I grew up in Greenwood. I was a cheerleader with dreams of going to college right out of high school to get my LPN and someday having a family. The summer before my senior year, I met a man four years my elder. Against my parents’ rules I started dating him. I was seventeen years old and almost grown, so there wasn’t anything my parents could do to make me stop dating him, right? This man was twenty-one years old at the time, couldn’t keep a job, and still lived at home with his grandmother. My parents disagreed with our relationship, but I continued seeing him. Four months away from graduation, I found out I was pregnant. I was instantly excited about becoming a mother, but scared to tell my parents. I was okay with having to put my future dreams on hold until after I had the baby because I was going to have my very own family. I’d still get everything I ever dreamed of as a child, just a little out of the sequence.
The morning came for my very first doctors’ appointment. I was so overcome with emotion; I was so excited. The nurse came in to check my vitals and get my medical background, and then prepared me to check for the baby’s heartbeat. According to my calculations, I was approximately 12 weeks along, so there should be no problem finding the baby’s heartbeat, right? The nurse rolled the doppler across my stomach really slow for the longest ten minutes of my life. Still, no heartbeat. The life was instantly sucked out of me. My eyes swelled up with tears. I knew the news was not good and I felt like I had lost everything in that moment of silence. The nurse went and got my doctor. Same thing. He rolled the heart doppler across my stomach and still no heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed my worst fear: my baby was dead. I asked myself, “Why did this happen to me?” “Am I not a good enough woman to bear a child?” I felt myself sink into this very dark place. But it would not be long before I experienced yet another heartbreak.
When Hope Hurts… and Haunts
Nearing about four months after my first miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant again. I was terrified another one of my children would be taken away. My due date was March 18th, 2006. After the first 3 months of my second pregnancy, I began to feel more hope. I found out it was a boy when I was twenty weeks along. Reality hit me; I was going to be a mother at eighteen years old. I was going to have this little, tiny human to care and provide for and I was overcome with excitement and joy. Our families were so excited for us. We had three different baby showers, such an outpouring of love and support for our precious little boy. I planned to name him Izyk.
Everything in my life seemed to be finally falling into place. When I was about thirty-six weeks along, my doctor scheduled me to be induced on March 19th, 2006. I remember it all so well. On Friday, March 16th, 2006, I was sitting in the drive thru at Arvest Bank on Zero St. in Fort Smith, waiting to cash my last check before going on maternity leave. I felt my stomach ball up. It was weird. But I told myself I am a first-time mother, so what do I know? I went on about my evening in preparation of having my baby boy in just a few days. I woke up on Saturday, March 17th, 2006, and it dawned on me that I had not felt my son move since I was in the drive-thru at the bank the day before. I ate a giant bowl of Coco Pebbles in hopes of making him move a little and thirty minutes later, still no movement. I tried to remain calm and called the doctor. I was told to get to Labor and Delivery as soon as possible. This was not normal.
“I knew it!” “WHY?” “What is wrong with me?” “Am I not good enough?” All of these thoughts were going through my head as I made my way to the hospital. I had a sliver of hope that maybe I was just overreacting, and my son was okay. His room was completely ready for him to come home. His crib was perfectly made with his Winnie the Pooh bedding, a rocking chair in the corner of his bedroom with a Winnie the Pooh throw blanket draped across the back of it, his diaper bag is packed with blankets and outfits for his newborn pictures. I just knew I was overreacting. I made the long-dreaded walk into the hospital and up the elevator. The nurses rushed me into the ultrasound room and helped me get my gown on. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a highway with traffic blowing by me going both directions. I heard commotion going on behind me, but I was stuck in this “twilight zone.” I felt like I was in a nightmare. This couldn’t be reality. But it was reality. My unborn son would not be coming home with us from the hospital. He did not make it. Once again, I sank even further into this dark whole of wondering, “WHY?”
With not enough time to grieve the loss of my son, just five months later I found out I was pregnant again for the third time. Of course I was on edge the entire time. My doctor referred to a “High Risk” doctor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I woke up every single day of this pregnancy with fear something might go wrong. I practically lived at the doctor’s office because every little thing scared me to death. With my history, my doctor decided to induce me two weeks early. He did not want to let me go full term. I agreed.
April 20, 2007, I welcomed my precious baby girl, Serenity, into this world at seven pounds seven ounces, with a head full of hair. This was the absolute best day of my life. I made a promise to myself to always remind my daughter that she has a big brother and another sibling that will watch over her and I for the rest of our lives.
