She Had the Perfect Pregnancy. Then, a Drug Test

Maggie Downs writes of testing positive (falsely) for meth while in labor
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2016 12:24 PM CDT
She Had the Perfect Pregnancy. Then, a Drug Test
Stock photo of a woman in labor.   (Shutterstock)

Maggie Downs had suffered a miscarriage, so during her pregnancy with her first child, she behaved in a saintly manner: no wine, no deli meat, organic produce only. She writes on Narratively of suffering through a toothache with only clove oil for relief (she turned down even Tylenol), wary of the dentist administering an anesthetic that could make its way to the placenta. A 42-weeks-pregnant Downs was hours into labor—her husband and doula by her side—when a nurse informed her she had tested positive for meth. Downs' reaction? Explosive laughter. But then it stopped being funny. A second urine sample tested positive as well. She was told a social worker and Child Protective services would get involved. Then she remembered her inhaler.

"My husband scrolls through pages of information about albuterol inhalers and drug tests. He shows his phone to every nurse who steps foot in the room. 'See,' he points at a page from, then flips to CBS News stories about false positives." Her son is delivered via emergency C-section; later, she changes his diaper for the first time, and sees a plastic bag around his genitals. "Of course. They have to test my child for drugs, and this is how it’s done. It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen, this tiny baby part wrapped in plastic." (His test was negative.) She's left feeling like a "wounded dog," and the first few days and weeks with her son—until an outside lab finally returns negative results—are "dark" and marked by postpartum depression. Read Downs' full piece at Narratively. (More pregnancy stories.)

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