"I knew I needed to do something and knew there was a better life – one with Callum and my family in it."

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a mum. I come from a large family, both

parents being one of eight, so was surrounded by younger cousins from a young age. Even

at school I was known as the mothering one, taking care of others and always having a

listening ear.

So, when at 17 I fell pregnant, it came as no surprise to me and I was delighted. That wasn’t

how everyone felt though and I was given various options by my parents who were hoping I

would terminate the pregnancy. Probably not because of the pregnancy but more because

of the person I had chosen to be the father.

I’d had a difficult time in my teen years, desperately trying to find love but in all the wrong

places and in all the wrong ways. When I met the man who would become my boyfriend

and the father, I was taken by his looks and the fact he was older, but was oblivious to the

life he lived and the person he was.

I had met a heroin addict, one who had not long come out of prison. I was so naïve I

actually only thought heroin addicts lived on the streets in London or were actors in films

like ‘Trainspotting’. I’d used recreational drugs throughout my teens so wasn’t scared of

drugs, but I really had no idea what was ahead for us.

Callum was born in August 1999. He was wonderful, a proper little bruiser, but the hospital

knew of the drug history of his father, and the fact I had used recreationally in the early days

of the pregnancy before I had known I was pregnant, so felt he needed monitoring in the

SCBU when he first arrived. I was devastated and had to lie to my mum (my birth partner)

about why they had taken him away – just one of many lies my mum would hear over the

following years. He spent 3 days in the unit and then another 2 days in hospital with me

before we went home.

I was living back with my mum but the lure of the life with his father was too great and I

moved back out in the winter and spent Callum’s first Christmas in a room in a halfway

house as we were waiting to be housed by the council.

The Millennium New Year’s Eve was when I first tried heroin. I didn’t have the willpower to say no when it was offered as a ‘treat’, I wanted to escape too and see what the fuss was about – surely it would be amazing given my boyfriend did it every day! Long story short, I spent the next two and a half years smoking crack cocaine and heroin. I begged, borrowed and stole to get enough money for myself and my boyfriend. During that time, the only thing that kept me in control was Callum. Having him meant I needed to maintain some level of normality. I fed him, clothed him and kept a roof over his head.

It was only when my family intervened, following a concerned person’s letter to my mum and Callum’s school, that things began to change. Callum went to live with my mum leaving me with no responsibility and no reason to maintain anything. I used more, I committed more crime and cared about nothing, especially not myself. I had got to the point where I was smoking so much heroin just to feel normal, it didn’t really do anything anymore and I hated the thought of being an intravenous user (everyone I used with was and I had witnessed the horrors of what that entailed). I knew I needed to do something and knew there was a better life – one with Callum and my family in it.

I had reached a rock bottom (sadly, not the only one) and asked for help. My mum saved me. She put me through rehab and started what was to be a rocky journey of recovery. It took a relapse and two more stints in rehab to make the difference but I got there eventually.

I came home from rehab in South Africa just before Callum’s 5 th birthday. My amazing boy was so big and I had lost so much of his young years but I was determined to make up for my mistakes and provide him with the life, and mum, he deserved. He had suffered and I now know that he had developmental trauma from the early childhood experiences but through hard work, consistency and positive family experiences, we started to fix the damage that had been done.

I have been clean for 18 years. In that time, I have been to college and university. I trained as a teacher and have worked as a SENCo for the last 5 years. I turned my life around and became the mum I wanted to be. My husband knew me before I became an addict but we only got together once I was clean so he has never known me as a using addict and I am so glad of that. We have a wonderful life together and have had three more sons together. The siblings Callum craved.

My relationship with Callum is unlike any other. He knows everything about me and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That said, my other boys don’t ever need to know about that part of my life, it has been and gone and will never return.

I wanted to share my story as part of Christy’s project, just in case there is one person out there struggling with addiction who might see this and know there is a way out, a better life. A chance to really live and feel and experience motherhood for what it should be – a blessing.