The Day That Changed My Life…

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in January of 2009, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was scared to be bringing a baby into the world with a guy that couldn’t even take care of himself, let alone a baby. I was ecstatic to finally have something of my own, to be the center of someone’s world. But, most of all, I was ready to do whatever it took to be the best mom I could be for my baby.

I was on suboxone when I found out I was pregnant. I immediately wanted to taper off of my medication. I was sent to a Fetal Medicine Specialist that encouraged me to stay on a stable, comfortable dose. There wasn’t much information on how suboxone would effect my baby back then. So, I did everything I could to stay as healthy as possible. I quit smoking. I ate a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, I walked every single day.

On October 14th, 2009 at 0110, Flynn Elise made her grand entrance into this world. She was absolutely beautiful. She had big blue eyes and a head full of auburn hair. She was perfect. She latched immediately and I was head over heels in love. I had no epidural and no pain medication, and it was a TOUGH delivery. She was posterior (sunny side up), had a nuchal cord (cord was wrapped around her neck), forceps, episiotomy, more forceps delivery. I did that with NO pain medication. I felt like I could literally conquer the world. The “baby high” was something I had never experienced. I truly felt unstoppable.

Flynn only spent one night at home. Four days later, on October 18th, 2009, we were in a serious automobile accident that would effect the rest of my life forever. Flynn’s dad was unable to drive that night. God only knows why. I refused to have someone that could barely stay awake, drive the car that my 4 day old newborn was in. My midwife had told me I was allowed to start driving as soon as I felt comfortable to do so. So, I insisted on driving. We went to my parents house to drop something off and then we got back in the car and headed home.

It was the night of the Murrells Inlet Chili Cook Off. Anyone that lives in our area, knows that this is a pretty huge event. Basically, one big party. The roads were clear. Flynn was asleep. Everything was great in my world. Until we got to the traffic light on 17 right before Inlet Square Mall. A big, white, dual truck, came speeding through the lane, trying to beat a light. He hit me head on, driving about 45MPH. I immediately stomped on my brakes, but there was nothing I could do. I braced myself for the impact. Thank God I had my seat belt on. I took a few minutes to assess the situation. Flynn was okay in the backseat. I looked down and saw that my foot was turned completely around, facing towards my back. I saw bone exposed to the air. At this point, there was so much adrenaline pumping through my body, I didn’t even feel the true effects of my injuries. I tried to remain calm. Flynn’s dad reached for the phone to call 911. I said “NO! I’m calling.” I made the call and told them what was going on. Their main concern was my newborn in the car. I calmly told them my baby was fine, but I was seriously injured. They reassured me that help was on the way. I hung up and immediately called my parents. I told my mom I had just been in a serious accident. That Flynn was okay, but I was seriously hurt. I remember telling my mom I had to hang up, because I could hear the sirens.

The firefighters later had to pull the car door off of the car to get me out. They initially thought that Flynn had been knocked out due to the impact. My mom was a Nursery nurse at the time and asked if she could assess the baby. It turned out that Flynn slept soundly through the entire thing. Praise God. My baby was okay.

I remember asking the guys in the ambulance if this was all a dream. They kept me calm and told me that it was not a dream. That I had just been in a serious car accident, but I was going to be okay.

I got to the hospital and the doctor on call refused to take on my case. He said my injuries were too severe and he did not feel comfortable taking me on as a patient. They contacted one of the best foot/ankle trauma specialists in the state. He reviewed my case and agreed to take me on. But, he wanted to do surgery right away. We later found out that I had broke every bone in my right foot, both sides of my right ankle, my right tibia, and my right fibula. I had a Lis Franc Fracture/dislocation of the midfoot. Meaning the bones literally exploded and the joints became completely separated.

Before wheeling me back to emergency surgery, the doctor said “Caitlin…I don’t know that I am going to be able to save your foot. But, I promise I am going to do my very best to try.” I remember begging him to just cut it off. I was in SO much pain. I would have another traumatic, vaginal delivery 10x over what I was experiencing now. Pain control was a MAJOR issue due to the suboxone. I went through over 10 hours of emergency surgery.

I woke up with an external fixator and pins protruding from my foot. It required pin care 3x a day and when I was released from the hospital, I would have to have a hospital bed in the house. It was a serious, serious injury. I had to move back in with my parents. My mom and dad took turns doing all the wound care. They also basically became new parents again. I could not get up and get the baby. I could not walk around with her or dance with her in my arms. I was devastated, but so grateful she was alive, and so grateful I was alive. She was the motivation I so desperately needed at that time in my life.

My parents and I came up with a system. We had a baby monitor in my room and a baby monitor in their room. Every time Flynn would wake up, I would call them over the baby monitor. They would come in, usually half asleep, hand me the baby and go back to bed. Then when she was finished eating, I’d call them again to come get her.

