Wednesday, February 12, 2014

And our path takes a sudden turn....

I was sitting in a stupor drinking my coffee this morning and suddenly got the urge to blog (vent!). 

I haven't posted since July of last year.  Not for lack of things to vent about,  but because I am just so sick, sick, sick of the subject matter and feeling so discouraged about my girl and her addiction.  I watched and hoped throughout her pregnancy….  She had relapsed before discovering she was pregnant.  Early attempts to get clean resulted in bleeding and cramping.  We took her to doctors who said they would treat her (detox her) while pregnant, and then decided not to, once they had our consultation fee.  We finally found one doctor in OC who would do the anesthesia detox, even though she was pregnant.  She would have been able to sleep right through it, and they would have monitored the baby the whole time, and after we coughed up the $20K for that treatment, she would have needed to be in this doctor's step-down facility which turned out to be a generic sober home with a nurse on the premises.  For six weeks.  For a mere $600…. 

A DAY.  I used to feel ripped off paying $125-$175 a week for her to have a twin bed in half a bedroom in a sober home.  $600 a day?!

We let go at that point. 

We found out by snooping on line that she had indeed been arrested one month after she was married, a pipe charge and possession.  We found out he had relapsed first, and she used that as a sick excuse to relapse herself.  And the dance to circle the drain to the bottom began.
Finally, one normal day in December, we got a text from my son-in-law.  "Get ready, she's in labor".  21 or 22 days early……  We dropped everything and went to the birthing unit at UCI. 

Before we left, his mother called me and emphatically stated, "I am not going to take that baby.  I took his brother's baby, I will not do it again.  I am diabetic and I won't do it." 


The truths, the realities, that we had avoided so long were surfacing.  We had spoken to each other in hushed tones about "what will we do if she is loaded when she delivers?"  We knew if she tested positive, they would put a hold/alarm on the baby and they would lose custody.  They had continued to voice their intentions for her to get clean, and in fact, that is what brought on her labor.  (She was five days clean and the baby didn't like that one bit.) 

On the way over, we finally agreed that if she needed us to, we would take the baby temporarily so that she could get clean and start jumping through the hoops required by the state to get her son back.  We knew there was a program that would let her bring her son WITH her, after she got some clean time, and she would have classes in parenting, coping skills, etc.  She had been calling that program during the last month, trying to get admitted.

We arrived at the unit and entered the room to find her and son-in-law breathing through a contraction and crying together.  I hugged her and she held me fiercely, sobbing, and said "Mommy, would you take him, please, please would you take him?" 

All fears confirmed.

I said "yes" clearly and loudly.  She froze.  I said, "We can do this for you, if this is what you want.  Only if it is what you want.  If this will give you time to get clean, and for the two of you to get ready to be parents, we will do it."  She slumped in my arms and alarms and beeping machinery went off.  The nurses started calling her name and rousing her.  She opened her eyes and said "really?  Daddy?" and started looking around the room.  My husband went to her and hugged her and they cried together.  She pulled back and called her husband's name.  I looked and he was hunched on the little sofa in the room, crying.  We reiterated that we would do what they needed us to do if that was what they BOTH wanted and he said "yes, please, yes" and her next contraction hit.  From that moment on, she was a model maternity patient.  She had the most peaceful, quick, focused delivery. 

The most beautiful grandson on the planet entered the world with two good pushes, 6 pounds 13 ounces, and perfect from head to toe.  My son-in-law cut the cord and they laid him on my daughter's chest.  After a short time the three of us (myself, husband and her older sister who had arrived when he was about 3 minutes old)  left to let them bond and rest, and went home.

We planned to go back that night for a quick visit.  In the afternoon, my daughter texted me that "he was having breathing problems and he was in the NICU for monitoring."  This turned out to be code for "he tested positive and so did she, and he is on lockdown in the NICU".  She and her husband could visit 24/7, as we could, but he had to be tethered to the alarmed bed, and the state immediately filed for and was granted custody, based on the toxicology report.

Our life since that day has been a whirlwind.  We were contacted pretty quickly by the social workers, and home inspections began (the first was performed at 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve).  The baby had a team of social workers.  Each inspection/interview/meeting drove another nail in the coffin of my daughter ever getting her son back.  And really, rightly so.  She simply was not ready.

We went to court with the kids for a formal hearing and found out the court provided my daughter, son-in-law and grandson each with their own lawyer…and the judge put the matter of placement into the hands of the social workers and suddenly, he was going to be placed with us.

We've relocated our cleaning supplies, decluttered (as much as possible, given we were already packing boxes to put in a pod to store until our someday move!), bought used playpens and stroller, swing and clothing has been given to us by wonderful friends. 

