Being a mom can be challenging. It’s constant trial and error until you figure out what works. Every day you make choices when it comes to parenting. Every day someone or something wants to help you make those choices, whether it be social, streaming, television or print.
“This is the right way”
“You can’t do it that way, do it this way”
“Oh, you do that?”
It is never ending, no matter what path you take. Whether you’re the “care free” mom or the “crunchy” mom, as a mom of four I’m learning that regardless of what you do, someone will be judging you for it. I can admit, I’m guilty of judging other moms too and how they choose to parent. The older I get I’m realizing that not everyone is going to do things the way I do them and that’s okay. What works for some families may not work for others, and what works for other families may not work for mine.
That is one of the perks about being a parent in 2022, the power of choice. I’m choosing to parent the way I want and breaking stigmas along the way. One of those stigmas is being a canna-mom. As the years pass and cannabis is making its way back into mainstream for medical and adult use, more moms are coming forward with their cannabis consumption. I’ll never forget the guilt I felt utilizing cannabis during my first pregnancy ten years ago. My doctor shamed me and marked my file with a red flag. A red flag, as if I were a bad mom or a problematic mom just because I was consuming cannabis. Two days after I welcomed my baby girl into the world a social worker came into my hospital room. She was informing me that DFS would be paying me a visit to check on things. They wanted to make sure my daughter was living in a safe environment and had the things she needed to thrive after birth. To say I was offended is an understatement. I was so overly prepared when it came to becoming a mom, I had everything and then some ready for her. At the time, my mom ran a daycare so our whole house was equipped with just about every baby product you can think of. Yet my ability to be a good mom was being questioned. I got released from the hospital and waited, praying that my actions weren’t going to get my child taken away from me.
So why did I choose to consume cannabis while pregnant? Easy, it was the only natural way I could eat without throwing up an hour later. I’ll never forget going to the emergency room after throwing up all day I was severely dehydrated. I was honest with my doctor and told him that smoking cannabis was the only thing that helped. He started to lecture me about how harmful it was for my baby and instead prescribed me Zofran. Zofran, a drug they tell you not to take before 9 weeks because it could cause miscarriage. The same drug that is known to cause potential heart defects and higher risks for cleft palate in a developing fetus. How could he shame me for wanting to use cannabis, something that has no evidence of potential risks to a developing fetus, but instead encourage me to take a drug that does carry these risks?
The day after I got home, DFS came as they promised they would. The lady managing my case came right on in and sat on my couch. She looked around seeing all the baby items that surrounded the living room, then turned and looked at me saying “we don’t take weed babies away from moms because we would have way too many kids in the system.” She went on to advise me to not smoke around my child and to make sure to not care for my child while being high. I found the last piece of advice funny, and still do. Over the years, I learned that coloring with your kids is so much more fun while being high. Your creative juices get to flowing and you find yourself emerged into the project. I got off topic a little there, but still, it needed to be noted. I guess what I was getting at was that the DFS worker opened my eyes and informed me that cannabis use during pregnancy was common. Common enough that DFS didn’t want to take on the load of all the children of parents that consume.
Fast forward 6 years later and there I was pregnant with twins. The symptoms were ten times worse than with my first pregnancy. By the end I needed a scooter while grocery shopping or during my typical Target runs. Walking was challenging. Sciatic nerve problems, pelvic pain, high-risk pregnancy due to twins, carpal tunnel, morning sickness multiple times a day. You name a symptom, I had it. Cannabis again saved the day and made these pains tolerable. It was the only way I was able to eat and I was so thankful for that. With the twins I was open with my doctor from the very start. He supported it. Now, I don’t mean the support in the applauding me for doing it, but in the way he made such a small deal about it. He practically brushed it off. I was waiting for a big warning lecture, but instead got a simple “not a big deal”. Even with this I still prepared for the worst, because I knew there was a possibility that I would yet again get a visit from DFS. I made sure my house was in top shape to prove I was in fact, a good mom. Nothing. Not a single peep. My doctor never red flagged me. He never noted my file as potentially “problematic.” He didn’t think I was a bad mom for consuming cannabis while pregnant.
Finally, a better understanding was coming. Now with my twins, I was determined to breastfeed. My oldest had a milk allergy and had to be put on the most expensive formula available. I couldn’t help but dread the cost of buying formula for two babies. A quick Google search and I was bombarded with all these biased answers about why not to smoke and breastfeed. I couldn’t find a single scientific article stating any potential dangers though. I did, however, find something quite interesting about how humans all have their very own endocannabinoid system. Just like cannabis, we too create cannabinoids. Even more amazing is that breast milk also has cannabinoids responsible for giving newborns the desire to eat. A mother’s ECS receptors are responsible for “milk sucking” – relatable to how THC gives us the munchies. They say milk drunk, but I think it should be changed to milk high. Now, am I saying our milk carries the exact same cannabinoids as the medical plant? No, however I am seeing similarities and coming to realization that we truly are one with the earth. We have all the medicine we need in a natural form. I carried my twin’s full term, a hard task to complete. No complications, no NICU time, or any typical concerns with twins. Both were born in perfect health. I breastfed my twins for two plus years and consumed cannabis daily throughout. Those early days were tough with twins, but cannabis really pushed me through. Helping me heal from a c-section as well as to cope with postpartum anxiety. It kept me calm on those days I wanted to lose my mind and allowed me to take a step back and think with a level head. I’m thankful for this beautiful plant and because of it, I believe it’s made me a better mom.
I recently gave birth to my first boy (and last child)! I didn’t think twice that consuming cannabis while being pregnant was a negative. My morning sickness wasn’t as bad, I was still able to work out three days a week until I hit 35 weeks, and I quickly recovered from my third c-section. My anxiety this time around is nonexistent as I continued to medicate. I won’t sit here and tell you all of that was because I chose to smoke cannabis, but I will tell you that I truly believe it helped along the way. In the last ten years of motherhood, I have used cannabis consistently. Some drink a glass of wine to end their night, others drink beers. I like to end my night with a fat joint. A well-deserved reward for making it through the day. A way to unwind and relax for trying my best in this crazy thing called parenthood, and that’s perfectly ok!