I remember the first day both of my parents went back to work after the accident. I was home alone with Flynn for the first time. I had everything I needed within arms reach. And then….she had a massive blow out. Shit. Literally. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I couldn’t hold her and not put weight on my foot. But, I also couldn’t leave her in dirty clothes. I stripped her down, put her in the center of a blanket, folded it in half, and held onto the other end of the blanket with my walker and I slowly dragged her from the living room to her changing table. Mission Accomplished. I knew we would be okay after that.

I went on to have 8 more major bone reconstruction surgeries. I would go on pain medication for a surgery, come off and go immediately back on suboxone. I did that for each surgery.

It has now been almost 10 years since my car accident. If you’re wondering what happened to the guy that hit me, well, he’s dead. He later killed himself in a DUI One-on-One. If you’re wondering how my foot is doing, well, I still have it. I now have 2 non union fractures (bones that will never heal) and a post traumatic deformity. But, I’m alive. I now use Suboxone as pain management. Side Note: If you are using suboxone for pain, it is best used in small doses. The analgesic effects (pain relieving properties) of suboxone happen in very small doses. I get asked this question a lot. Most people believe more is more, but that is not true. Less is more with Buprenorphine. If you are using suboxone for pain and finding that a bigger dose does not work very well for pain relief, try taking a SMALL dose, every few hours. I promise it will work much better.

I had my daughter’s car seat installed by a CSPT and I KNOW her car seat saved her life. We have been through so much. My daughter literally saved my life. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know that I ever would have been ready to truly get it together. Flynn will never know what she really did for me. I always said she was my guardian angel. I would go through it all over again for her. Anyone that knows Flynn, loves Flynn. She is truly one of a kind. She is hilarious and has a brilliant mind. She often can carry on a better conversation than most adults.

If you made it this far, you’re a trooper. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I am always an email away.

More Later…
❤ Caitlin

For Pregnant Mamas on MAT

This may be one of the most important posts my pregnant mamas will read. I just want to remind y’all of my Disclaimer. I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. Everything I am about to tell you, is all information I have gained from my own personal experiences, as well as doing my own research.

I am now going to be giving you tips and tricks for after you deliver your baby.

As soon as we get that positive pregnancy test, most of us start wanting to do the BEST things we can do for our baby. Most women automatically think the best thing to do, is start tapering from their medication (whether it is suboxone, subutex, or methadone). But, maintenance medications are very unique. Tapering is not recommended. While you may be feeling okay during your taper, your baby can actually be going through brutal withdrawal in utero. I have known SOOO many women that have miscarried in the first trimester because they tapered.

Staying on a stable, comfortable dose is the MOST important thing you can do. This means, taking enough medication to make you feel comfortable. Don’t concentrate on the amount you are taking. Just take what makes you feel comfortable and out of withdrawal. There is a common misconception floating around the MAT community that ALL pregnant women MUST increase their dose at some time during their pregnancy. This is false. Not ALL women need to increase. Every pregnancy , every woman is different. During my first pregnancy, I felt amazing. I often took less than what I was prescribed, because I didn’t need more. I never needed to increase. The increased blood volume during pregnancy does make some women feel they need to increase. If you feel like you need to increase, do not be afraid to speak up to your doctor. But, also know that not everyone always needs to. Taking too much medication can be just as bad as taking too little.

After baby is born, delay cord clamp. This means that you do not cut the umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsating. Babies lose over 1/3 of their blood after they are born via the umbilical cord. Delay cord clamping ensures that they get all of this blood pumped back into them. Once again, it is okay to cut the cord after it has stopped pulsating. Tell your OB you would like to delay cord clamp, most are perfectly fine with that.

Skin to skin. This is probably one of the most important things you can do after your baby is born. Stripping baby down naked, and laying them on your bare chest is extremely beneficial. It helps baby regulate their body temperature and is also extremely comforting to them.

Breastfeed. Your breastmilk is literally made around your baby’s specific needs. Breastmilk is euphoric to them. Have you ever seen a nursing baby’s eyes roll into the back of their heads? They immediately relax. They get sleepy, their fists unclench, they are clearly at ease. Breastfeeding also releases natural endorphins to mom, which makes her feel better as well. Even if you are not planning on nursing, please at least give it a try for the first week. Any breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. If you absolutely can not breastfeed, pump and give it to baby in a bottle. Breastmilk has also been proven to help with stomach issues in babies and a lot of babies susceptible to NAS have upset tummies as it is.

Swaddle. I highly recommend the Love to Dream swaddle sacks. The Love to Dream sleep sacks were designed by a nursery nurse. They allow baby to keep their hands up by their face (which is a soothing mechanism), but also keep baby nice and tight. If you are not spending you time skin to skin, keep baby swaddled. Keep in mind, I recommend the Love to Dream swaddle sacks, but any swaddle will do.

