I’ve tried to write this post many, many times before but I can honestly say that it took me over four years to get myself to pen these words. We recently celebrated her birthday. I made the cake you see above and yes it was as delicious as it looks. She also started going to school and for the first time, I not only have some physical but emotional distance from her. This separation actually made me look objectively at my experience as a bipolar mom and I now feel more comfortable talking about how a new life came through me.
I know writing about mental illness and having a baby is important because years before I even had a husband, I started researching whether I could have a baby. Would it be safe? Would I get sick? Would the baby get sick? Would I be able to take care of it? So many questions and so few answers. I especially looked for bipolar mothers and to my knowledge, I only knew of one. Yes, one! And her experience had been very rocky and still was as her own kids also developed some disorders. Very encouraging, right?
If I tried to avoid the hardship of pregnancy and birth and never had a baby, then I would’ve also missed out on the joys of having a lil part of running about and making my heart smile.
Yet, I knew I wanted kids. That’s the reason I went into teaching. As I look at my daughter standing at the mirror right now, watching herself blow spit bubbles, I realize yes I am living my dream. Today, I casually shared with a loved one that I’m thinking about starting a big project. They remarked, “What have you been doing for the past four years since she’s been born?!” The question was so utterly funny, angering and preposterous that all I said was, “Never mind.” They continued with many more comments and questions and to each one, I said, “Never mind” in the same tone until they stopped.
Nothing is ever all good but nothing is ever all bad either.
They have NO IDEA what I’ve gone through to have a baby. No human can and it’s not their fault. Only Allah was there for each painful second and only He truly understands. When I look at the stretch marks on my body after having Noor, I see them as scars that I proudly carry from a war I won. It was a fight not against a foreign enemy but my own mind. Having bipolar, I had a severe manic episode when I got pregnant. And after giving birth, I had severe postpartum depression resulting in many hospitalizations.
So it was very tough having a child but having my daughter makes it all worth it. I’ve learned that nothing is ever all good but nothing is ever all bad either. Alhumdulillah Noor is a very easy baby to raise and take care of. The ease I have with her balances out the hardship I had in having her. Moreover, I’m very careful in my mind and life to separate her from the experience I had. She is an innocent life of her own accord and if I didn’t have a difficult pregnancy, I would’ve had another test.
Life is a struggle. And I don’t think of it as ups and downs. Rather, life is like two train tracks going about in the opposite direction. One side is the easy “good” stuff and the other carries the challenging “bad” cargo. They are both always travelling side by side. Thus, whenever I have something good, there is some hardship attached to it. And whenever I have a huge storm, there is always a boat nearby. Anything worthwhile having never comes easy and Robert S. Peck’s book “Road Less Travelled” really taught me that. If I try to avoid the hardship of pregnancy and birth and never have a baby, then I also miss out on the joys of having a lil’ part of running about and making my heart smile.
So for those of you who have a mental illness and are thinking about having a baby or already do, I can’t really tell you what to do or not or even how your journey will be like. All I can do is share mine in the hopes of lending my hand to you so you don’t feel alone. Bringing a child into this world is a big responsibility and remember Allah is Infinitely Greater than that. Trust Him and keep talking to Him.
You don’t got this. ALLAH’s got you.
“My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel said, “Such is Allah; He does what He wills.” Quran (3:40)
This is what Zakariya (peace be upon him) said. He prayed not for one year but years upon years asking Allah for a child. His challenge was old age and yours might an illness. Whatever it is, ask Allah, keep asking and He will give you all that’s good. Don’t look at how great your problem is but at the Greatness of the One you are asking.