Real Stories from People living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
This is the story of Melissa’s experience with alcohol use during pregnancy and her journey to find the best possible care for her son.
“I drank at the beginning of my pregnancy; before I found out I was pregnant. My doctor told me that it was okay to continue to drink wine during pregnancy. He said I could have a glass of wine at night with dinner. He said it might even help me relax and improve circulation. Not only did I think drinking wine during pregnancy was okay, but I thought that it could be healthy. He never asked me if I had a drinking problem, or how many drinks I have a day, or if I binge drink. There wasn’t any dialogue. I really wish that my doctor would have had more dialogue or asked me questions about drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
“When my son was born he looked perfect. He has amazing strengths. He’s brilliant and he’s an amazing musician. However, as he got older I realized that things just weren’t quite right. He doesn’t like how clothes feel. He wore the same outfit for almost a year. I finally found a pair of socks that he would wear. Then the company stopped making the sock. That wouldn’t be a big deal for most people, but it was a terrifying moment for me. We went through about 25 packages of socks before we found a new brand that he would wear.
“On his first day of kindergarten, the school called me because he had turned over all of the chairs that people weren’t sitting in, turned over items in the kitchen area in the classroom, and thrown his shoes at the teacher.
“Most kids will get mad when they have to end play dates or sleepovers. But instead of just getting mad, my son tried to jump out of the car the other day because he had to leave a sleepover.
“When I finally realized what was going on, it was a relief, and it was horrifying, and I felt guilty, and I felt ashamed. But mostly I felt relieved to know what was going on.
“If a pregnant woman said to me, ‘I drink a little bit here and there and I was told it was okay,’ I would tell her that she wouldn’t if she had to live just one day with the way that I feel about myself, knowing how my son has been affected by my choices.
“I am angry that I was given wrong information about drinking during pregnancy. I want to tell as many people as I can about it. You never know how much alcohol during pregnancy is too much, so why take that chance?”
CDC would like to give a special thanks to Melissa and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) for sharing this story with us.
Watch Melissa’s full story on video
"FASD has affected my life in many ways. I was born six weeks early and weighed three pounds, eleven ounces. As a child, I never knew what it was but it was hard for me to make friends and I found myself feeling afraid of others. School was very hard for me, especially math and English. I couldn't comprehend them. I completed high school and tried college, but it didn't go well. Then I got a job.
“Working was hard. I didn't know what I wanted to do and I went from job to job. I couldn't hold on to a job. It was hard for me because I developed anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. I still deal with that today. I see a therapist often and take medication. It's still a struggle.
“I do a lot of writing to express my feelings. It helps me. I also watch people very carefully to learn how to do certain things. I tend to read everything twice to comprehend what I am reading. For my anxiety, I avoid loud and crowded places. I always surround myself with people that I feel comfortable and safe with.
“I got involved with an organization called Al-Anon because I grew up in an alcoholic family. I do share my FASD story at the Al-Anon meetings. I always tell myself if there is one young woman who is thinking about having a child and who is drinking, if I share my story and that one person hears me, it's worth it.
“I want people to know that there is hope. I keep telling myself, if I can survive, others can too. FASD comes with a lot of shame and challenges. I always tell people to stop and think before taking that drink. Pregnant women should remember that they are not drinking alone."
CDC would like to thank Frances and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) for sharing this personal story.
If you would like to share your personal story, please contact us at email@example.com
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
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