7.16.2008

Axel

At the end of last month, one of my cousins gave birth to a baby boy. She named him Axel William. We all thought it was a cool coincidence that my mom, her twin sister, and their older brother all became grandparents for the first time within 6 months of each other.
The back story here is that my cousin, who is quite a few years older than me, has had a pretty major drug problem for years. It is very sad - she was a very bright teenager and had a lot of things going for her. Of course, there may and probably were things going on in the background that I had no clue about (isn't that always the case). She worked at the hospital and was eventually fired (and convicted) for stealing a prescription pad. So we definitely know she had a problem with prescription narcotics. I also remember a family holiday when she kept going in and out of the bathroom - with her husband at the time - mellow going in and crazily energetic coming out - dilated pupils, the works. Looking back, that was pretty obviously cocaine.
Back to Axel. When we found out my cousin was pregnant back in April or so, we were a little wary...had she cleaned up? Would the baby be okay? Everyone was hoping for the best, for both their sakes.
He was born on June 28, and everything appeared to be fine. But it wasn't. About a week after he was born, his parents took him to the pediatrician. He wouldn't stop crying. I guess the pediatrician freaked out (as they should have) and called CPS. Little Axel was going through withdrawals.
He is still in the hospital. What we know is that my cousin was trying to clean up during her pregnancy and was given methadone (which I think is for coming off of heroin). She was supposed to wean off of it in the last months of her pregnancy, but didn't. So Axel was born addicted to methadone.
I don't know much about addicted babies, but am learning. Axel is hyper-sensitive and cannot be held. He can only be fed by one or two people and it must be completely quiet - no distractions - or he will refuse to eat. The nurse says that if all goes well, he will possibly be normal by 18 months.
On July 25 we are supposed to have a family intervention. I have talked to another cousin and we are wary of what this is supposed to accomplish. Will she be angry at us for interfering as neither of us have had contact with her for years (we have been instructed not to have contact as she apparently was stealing from family members to support her addiction)? I have committed to go, though I'm terrified. I can't even think about this poor little baby without getting upset. My reaction right now is just sadness, but I'm worried it will turn to anger once we are face to face.
The best case scenario right now is that my uncle and step-aunt get Axel and my cousin goes to rehab and then a halfway house. The worst case is that he ends up in state care. That is almost too much to bear.
I'm really struggling with this, probably more so since I've recently become a mother. This child has such a tough road ahead. I want so much for him to be healthy, and I also want my cousin to be able to have a happy, sober life with her child and experience the joy of being a mother.
If anyone has any good resources on any of these subjects - addiction, addicted infants, interventions - I'd love to hear about it.

Update:
Well, there really isn't much to tell. Last I heard, the whole 'intervention' thing has been bagged. I'm not sure the reason, though I have a feeling it may be that she's just not ready - meaning she's not hit rock bottom. Anyhow, I'm trying to find out more about little Axel, and of course my family is not sharing info...why can't we be open and honest - how else are we going to help this little guy? I guess he is still in the hospital, but unfortunately that's all I know. I hope six months from now I can write an update that George, my cousin Jason's daughter Alli and Axel all spent Christmas Eve pestering each other. All for now, H.

5 comments:

Andrea said...

Well, since this is up my alley, so to speak, I'll let you know that without a doubt the baby will go to family over a random foster family. That is, if any family steps forward and wants to care for Axel (which I am sure isn't a problem). Your cousin will have 18 months, give or take, to get herself cleaned up and in order before any legal action is taken to terminate her rights as a parent.

As far as babies born drug addicted, that is a better scenario than born to a mother that drank a lot while pregnant. Babies born drug addicted do in fact have a shot at a "normal" life and often there are no lasting effects after they get clean. That is the good news.

The bad news is that your cousin will probably get clean enough a couple times for the state to give her the baby back only to have to remove him again, which can go on for years. Hopefully she'll have enough sense to get clean and stay clean, or just give up her rights so the kid has a chance.

This situation sucks. I'm sorry. Definitely go and try to talk with her but realize that if she were in her right mind this would not be her situation. Addiction is really powerful.

Heather said...

Thanks, I figured you'd have some good info. That prognosis, at least for the baby's health, is better than I'd thought. As far as my cousin goes, I know she's been in rehab several times, so I don't know what will make it stick. It's obviously got a hold on her. I'll update this as I learn more. Thanks again.

megant599 said...

My sympathies to you and the family. I too question the whole "intervention" approach, but people need to reach "rock-bottom" a few times before they are ready to make a change for themselves and interventions often signify rock-bottom for people. I guess the more family there, the more it might sink in, and I'm guessing she's just about sick of hearing from her parents so having other family members there is a great idea. There are rehab facilities where people truly make progress, then there are some where they just get high off of Nyquil and mouthwash or whatever drugs they can get snuck in.

Andrea is right about the baby, but ADHD and behavior problems are likely. However, the environment the baby gets brought up in can go far in making his life better and I would encourage the family members to get as much "professional" help as possible as they go forward in being a part of Axel's life. All it takes is one person in a child's life showing them all they can be, and the spirit of the child can shine through. But no grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin can expect to know how to go through something like this. Professionals in mental health are trained for situations just like this. Of course, beware...there are plenty of crackpots out there.

Your cousin is lucky to have a family who hasn't given up on her. I wish you the best going forward and I know that your compassion for this baby and for your cousin will make an impact, no matter how small, on their future.

Andrea said...

Ahh, Megan's comment reminds me of when we admitted kids into our rehab program and had to check their cosmetics to see if they contained alcohol... oh the insanity of it all. How is Axel doing?

Heather said...

I'll update the original post...