Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Earth Mama® and my daughter -- The interview. Part One: Adopting an NAS Baby

Have you heard about the struggles NAS babies experience? If you haven't heard the term before, NAS stands for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. It is what happens when a baby is born to a mother who is addicted to narcotics during her pregnancy. A baby just like my youngest granddaughter, Luna. Today, I'm thrilled to feature the first of a two-part interview between Earth Mama® and my daughter Bethany, who, along with her husband, Tom, chose to adopt an NAS newborn. They carefully researched the syndrome and knew much of what was ahead. And they chose to adopt Luna despite the inevitable problems that awaited them. This is their story.

Adopting an NAS Baby

Earth Mama®: Bethany, you chose to adopt an NAS baby. What does that mean?

Bethany: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) refers to symptoms babies may have if their mothers used methadone or other narcotics during pregnancy. It's often called withdrawal. If a baby develops symptoms of withdrawal after birth, methadone or morphine may be used as a comfort measure to reduce symptoms. Withdrawal usually starts within 2 to 3 days after birth, but sometimes sooner.

Common symptoms include:
  • tremors or shaking, even when asleep
  • stuffy nose or sneezing more than 3 times in 30 minutes
  • diarrhea that causes diaper rash
  • feeding poorly, weak sucking, spitting up
  • increased sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
  • fussiness or excessive crying
  • mottling of the skin (blotchy skin)
  • fever
  • increased muscle tone
  • not sleeping between feedings
  • sweating

NAS treatment with methadone or morphine can last anywhere from 1 week to 6 months, however the symptoms can last longer.

Earth Mama®: What special needs or problems did your baby encounter?

Bethany: Luna spent her first 15 days in medical facilities, starting with Pittsburgh's Magee Women's Hospital NICU and ending with the Children's Home of Pittsburgh, an independent, non-profit licensed organization, where I was able to stay with her. During that time, she was on morphine on a step-down program to manage her initial symptoms, which included most of the above, and to control the severity of them.

For the next 6 months, Luna struggled with sleep, not being able to remain asleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time. She spent the majority of her time awake crying. She started self-regulation therapy and milestone therapy as soon as she was released from the medical facility. She continues weekly sessions now.

Earth Mama®: How is your baby doing now?

Bethany: Luna is now one year old and thriving. We had a tough 6 or 7 months, but now there are more smiles than tears. She's still a little peanut, but nurses often throughout the day and is finally sleeping through the night. She loves to eat a fair portion of grown-up food and is meeting or exceeding all her milestones in therapy.

Earth Mama®: That's fantastic, Bethany. But you said something that I think will be surprising to many. You said she nurses often throughout the day. So you are, in fact, breastfeeding your adopted child. Let's talk about how that came to be in tomorrow's post.

Click here to read the rest of this fascinating interview where Bethany discusses the logistics of breastfeeding an adopted baby. PLUS, there's a fantastic giveaway sponsored by Earth Mama®! You don't want to miss it!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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