Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FACT: drug-abusing moms produce drug-addicted babies.

I am on a short, eight week travel assignment here in Knoxville devoting most of my time to cosseting Kara's little pips and finishing my final quarter of grad school via distant-learning {bless you, internet!} but for ~thirty-six hours a week I have been spending my days working in a neonatal intensive care unit that feels more like a rehab center... shushing, swaddling and reinserting pacifiers in to the mouths of high-pitched screaming, tremulous, vomiting full-term {Read: if they hadn't been exposed to drugs in utero, they would be perfectly healthy} babies experiencing drug withdrawal. I have intermittently cared for newborns withdrawaling throughout the last four+ years but the pandemic it appears to be here in Tennessee {as one baby is born an hour that will go through withdrawal}, it is nothing short of devastating feeling as though these babies don't stand a chance in Hell in making it out of the grave social situations they were born in to. My profession can be hard and challenging but I have learned that I manage the heartbreak that some days hold best by giving my all while I am within those nursery walls + letting it all go by finding a healthy balance living a stress-free, silly, exciting,  adventurous life on every one of my days off... but here, I am finding myself not being able to let it go when I clock out. What is going to happen to these babies when they go home? What needs to be done to prevent babies from being born to drug abusers? While it is only my job to love them with all my being for a challenging twelve hours at a time, reserving judgment for higher powers {like the Department of Child Services... and karma}, it breaks my heart to nurse these helpless, little beings back to health knowing they will go home with the very same mothers who choose to do drugs during pregnancy. I try to remain hopeful + optimistic that these sweet souls will inspire their parents to get off drugs and give them the upbringing they deserve... but my instincts {founded in personal experience + research} tell me that is not the most probable outcome. I cannot save all babies...although some days with the proper cape + pair of shoes, I feel like I I will have to resort to spending my remaining time here allowing these beautiful babies to borrow my heart and hope-to-goodness their mothers' figure out how to operate their own in the interim.      

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