Pregnancy and Bipolar – To Be or Not To Be?!

To Be or Not To Be……THAT is the Question…..

This year, I had several friends celebrating Mother’s Day for the very first time with their newborns.  I was so happy and excited for them; starting a family and moving into the next phase of their life.  However, I couldn’t help but be a little sad because I am not at that point in my life yet.  Having children is something that I do want to do eventually, when the time is right that is.

This made me wonder how my bipolar disorder would affect having children.  I mean, while being pregnant, I would not be able to be on the medications I am currently taking.  I would have to be taken off them completely and what would that do to me?  I’ve been on them for almost 5 years and am finally stable.  Would I remain stable or would I have unbearable up and down cycles?  Could I go those 9 months without the medications?  My doctor and I had started to ween me down on my medications a while back and had gotten me down to minimal doses with success, but just before we could begin to take medications away completely, I had some major life events occur which caused a rapid downward spiral.  Unfortunately, the medications went back up, so we don’t know for sure if I could go completely off the medications yet.

What about once the child is born?  Would I be able to handle raising a child even though I do have bipolar and sometimes unpredictable ups and downs?  Would the ups and downs prevent me from being a good mother?  I have been a great aunt to my niece and am great with children, but those children don’t live with me 24/7.  I believe in my heart that I could handle it, but my head always begs the question “What if I can’t?”  Could I handle the long days and nights with little sleep, the moodiness of the child in addition to my own?

How about if my child is born and then diagnosed with bipolar disorder also?  Could I handle raising a child with bipolar disorder while having it myself?  What would it be like to live with someone and raise someone who is almost a mirror image of you mentally?  Would it be too much to handle? It’s been done before, I know people who have bipolar and are raising their children who have bipolar as well. But the question is,

Can I Do It?

Does this mean that I shouldn’t have children?  With all of these “what if’s,”  it really make me sit back and think about the decision. I think this is a decision that should be given much thought especially given the medical history circumstances.  Somedays  it seems that taking care of myself is hard enough and exhausting enough with the ups and downs, how could I possibly take on the responsibility of caring for another person, let alone a child who needs so much and requires around the clock care and attention.

Is it irrational for me to want to have children or think that I can raise children while having bipolar?  I don’t think it is.  While the odds may point against me and there may be a million facts and reasons for why I should not have children,

I also believe there to be reasons why I COULD have children.

I don’t believe that I should let my illness let me live in fear of what I can and can not do, like raise children.  I know many women who are  mothers and also have bipolar disorder, and they are outstanding mothers to their children. At times it may be a little bit more difficult for both the parent and the child, but “more difficult” and “impossible” are definitely different characterizations and gives me hope that if I did want to have children, there is a possibility of it.   Sure, there are absolutely a lot of things I have to consider before deciding to have children, but having bipolar does not completely count me out from having children someday.

So, this Mother’s Day, as I toasted to my friends and their new motherhood or soon to be any day now motherhood, I know that one day I too will be toasting to my own first Mother’s Day.

What are your thoughts on pregnancy and bipolar disorder?

This post was originally posted on the International Bipolar Foundation’s website when I was a blogger for them.

The link for the original post which was for Mothers Day 2011- 

**SIDENOTE  This post is no longer posted on the International Bipolar Foundation website.**

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