enough — the truest phrase — and the most relatable one for me. I was off to the races again, but this time with the huge responsibility of another human’s life in my hands. This time, juggling work and taking care of my son with getting high and trying to keep it all a secret.
I’d like to think I put on a good act, that nobody noticed as I nodded out at work; my pinhole pupils, or the amount of time I spent in the bathroom. The truth is, some did notice and just never confronted me about it. Others were also addicts and thought the life I was living was just the norm.
I had a group of friends that knew nothing about my secret life and another circle of people who were in active addiction. Of course, I spent most of my time around them. I didn’t want to have to explain to my “normal” friends why I was leaving or where I was going or what I was doing if I was hanging out with them.
My disease was progressing fast and my beautiful son was growing fast too. Every day was harder than the last, waking up sicker and sicker from opiate withdrawal. My son was truly a dream infant, which made using even easier. He had been on such a good routine, eating good, and sleeping through the night since he was about a month old. But I was still exhausted.
I decided to give sobriety another shot and had about four months “clean,” while still smoking weed and drinking. I moved into a new house, still continued to work and take care of my son, but my disease was progressing at lightning speed. This run went on for almost a year.
I lost everything I had in three days.
After years of denial and struggle, thoughts of rehab, but fear of leaving my son and job, I made the decision to go. It’s been a very long journey since then. That was my first treatment center, but not my last. I learned and experienced a lot.
Today, I’m not ashamed to say that I am a mother in recovery. I’m not afraid to admit that, even in recovery, I struggle as an individual and a mother. So many times I wanted to give up. I was sick of trying and failing. I felt undeserving of my perfect child.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up, and I never will. I know the power of this disease and I know I need to work on my sobriety every day in order to keep it — in order to stay stopped. I look at my son today, and I feel so blessed. I feel thankful. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if that shred of hope would have existed through every failed attempt at sobriety I had.
They say you need to do it for yourself, and I did. But my baby, my Maddox, will always be the reason I never give up. Because even on the hardest days – when I lose sight why I’m doing this for myself – he will always be the shred of hope I need to keep going.
My worst and hardest day in sobriety and motherhood will always be better than my best day high.
This brave and inspirational post was submitted by Gabrielle.