The Power of Pain
Although I finally had my daughter, my first two pregnancies still haunted me. I knew there was something more I could have done. I had this doomed feeling that my daughter was not going to make it either once we brought her home. But as we settled in life was good and full. I was so happy except for a problem with my back, so I started seeing a family doctor to help with restless nights caused by the pain. I was only about twenty-one years old.
My first time seeing this doctor, I explained my back pain history and a little of my recent losses. He made me feel comfortable talking to him. I told him I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was in the second grade. He got my parents medical history as well as mine. Without an x-ray, he sent me on my way with ninety pain pills. That was when my life took the darkest turn.
As soon as I swallowed that first pill, I knew I was in love. How sick right? I fell in love with the feeling it gave me. I was able to clean, cook, work twelve hours a day, take care of my daughter, and act like I didn’t just… Click To Tweet
The addiction grew and grew and before I knew it, I was being arrested at my job for “Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud” in 2010.
Addiction, Abuse, and Accountability
For two years, this doctor put me on one hundred and eighty hydrocodone (pain pill), soma (muscle relaxer), Xanax (anxiety medicine), phentermine (diet pill), and Ambien (sleeping pill). I weighed one hundred and thirty pounds. This doctor gave me something for every excuse I used, without any further testing. I was in such a dark place at this time, so I abused everything he prescribed me. I never gave myself time to grieve the loss of my children. I numbed myself with those drugs.
I got charged with “obtaining a controlled substance by fraud” because I deliberately went into my doctor’s office, lied to him, told him I lost my prescriptions when in fact I did not, and he rewrote them for me. For two years I got away with lying to my doctor, and he would just do the same thing for me even though I was in his office three to four times a month telling him I lost my prescriptions. He knew I did not lose my prescriptions. That was neither here nor there.
The day I got arrested for that felony charge, my entire life was turned upside down. My daughter’s dad took custody of her and I had nothing to live for anymore. I went from toxic relationship to toxic relationship. I honestly wanted to die. This went on for a total of 8 years before I hit rock bottom.
The charge that brought me to my knees was in 2016. My boyfriend and I were doing drugs together, and he had a connection for heroin. That was one drug I had never done before. We just received our income tax refund and had a large amount of cash on us. We took a long drive to meet up with the heroin dealer, and then we came back to Fort Smith and got a hotel room.
We stayed on a bender for an entire four days. After we ran out of money, we went back to his mom’s house, and we still had a little heroin left. He and I went into the bathroom at his mom’s, got high one more time, and I passed out standing up.
His mother barged into the bathroom. I came to in an angry rage. To this very day, I do not remember everything that took place those four days in the hotel room or at that house. It was all a fog. The next thing I remember is four cop cars racing down the road with their sirens on making their way to our driveway and slamming on the breaks with their red and blue lights flashing. One of the officers put my hands behind my back, read me my rights, and asked me if I had anything that would poke or cut him. I assured him I had no weapons but I had two syringes in the back pocket of my jeans. The officer then asked what the syringes would test positive for, and I told him heroin. This was rock bottom—and my chance to get free.
I had allowed these drugs to imprison me. I gave them all my power, living to get high. I did my best to try to stay high, or make myself so high, I wouldn’t wake up. I woke up angry every single day because my intention was to not be able to wake up. By some power greater than myself, I knew I needed to escape the people I had surrounded myself with in the past eight to ten years, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. I agreed with my attorney to go to prison.
September 14th, 2016, will stay with me forever. On that day I surrendered to my disease, signing my own prison sentence. With tears rolling down my face in humiliation and fear, I couldn’t believe this was actually my life. I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to get to this point. I had dreams of going to college and providing a better life for myself and my children.
Free At Last
My name is Jazmyne and my A.D.C. number is and forever will be 714429. I did a short three-month stint in Newport, Arkansas, at the maximum-security prison for women. Upon my release, I stayed focused and grounded. In the last almost five years, I have been able to pay off my debt to society. I was released from parole six months early due to my ability to stay on course and abide by the rules and regulations the state put on me upon my release from prison.
Best of all, I have regained full custody of my daughter. I have started my second year in college and gotten remarried to a wonderful man.
I have learned my past does not and will not define the person I am now—a woman of strength and integrity who works hard every day to beat the statistics of addiction. I am so grateful for my beautiful life I get to live today.