Did you know you had bipolar before you had children?

Did you know you had bipolar before you had a child?

Were your doctors able to tell you the likelihood of passing this disease to your child?
I ask because my wife and I are considering children, and I am terrified of passing on this disease myself.

In my personal situation the answer to this question would be yes, I knew I had Bipolar Disorder before I had children. And I am not sad that I knew before hand. Let me explain our circumstances and maybe this will help you.

Before we had children we carefully thought out the process of having children because of my illness. We knew that it may come with some “prices” but we were as prepared as we could be at the time. We also discussed with my psychiatrist which would be the best way medication-wise for me to maintain my mood while pregnant.

In July of 1998 we found out we were having our first child. I was so excited but I will also say that I was very nervous and not sure what to expect. I was afraid my mood would get out of control during the pregnancy. However, I had a very savvy psychiatrist who put me on a good regimen of medications that controlled it the best it could be during the pregnancy. After I delivered I chose to nurse my baby and medications were slim on what I could take, but I did continue nursing.

When this child was nine months old I found out I was pregnant again. This was an unexpected pregnancy and I was more nervous than before. The same medications were prescribed but those meds didn’t control it as much as the first time. I did have big mood swings and a lot of uncertainty. When I delivered this baby something told me not to nurse and bottle feed so I did. I am not sorry I bottle fed because I was able to remain stable on a very good cocktail of medicines that controlled my mood.

We thought we were done having babies and I got pregnant with child number three when the second child was fifteen months old. We did the same thing of medications and they did NOT work like before. It was a “messy” pregnancy and I was a mess with terrible mood swings. At this point I KNEW I was done having kids. My body was telling me to quit so we did. It was a hard decision because we wanted four or five kids but now we are so thankful we made that choice. I did nurse this baby for four months before I realized I HAD to take care of myself and I went back on my medications. I was not sorry for my choices and in the long run it worked out the best for everyone involved.

When I look back on my life I realized that having babies with Bipolar Disorder did come with some risks. I was told before hand what could happen and I took the “chance”. I am not sorry I took those risks because I have three beautiful boys who are a huge blessing to our family.

There are other risks when having babies with Bipolar Disorder and that is genetics. Genetics are genetics and we can’t change that about our bodies. Genetics take a role in whether a child gets cancer, diabetes, mitochondrial disease or other diseases and disorders. I would say the risks isn’t huge to pass this disorder on through my own studies on the disease of Bipolar Disorder itself. Our youngest son does have Bipolar Disorder. He is in the appropriate treatment and is doing well as I write this article.

However, I will say that the more babies I had the more my symptoms got worse. I am taking more meds today than I have ever taken. I do try to take very good care of myself and deal with my personal family situation to the best of my ability.

Is it OK to have babies if you have Bipolar Disorder? I would say a resounding “yes” to that question. My only advice would be to think it out carefully and make plans with your psychiatrist so everything is in order before you start trying!

One thought on “Did you know you had bipolar before you had children?

  1. I just wanted to add that when I realized my issues were bipolar my kids were already in their teens. I have done alot of research on it and I am quite concerned that I may have passed along the genetics for bipolar to one or both of them. I watch them and have discussed bipolar with them. For now that seems to be all I can do. BUT, they will have the advantage that now my wife and I understand what to look for and will, hopefully, recognize if either of them start to exhibit signs of bipolar. It seems to me that is all we can do as parents is to educate our kids and then keep an eye out for any signs of it in them.

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