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When Bipolar Disorder Takes Away Your Dream of Giving Birth

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I remember back in 2016, whenever Ms. Flo came to town a little late, I prayed to God I was pregnant. And then, it’d make its monthly appearance, and my heart would hit the bottom of my stomach with a loud thump.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I knew getting pregnant while on my medication was highly irresponsible, and for the most part, very unlikely, as we always used protection … but a girl can hope. I knew if I did get pregnant while my organs had been swimming around in 2,500 mg of chemicals on a daily basis, there was a high chance the embryo would be affected — the drugs could cause malformations, heart defects, the baby could be born with a minutely short lifespan. But my desire to bear a child superseded any doubts or reservations. My heart was set on having a baby.

Never mind if we weren’t financially secure. Never mind if we weren’t ready. I wanted it to happen accidentally because there was no way I would allow it to happen intentionally.

It is a selfish desire, to wish for a baby even if it means they might be harmed by carelessness. I know that.

But it is also an excruciating reality to accept, knowing the only way you can bear a child is if you abandon your medication you have been taking since you were 16 (20 years, in my case).

The medication you’re scared to death to stop taking because you fear you may wake up and realize they are what keep you sane. To base your reality on your sanity, to never really know if it’s you talking, or the pills. And to not be willing to find the answers to questions you don’t want to ask.

Hell, I skipped one dose of one of my meds, and I was off track for three weeks. I skipped doses for a month, and I lost my mind for nearly a year.

It is humiliating to admit your sanity and your pills are critically linked. And though I may be able to wean myself off them, I’m scared to know who I am without them. What I might do. If I might crack. I wish I could stress what dire consequences I might face if I decided to taper off them…

I don’t want to, but I will have to forfeit bearing children. My heart feels hollow knowing that. I feel almost barren, if that makes any sense. But to risk my sanity, simply put, may be a question of morality. I’ve seen my stability without pills, and I’ve never liked it. I don’t think I could handle it, and if you feel that makes me weak, well, you’ve probably never had a mental illness. Maybe if I was given a year to taper off, I could make it happen … but I don’t know if I have that much time, and it could even take longer. What happens if things go south, and I can never come back from it?

It’s not an easy decision. Choosing to stay on meds and give up something I’ve wanted for many, many years. Something I’ve dreamed about. Maternity clothes I’ve fantasized about wearing. Seeing a little pooch and knowing it’s not a side effect of my medication. Carrying a child in this world. Bringing a child into this world. No one can tell me it can be compared to anything else. I’ve never experienced it, but I will bet everything I have on the assumption it can never be compared to anything else. And I have to live with that. I have to pass by expectant mothers and their protruding bellies and try my best not to cry or scream silently in my head, “That will never be me!”

Lord knows I’ve experienced such envy in those cases. An envy I’d much rather not have. Man, did I hope those pregnancy tests would be positive. I guess you can say I’ve never really grieved never bearing a child. It saddens me every day.

Surrogacy is an option, but an expensive one. I’ve passed the viable age for freezing my eggs. I have endometriosis, so having a baby is exponentially more difficult because of it. And no, I am not opposed to adoption, in fact, I probably will go that route.

But as I said, I still haven’t grieved not having a baby.

I blame my illness for this sadness.

I blame my body for its necessity for pills.

But nothing else, really.

In all honesty, it’s hard to this day seeing people blessed with something I’m not sure I will have, but I realize babies are beautiful no matter what packaging they come in. And I know I will love the child I end up with.

And though it may take a minute or two for me to remind myself, I am so grateful for what I do have, and I am certainly hopeful for who or what the future will bring.

Getty image by tommaso79

Originally published: May 27, 2021
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