We visited the NICU every single day for several weeks.  We wanted him to be used to our voices, our touch, our smell.  And we wanted to get comfortable with handling a tiny baby again! Three failed discharge efforts took place.  Each time we'd get close, he'd have a bad reaction to a reduction in methadone and in two cases, we got to the hospital only to go home empty handed.  Finally, one day we sat at a table with a team of social workers, attending physicians, physical therapists, and a box of Kleenex and filled out paperwork for four hours, discussing his needs and the requirements for his care and the continuing detox from methadone.  And we left with him in our arms.  His NICU nurse walked me out, telling everyone we passed that "M is going home today!"  When we got in the car she reduced me to tears by leaning in and saying "God bless you M, have a wonderful life!"

We thought life was crazy when we were visiting daily.  Crazy is really what our life is NOW, with our little impromptu parties with M at 2 AM.  And 3:15 AM and again at 5 AM.  I am a zombie. 

But we have managed to titrate him down significantly.  He was at one point  on 0.3mg every 8 hours, and he left the hospital on .15 mg every 8 hours.  We've worked that down to .05 mg at 8 AM and 4 PM and .1 at midnight.  The midnight dose will be dropped probably tomorrow, to .05 mg.  He has a doctor at CHOC (Childrens Hospital of Orange County) who specializes in opiate dependent babies, and she hopes he will be drug free in a month. 

Dark humor: I intend to take a picture of him with one of his mother's newcomer chips on the day he is completely off the methadone.  To me, it will be cause for tremendous celebration.

My daughter and son-in-law lost reunification services (assistance with meetings, counselling, treatment) a week after we took him home.  The courts judged them "incorrigible", decided their drug addiction histories were too long, and the social workers started gunning for adoption even more fiercely.  Adoption by us.  Their hope was to keep him with family.  My daughter and son-in-law told us that was their wish.  We all realized that was probably the only way to keep them in his life in any fashion.  If they are ever able to achieve sobriety, they can be a presence, a much loved presence, in his life.  If not, he would have us….. for as long as we and my oldest daughter walk this earth. 

My oldest daughter, the one who was not really sure she ever wanted kids, still lives with us, and "doesn't like people well enough to want to raise one", did a complete "180" and is totally Auntie Extraordinaire.  I had watched her be an amazing godmother in the past eight or ten years to her best friend's son - and I have watched her fall in love with M, and now, she comes thru the door at night with her arms out to take him from me and love him/talk to him and basically savor his every move and smile.  She is committed to raising him with us, and possibly even being a sandwich kid and finishing him off while taking care of whichever of us (myself or my husband) lives longer.  It's a good thing….. I have no idea how to play video games.  He will need his Auntie for the technology part of his life, as well as the other things she will teach him about kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity….  He will be lucky to have her in his life.

My daughter and son-in-law went into a tailspin after losing reunification services.  It was like a self fulfilling prophesy.  The courts thought and verbalized that they were hopeless.  He relapsed immediately.  He straightened up and relapsed again.  She followed after having attained almost two weeks clean.  They are both using now.  He was arrested and will probably be doing some time.  The bottom of that drain is getting closer.

They occasionally visit for their court ordered time with their son.  They didn't visit for two weeks, and then showed up two nights ago with pizza and we all just sat around savoring the time together while they hugged, kissed, and rocked their boy.  Bittersweet.  Another memory  I am filing away in my heart.

Our move will be delayed while the adoption progresses through the OC Courts.  Again, the social workers all tell different stories, but one who was involved from a legal aspect told us that if we let the courts progress as they will, and don't rush it privately, that the little stipend we receive currently as foster grandparents, may follow him until he is 18, even after adoption.  Every little bit will help us on our retired fixed income to pay for converse tennis shoes for his big feet, and braces for his teeth, etc.  So we're not rushing things.  Instead of moving this summer, it will be sometime early next year, I guess.  The home of our dreams that we've had our eyes on for months may be gone by then.  But again, it would be such a dynamite place to raise M, maybe God's plan is that it will remain on the market until we can buy it.  It's been on the market 20 months…. Stranger things have happened.

I haven't sewn a stitch in my quilting studio in a couple months.  Right now it is all I can do to keep bottles clean, M clean, his clothes clean, and a few meals a week fixed.  I am still running my medical transcription business.  My husband is doing SO much to help and yet we are exhausted.  I keep telling myself once M is weaned off the methadone, and also able to hold a toy and bang on something, and able to sit alone, maybe he can sit and bang away in a playpen while I sew a bit some times. 

I am blessed and I am robbed.  I am honest enough to admit that I am angry.  I am losing a significant portion of the time that I have worked for all these years.  My retirement is not going to be a retirement.  (Quilting and crafting and refinishing antiques and gardening and canning and walking miles to help take care of MY diabetes?  Now I just have to hope I can manage the walking, so  I can live long enough to get M raised.) 
And then I am ashamed and heartbroken for feeling that way, and terrified that M will pick up on those feelings somehow.  He deserves better.  And I am madly in love with him!

I am angry at addiction.   I am not going to be a doting grandmother, and watch/savor my daughter being a mom.  I am afraid for my daughter's life.  She talks of dying often and how relieved she will be.

