Avoiding pregnancy with medical concerns

#21

This is right up my alley. I too am bipolar and I have and do struggle with the issues that you have talked about. All the prospects you speak about were and are still frightening …possible post-partum psychosis, having a child with a birth defect, having to go off meds.

It was so frightening that at first to begin I did not feel that I had the right to marry, much less have children. I couldn’t concieve of anybody loving me enough to want to have kids with me knowing the risk. I decided that I was better off being single rather than marry (and other people told me that too); even though I was dying inside and really felt called to marriage.

Then after much struggle with this issue and numerous other life issues, there was a special night last year when I managed somehow to be up at 3 a.m.(sorta like now, tee-hee).I saw the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla on EWTN (here is a her story in brief from here saintgianna.org/significantdates.htm but the rest in full is found in the site map at left. While it seems a morbid story for the issues we share, what really touched me was the Prayers and Sharing section of the site, where people shared innumerable prayers to St. Gianna as well as testimonies as to prayers answered for difficult preganacies. It was at that time that I realized that I have to fully surrender to God’s will to be married and to realize that with God all things are possible. So I said “Yes, Lord, I will follow your vocare** to be married and have children no matter what the cost”

Even after this, I was like."OK God, I surrender but this is not like the single life or religious life…where is the guy? He has to be extremely compassionate and be preapred to take care of me if I fall ill. Where in heck will you find that man?"
Sometime later, I went on catholicmatch.com (no this is not an ad for them), I set my profile preferences for a certain age etc…and would just check back for fun.( I was on a trial memebrship and couldn’t communicate with the guys so it was just curiosity about the process) Lo and behold one day, I saw a match. The guy wrote about God in a way that touched my heart but what was even more suprsing was that I KNEW him. (He has a rare name), He was a guy who was at my church that I knew since I was a teen but somehow I hadn’t seen in a long time.(Our parish has several weekend Masses so it is perfectly possible not to see someone for a while). But as I could not communicate with him I simply left it alone and lived my life.

Jump now to this year and I am taking care of my Mom who has been ill for months.I am so focused on my Mom that the idea of a relationship is out my head. I was just complaining to God and asking to send a young friend like me who could relate to taking caring of a sick aging parent. I go to my usual Mass and who do I see? The same guy. Since I knew both his Mom and sis, I was simply cool with walking up to him and asking how things were with them. What fell out his mouth was," My mom is sick", so I was like,“Well join the club.” It turned out that he was the main caregiver for his Mom and so we simply exchanged information about the world of bedpans and breakfasts in bed. He gave me a ride home and I started to send him some inpsirational e-mails. What has developed from that is now a beautiful love affair.

We plan to be married in the next two years ( I am still in school and it is not only my Mom who is ill, Dad has cancer as well) and we are putting our trust in God for when it is time for babies to come.We still have our trials to go through with three sick parents between us. Today we have just hospitalized his mother. But through Christ we will get through this too.

I fully will be relying on the intercession of St. Gianna and my main goal is to be as healthy as possible for when preganancy happens. We both have decided on NFP and we will be using it more conservatively. As for the fear about thaving a child with birth defects, I think I worked it out as this:

We will be co-creators with God in the marriage act to have this child, but ultimately God has the finally say in how the child will be, defect or no. I pray that the child (or children) may come out without defect but a child who has a disability is of eqaul worth and dignity in God’s sight. If the child has bipolar, I pray then to be the best mother and example that I could that living with bipolar can be done with grace, strength, a sound mind and health.

While I never will dream****of judging you or telling you what to do, I hope that what I have said will make you think as well as what you find if you go on St. Gianna’s site…May God bless you and keep you. You can PM me anytime

#22

This is a bit off topic but since several of us have mentioned bipolar:

my belief is that some people with bipolar can handle being parents and others can't. It depends on a lot of different things including how severe the illness is, how long it's lasted, whether the person really wants to be a parent knowing it might impact his or her mood significantly, and the amount of support the person has.

And also, as I alluded to before, whether the person has other health issues that complicate the picture.

There is also the issue of "comorbidity." That means having more than one psychiatric disorder at one time. Despite what the media says, having only one disorder is relatively rare. Many people have more than one condition. That means that people who have a bipolar dx may have other conditions that are not being assessed for or treated, b/c some doctors may diagnose the bipolar and then not look for anything else.

Specifically, it is fairly common for people to have had traumatic events in the general population. That also applies to those of us with bipolar disorder. Having co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not that uncommon. I think if people have bipolar, it's important to get assessed for other problems as well, because for example, PTSD can be treated through psychotherapy.

