We are incredibly lucky in that Sqk comes from a non-substance misuse background so is not at risk of FASD or one of the other alcohol related disorders. It is only when we have thought about matters that we realised we would not have got a local child from a substance misuse background due to DH being a community pharmacist in our local city.

However, I know several children who have got a FASD diagnosis or are suspected of having it. In particular one boy who we do see a lot of given he and Sqk are at the same school and his parents are good friends of ours. So I have some knowledge of how much it can affect families – so many of the adopters I know either in person or online are coping with one of the disorders associated with drinking in pregnancy. We were both very happy with the recent guideline changes that say no alcohol is safe in pregnancy and do not see it as ‘nanny state’ interfering with our lives but rather entirely sensible advice to prevent a lifelong condition.

People are astonished when I tell them that alcohol is more dangerous to the foetus than heroin. We’ve been lucky in that one the expert’s in FASD has been our LA medical advisor – and she does regular training sessions for prospective & approved adopters on drugs & alcohol. When we attended one 3 & a bit years ago, DH actually wrote it up as professional CPD due to what he learnt in it – he has been able to use some of what he has learnt to support his clientele.

I cannot completely comprehend how it can be living with a child with FASD/ARND but I get glimpses from what other adopters say and post online. I am glad that the effects of this entirely preventable condition are becoming more widely understood and known in the country as a whole. Yes some mothers will say I drank through pregnancy and it had no effect on my child but it so much down to individual metabolism and also luck. Only a small proportion of children with FASD have the facial features – as those occur when alcohol is taken at a very specific point in early pregnancy when the face is developing.

I always said if I had been able to become pregnant I would not have drunk during it – and in fact when we were trying to conceive I avoided drinking alcohol – it seemed such a minor thing to do to ensure the health of any children. I know for addicts it is difficult because they are addicts but we have a hidden alcohol issue within this country so it affects more than the children of acknowledged addicts. Estimates put it at around 5% of children born have some level of FASD  so my major message when I am talking to young women is to remember that it is not just binge drinking but one or two drinks at the wrong time that can cause lifelong effects to your child so why risk it if you can avoid it. Yes don’t stress too much if you had a drink or two before you relaised you were pregnant if the pregnancy is an accident but if you are trying to become pregnant it may be best to give up drinking as well as taking folic acid.

My views are somewhat different to many of the mums I talk to in the school playground but I come at things from a very different perspective. I was chatting to another Mum this morning (whose son is probably autistic) who said she gave up alcohol in both her pregnancies as she really didn’t feel the risk was worth taking and it was a good thing to do for her children.

Update as new term starts

Well after an interesting end to July which ended with me getting a job offer for a post in the civil service we were all set to up sticks and move 20 miles across county when I got an interview for a job in another local university (email came through miraculously while we were in France with in-laws & patchy Internet). So I was back at work a day before having another day off for interview – which I went into with no real preparation (presentation was a recycled one from 7 years ago) and not caring about getting the job. Lo and behold two days later  – in Clearing I get phone call from Dean of School – who when we eventually connected up (took 4 attempts) offered me the job. After a lot of discussion between DH & I and my parents we decided that a job that kept us living where we are and didn’t change a lot for Sqk was the right job. So I gave back word on civil service position (explaining that this other job was better for my son and when you come down to it I am a mother first) and accepted the job that means effectively I travel 3.5 miles further a day to work as of January.

Sqk amazingly calmed down a lot once we explained to him that we were not moving and the anxiety levels in the house had gone down. Even starting school again has not been much of an issue other than wanting to go back to Reception as there is more play there. But so far so good in year 1 – ok we are a week in but not had any reports of issues yet. Then again going on a year ago, it will be close to half term before the real Sqk comes out at school. His childminder bless her has been getting some of the fall out from school compliance as he feels secure there. He was very happy to see me at end of school today – I am praying that my timetable allows me to continue to do this in January. However, I have plans in place in case it doesn’t – childminder before school and my Mum after school for the 12 teaching weeks. We have also agreed for the remainder of academic year from January to pay for an additional half hour in evening until I see what my journey is like. Sqk’s bedtime is now half an hour later so he gets same amount of time with me in evening anyway.

Two evenings on coming home this week have involved me opening garage so Sqk can get his scooter out. The daughter of the family who moved onto cul-de-sac just before end of last term turns out to be one of Sqk’s good friends from school so he wants to go out and play with her when she is out. Last night it was me watching 6 kids (Sqk, his friend, her older brother (year 4), another lass from year 1 who lives at house opposite end of cul-de-sac and the two boys from house 2 doors down from us (year 2 & 4). Other parents happy to let children roam freely but we are not quite there with Sqk yet although if he keeps to boundaries as well as he did last night I shall get there. It was wonderful to see him so happy and so involved – his social/emotional maturity was not noticeable in the scooter/bike riding going on.

Just got to hope that the anxiety over SH’s job doesn’t kick in too much – he got told at his performance review he either needed to look for a new job or agree to go on a performance management plan. His boss said he is a brilliant pharmacist but not so good on the HR and shop management side. Mind you as DH says he has had little support. However I got him cheered up by finding 7 or 8 jobs that were possible on Tuesday night – and he has 5 applications in already – with more potential jobs out there. He thought it would be difficult to find a new job but looks hopeful. We have agreed he is going to take the opportunity to get out of the city and hopefully into either an online pharmacy, a supermarket pharmacy or a hospital outpatients dispensary (not the ones in our city however). All of these take away a lot of the HR stuff and more particularly the large amount of retail that comes in a high street pharmacy branch. As he admits himself had a crystal ball 13 years ago when he qualified he would have gone into hospital pharmacy rather than community as he is much more into the clinical and patient focused stuff.