The Redhead is having a baby in all her mental illness glory! Can you imagine? Two years ago, I was receiving Electroconvulsive Therapy, and now I am in college, having a baby. Phew…its been a heck of a journey.
When I became pregnant, I was not trying to do so. In fact, I had been told two months earlier that my ability to have children was around 3-4%, and that statistic was based on taking medications to aid in fertility. I did not bother asking what my chances would be if I did not take fertility medications. With that news, my husband and I were sad but looking toward a future where if I did not conceive, we would still have happy, fulfilled lives. In fact, I decided that my degrees would be my “kids”, and I was working all my coping skills to truly accept the disappointment without falling into a depression. Luckily, I was doing well with accepting this reality, which is why I sat in shock for 3 weeks while I accepted that I was, indeed, going to be a mother. According to my therapist, who happens to specialize in treating people with fertility issues, many people with infertility problems find themselves in the same state of shock. Anyhoo…here I am, pregnant, perusing baby websites, and writing a blog post about triumphing over MI to have a healthy pregnancy. =)
This brings me to exploring how I can make being mentally ill compatible with the responsibility of raising a mentally and physically healthy child. It is a big task, and I would be irresponsible if I did not acknowledge that I have to be self-aware and proactive to make my pregnancy as healthy as possible. With the help of my OB/GYN, psychiatrist, therapist, and a fetal/maternal medicine specialist, I am going to have plans in place to remain healthy, and stable and to address any needs that may arise if signs of anxiety or depression begin to creep in. But honestly, while my circumstances are not usual, I would think that all expectant parents would at least discuss options of treatment in case a pregnancy does not go as planned. MI or not, this is just the responsible thing to do.
One thing that concerned me when I first learned I was pregnant was the possible reactions I might receive from others. After all, I have been questioned about the compatibility of MI and pregnancy before.
Yes, I have been asked if being mentally ill and having a child was a good idea. I hope you read that and were taken back…at least a little. I personally would never ask someone who has had a history with cancer, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, MS…keep naming them…if it was a good idea for them to have a child. That being said, I do not live in a vacuum where I believe everyone should have children. If I were still in a level of illness that kept me from taking care of myself, common sense would certainly assert that I need not take responsibility for taking care of a child. I believe my reaction to a pregnant (trying to conceive) loved one would be more along the lines of, “If you need any help, let me know how I can support you,” versus asking, “Are You Sure Having a Child is a Good Idea?” Support heals what ails so much more effectively than questions that cause pain.
So, yes…I must be careful and in tune to my emotions so that I can proactively address any MI related, ensuring the most healthy pregnancy possible. I will be doing this with the support of my doctors and loved ones who are willing to help if my husband and I find ourselves in need. But I am excited for the next chapter, blindsided or not, of my life. This should be an exciting roller coaster filled with opportunities to practice my skills, make adjustments, and be a great example of a healthy emotional role model to my child.
I am excited to do this! =)
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