I went through a terrible time with bipolar myself and my psychiatrist concluded that my PTSD was flaring up to the point where the bipolar meds had stopped working, due to very high levels of anxiety and agitation. I had an inpatient hospitalization at a post-trauma unit, and I improved substantially after that, after a couple of years of being really ill. When the PTSD calmed down, the bipolar meds started to work again.

I would suggest that anyone with bipolar be assessed for other disorders as well - there is also the possibility of having something like, general anxiety disorder - and seeing if there is treatment which may involve psychotherapy or other types of medication. But if there is psychotherapy, and the person has PTSD, in my opinion the therapist often needs to be experienced/expert at treating PTSD. There are two problems I have found doctors can fall into: one is pigeonholing you based on what happened in the past and getting stuck there, and the other is keeping the therapy superficial and focused on the present and not allowing you to talk about the past. Both types are damaging. It takes someone who knows what they are doing to find the right balance.

I'm posting this b/c several of us on this thread have mentioned life with bipolar and I have achieved a great deal of recovery that even my psychiatrist did not expect when he first started treating me in the spring of 2008. I was very ill then and had been for a while, and continued to be really ill for about another year. Again, I think the issue of parenting with bipolar is an individual decision and the OP has been clear that is not for her. However, whether you become a parent or not, in my opinion it is helpful to know if you have other psychiatric conditions and if so, find out how they can be treated.

#23

Hi, I would like to start with saying I am glad that this question has been raised and how difficult it is. I remember when I was younger I had asked a similar question to a monk and had received an answer: "if the man is not an animal he would abstain from sex". Well I think it was his lack of experience speaking. In real life there are not many who can live in total abstinence. Even these few would have some lapses on their way of living this way. Therefore it seems to me that certain contraceptives, e.g. condoms, could be a much lesser evil than looking for sex outside marriage or masturbation. Of course they would not answer the question fully. It seems to me that couples living in abstinence have to forget about sleeping in the same bed and keeping a physical contact and other important issues. Only if they started a very intensive life of prayer would they survive together. Everyone is called to do it of course, but so few do. Luckily for others it is not a choice between mortal sin or hours of meditation daily :). There has to be a way out.
I am in a much easier position. My wife suggested starting using condoms today - she is not ready for the 3rd baby yet but her cycle is very unstable. I myself cant see living in abstinence at the moment even for a year - I have my problems here, I have to admit.
One thing I wanted to add: it seems that using contraception that can harm a developing foetus by aborting him etc should be out of question. if you do use NFP or other ways, than you would have to do regular pregnancy tests and in case of positive reduce the medication to safe level. May or may not work for you.

#24

Use Sympto-Thermal with most conservative rules and use an OPK (ovulation prediction kit) to confirm the LH spike so you know that the corresponding thermal shift you get a few days later is indeed a confirmation of ovulation.

Basically, use Day 6 rule for Phase I and most conservative rule for Phase III which cross-checks CM, BBT and even OPK results to determine ovulation. Wait the full four days after the first temp spike AND drying up. Then you're almost certainly 99+% to avoid without using contraceptive/abortifacient devices.

Would doing this be easy? Probably not at first, but once you get in routine you should be fine. Expensive? No, you can use the cheap OPK strips and can get a ton of them for like $5 from eBay and elsewhere. Basal thermometer is like $12. CM observation is free.

Now, of course, the big question: Will it be easy on you or your husband when it comes to your sex life? I'll have to concede that it definitely would NOT be. My wife has her own medical issues that make conception a bad idea for awhile and after LAM was over, we had 6-7 months of very long periods of abstinence. Even with her first couple of cycles since they restarted, Phase II has been long. As in more than a month long. I'm not going to lie; that is straight up not fun. But I understand the risks associated with conception right now and even though sometimes I want to chew off a pillow (and so does she) during that month, I get through it. Just gotta hit the gym more.

On the plus side, her luteal phase is 15 days long so subtract three days from that and you've got almost two weeks to make up for the month. That's always fun to do!

#25

This is a bit of a non-sequiter, but has the Catholic Church changed its stance on other religions going to Heaven?

Her husband converted to Judaism... if he doesn't accept Christ at some point, isn't he going to burn in hell forever by Catholic teaching?
Which means if the OP believes she's going to Catholic heaven, she'd have to be there and be eternally blissful while knowing her husband was suffering eternal punishment.

Are you ok with that?

If you're not (and I know I wouldn't be in your shoes), then once again, you're deciding that your own understanding of morality differs from (and is superior to) church teachings. Given that the only post you've remarked as being helpful and consoling came from someone called "former Catholic" I would seriously advise looking at your faith and seeing just how much of Catholicism you actually believe in.

