Heroin for Babies

Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 7:00 am 2 comments

No, I’m not the world’s worst mom in the world.  But my baby did do heroin.  Just let me explain.

During my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with acute pre-eclampsia.  To make a long story short, both mom and baby were very sick.  Despite the best efforts of the medical team, my daughter had to be delivered at 31 weeks (two and a half months premature).  She was called “Baby girl”  by the staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because she came so early, we didn’t have time to give her a name.  Weighing in at a whopping two and a half pounds or about one kilogram, she fit easily in the palm of my hand.

Being the only baby that we had, she looked perfectly normal to us.  Only when we passed the regular nursery and saw the portly 10 pounders, did we realize that she was… a bit on the small side.  Kudos and thanks to my Ob-Gyn for diagnosing my condition early enough to make a difference.

At 31 weeks babies born before their sucking reflex develops (they require tube feeding).  They also have under developed lungs.  One small miracle was that “Baby girl” didn’t have any of the respiratory ailments commonly found in preemies. Thank God for modern medicine.

Years earlier, a doctor whose name I regrettably don’t know, noticed that the babies of heroin addicts were often born prematurely, with very low birth weights, and having a host of complications.  However, breathing problems due to immature lungs were not part of the package.  Based on this observation, the doctor engaged in research which led to the development of a drug derived from heroin that helped “Baby girl” breathe without a respirator.  I was injected with this medication a couple of days before delivery and it aided in her speedy lung development in-utero.

Years later at a routine office visit, our pediatrician told us the story of how this pharmaceutical came to be.  I am eternally grateful to the doctor who developed this drug.  However, if “Baby girl” grows an extra set of thumbs, you know who’s taking the wrap for that one – just kidding.  🙂


Entry filed under: Children, Family, Health, Parenting. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Camille  |  Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Wow! I could have written this post! (Well, almost …) My oldest was born at 26 weeks – for reasons unknown. He too didn’t have breathing problems and was never on a respirator or CPAP. He also weighed in at a whopping 2 lb, 5 oz (1040 g).
    The similarities are remarkable; he’s almost 13 too.
    “Thank God for modern medicine.” I heartily agree!

    • 2. Era  |  Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 11:32 pm

      Interesting how similar our stories are! Our children have come a long way. It’s amazing to look at those early pictures isn’t it?


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