Why did you decide to have kids anyway?

Yes, that is something someone actually asked me. In spite of my desire to be a jackass to people that say things like that, this is a legitimate question and one my husband and I thought about a lot before making our decision. I’ll start from the beginning, because as someone taking my bipolar into consideration there really wasn’t any source for real people information.

When Terry & I got together it was assumed by both of us that kids were in our future. We both love kids, he’s been involved in scouts since he was a kid, and I was always involved with the children’s worship at church, babysitting, working in the nursery…the bottom line was kids were involved in our future for sure. As time passed I finished my associates degree, got a job, got insurance, and promptly lost my mind. All-out Hollywood movie style hospitalization break down kept me out of work for three weeks. The same thing happened again a year later, shortly after we were married.

At this point the weight of kids was heavy on me. It wasn’t the right time. I was full on psycho crazy, and besides that, what kind of earning potential did I really have with an associates degree from a technical college no one outside of Madison knows? Also, I really wanted expensive makeup, and trips around the world, and the ability to go out at night…it definitely wasn’t the right time. I struggled with this for a long time by myself. I honestly don’t know how common that is for bipolar, but I really don’t like to bother other people with “my issues”. Even after being with Terry for nearly 5 years I still struggle with allowing him to help with things I consider my problem. The real problem with that is everything I do affects him. Really affects him, because that’s how my brain works. When something is “my issue” it ends with completely shutting everyone else out. Married life doesn’t work well that way.

Eventually I did fess up and we had a great late night discussion about the kid debate. We decided no kids. There were other things we wanted. Not the least of which was more school for me. Thank goodness we didn’t have kids during my bachelor’s, we lived pretty secluded from people that would have been able to help. The biggest problem with that situation and kids becomes responsibilities that Terry would have to take on if I lost it again. Without kids I am the number one priority for safety and care, but with kids and little help the kids become number one priority. This would lead to Terry calling the police or an ambulance rather than being able to take me to the hospital, which ultimately results in him being unable to take responsibility for my medical care. I would have to take on that responsibility, even when I would be unable to make rational decisions. Neither one of us has that kind of confidence in hospitals, I once got ACCIDENTALLY admitted to the psych ward when I went in for heart palpitations. Not even the people that made me sign the release could explain how that happened. I also ended up with a pneumonia shot that time too. I would never agree to a pneumonia shot under normal circumstances.

The decision to not have kids was final for a long time. I spent 2 years finishing my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and french language. We spent many lovely nights at a local microbrewery with friends and no need for a babysitter. I got into the only grad school I applied to, which suddenly changed our situation entirely. Getting into Wayne State means there would now be people around to take care of both me and Beastly if something went horribly wrong. There are people nearby that can be folded into the “crazy time” support system, people that can make decisions that Terry and I approve of for me if he can’t be at the hospital, or take care of Beastly long term if something is disastrous for even a week.

Ultimately, we decided based on the people in our support system that kids were the right decision for us. We have a unique marriage set-up where, if necessary, Terry turns into my caregiver rather than my husband, and we have likewise set up a really unique system for Beastly. Most people don’t need extra people to decide what is right for their children. Terry and I have set up a system that strongly involves the godparents in Beastly’s life decisions. We are spending the 8 months of preparation laying out a plan for our hopes and intentions for little Beastly, sharing the education goals, and crisis plans with the team we have termed “The Beastly Council”. It consists of me, Terry, and both godparents. The godparents were picked for their intelligence, their ability to discuss, debate, and address difficult topics with ease and respect, and the amount of love and respect Terry and I have for them. We trust that they understand our goals for our child, and respect our methods for raising Beastly. We have means of calling a vote, video conferences for discussion, and above all, the mutual respect allows everyone to weigh in on the decisions equally. This set-up is not normal, but definitely is a huge part of the support system we have chosen to create allowing me to have peace of mind knowing my child will be raised the way I want when I’m coherent, even when I’m not.

So, that’s the long version. In the end, Beastly decided to begin arriving months earlier than anticipated. Right now feels right though. The support system is better than it has been in a long time. There are people around me at school that I can add to my support system. While I was talking to one of my potential advisers she said “if you’re manic I’ll let you know!” Thank goodness. I need as many people watching out for my mental state as possible. Everything is brand new right now. It’s scary, and I’m lost. But it’ll end up ok, because of all the people I know and love.

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