IUDs do not prevent fertilization of eggs. They prevent implantation which prevents pregnancy, but if you believe a fertilized egg to be a human with a soul, the IUD will cause it to be excreted and die, making you a murderer by pro-life Catholic teachings. Again, maybe you don't see it that way, but that would be another point where you differ from doctorine.

#26

[quote="gmarie21, post:8, topic:207037"]
I hope this doesn't come across mean, but I am very thankful that my biological mother (who is bipolar) had me. I'm also thankful that my bipolar and ocd sil had her two children. Yes, she had stopped her medication during the pregnancies and had great swings in mood, but now is back on her meds and is back to where she was and frankly, her children are what motivate her to not only continue her meds when she isn't enjoying their side-effects but also seek and continue therapy. :thumbsup: Obviously you have to make your own choice, but I think it isn't impossible to be severely bipolar (which my sil is, she too has been hospitalized in the past) and to become pregnant. Again, I'm thankful that my bipolar biological mother had me, that her mother and father (he was bipolar) had her and my biological grandfather's mother (who was also bipolar) had him. I do not suffer from bipolar, my husband, who has some family members with bipolar - including three siblings, does not suffer from bipolar, but we are aware of the probability for our children. My sil has improved greatly, so life isn't over with that diagnosis.

[/quote]

Are you aware of the list of meds your mother was on when she had you? Possibly not the same toxic meds the OP is on. We may be talking apples and oranges here.

#27

[quote="DrPooh, post:12, topic:207037"]
I appreciate all of the honest feedback I received today in response to my dilemma. I know there are no easy answers in life, and such is the case here.

My intention is not to come onto this board as a new member and immediately start causing trouble. However, there was a reply that I must take exception to.

So basically what you are telling me is because I choose not to risk creating a life that may be plagued with severe** birth defects, I may as well abandon my whole religion because no woman who has an IUD is fit to consider herself a Catholic?
Amy

[/quote]

I won't add to what others have said, but it would most certainly be gravely wrong to kill and unborn baby using any kind of abortifacient device or pill. I understand how difficult your situation is, but you cannot resort to an evil like that to solve your problem.

May God give you understanding and faith to help you through this.

#28

Also, as an actual practical solution… are there any Jewish rules against vasectomies?

He gets snipped, and then there’s no babies, but since you’re not doing anything, you can have as clear a conscience as is possible in this situation.

#29

Encouraging your spouse to commit an immoral act does not leave you with a clear conscience.

#30

*"Use Sympto-Thermal with most conservative rules and use an OPK (ovulation prediction kit) to confirm the LH spike so you know that the corresponding thermal shift you get a few days later is indeed a confirmation of ovulation.

Basically, use Day 6 rule for Phase I and most conservative rule for Phase III which cross-checks CM, BBT and even OPK results to determine ovulation. Wait the full four days after the first temp spike AND drying up. Then you're almost certainly 99+% to avoid without using contraceptive/abortifacient devices.

Would doing this be easy? Probably not at first, but once you get in routine you should be fine. Expensive? No, you can use the cheap OPK strips and can get a ton of them for like $5 from eBay and elsewhere. Basal thermometer is like $12. CM observation is free."*

I totally agree with that. If I were in your shoes, I would do that. Also, an IUD is not a contraceptive method is an abortifacient. Personally I know three people that were born with the IUD incrusted in their bodies therefore I don't agree with the statement that it is a reliable method and I know a couple of women who had to have it removed after getting pregnant. My ex husband is bipolar too so I can understand your situation and your decision of not having children but I think that there are better ways than to use an abortifacient.

#31

[quote="Seatuck, post:29, topic:207037"]
Encouraging your spouse to commit an immoral act does not leave you with a clear conscience.

[/quote]

To be more accurate, it does not leave YOU with a clear conscience.

She's already been told the only two options morally acceptable by the Catholic faith: Lifetime abstinence, or taking her chances on having an incredibly deformed baby by having unprotected sex.

She doesn't want to take either of those choices. She believes that she doesn't need to agree 100% with Catholic teachings to be a Catholic. I don't particularly agree with that, but hey... who am I to judge? She is looking for a loophole, so I am giving her one.

She doesn't have to encourage him to get a vasectomy, in fact she can even say to him "As a Catholic, I can't encourage you to get a vasectomy." And then if he does it anyways, what's he harm? He's not Christian, so he's already going to be in hell for all eternity.