Low stimulation. This means low lights, low TV volume, limit visitors. When I had my babies, the only people I allowed to visit, were my family. Passing the baby around, lots of noise, can really upset them. It is best to keep a calm, quiet environment. Take your time in the hospital to bond with your baby. You will thank me for it later 😉 I used to like to play quiet, soothing music for my babies. They seemed to always calm down once they heard the music playing.

Most hospitals are actually starting to do away with the Finnegan scoring system for scoring babies born to moms on MAT. The Finnegan scoring system is a system that scores babies on a numerical score, every few hours. There are a lot of things on the list. Inconsolable crying, sneezing, yawning, runny stools, tremors, to name a few. Some hospitals ARE still using the Finnegan scoring system, but a LOT of hospitals are starting to use the Eat, Sleep, Console system. The ESC system is basically just that. Is baby eating well? Sleeping well?? Able to be consoled? This system has really lowered the number of babies that need to be medicated due to NAS (specifically those babies born to moms on MAT medications). If you do not agree with a score, SPEAK up. You are your baby’s biggest advocate. Often times babies are scored for things that are completely normal (yawning, sneezing, etc). Do not be afraid to tell the medical staff that you do not agree with something. Ask that you nurse baby and have them score again. Most of the times, they will. I have found that the medical staff really seem to appreciate moms that are educated on what is going on with their babies.

If you are having a boy and plan on having him circumcised, ask the pediatrician to do it on the day of discharge. This will help immensely.

Last but not least, enjoy your pregnancy. I meet so many moms in my group that are just so nervous and worried. So much, that they can’t enjoy their pregnancies. They plan on a hospital stay and bank on the fact that their babies will be medicated. If you believe your baby is going to need to be medicated for NAS, your chances of that happening are greater. Relax. Enjoy your pregnancy. Take it one day at a time. If your baby needs to be medicated, then so be it. But, cross that bridge when you get there.

So far, I have had 2 babies while on buprenorphine. I had my first while on suboxone, back when there was literally no information out there. I was naive and I thought the best thing to do would be to taper. I saw a Fetal Medicine Specialist that encouraged me to stay on a stable dose. I did all of these things in this post and my daughter was absolutely perfect. She had ZERO withdrawal symptoms. None. You never would have even known I took any medication during my pregnancy unless you looked at my medical records. With my son, I took subutex. I also did all of these things in this post. He did have some mild withdrawal, but it was not enough to need medication.

I truly believe that doing these things helped. If your baby does end up needing to be medicated, remember it is only temporary. You did the right thing for yourself and for your baby by staying on your medication through your pregnancy.

If you are pregnant and reading this, Congratulations! Being a mom is one of the most challenging, exhausting, rewarding, beautiful things I have ever done with my life.

If you aren’t pregnant and reading this, please remember these things. They are important. Pass them on to a pregnant mama on MAT. They may need to hear it.

On my next blog post, I will be writing about another huge moment in my life…my car accident that occurred 4 days after the birth of my first baby. So stay tuned.

❤ Caitlin

Hey Y’all!

My name is Caitlin (obviously), and I am 32 years old. I live in Myrtle Beach, SC. I am happily married to my best friend (and sometimes pain in my ass) and we have 2 children. Flynn will be 10 in October. Ryan just turned 3 at the end of June. You will read a lot about all of them throughout my blog. I delivered both of my babies on Buprenorphine. When I got pregnant with my oldest, there was almost ZERO information on how Buprenorphine would effect my baby. I became quite literally obsessed with researching everything I could (with the help of my mom, who at the time was a Nursery/Level 2 NICU nurse). I had 2 healthy babies. Neither of them were medicated and I FULLY believe it is because I went into my pregnancies with knowledge, education on the medication I was taking, and the best things I could do not only for my babies, but for myself. My mission is to help you too.

I decided to start a blog, in hopes that I would start reaching a bigger audience. I have been working diligently to break the stigma against MAT (Medication Assisted Therapy) for over 10 years. I have an extreme passion for helping pregnant women and new mothers (and fathers too!) on MAT.

I run a group on Facebook, SSSP (mothers on suboxone, subutex, and methadone). It has gotten fairly large in the last few years. I tend to get my point across best through writing (and yelling periodically when it comes to my husband and kids). A bunch of people encouraged me to start a blog. So, here we are. I hope you learn something, gain something, or just enjoy what it is I have to say. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you can’t find something here, I WILL find out and get back to you.

I plan on having links for new moms, tips and tricks after just delivering a baby, pregnancy tips, new parenting tips, and I will also be sharing pieces of my life throughout the process. This is sure to be an interesting ride, and I am thrilled you’re here to experience it with me. Please bare with me as I get everything added and fixed up with the blog. Next up….I will be sharing what got me here…my experiences, strength, and hope. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but man, it has been worth it.

❤ Caitlin