On Bipolar Disorder and Pregnancy- Part 1

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I have been wanting to do this post since I started thinking about becoming pregnant. I know that I don't have to validate my decisions to this blog or to anyone, really. No one has asked me to. It's just something I want to talk about. Bipolar Disorder presents it's own unique challenges to most situations; growing a human is one of those situations. This has been a long and very difficult process. Every pregnancy or conception can have challenges, this was mine.

When Thomas and I started talking about having kids, there were what seemed like a million thoughts running through my head.

-Could I not be on my meds? Is that even possible?
-Well I certainly don't want to be on my meds while I'm pregnant.
-Is this safe? Will I be endangering myself or my fetus?
-Am I strong enough to do this?
-My child is going to send in one of those cards to PostSecret in 20 years saying how much they hated having a mother with Bipolar Disorder. (No joke, people send those in. It freaks me out whenever I read them and terrifies me.)
-How am I going to do this?
-I am insane for wanting to do this.

I was freaking the hell out.

But I also have a uterus, and it wanted a baby. I wanted a baby. A child, young adult, all of those phases. (Though to be honest, parenting around that middle school time terrifies me.) Thomas wanted a kid. So we started talking. Those conversations are super personal, but we discussed all of the good/scary things: finances, parenting styles, how the Navy affects our every thought, and so many other things. We prayed about it a lot (and still do!). There was just one other person I demanded to be brought in: my psychiatrist.

So we went to see him- yes, we. For the first time, I brought Thomas in. And the three of us talked about what this would mean. To me, the most amazing thing was having my doctor look and be completely and totally thrilled when I told him. I was expecting hesitance and caution, what I got was exuberance and joy. Which, by the way, is totally what you want to hear and feel.

I must interrupt myself to say, for the millionth time, do not self medicate or self diagnose or self impose any changes to your medications or plan of treatment if you have BPD, just because you read something here. For the same reasons that I don't give out the names of my medications, I can't advise that this plan will work for anyone else. My doctor, my body, my weird brain. Talk to your doctor about the best plan if you're Bipolar, plan on becoming pregnant or are already pregnant. 

My basic plan was go off my meds. I was on a lot of medication. Over 1000 milligrams of mood-stabilizers, anti-anxiety pills, and anti-depressants. Now making any sudden changes to my medications could freak my brain and body out, causing all kinds of scary things to happen. We didn't want that. Bad news bears. So, going down very very very very very slowly, one medication at a time, would give my body and brain the time they needed to adjust to working some things out on their own. (I should mention, this was way back in May. I've been keeping this a secret for a loooong time.) I made the call to hold off on any baby makin' attempts until all of this stuff was thoroughly out of my system. So that was the plan.

There were lots of contingencies to this plan. If anyone sensed any concern, I would come back in and we would adjust the timeline or, if need be, postpone this idea. This initially covered 3 months, but plans change, and in reality it stretched to almost 5. I knew that my health was key in trying to conceive and grow a healthy child and we knew as a couple that this was one of the most important things, so we imposed no time limit. This would take however long it needed to take and things would happen in God's time- we were just doing our best to make sure we were prepared for whatever He would bring. :)

Look for Part 2 in the coming days. Have a specific question you want me to address? Leave a comment or shoot me an email.


  1. Congratulations on your journey! I stumbled on your blog to check out your fabric covered Toms. As a fellow fighter/embracer of Bipolar Disorder, I know how every aspect of life is colored by BPD - but especially during pregnancy and as a parent. You and the baby will be in my prayers.

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment! (hope you liked the Toms too.)

  2. Oh, wow! What a story! This is super interesting; I never thought about pregnancy and wand weaning off routine medication like that before. I have no clue how that all works, but I DO know that if God gives you a baby, He'll get you through the pregnancy one way or another :) I can't wait to read part 2!

    1. Thanks Michelle! There's a little more about how the medications work in parts 2 & 3. 2 just got posted. Thanks for reading and commenting!