I'm not saying I believe any of this. I believe what I first posted back on page 1: you either follow the rules and be a Catholic, or you leave and make your own rules, but you're not a Catholic.

#32

I am surprised how many people here believe that non-Christians will burn in Hell. you seem to be well updated on the ethical side of Church`s teaching but missing a lot in other areas. I will not even refer to the Vatican II here, it is enough to say what I believe St Thomas said: search for truth and follow your conscience. One is not in sin if their conscience orders them to convert to Judaism. no reason to call him damned.

#33

Unless I'm reading something wrong, 847 in the CCC says they must not know Christ "through no fault of their own" that would seem not to include willfully converting from a Christian faith to Judaism.

Please correct me if I'm wrong

#34

[quote="LJH1980, post:33, topic:207037"]
Unless I'm reading something wrong, 847 in the CCC says they must not know Christ "through no fault of their own" that would seem not to include willfully converting from a Christian faith to Judaism.

Please correct me if I'm wrong

[/quote]

The difficulty lies in the knowing. How do we "know"? is reading about Him enough? would you also need to experience His presence in your life? Christ is not a mere word. I believe, majority of us do not really know Him. However, if a person got to know Christ properly and rejected Him, he would be damned, if he did not turn back.
To give a radical example: If you are convinced that Catholic Church is evil you are not sinning if you leave it. the same refers to Christ.

#35

[quote="DrPooh, post:1, topic:207037"]
Hi everyone! This is my first post and the reason I joined this group. I am currently struggling with what I feel is a moral dilemma. I suppose I already know the answer just from my religious teachings, but here goes...

I have been married to my husband for two years. We are very happy and very much in love. Sometimes I am amazed at his level of patience and concern for me even after years of being together and dealing with some of my issues. Basically, we have a very healthy, stable marriage.

I am Catholic, he is a convert to Judaism (born a Methodist). He has great respect for my faith and loves that I have strong beliefs and that I try to lead a life that reflects those beliefs.

Here is our problem. I am bipolar. I have been hospitalized (before we met) for a major depressive crisis where I was a danger to myself. I have recovered thanks to both medical science and much prayer, but I still struggle with my condition almost daily. I take a number of medications to control the disorder, several of which would lead to severe birth defects if I were to become pregnant without realizing it. I have tried many times to reduce my meds but the reality is I will likely be on psych drugs indefinitly. On top of that, last week I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after spending every night for the past several weeks in extreme pain when I laid down to sleep. I am now on another med for that which is also teratogenic. I am 36 years old, my husband is 32.

I cannot** get pregnant accidentally. It would be incredibly unfair to an unborn child to be exposed to the medications I take in the earliest time of life before I even realized I was pregnant. Even if the baby survived, the risks of mental and physical birth defects would be very high. Also, it has been reported in psychiatric studies that bipolar women are not only at very high risk for postpartum depression (which is destructive to the maternal-child bond), but we are also at risk for pathologic episodes.

My husband loves me very much and completely agrees that children are just not in our near future, if at all. We accept this together as a couple, and it is my strong belief that God does not intend for everyone to be a parent. We have several nieces and nephews who we adore and give our love to. We work hard in our community to serve God through our vocations as a veterinarian (me) and a high school teacher in a low-income, high-need neighborhood (him). I feel that we try our best to be good people.

So it boils down to this. I need completely reliable birth control. I have been taking the pill since college--not because I was sexually active, but for very severe periods. My other meds decrease the efficacy of the birth control portion of the pill. NFP is great in theory, but frankly, a 92% success rate in the real world is just not good enough. We have decided along with my doctor that an IUD is really our best option. My husband and I have not had sexual intercourse in many months, mainly due to my worries about pregnancy. I fear the effects that abstinence could have on our relationship eventually, because I crave that connection with him, and he feels the same. I know that this goes against the principles of my faith, but I have prayed on this and do not feel I have another option. So, does this damn my soul? Will I be in constant violation of mortal sin? I know the short answer is "yes" but I hoped some of you may share your thoughts on this difficult matter. I feel like even a confession would be inadequate as the use of birth control would proceed afterward anyway.

Sorry for such a long post, but I wanted to make sure I got all of my feelings across. Thanks for your time and hopefully for your advice.

Amy
:(

[/quote]

According to the pro-life organisation SPUC, IUDs can also cause abortion and could make you feel worse rather than better. The most ethical form of contraception apart from natural methods are barrier methods that are used in the vagina only. Some couples use two forms of barrier methods simultaneously such as condom and female condom/diaphragm or cervical cap. Spermicide has been banned by the WHO for damaging the lining of the vagina. Your doctor may not be a Catholic but an IUD or abortifacient pill is a mortal sin in the eyes of the Church.