Each time in the past that she sank to a new low, we thought "maybe this will be enough to make her seek sobriety and fight for it".  Jail, homelessness, prison…..  After each new low, she fought her way back.  After prison, she got close to 2 years clean again, had a great job and a storybook engagement and wedding.  And lost it all again.  Somehow, we were delusional enough to sit there and hope the pregnancy would be enough…  And then we hoped that losing custody would do it.

And she's back out there.  They are both out there, living on the streets.  He is probably going to have to do some time in prison as a result of his recent arrest, and she is "wanted" for the old charges from last year.  It is their journey and all we can do is watch, encourage, love and pray and hope.  I will always love and hope.

I'm just going to post this and add a picture.  It's taken a few days to get this written in between bottles and I'm too tired to proof it. 

But this…… for now, this is what is keeping me going.

Good night!


  1. Wow........ It's all I can say. I take my 4 month old granddaughter on the weekends they work and have thought a time or two, they need to stay clean because I could not do this full time (take care of baby). I love her dearly and enjoy my time with her but, it's work. Bless your heart for giving this little guy a family. You've got a lot going on - take care of yourself. You must take care of YOU! Prayers for you all. I hope your daughter finds her way - there is always hope.

  2. Oh Joy. I am sobbing. I will email you over the next few days. There are just no words. But the thing I do know is that when things go unexpectedly in a direction that we couldn't ever fathom, we aren't alone. Bless you sweet woman.

  3. Oh my goodness, this made me cry. I feel like Annette, my words fail me for this entire situation. Your grandson is beautiful. There is a couple in my nar-anon group that also have full custody over their grandchild. It is just heartbreaking what our loved ones lose because of this disease. I totally understand your anger as well. I will be praying for all of your.

  4. I don't even know what to say, but what a beautiful baby!!

  5. I sit here with tears running down my face. You are my hero. I understand your feelings so well. The little one is so precious, and I know he will make it all worth it! Love and prayers for you, sweet friend.

  6. Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of custodial grand parenting. Buckle up, is a long ride, but worth the trip.

  7. Oh Joy. I love you and big Sis so much. Of course I cried through this too, We just had a baby born to us last night, a beautiful little girl - so somehow just seeing a precious newborn and then reading this has hit me so hard. I can't imagine a baby being born addicted, I can't imagine any of this. I am just glad that when M was born he had you, your husband and Big Sis (tell her I said hello and if she wants to talk to write/call me). I love you.

  8. He is so beautiful. He is blessed to have you raise him. It is natural to be angry. I am so sorry life has come to this. I really don't know what to say. I am honored to know a woman like you who is so strong and willing to sacrifice everything, You are in my prayers. I was so hoping that no news meant recovery. I might go dormant soon with my blog. It's hard to write how terrible things are over and over again.

  9. Oh Joy - what a lucky boy M is. Everything you feel right now is completely valid, and it's good you are honest with yourself. It sounds like you have good support with your husband and M's Aunt. ~Big Big Hugs~

  10. I want to say "you can do this" because I know you're strong and know how much you have been through already and what am amazing person you are, but I also know that when you're not feeling strong that sometimes can make you say to yourself "no I'm not! I had no choice!" But that's not true. We all have choices, you could have shrank from this and honestly no one would have blamed you. But you didn't. Because you are strong. I wish I was closer, I would be at your house every afternoon to snuggle that baby so you could sew. I really hope knowing that you have us all, helps some.

    and also....
    He. Is. Perfect.

  11. Joy,

    I don't know what to say but that is a beautiful little baby and I have tears in my eyes too. I can understand the love, fear and even the anger.

    This isn't the life you signed up but we parents play the cards that are dealt and do it great. We all know your life is overfilled right now but remember you have a bunch of supportive friends out here and we are with you anytime you need.


  12. Oh my, I am so sad for you AND for your daughter. No mother wants to live without their baby. Addiction is something terrible indeed. :( My son recently turned 2. If you need any hand me downs I'd be happy to provide his used clothes, bibs, whatever. Clothes get to be so expensive and they grow out of them so fast! Dawn knows how to get in touch with me if you need anything. As a single mom, I know that every little bit helps.

  13. Thank you Sydney - that is so sweet. I am fortunate that one of my daughter's friends has passed me all of her son's hand me downs and we are doing okay so far! In fact, I am saving them for another of her friends who is expecting twins in June - every time I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself it could have been twins! He is a beautiful little boy. He has some issues that are becoming more apparent. More will be revealed I am sure. I am so happy to hear from you - used to read your blog.... wondered how you were doing! :)

  14. I just saw this and wanted to let you know my heart breaks for you and your family! All I can do is add my prayers to all the others. I hope your grandson is doing well and that you have some big smiles along the way. Love to you all.

  15. What a JOY you are to little M and your family. You always show humor, honesty and strength in all your posts. I can't imagine taking on a little one but know I would if need be. Congratulations on such a beautiful grandson and prayers and healing light headed your daughter's way. You are such a blessing!

  16. Beautiful little baby. You will get through this because you already love this little one. I too hope he has a good life.