My Worries About Having a Baby as a Woman With Bipolar Disorder

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

I’m terrified. No. Make that petrified. How do you hold two entirely separate things, one in each hand, and weigh the importance of one over the other? How do you wrap your head around the possibility that you might not even be able to have the one thing in life you have wanted for as long as you can remember? How can you choose your health over an innate, natural desire, or even need? How do you sacrifice your health for a dream?

Or do you have a choice?

Do you stand a fighting chance against the cards that life has dealt you?

And is life telling you to back off? Or fight back?

Fight for what you want, what you feel you need in every ounce of your body? Why should I be different? Why should I be deprived of something I’ve wanted for so long? Something that makes a part of me ache a bit because I yearn for that something to be a part of my life as well. A part of me. A part of us.

But…it is not that simple. Then again, what major decision ever was?

You see since I was young, I’ve wanted children of my own. Three. I’ve always wanted three. Whether it be two girls and one boy or one girl and two boys, I could never really decide. But I always knew it had to be three. And through the years, I’ve dreamt about what their names would be, what their personalities would encompass, what talents they might have.

But never in my wildest dreams could you have told me 15 years ago that having kids might not be an option for me. I would’t have believed it. And then, I would have dropped my bottom lip even further to the ground when you told me it is because a year later, I would discover I was bipolar, which meant, medication, which meant chemicals, which meant hundreds of milligrams cramped together in little yellow and green cases that could potentially bring harm to an unborn baby. Do I dare to take that risk?

It might be risky to try and have a child while on all the medication I am taking. Right? Sigh. And I’d be pretty foolish to try and stop taking the meds so I can have a child. Right?  Of course. I wouldn’t do that. Ween myself off slowly sure… I mean, that is what my psychiatrist told me is what I’d have to do.

But I’m so scared. I have been on these pills since I was a teenager. I’m scared to death to simply stop taking them. Will I be able to handle it? Could I cope? I mean, I’ve had a major relapse even when I was on the pills! What happens when I’m off them entirely? It…I don’t know. It seems so unfair. I feel like bipolar disorder makes my life abnormal enough as it is. Is it so wrong to have one thing in my life that is “normal?” So I can at least pretend to be “normal” again? Why should I have to deny myself of one of the things I want most in this world because I developed a mental illness?

But if I were to go off my meds? I fear the paranoia will come back. I fear I will start hearing voices again. I fear getting depressed. I fear getting stuck again. I don’t want to put myself in the position I was in before. It literally almost killed me.

But the thought of not having children kills me as well. It’d be easy to say, “I’m going to be strong!” And I’ll have the greatest reason ever for it. But the truth is, I might not be able to control myself or my illness once I’m off my meds.

But, and yes, I know this is like the 20th “but” now in this post, but (there I go again) I’ve always felt I was meant to be a mother. Always felt that motherly instinct. It is a part of me that’s been present for decades. What’s more, I don’t want to deny the man I love something he wants as well. I want to be able to give him children.

I never really know which part of me is my medication, and which part of me is me. The two have been blended together for so long, it is difficult to divide up the pieces. You are left guessing. And you are left to ask yourself, “This person I am giving up (this person who has been tweaked, formulated and regulated through the years), will that person disappear once I abandon my meds in order to create, what I want to believe, is a better, more magnificent life for myself (which I feel would occur the moment I am holding my baby in my arms for the first time)?”

But I know who I am and I like the person I have come to be. It’s taken years, but I’m happy in the state I am in. I am comfortable in my own skin. I have to believe this is the person I will continue to be once I stop taking my pills. I have to believe it because if I don’t… I won’t recognize me at all. And others won’t recognize me. My own boyfriend might question my new state of mind. My new behavior atypical of the girl he’s grown to love the past eight years and eight months. I don’t want to change for the worst. Hell, I don’t want to change at all if it means losing myself. I can get by in life being who I am today. I could excel if I wanted to.

But really, what I want is simple. A baby.

I’m working with my doctor to take the best path for me, but why does it have to be so hard? It’s all that B.S. baggage and everything that comes with it. But really? As petrified as I am to live a life without these drugs? I’m even more petrified to live a life without children. I can’t imagine that life. And it’s not that I don’t love this life I am in. It’s not that I don’t love Richard immensely because God only knows how much I love that man. But…I don’t think our family is complete. Not yet. It is missing a baby bottle or two…or three.

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