I’m heavily overdue with my third child. There will be some of you who know how that feels (swollen, cant reach my feet, haven’t slept in weeks, cant walk without pelvic pain, highly emotional). Pregnancy is a life event that happens to many in some way, one that I’m obviously not new too. It is a life event that goes on some time and that ends with a whole other life event; that of birth and new life. Given its enormity pregnancy and all that goes with it is something that for many involves family. I’m lucky for this to be my situation.
I have my husband, sharing the experience, my other children showing great innocence and inquisitiveness about it all, and my immediate family wanting to know how its going. Though its my third, its this pregnancy that seems to have gained the interest the most of my two brothers – they’ve both recently married and perhaps my imminent state strikes a more imaginable cord with them now. Either way its lovely to have either of them and my sister in laws, willing this baby on and getting involved. My dad too appears more relaxed and on hand than before. I am aware that with my first child he was most definitely not ready to become a grandad! and it all rather got the better of him. Now, however he is established in the role for my other two and although now not in the same city is happily reminding me regularly that he and mum can and will do whatever we need of them when the time comes. I write this and feel warm at my positive situation and loving family.
However the obvious person who’s involvement i haven’t yet mentioned is my mum. She is the women in my life who gets what it is to do pregnancy, to give birth, to be a mum. I speak as someone who by no means has had a smooth sailing relationship with my mum in the past but once I got pregnant the first time and since she is THE ONE that I want and need involvement from. But my want and need has to work around Mum’s Bipolar.
This current pregnancy has seen me witness 6 or 7 mood changes in my mum; from high to low and back again. It hasn’t caused me too much upset, its how she’s been for years. But now? Now I’m feeling in need of my mum. For the last 2 weeks mum has been in a low and due to a new med’s regime is highly anxious more than anything else. I ring my parents regularly to chat, to check in with how mum is. What i want to be doing is telling Mum how I’m feeling, describing the latest visit to the consultant, discussing my birth plans, because as my mum she gets all this (and however great my dad is there are some things Im just got prepared to share). But at the moment she doesn’t or cant. Yesterday I called and Mum cried down the phone about how sorry she was but that when the baby is born she wont know what to say or write in a card. This anxiety of hers was repeated for the duration of the the call. I don’t care what my mum can or cant write on a card to me, and this I told her. I calmly explain that when this baby comes I will tell her (and dad) and I will be excited and happy to share him with them and to have a cuddle myself and that’s all that matters. Mum offers noises as if in agreement but I know she’s not really hearing me, her anxious mind whirring off onto the next issue. And this is fine, this is all I could have expected and the chances are that once he’s born, or at least within his first weeks of life mums mood will change and she’ll be the fantastically happy and exciting granny she can be.
But its the interruptions to such life events that I resent the Bipolar for. Mum can never just experience life as it happens to her and to us, her family. She will always be worrying about whether she’ll be happy or sad. And its the surrounding implications; the medication means that if sad, mum just won’t remember this child’s arrival because the doses of drugs so alter her memory. A pattern that has chased my mum throughout her adult life. My mum, following my birth suffered postpartum psychosis and as a result of that experience she can barely re-call my entry to the world, certainly no positives of that momentous life event for herself. And that just doesn’t feel fair.