Terrified, Need Advice ASAP- Heavy Drinking Before I Knew I was Pregnant

Tamara - posted on 02/17/2013 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Last week, I took a home pregnancy test and found out that I am pregnant. I was not trying to get pregnant and this is totally unplanned.

I am absolutely terrified and have no idea what to do because, right before I found out I was pregnant, I had a wild weekend. In ONE NIGHT, I went through two bottles of wine ON MY OWN, and I continued to drink throughout the weekend. On Monday, I took a pregnancy test. The doctor confirmed that I was 4 weeks pregnant (4 weeks from my last menstrual period) when I drank the two bottles of wine, and I stopped drinking immediately when I found out I was pregnant a few days later.

Has anyone else been through this? I am so scared and do not know what to do. Please, any stories would be helpful.

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Sarah - posted on 02/22/2013

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A lot is going to depend on when you drink during the pregnancy and what is developing at that time to what is affected. There are many women who drink heavily prior to finding out and things turn out fine. Some people don't find out their pregnant until they are pretty far along....some not even until the last part of the pregnancy. So you do have to be careful in what you read and the details. Also an FYI you can find about every horror story on the internet, be careful with internet research. Even looking up medical information. It is much like self diagnios. Almost everyone can self diagnois themselves with a mental disorder, but in reality that does not mean everyone has a mental disorder. My suggestion to you is to have a converstation with your doctor. Get the true facts to your situation from someone that knows your situation.

For the article you read my guess is that the woman drink further into her pregnancy then you did. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is pretty complicated and often deals with prolong drinking.

Sophie - posted on 02/18/2013

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If you choose to terminate this pregnancy that's something you need to be sure of 2 years ago I got pregnant again but that time when I went for the scan they found a cyst, it was feeding of the pregnancy hormones and growing in my Fallopian tube I had three choices, continue with the pregnancy and hope the cyst passed naturally but risk it bursting my tube and possibly killing me and my baby, have it surgically removed but again there was a serious risk to me and I could miscarry or have an abortion it was the toughest decision I've ever made but after talking it through with my partner we both agreed that the safest choice was abortion. I wasn't really prepared for the emotional outcome however and still feel guilty about that decision. Two bottles of wine won't make your baby brain damaged I drank much more than that and smoked before I knew I was pregnant but my son is fine. If you don't want this baby then that's something else but being scared your child will be harmed because of one mistake isn't unusual many women think this while pregnant. I'm concerned your rushing into something out of fear if you're not happy with the advise and info you were given by the doctor go back talk to the nurses at your scan make an appointment with a midwife there are lots of ways to find out more before you make a decision as big as this. Please don't rush into something you'll regret, no one talks about how a termination will make you feel it's always about moral implications but I can tell you now it's a horrendous thing to go through but so is going through with a pregnancy you don't want it's all about weighing up which will hurt more. I won't judge you if you want to terminate and anyone who does isn't worth the time or energy it takes to talk to I just want you to be sure it's what you really want before its too late. The odds that one weekend will hurt your baby are so tiny and tests can show if there is a problem just don't get upset before you know one way or another.

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Kristi - posted on 02/24/2013

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Tamara--

My daughter's oldest half sister did meth and smoked cigarettes throughout almost her entire 3 pregnancies. I can't speak for her 4th because we no longer live there but the last I heard, she hadn't changed her ways. All three children tested positive for meth when they were born. All three children are bright, high functioning, beautiful children. Her third child has some deformaties in his spine and neck but from my understanding, had she taken it upon herself to get any pre and post natal care, corrective measures could have been taken early on to prevent the need for surgery. However, the deformaties were not caused by her drug use.

Her mother was an alcoholic. She smoked and drank regularly through 5 of her 8 pregnancies. No brain damage. Sarah Hofland is right about finding information on the internet. There are experts in every field where one will swear that this theory/evidence is true and another will vow the exact opposite is right. Look at anti-depressants for example, one of their side effects can be increased thoughts of suicide. Now what kind of sense does that make? But it has to be listed because at least one person on that medication experienced that side effect. Sophie was right on about the doctor being so vague because she doesn't want to get sued if something does end up being wrong even if the chance is 1 in 100,000.

I understand the fear of having a baby and knowingly causing him/her a troubled life. I suffer from mental illness. It terrifies me to think of my children suffering my fate because much of this is hereditary. But I will tell you this, I did have a "menstrual extraction," that's a nice way of putting an "abortion" before 8 weeks, at least it was at PP back in the 90's. I was 19. I am 42. I still have not forgotten or forgiven myself. I am pro-choice. I absolutely refuse to turn this into an abortion debate with anyone. I won't judge you for your decision. It is one only you can make and one that is your business. Again, I agree with Sarah, don't make a decision that will alter your life forever without being completely informed on BOTH issues by health care officials, not just the internet, not just other moms.

Something tells me you are worried about your child hating you if he/she is born with FAS. I think you are worried you won't be able to handle the guilt. You have to remember, there are no guarentees in life. We have to make the most out of each day. You could have not had one sip of alcohol and you could have done everything right, but that does not guarentee a perfectly healthy baby.

One thing you might want to think about, providing you really do want to be a mom, is that when a person is weak in one area, they tend to over achieve in another. There are lots of people with many different kinds of different disabilities that do amazing things but beyond that, they all have loving hearts and only want to be loved in return. Their lives are precious and meaningful and I would bet my life that your child, should he/she be born with special needs, would love you for choosing life despite the challenges he/she would face as long as he/she knows you will be right there beside him/her.

