On Tuesday night, my kids raced to the front door to greet a special visitor. Her name was Ameka and rather than dinner, she had come to spend two hours interviewing the kids and I. By ‘interview’ I don’t mean the journalistic kind… rather, she was there as part of a new research project into the effects on children aged 1-5 of taking anti-psychotic medication during pregnancy.
I’ve shared before about how – after a horrific experience following the birth of my first baby – I decided to go on Seroquel in the latter stages of my subsequent two pregnancies. This wasn’t an easy decision. Before I fell pregnant the second time I went to see one of the world’s leading specialists in women’s mental health – trying to find out more information about possible effects of anti-psychotic medication on unborn babies.
Unfortunately, at that time (five years ago) there wasn’t much research to reassure me that it was safe or not. In fact, the specialist I saw was embarking on a world-first study into the effects of Anti-Psychotic Medication on babies. At the time, they had a database of 25 babies (all healthy!) whose development they were tracking from birth to 12 months.
Knowing how desperately needed this research was, I readily agreed to participate in the study. The phone calls and visits continued until my each child turned one.
I must admit, I was a little disappointed when our time in the study ended. as they learn to walk, talk and really start showing their true personality. Surely studying babies only until they turned one wasn’t giving the researchers the full picture?
So I was pleased to receive a phone call last month, letting me know that Ameka, a medical student, was joining the team and continuing the research up until the age of five – as part of her thesis. I readily agreed for her to interview my younger two kids (now aged three and five) and I.
So that’s how we found ourselves last night, watching my youngest son (a real clown!) hopping around the room on one foot, building towers out of blocks, drawing different shapes and doing puzzles. Watching his younger siblings pass their tests with flying colours, my high achieving oldest son hovered by… confused as to why this special guest wasn’t interested in testing him.
As she left, I couldn’t help but ask Ameka, “So… do the kids seem ok to you?” I’ve never had any cause to doubt that they are perfectly ok. But somehow, having a medical professional agree that the medication hasn’t hampered their development at all was… reassuring.
I might have bipolar disorder. But like any mum out there, I want the best for my children. My prayer is that years down the track, when other women with bipolar are preparing for pregnancy, ground-breaking research like this will mean they can be assured that looking after their own health will not harm the ones they love best.