Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder

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.

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 medication I am currently taking. I would have to be taken off them completely and what would that do to me? Would I remain stable or would I have unbearable up and down cycles? Could I go 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. 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 have my 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 that I could handle it, but what if I can’t? Could I handle the long days and nights with little sleep, the moodiness of the child in addition to mine?

How about if my child is born and is 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?

Does this mean that I shouldn’t have children? All of these “what if’s” really make me sit back and think about the decision. 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?

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 reasons for why I should not have children, there are reasons why I SHOULD 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 have bipolar disorder and they are outstanding mothers to their children. Sure, there are 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, while I toasted to my friends and their new motherhood on this Mother’s Day, 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?

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