Hi, my name is REDACTED, and I’m an alcoholic. Before I found out I was pregnant I drank on a regular basis. Not enough to affect my work, but enough to affect my personal life. Instead of dealing with my issues in a healthy manner, I used alcohol as a coping mechanism. For example, instead of a glass of wine or a beer after work, I would have a shot of tequila with my ex-husband and then when he went to the bathroom, I would sneak another one and not tell him about it.
When I found out I was pregnant, I quit drinking full stop. It wasn’t easy. I was going through an emotionally challenging time without my go-to friend, alcohol. Thankfully, the scent of alcohol from an open bottle of wine and even on the breath of others made me nauseous in the first trimester. I knew that I did not want to put my child at risk by drinking while pregnant. I wanted to give him the best start possible. I had other women who had children explain how an occasional glass of wine while pregnant was okay, but I did not feel safe explaining why an occasional glass of anything wasn’t okay for me.
After I had the baby, I was worried that I would give in to temptation and start drinking again. I was breastfeeding, and it meant a lot to me, so pumping and dumping wasn’t something I wanted to do on a regular basis. I have to admit I had a beer or a glass of wine a few times over the course of my son’s first year, and yes, I did pump and dump. I felt guilty for drinking, I felt guilty for pumping and dumping, and I felt like I failed myself and my son. And you know, the glass of beer or wine just wasn’t as satisfying as I remembered.
I was able to use breastfeeding as the excuse for why I wasn’t drinking when I went to industry events or company happy hours. I received grief from my co-workers and manager after I was done breastfeeding, but still not drinking. I ended up telling a few co-workers and my manager that I had a history of alcohol mis-use, and I didn’t want to be that kind of mother. I knew it was going to be really hard not to drink after I was done breastfeeding; I never expected peer pressure to drink in a professional environment.
My son is now 16 months old. I feel safer in my recovery. I still think about drinking from time to time, but when I do, I quickly think about how much joy I feel hearing my son’s laugh and being sober for every moment of his life compared to the momentary pleasure I experienced from alcohol.
For those of you trying to struggling with recovery, please find comfort in the knowledge that you aren’t alone. Ask for help. Reach out to other mothers. Go to meetings. Do what you need to do to feel safe and be there for your children.
There are tons of resources for those recovering from alcoholism that range from the fun (like this post about mocktails on Offbeat Bride) to serious and/or support groups (Alcoholics Anonymous being the most well-known). There’s no way for us to know what might work for you, but if you’re in a similar position as this post author and looking for help, it’s out there.