Well, Friday I was handing my biggest pregnancy challenge yet. If you've been following my blog for long, or have read through the archives, you will know that I have Type II Bipolar Disorder, which is a less sever, yet still very disruptive, version of Bipolar (also known as Manic-Depression).
It's something I was born with and probably dealt with since I was a kid. Most of that time I just blew it off as being a "passionate" person. A few years ago, it became apparent that it was time to seek help. I found a great psychiatrist who put me on a wonderful medication and for the first time in my life, I understood what it was like to be emotionally even.
A few months later, I decided to go back on birth control since it was pretty apparent that this was not the optimum time for us to have a baby. I mentioned this to my psychiatrist and he said to keep a close eye on my mental state because they might have to adjust my dose to compensate. Huh? Since it would be a few weeks before I could start them, I figured I had time to look into it. Then, when I filled the prescription, the pharmacist warned me that there was an interaction between the bipolar med and the birth control. I figured it was like how antibiotics make birth control less effective. So, I started researching it. Come to find out, it's actually the hormonal birth control pills that effect the ability of the bipolar med to stabilize my moods.
Being that I'm selfish, I talked it over with Jay. I told him that I was feeling emotionally even for the first time in my life, and I just didn't want to mess with that right now. We'd gone for months off birth control without getting pregnant and figured we'd chance it some more (also knowing that we'd be ok if we did get pregnant. Don't want anyone thinking we were fooling ourselves!). I told my psychiatrist this at my next appointment and he assured me that there would be no problems if I found out I was pregnant. He said to let him know if we found out, and we'd talk from there.
Four months later, we were surprised by our little Butter Bean. Since the psychiatrist had implied that it was no big deal, it took me a couple of weeks to get in touch with him about the pregnancy. Not telling my office made that exceptionally hard since the Dr's office is only open while I'm at work and you have to leave a message when you call in. So, it took a couple more weeks to coordinate with the assistant to get the information.
Well, on Friday, I finally talked with the assistant and she told me that the psychiatrist wanted me off the meds... immediately! I hate to admit it but I burst into tears on the phone with the assistant. Because of the conversations I'd had with him and my midwife, I had not anticipated the need to go off the meds and especially not that quickly. Friday was not a good day. I was having nightmares of the next 6 months spent in an ever downward spiraling depression, causing me to lose my job, my marriage, my friends... everything. Last fall, as I fought with this illness, was one of the darkest times of my life. The thought of going back there was terrifying.
Childbirth doesn't scare me. I look pain-med-free natural childbirth straight in the eyes and say, "Bring it on suckah!!" But the thought of going off my medication makes me shake in my boots. But if it is best for my Butter Bean, then I'm willing to do it. My deepest fear is that my emotional instability will hurt the baby even more than the meds might have. I fear that a spiraling depressive state will cause harm to my Mackie. (Yes, I think it's a boy. Yes, we'll name him McKinley. Yes I'll call him Mackie... or Mac-Mac. And yes I'll still love him if he ends up being a girl!)
So after only two days on a half dose, last night I took no meds (other than a Tylenol PM to try and sleep). With withdrawals are a little gnarly right now, mostly relentless dizziness and a stomach that is not upset, but not settled either. Oh and an inability to sleep, but that's because one of the meds I was on was purely to help me sleep. I guess I'll be relying on my old standbys of Binadryl and Tylenal PM (both safe during pregnancy, thank goodness!).
I'm going to have to learn to control my emotions on my own. I have a prenatal yoga video I plan to start tonight. And my friends and family are all on high alert. The major challenge of having an emotional disorder like this is that you have no concept of "emotional normal" so you don't know when you're feeling abnormally. It's like having a ruler that constantly changes, so you have no standard to compare anything to. So, it will become very important for me to rely on my close friends and family to help guide me through this time, to gently let me know when I'm acting unusually, and help me see that things might not be as bad as they feel. Add pregnancy hormones on top of that and it becomes a challenge unlike anything I've experienced before.
I am on standby for an appointment with my psychiatrist and will be called my midwife this morning to let her know that I'm detoxing. Hopefully, the withdrawal symptoms will pass soon, and it will not be as difficult as I fear. But as I always believe, "Expect the best, prepare for the worst!" and hopefully, the worst never comes.
So here's to my first major motherhood challenge. I'll keep you updated.
p.s. since I may be looking at more frequent appts with my psychiatrist, I broke down and told my office about the pregnancy. They were very supportive and not having to hide it will make things easier! So, as one challenge presents itself another is relieved.
Happy Monday everyone!