Introduction to being Bipolar and Pregnant and living in Cape Town

Pregnancy is no fun journey when being Bipolar

Pregnancy is no fun journey when being Bipolar

Being pregnant, the third time around, feels like dejavu. Mainly because I fell pregnant around 15 weeks after having my second baby boy.

What a surprise that was!

Before you think that this random act of madness was planned, it wasn’t. Ah, none of my pregnancies were planned, come to think of it. But this third one particularly not. I just survived a terribly rough second pregnancy as I am a bipolar mom (who was) adamant in not being medicated during pregnancies.

‘Rough’ is indeed an understatement, I assure you. My psychiatrist at the time (of the second pregnancy) thought I was mad, funny enough, and I switched Psychtrists towards the end of the pregnancy.

At this point, I had been hospitalized numerous times all due to anxiety getting out of hand and causing physical symptoms.

The new psych understood why we wanted to be off Lithium (my meds of choice) but warned us of the dangers we were facing if we carried on this path. She also assured us that the baby would not be harmed by the Lithium (there are specific heart problems in the fetus if Lithium is ingested early in pregnancy). I think I was on Lithium for a week and I immediately felt like I was coming back to Earth.

The suicidal thoughts lessened, I felt the need to be more hygenic, the psychotic hallucinations died off, I stopped snapping at everyone and I put my cellphone back on (I often need a break from all people when depressed). This meant, at least the end of the pregnancy, would be smooth sailing. Well, at least from a Psychiatric point of view.

This current pregnancy, even whilst medicated, is still proving to be quite a challenge. After hearing that I was pregnant, my psychtrist was not impressed. She gave me a talking to, and after some tears we came up with a plan: change gynies (to a more psychiatric experienced gynie) and start Lithium as soon as it was safe.

As It was a sudden stop in medication, I crashed, as I expected and we soon had to look for alternatives, safe medication for baby as well, i.e Seroquel. Adjusting meds with my rapidly changing body is such a challenge, as one can imagine. I’m now on Lithium and Seroquel. If the medication adjusting wasn’t a big enough issue, during the 13 week scan, we discovered baby had a huge abdominal cyst, a curved little finger and a small hole in his heart. Both the specialist and my gynie urged us to have an amniocentecis done. This was one of the most stressful and faith-challenging times for both me and my husband.

As everyone one knows amnios are invasive tests and there’s a chance of miscarriage. Thankfully, my specialist is amazing and the test went well. Due to having some contractions, I was hospitalized for a few days. Every day was a nightmare, wondering what the test results were. On the last day, Valentine’s Day, our specialist called and gave us the clear: no major syndrome problem. The remainder of the chromosome tests would only be available in two weeks, but she was hopeful that everything would be fine. And everything was fine, baby has no chromosome problems- the only concern now would be the cyst. The main issue would be to check that the cyst does not grow and it just disappears.

I know, it all seems much. Even for ‘normal’ people. Did I mention at the beginning of the year, my nanny left? We all know how important our nannies are, or just some form of constant help, just helps.

Also my career, I think is suffering. How does one explain, let alone ask for understanding for what I’m going through? I’m trying not to dwell on those uncertainties just yet as I still feel ‘fragile’, and raw with emotion and questions as to what all these life circumstances mean.

To help me through this I have a gynie, fetal abnormality specialist and psychiatrist team who all work very well together and trust one another’s skills. And I had to learn to put faith in their abilities. I have my husband and his family as well as my own. Not everyone knows about my mental illness though and that’s okay for now. Hence, why this blog is anonymous for now.

With a few months left to go of this pregnancy, I find myself juggling my mental wellbeing, a 7 year old attending school, 11month old learning to walk and teething and being a good wife. I learn more about pregnancy, raising children, my husband and myself.

Come on, talk to me- what did you think?

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