Hello to all,
In my last post regarding my fertility, I talked about my struggles with PCOS and the fact that I was on my own and had no future perspectives for partners. I also talked about what was most critical at the time of my fertility journey which was my mental health. I was newly diagnosed as Bipolar with psychosis and a general anxiety disorder. I still desperately wanted to have a child but I knew it was not the right step for me. In the years 2017 and 2018, I went through two massive mental breakdowns. These ultimately lead to the acknowledgment that I could no longer cope with my issues on my own and I needed help. I couldn’t continue to pretend that these incidents were blips that I would soon get over but serious issues that needed to be addressed. My parents also had to accept this well which was even more difficult considering they were not inside my head all of the time. They only saw what I had projected to the world, and if I am being honest I had gotten damn good at lying about my happiness and putting on a mask every day. I had my fair share of breakdowns but most of the time to them and the outside world I was perfectly fine, I was college-educated, I had a full time job, and I
was not a danger to myself or others. So they thought.
Their idea of my perfect mental health changed when I attempted suicide during the summer of 2017. It was not the first time and sadly not the last but thankfully it was the wake-up call that allowed me to get the help that I needed. I know that you clicked on probably expecting to just hear about my fertility journey and how I ended up pregnant, but this was a big contributing factor to my decisions regarding my fertility. It is what made me hit pause for a couple of years before I even started thinking about starting to see a doctor again to start the process.
During this time, I went through another massive change as I moved overseas to a completely new country where I was completely lost regarding the culture and how to operate in this new environment. I secured a job teaching English at a private pre-school which was a toxic atmosphere and completely draining each day, this led to my depression returning in full force and constant panic attacks at having to return to the workplace. Again, thoughts of a baby were put on hold as I was miserable in my new job and my new life.
If you are wondering why I decided to move to Budapest in the first place, please check out my post here https://www.mentalmillennialmom.com/post/what-made-me-move-abroad. I tried cutting back my hours at my workplace to maybe feel some semblance of normalcy and take some of the pressure off but it did little to alleviate the situation and it only grew more troublesome. My boss became extremely concerned with how my frequent absences and panic attacks were affecting my co-workers and the children in the pre-school. I was aware of this and understood where she was coming from and so we mutually agreed I would take some time off.
Funny enough during this period Covid hit and so everything was shut down. I had an entire month at home to figure out my life and decide on how I wanted to proceed would I go to another school where the workplace would maybe be less stressful, would I take some more time off and put the thought of having a baby even further on hold, or would I attempt something completely new. I weighed all of my options and I decided that I wanted to try something new. I no longer wanted to beholden to a 9 to 5 job and a boss or co-workers who could make life unbearable. So, I began tutoring, already the first month I was making as much as I was at my previous job while working part-time and I enjoyed it so much more. I was not bombarded by petty social interactions each day or having to interpret my boss’s mood to avoid being berated. I could set my own schedule and also had no one to directly report to, it was kind of a dream.
I finally began to feel settled in my life and because of this, I decided it was time to reevaluate my stance on bringing a child into this world. I had never been a person who made pro-con lists before I always thought they were too formal for big decisions in your life, especially since I am more of a person who likes to leap off the edge first and then find a way down safely. I mean this doesn’t always end up being the best way because it is not the smoothest ride, I have definitely hit my fair share of rocks or slammed into the concrete ocean once or twice from this way of thinking. But usually, it all worked out in the end, however, this wasn’t simply moving abroad, enrolling in a new school, or starting a new position. This would be permanent nothing I could quit if I didn’t like it or got tired of it as I tend to do with most things in life. As this was not the best pattern to follow, I felt as if it was time to maybe sit down and look at my options with an almost jaded perspective to see if I truly felt I could take on
I have to say if I am being completely truly honest here there were much more negatives or cons than there were positives. For one I knew my life would never be my own anymore, I would be beholden to a person who would depend on me for everything. Netflix binge-watching until 4 in the morning would be a thing of the past and sitting down at the end of a long night to read a book would probably not be happening at least for the first year. I wouldn’t be able to just go anywhere at any time or move without having to make arrangements ahead of time. My salary which used to go to buying the newest iPhone or planning a trip to India would instead be put towards breast pumps and diapers. But on the other side of the list one thing stood out to me and that was unconditional love, I knew from talking to my parents and being a nanny for the past several years how much parents loved their children. No matter how exhausted they were or how horrible they felt one smile from their babies or a giggle from their toddler and their entire face would light up. I knew that if I took on this adventure especially on my own I would have a lot of shit and some days I would feel like I have no clue what I am doing and that I hate my life. However, I also knew that I would be getting to feel that love that I had never yet had before. I love my parents and I would say that most of the time it is unwavering, not necessarily unconditional but it is extremely strong. But unlike other people, I have never really been truly in love with someone nor had a love like that reciprocated. I have loved the children I have watched over but at the end of the day, I would leave, and someday I would separate from them and they would be nothing but a memory. I would never have that bond with them that a parent has with their child and I so desperately wanted to feel that.
I know there are a lot of people who found this to be selfish. I heard it during my time in the mental health hospitals constantly, how selfish it was for people with mental illness to have children especially when it was thought out in advance. But I couldn't help but feel that these people were wrong. I know I have the capacity to love, I know how much I adore children, and I know that I will do anything for those I care about. So why should people who are born with chemical imbalances not have children, we would never say that to someone with diabetes or someone who is deaf or blind. Why is mental illness any different, I am not incapable of being a parent because my brain works differently? Instead, it just means I have to be twice as prepared for any situation I may encounter. I started coming up with backup plans, talked with my family, and heard from them about their opinions. Consulted my parents about how they would feel living with a baby full time and spoke at length with my psychologist about how I would handle being pregnant and not being on meds, as well as readjusting to life with a baby and how that would look given my limitations regarding my illnesses. She was extremely reassuring and we discussed all of my fears, my parents were more than supportive, they were also excited, and everyone in my family although I had been hesitant to discuss the matter with them given their knowledge of my struggles they were nothing but encouraging. Even my friends from Hungary and back home were so helpful and wanted me to know that if I decided to go forth with the process of conceiving that they would be there for me, right by my side.
All of these reasons are what lead me to green lighting the process of trying to conceive. I knew that I was not completely prepared but no parents are, and I knew that I would doubt myself and my abilities but one of my friends said something that stuck with me. I am paraphrasing here but she said that the fact that I was already thinking about the ways I could screw up my child or how I can be a better person and mother for a baby that was just an idea at this point showed I was already a better parent than most of the people she knew. This is the advice I carry with me each day, whenever I am doubting myself I am reminded of what she said. So, if you are ever feeling down about your parenting decisions or just had an awful day and feel like a failure of a parent remember the fact that because you are feeling this way at all means you are doing a great job! Keep it up!
Signing off until next time,
The Mental Millennial Mom