I decided to start this blog with a little something about myself. I live in New England with my husband and my son. In 2002. after periods of highs and lows, mainly lows, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I did not genuinely seek help until after I was married in 2007.
In 2008, I took myself off of medication cold turkey so that I could have a child. I would never recommend this to anyone. If you want to come off medications, talk to your psychiatrist or other prescribing physician. Little did I know that having a child would be such a challenge.
In 2009, I became pregnant. Shortly after I discovered I was pregnant, I began bleeding. I was told that I was having a miscarriage. Then, the bleeding stopped, my hormone levels doubled and the doctors told me to be cautiously optimistic. Two weeks later, my hormone levels dropped and I was again told I was having a miscarriage. They did an ultrasound which showed nothing. They continued to monitor my hormone levels which plateaued. They failed to drop appropriately and my diagnosis was changed from complete miscarriage to ectopic pregnancy. I received shots of methotrexate to treat the ectopic pregnancy and it was monitored for several weeks. Fortunately, the levels dropped after a few weeks.
After the pregnancy loss, without medication, I began cycling. I was initially, as expected, down. Then, one day, my thoughts began racing and I began acting like a fool. I began “cleaning” the house which entailed tearing the bookshelves apart. My husband and therapist convinced me to go to the emergency room where they had me sent to a partial hospital program. I was started back on medication, which turned out to be the wrong medication, and treated with extensive therapy. I found a new psychiatrist because the one I had seen before becoming non-compliant was no longer with his practice.
This psychiatrist was a women’s health psychiatrist meaning she understood the impact hormones have in mood swings as well as kept up with the research on medications in pregnancy. She put me on a medication regiment that closely resembles the one I am on today. Unfortunately, she was not readily available and I had to switch psychiatrists. In the meantime, I received a consult with another expert on the effects of medications on a fetus.
In 2010, I switched to a psychiatrist who specialized in bipolar disorder and understood my desire to become a mother. She worked with me on the medications through my ups and downs. My lows still outnumbered my highs.
In the summer of 2010, after trying to get pregnant again for a year, my husband and I received a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Month after month of negative pregnancy tests took its toll on my mental health. We tried IUI with Gonal-F. It failed. At the holidays, I needed a break from trying.
In spring of 2011, we decided to try again. I contacted the fertility specialist only to be told that we had to start over because we had waited more than 6 months. I setup a consultation again, but in June 2011, I discovered I was pregnant. I considered this my miracle pregnancy. It had been 2 years since my last pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to shout it from the rooftops!
Unfortunately, in August, I discovered my baby no longer had a heartbeat. On August 17, 2011, I had a D&C. We named that baby Alex. We never knew the gender of the baby. I was totally heartbroken.
In February 2012, around my due date, I became depressed. It was so bad that my psychiatrist encouraged me to enter another partial hospital program. I entered in late February, but in early March I became an inpatient for a mental health issue for the second time in my life. I was suicidal and no longer trusted myself.
In the hospital, they adjusted my medication and increased my dose of Wellbutrin. I think this was my lifesaver. It has made such a difference in my life. Things are night and day to what they were. I emerged from this period of depression within a month or so of my hospitalization. We decided to see the fertility specialist again.
Over Independence Day weekend in 2012, I learned I was pregnant again. I was afraid. At six weeks, I had some light pink spotting and I called the doctor in tears. I asked why is this happening again only to be told that the bleeding wasn’t necessarily indication of a miscarriage. I was scheduled for an ultrasound 2 days later, but the doctor told me that they could set one up for the following day.
I went in for the first ultrasound and there was my baby – complete with heartbeat. They couldn’t find an indicator as to why I had bled. They believed it was just an irritated cervix. From this point on, I was paranoid about every little twinge, every little itch, and I looked for blood constantly. I was afraid to tell anyone I was pregnant. I thought that telling people would mean the end of the pregnancy.
At 13 weeks, I announced my pregnancy and all was well. At 18 weeks, we discovered the baby was a boy. We also discovered I had a low lying placenta with blood vessels from the placenta sitting on my cervix. This would need to be monitored because it put me at risk for a bleed. I was put on travel restrictions.
Around 32 weeks, we discovered that the placenta and blood vessels had moved. We also discovered that the baby was still breech. The doctor monitored this, and, at 36 weeks, we discovered he’d rotated to the head-down position.
At 37 weeks, my water broke. It was 5:30 in the morning and my husband was up, getting ready for work. I walked into the kitchen and I thought I had just peed myself. I called the doctor and they told me to come in. I took a shower as our childbirth class told us not to rush in such a situation. As I stood, I continued to leak and they didn’t even test to see if it was my water because I was dripping down the hall.
We tried to see if nature would take its course, but, at noon, I was given pitocin. Unfortunately, the baby was stubborn. I wasn’t fully dilated until the following morning at 8:30. I pushed for 3 hours and then had a c-section. Finally, I had my rainbow.
At birth, the baby had low blood sugar so they took him off to the special care nursery. He rebounded and was back in my room that evening. After discharge, we discovered he was jaundice and went back to the hospital. Now, he is a healthy 3 and a half month old.
I had some issues with postpartum depression. I was afraid to take the baby outside, to enjoy the world, after he was born. I worried he would get sick. It wasn’t until he was a month old that we even went to the grocery store.
Now, I have some supports in place. I go to a new moms group that meets once a week. I talk to other mothers. I have my mom visit often. I have a therapist. All of these things make a difference, but it doesn’t make bipolar disorder go away.
My hope is that this blog will discuss my journey and help someone else. I hope to pass on the skills that I learn to deal with life with a child.