You obviously have a tough decision to make. I hope you get the knowledge and find the peace you need to make the right decision for your life.

Tamara - posted on 02/23/2013

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I found yet another study which makes it clear that binge drinking and a high blood alcohol level at week 4 in a pregnancy will result in brain damage (period), please see below. I drank two bottles of wine by myself in a span of 5 to 6 hours when I was four weeks pregnant. I had no idea that I was pregnant, but HOW CAN I GIVE BIRTH to someone who will almost certainly have brain damage that I CAUSED?


http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/a...

Researchers and clinicians are particularly concerned about women who consume alcohol in a binge like pattern before they realize that they are pregnant (referred to as pregnancy recognition) as well as during early pregnancy. The reason for this concern involves the relationship between the timing of these binge like episodes and the timing of critical periods of fetal brain development. Although heavy alcohol consumption throughout pregnancy leads to a significant risk of brain injury to the developing fetus, the fetus is especially vulnerable to alcohol-induced brain injury during specific stages of brain development, many of which occur early during pregnancy ( Ikonomidou et al. 2000; West 1987) . If a woman binge drinks during such a critical stage, significant harm may be inflicted on the developing fetal brain. The resulting deficits can range from gross structural abnormalities, such as small brain size (i. e. , microencephaly) with significantly altered brain circuitry ( e. g. , shrinkage or even complete absence of the corpuscallosum 1 ) (1 The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain.), to the more subtle, but nonetheless significant, loss of specific nerve cells ( i. e. , neurons) in a particular brain region. Not surprisingly, such alterations in the normal development of the structural and neurochemical composition of the brain can have deleterious behavioral consequences ( e. g. , learning or attention deficits) that may not manifest until a later age.

Tamara - posted on 02/22/2013

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http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?sectio...

I accidentally posted this question in two threads, but I thought it was worth sharing an update in both. I was doing some more research this morning and came across a news piece from Texas about a woman who had 2 binge drinking episodes before she knew she was pregnant, and her son was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

He is an adult now, but his disability prevents him from having a paying job. I'm not sure how far along in the pregnancy his mom was when she drank, but if it was before she knew she was pregnant, I can only assume that it was early.

Tamara - posted on 02/18/2013

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What is so alarming is that I CAN change this- I can choose to terminate the pregnancy. I don't have to be the person who gives birth to a baby who is permanently brain damaged because I was reckless and drank two bottles of wine in 5 hours before I knew I was pregnant. My whole life and the child's whole life would be about that stupid choice I made.

Sophie - posted on 02/18/2013

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My mother drank while pregnant with my brother because she didn't know she was pregnant until she was 4 months gone so that reassured me a bit but I still had worries. It's normal to be scared and have these kinds of worries, when I first saw the list of things I wasn't supposed to eat while pregnant I panicked as I was 14 weeks at my first scan and had eaten nearly everything on the list while I didn't know I was pregnant. But like I said my son is fine I think a lot of what we're told about pregnancy now is because of over cautiousness it's not scaremongering as such but it's not good to panic over everything. If your scan says the baby is fine then there's nothing to worry about stressing yourself out will do your baby more harm than anything so please try and relax one weekend won't damage your baby. Try and enjoy your pregnancy and please try to stop worrying about things you can't change

Tamara - posted on 02/18/2013

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Thanks, Sophie. It is just that I have never heard of anyone drinking as much as I did- two bottles of wine, in one night, and then there was more over the days that followed, and going on to have a healthy baby. I totally drank more than anyone I've spoken to, and I'm so scared.

Sophie - posted on 02/18/2013

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I had no idea I was 4 weeks pregnant when I went to a family members birthday and although I don't drink often when I do I go all out. That night between me and my mother we drank the bar dry of jack Daniels. When I found out I was pregnant later on I panicked too but at my scan I was told the baby was perfectly healthy and he still is now my perfect little boy is about to turn 5. Once weekend won't harm your baby it's continual drinking that causes problems but ask at your scan they'll give you more information. And the reason the doctor was so unwilling to say anything definitive is because they are afraid of getting sued don't panic take a breath and get some more info before you do anything

Tamara - posted on 02/18/2013

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I am seriously considering ending the pregnancy. Please, anyone-- is it crazy to think that I've caused too much harm at this point to continue to the pregnancy?

Tamara - posted on 02/17/2013

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I did ask the doctor about the risks associated with the drinking, and she was very vague. She said that she did not think I was at high risk for fetal alcohol syndrome (this really was a one time bender, I don't usually drink nearly that much). However, she did say that she just could not quantify the risk, give the time when the drinking occurred (i.e. right at and a little after 4 weeks since the last period, when key neural systems are beginning to develop).

I'm hoping that I can find out more from people who have had similar experiences and what it was like to make it through the pregnancy. Despite this being a surprise, I really want to be a mom! It would really help me to know other people have gone through this and survived.

Rachel - posted on 02/17/2013

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You will be fine. I know a few people that have experienced the very same thing. As long as you have since stopped drinking and don't plan on drinking or doing drugs for the remainder of your pregnancy, the baby will be fine. A lot of the development happens a little later in the pregnancy. Our parents and their parents and so on and so forth had no idea that some of these things were bad during pregnancy and hey, we're still here aren't we? Don't stress, but if you're still concerned, talk to your Dr about it!

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