We weren’t adapting. We brought home a blond, blue-eyed newborn boy, and it suddenly felt as if a tornado had made its way into our small house, upending any sense of normalcy. We were parents already, so we knew to expect some level of chaos from the arrival of a baby. But this was different.
It took us many months to realize that he was different.
We were still in touch with the birth parents, a nice couple who believed their relationship was too brief and tumultuous for a child. Birth mom didn’t know she was pregnant for the majority of the pregnancy, and described herself as “a social drinker.” We were too naive to understand that this was her code for “binge drinker.” We were too naive to be concerned when she drank wine both times we had dinner with her. We had no idea that alcohol damaged the neurological system of babies in utero, and that we would have a very long road ahead of ourselves. We believe birth mom didn’t know these things either.
But it slowly became clear: something wasn’t right with our child, and we suspected his prenatal environment could be a factor. “Textbook drug and alcohol exposed,” our pediatrician gravely told us when we brought him in for feeding issues when he was just a few weeks old. But still — it didn’t fully compute. And we weren’t adapting. We were exhausted from not sleeping, and worn down by our son’s constant shrieks, his lack of eye contact, and his inability to be soothed. We postponed the adoption hearing because we just weren’t sure what we were experiencing. Something just felt profoundly off.
We also weren’t sure we were up to the task. We had already made the decision to adopt a little girl out of foster care who had been born severely addicted to the intravenous drug cocktail her birth mom had injected multiple times each day. She was home and thriving with us, eating and sleeping well, and a complete delight in every way. But we thought that she was supposed to be the one with special needs, not her baby brother. Could we do this?
We didn’t know if we could, but we decided we would. With help.
I am an incessant researcher. As I googled my way through blogs and websites that addressed kids with similar symptoms, I realized I probably had a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD. And that’s when I began using my college library to learn as much as I could about it, hoping that information would help.
I also realized that unless a parent or caregiver has access to academic resources, as well as some comfort navigating the vast world of online journals, they would miss out on what researchers were discovering about the condition and its impact on families. Ancient Mamas was born out of a desire to provide for other parents and loved ones the academic research that helped me understand my son, find the best resources for the family, and truly commit to being his mama. It is also a place for other caregivers and loved ones to come, to ask questions, share stories and be a community of people who are simply trying to do the best they can.
Throughout these posts, I refer to them affectionately as “Zak and Wheezie,” my own two-headed dragon, completely opposite in looks, temperament, abilities and mannerisms. But a single, inseparable unit nonetheless.
Welcome. We are glad you are here.
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to suggest new areas of research for us. Ancient Mamas is for all parents and caregivers looking for companions on the journey.