By: Stephanie McDougall

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I remember it fondly. It was September 28th, 2013. My 23rd birthday. My husband and I had been planning for a family for the last few months and I was suspiciously nauseous but didn’t want to try a pregnancy test yet because if it was negative, I’d be a mess for my birthday party. I promised my husband I’d hold off a few days to check and I would enjoy my birthday (and my birthday drinks).

I ordered a red wine and ceremoniously drank it as if it were my last. I cut it off at one drink because what if! I licked the glass clean. Not a drop was going to waste. I’m pretty sure the server tried to take it away and I nearly bit her arm off.

As soon as my husband left for work that Monday morning I threw back the sheets and ran to the bathroom to take a test. Sure enough it was a big fat positive and I cried my heart out! I was so happy and could barely contain my excitement until the end of the day when I could tell my husband in person.

Giving up drinking for nine months was easy. It was a no brainer. Plus I was so nauseous I don’t think I could have had a drink even if I had wanted to.

But here’s the kicker. I’ve officially given up alcohol. For good. My son is almost one year old and I’m coming up to two years sober.

Why? Why would you purposely turn down booze when you can totally indulge? Why cant you just have a glass of wine once in a while? HOW DO YOU DO IT?

The answer is a complicated one. I’ve chose to remain sober for me and my family’s sake. I can’t be the best mom I can be while I’m drinking. It’s a very personal decision that I made for myself and my family. I know this about myself and I’m not even going to test the boundaries. This in no way means I judge those who do have children and drink. If I thought I could balance the two I would but I know for myself it would be a slippery slope.

My experience with alcoholism is that it can creep up on you. A drink now and then can lead to a nightly beer with dinner or wine when the kids are asleep. What happens when my son wakes up in the middle of the night and has a fever and needs to go to the hospital? Who drives him? Who cares for him?

Alcoholism tears families apart and that’s no secret. If I have enough insight into myself and know that I could very easily get carried away with drinking, enough to ruin my family, and I did nothing to prevent it from happening, that would be irresponsible. It would be 100 per cent my fault and I couldn’t live with that guilt.

Although I don’t drink anymore I still wake up with a pounding headache, there’s never enough coffee to erase the tiredness — I spent the previous night consoling someone who was irrational and emotional. But now it’s not a result of alcohol. Just a tiny person who I love dearly and would do anything for. Even if that means giving up the drink.

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