I was going through some archived entries of blogs I follow, when I found This one . Its called I Can't Get Pregnant, I have Bi-Polar"
I was pretty shocked when I read this. Here, an advocate for normalizing the illness, finding treatments that work, and a seemingly very intelligent woman is exclaiming that bi-polar (though not in and of itself) is a good reason not to have children. She does say in her piece that this is for her only and not for others, but, by that same account she ends her piece with:
" Now I know, many people have two-parent households, in which case, good for you, but I have to say, if you’re considering having a child, you ought to consider what single-parenting is like as there is a fairly decent chance it will come down to that as is obvious simply due to the divorce rate.
So, good if you have two parents, but heaven forbid you are single - you cannot possible have a child if you are bi-polar.
I have been diagnosed as bi-polar, and I have four children - and I am planning one more in the future with Andrea. I am very lucky that I have a supportive partner living in the home, as well as a supportive ex. And all of the author's reason seem sound: the medications are bad for pregnancy and breastfeeding, genetics, being a good parent when moods shift rapidly - but let's look at those more closely.
It is true, there are a lot of medications that are contraindicated for pregnancy and breastfeeding. But there are also a lot of medications that can be taken safely. High-potency antipsychotics like Hadol are considered safe for use during pregnancy , and Lithium a very common mood stabilizer is considered safe in all trimesters save the first. Its effects during the third trimester are no more serious than having an epidural: trouble feeding, sleepiness etc.
There are also several other conditions, both physical and mental that have medications that are contraindicated for pregnancy but how many women have popped an aleve for a migraine or taken pepto-bismal; both of these things are a no-no. the fact remains that the choice to get pregnant while on any medication needs to be discussed with a doctor to ensure the safest pregnancy possible for both mom and babe.
The article also states that genetics play a factor, and that if both you and your partner have a psychiatric illness that you should just "sign your kid of for a psychiatrist right now." Of course genetics play a factor - they always do. But who are we, as a society, to determine what the ideal person should be. There is no guarantee that a child born of two bi-polar individuals will be bipolar - but the fact that there exists a chance means they shouldn't even try. What about cases of cancer survivors, or PKU, or diabetes, or even obesity - all of these have genetic factors. Are we really going to come to a time when we say that two overweight people cannot have children because they are more likely to have an overweight child and we deem that an unacceptable way of life?
Not Being A Good Parent
Now, I won't deny that those who are bi-polar who are going through an episode or who are not being treated may go through periods where they are not stellar parents. Their moods preside over everything else, and they can't focus on anything beyond that. But the same can be said for 'normal' parents. Further, I know I parent my children a lot better than the mother who beats her children. I may need extended quiet times, but I still love my kids, I would still give everything for them, and I am still able to parent them.
When did it become okay to rate the level of "good" parenting. What are the standards of good, what happens if people without disorders aren't good?
The author is perfectly entitled to her own opinion, and I am completely comfortable with her choices for herself. She doesn't feel that she is capable of having children - and that's 100% fine. My problem comes in when she gives out facts and strong opinions that seem to imply that no bi-polar adult should become a parent.
All that being said - I really love her blog.