Women working to get clean are getting pregnant in the process, and the implications for their babies can be deadly. Local 8 News went inside East Tennessee Children's Hospital where one mother hoped her story would serve as a warning.
Amanda Rose rocked back and forth, with baby Mackenzie in her arms. After all, a mother's will to soother her baby is an instinct as old as time itself, as unconscious as the reflex of a muscle.
Mackenzie spent about a month at Children's Hospital, screaming in pain, crying from fever, restless, and inconsolable.
Over time, Amanda managed to put her baby at ease, but soother herself, soothing that guilt, was another story.
Amanda said, " I feel bad that she has to suffer for something that I've done, she shouldn't have to go through that you want the best for your kids."
Had Amanda known all those years ago that pain pills would lead to addiction, force her into a methadone treatment program, make her more fertile, that she couldn't quit once she became pregnant and that the drugs used to help her would hurt her baby, maybe she never would have touched those pills to begin with.
"I thought I would get into treatment and everything would be better and it was, until I got pregnant. And now treatment's not so good, I mean it's good but she's having to suffer there's nothing good about that."
It's a tough story to hear, but Pharmacist Jerry King hears it everyday. He's in charge of weaning babies born to women in a methadone treatment program.
King said, "Once she enters a treatment program and has proper nutrition and health her ability to get pregnant is increased."
It's not the methadone itself, but the whole journey to health that make them more fertile. And once a woman starts the treatment, she can't stop.
King said, "If it's withheld it puts her and the fetus at risk for seizures."
When the baby is born, the symptoms are unimaginable. Tremors, distinct high pitch cries, cramping, the list goes on.
But over time, and with medicine, Amanda found a way to calm her baby. The challenge then became finding a way to soothe herself.
Amanda said, "I'm not sure how I could make up for that I don't know that I could ever make up for it. All I can do is be the best I know how to be, give her the best life possible and not go back to that because then she won't have a mom."
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