When I sat in the brown room of my doctor’s office, the many side effects she listed began to blur together. At this point I had tried two other medications for my bipolar and was already confused about which ones were supposed to cause me to gain weight and which ones I couldn’t drink grapefruit juice on (I know, the grapefruit juice thing is weird. It has something to do with how the liver processes stuff). But one thing she said to me did not go over my head into oblivion.
“You can’t get pregnant on this medication. It would be really bad for the development of the child. If you want to have children, we’ll have to figure out a solution and you would have to go off of your medication.”
That afternoon, I went home and did some of my own research. My medication was like many other bipolar medications and would harm the development of the child if I got pregnant. But not being on the medication could be equally bad because extreme depression can also hamper proper development and who knows what those pregnancy hormones would do to my brain. I also discovered that if you have bipolar, you have a 50 percent chance of passing on some kind of psychiatric problems to your kids.
I have always wanted to have kids. Having a big family has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and being a mom was the first job I ever wanted to have. But I knew, in the moment I found that statistic, that I could never have kids of my own. I could not risk the damage that my brokenness could cause my child. I don’t want to bring someone else into the world that has to face the same pain that I have to on a regular basis. In addition, I would be put at risk if I went off my medication. Especially because sometimes the medication is less effective when you go back on.
I want to stress that this is a decision that Bryan (my husband) and I reached together about what was best for our family. I am not saying that people with mental illnesses should never have kids. I read the story of one woman with bipolar who took the risk and was very happy with her decision and the child that was brought into her life. But that risk is just not one that we are willing to take.
Besides, if Bryan and I want to have a family, there are other options. Both he and I want to adopt children at some point. But right now I have to get to a better place mentally. There are some days where I can barely take care of my dog, so I don’t think I’m ready for a child. Hopefully that is something that will change soon.