#36

[quote="LJH1980, post:31, topic:207037"]
She's already been told the only two options morally acceptable by the Catholic faith: Lifetime abstinence, or taking her chances on having an incredibly deformed baby by having unprotected sex.

[/quote]

A third option has also been presented, which is the conservative use of NFP.

To the OP, your situation sounds really frustrating. I'm sorry that you're suffering, both physically and emotionally.

Although I respect those who have advised you to simply trust in God, pray hard, and have intercourse as frequently as you'd like, I believe that God calls married couples to responsible parenthood. In my mind, this means that if you have a good and non-selfish reason to avoid having children for the time being, you don't engage in actions which would be likely to cause children to be brought into this world, like sex during the fertile period. In your situation, I think you are right to not want to conceive a baby while taking medications that could cause serious birth defects.

With any dilemma that I'm struggling with, I try to start from the position that some things are just morally unacceptable and can't be considered as realistic options ever. By ruling these false options out from the start, I have the freedom to play with the different scenarios that remain. Say, for example, that I have a coworker who is driving me insane. I know from the getgo that killing her is not a realistic option, so I don't even entertain the idea. That's a rather far-fetched analogy, but the principal will be the same. Some things are just intrinsically evil.

I really believe that using contraception is gravely disordered, so any approach that I take dilemma like this has to start from the position that contraception can't be considered an option. You share the Catholic faith with me, so I would encourage you to try re-examining your situation from this vantage point.

If contraception is not an option, what is a young woman in your situation to do? Complete sexual abstinence is the safest and only surefire way of preventing pregnancy, but, as you recognize, it would be very difficult and would require a special kind of husband. Your other option is some form of natural family planning, which would entail using conservative rules and, in your situation, sharply limiting the number of times in which you engage in intercourse.

Neither of these options are ideal. In an ideal world, you wouldn't be bipolar, you wouldn't be on medications, and you wouldn't be struggling with this. But as Christians, we realize that life is not without suffering. We can even recognize the redemptive nature of suffering.

I feel so inadequate writing this because I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't already know. So let the this post be merely one of encouragement. God doesn't give us problems without also providing us the means and grace of bearing them. It is possible to be faithful to this teaching. It is possible for a young, healthy married couple to practice complete or periodic abstinence. If the rewards aren't in this life, they will be in the next.

God bless.

#37

[quote="sharmin, post:26, topic:207037"]
Are you aware of the list of meds your mother was on when she had you? Possibly not the same toxic meds the OP is on. We may be talking apples and oranges here.

[/quote]

Not for my biological mother. But for my sister-in-law, yes. So far, both of her children act normal for their age. The only medical problems they have are respiratory which isn't because of the medication she was on (until she found out she was pregnant - which is when she went off of them - each time) but due to genetics (my dd has the same respiratory issues as well as another niece, and of course, a few of my husband's siblings). My sister-in-law doesn't have a stable relationship with her children's father but when she was in her swings of depression or mania someone in the family was always there to help her. Again, as soon as each child was born, she went back on the medication. And yes, as another poster pointed out, there are usually multiple things that must be treated, not just bipolar, which has been the case for sil. OP has a husband who seems to be quite stable and supportive. It isn't such a desperate situation that would require her to sin with the use of contraceptives. That is all I am saying.

#38

[quote="gmarie21, post:37, topic:207037"]
Not for my biological mother. But for my sister-in-law, yes. So far, both of her children act normal for their age. The only medical problems they have are respiratory which isn't because of the medication she was on (until she found out she was pregnant - which is when she went off of them - each time) but due to genetics (my dd has the same respiratory issues as well as another niece, and of course, a few of my husband's siblings). My sister-in-law doesn't have a stable relationship with her children's father but when she was in her swings of depression or mania someone in the family was always there to help her. Again, as soon as each child was born, she went back on the medication. And yes, as another poster pointed out, there are usually multiple things that must be treated, not just bipolar, which has been the case for sil. OP has a husband who seems to be quite stable and supportive. It isn't such a desperate situation that would require her to sin with the use of contraceptives. That is all I am saying.

[/quote]

I don't agree. We can't know that it's not such a dire situation. Look at Andrea Yates for example. When people need their meds for mental health issues they should NOT go off of them for any reason. Even though the OP's husband is stable, as you said, he would likely have to leave for work. Leaving a wife at home who should be on stabilizing meds with younger children to look after does NOT sound like a good idea.

closed #39
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