Read Part 1 here
Part 2- Or how I learned not to let WebMD scare the snot out of me
Ever gone on WebMD to see if you have a cold or the flu and end up with the same symptoms as a rare type of cancer or deadly virus? It's okay, it happens to me all the time.
WebMD and other resources will give you some really scary things to read. Most of the time I felt like these resources were telling me that Bipolar people shouldn't be mothers, or they treated the pregnancy like it was some hurdle to get through in the course of the disorder. It was "ooh Lauren, you shouldn't be doing this and it'll be a miracle if you both make it through alive." Yikes. Let's be honest though, I know that I am a prime candidate for Postpartnum Depression. I know that going off my meds is a very tricky thing and I have to be extremely careful. But I really don't want to give up on the rest of my life for the sake of my BPD. Who would that be helping?
You know what the crazy (to me) thing is? People are not conducting much, if any, research on pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder. So the information out there is based on only a handful very small trial studies. Maybe it's just me, but it seems if BPD occurs most often around late teens to twenties, you might want to do some research on all of those women who just reached childbearing age and now have a huge disorder they also have to figure out and deal with. I would sign up.
As my doctor and I talked more, both at that initial appointment and the
subsequent ones during the weaning of the meds, he did such a great job
in assuring me. Because the truth of the matter is that my doctor and my therapist know me. They have known me for years. WebMD and the National Alliance on Mental Illness do not know me. If my doctor and therapist think I can handle it and think I would be a great mother, I will surely trust them. From his experience, 9 out of 10 women who are pregnant and go off their meds to do so end up mostly balanced throughout the pregnancy. The hormones that rage actually end up evening most of us out [I can definitely vouch for this now- it's pretty amazing]. In his opinion, going off meds before trying to conceive, if the patient can handle it, is the best course of action. There are some medications that are safer later in pregnancy, so I should know that is an option, should I feel like I need it. But there are definitely medications that have proven themselves harmful to a developing embryo/fetus/baby/whateveryouwanttocallit.
I knew, before I even went to see Dr. C, that what I wanted was to be Bipolar medication-free for this pregnancy. That is my ultimate goal. It's not easy to make that call. Most of those WebMD, NAMI sites encourage medication for the mother. And seriously, if that's what it takes for you to be as healthy as possible, I fully believe that is your choice and the right thing to do. If you go into a manic period or get depressed and stop eating, stay on your meds. Talk with your doctor and switch to some safer ones. Everyone is different. But for me, I knew this was right. It's not that I wasn't concerned, I just felt that I was in a place to try. I wanted to give my little fetus the best possible place to dwell- and it was important to me that it not have to deal with all of the crazy side effects or massive quantities of chemicals they can push on me. So far, I am very happy that I have.
Stay tuned for Part 3 soon! Again, if you have any questions you'd like me to address specifically- in this series or anything else, leave me a comment or shoot me an email. Check out this cool infographic on Bipolar Disorder. It's super quick and will give you some basic stats and numbers.
The big disclaimer: 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. I think I'll just add this to the sidebar.