Mom’s Emotional Warning: Talk to Your Doctor Before Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant

Photograph by Meg Boggs and Matilda Berrelez

From weight gain to postpartum depression, Meghan Boggs has been sharing her struggles, fears, failures and successes on Instagram for quite some time. Five days ago, she shared another. Only this time, it wasn’t her story to tell— it was her sister’s.

meg.boggs

Meet my sister, Tilly. Her #iam1in5 story is one that has changed her, our family, and so many people around the world. Tilly has been on medication since she was 15 years old. During her second pregnancy, she was told that it was safe to continue taking her antidepressants (Paxil). She then discovered at an ultrasound just four weeks before her due date that Adrian, her son, had several heart defects. Adrian had open heart surgery at just 8 days old. Tilly found out just a few months later that this was all caused by the antidepressants she was on during her pregnancy and sued the company. Adrian was one of the very first cases, and she won. The labels were then changed to reflect the dangers of taking them while pregnant. But even though she won the case, she was left with a child who would never live a normal life. She was left with the guilt that came with her decision to continue the medication even though she was told it was safe. . It’s now been 14 years since she had Adrian, and he’s had 5 open heart surgeries, 3 pacemaker changers, countless heart catheterizations and will eventually need a heart transplant. She is the definition of strength and I have always looked up to her because she is an unbelievable mother. She is also 1 in 5, but even through all that she has been through, she has always done whatever it takes to be the best mother to all three of her children. She is a warrior and I am so thankful she agreed to share her story. * To read her full story and her advice for anyone who is struggling to cope with being off medication during their pregnancy, head over to my blog. And watch my stories to see photos of Adrian throughout his journey. ♥️ * Disclaimer: This post is not meant to provide medical advice. Always consult your doctor about any questions about your health, medications, and pregnancy. You have options. Let your voice be heard.

“Meet my sister, Tilly,” she wrote. “Her #iam1in5 story is one that has changed her, our family, and so many people around the world.”

Boggs’ sister, Matilda (Tilly) Berrelez, has been on antidepressants since she was 15 years old. She was 21 in 2003 when she found out she was pregnant with her second child.

At the time, Berrelez (then Vasquez) was told it was safe to continue taking Paxil—an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) drug she’d been taking to treat depression and anxiety. So, she did as she was told and continued taking the medication, unaware of any risk to her unborn child.

Four weeks prior to her due date, however, an ultrasound revealed that her baby had several heart defects.

Adrian Vasquez, born April 19, 2004, was only 8 days old when he underwent his first heart surgery. Five months later, news broke that taking Paxil during early pregnancy could cause heart defects, lung defects, clubfeet and cranial defects in newborns.

Paxil during early pregnancy could cause heart defects, lung defects, clubfeet and cranial defects in newborns.

Boggs told Mom.me that Adrian’s case was “the very first one to go against a pharmaceutical company.” In fact, she added, “CNN covered this and came out to our house to film.”

After winning the case against GlaxoSmithKline—the makers of Paxil—Boggs said companies began changing their labels to reflect the risks and dangers of taking SSRI drugs while pregnant.

“But even though she won the case, she was left with a child who would never live a normal life. She was left with the guilt that came with her decision to continue the medication even though she was told it was safe.”

In a full story on Meg Boggs, Berrelez (now 36), recalls the moment she learned her son was in trouble. After waiting nearly 45 minutes for a technician to finish taking an ultrasound, she asked if there was something wrong.

“She stopped the ultrasound, looked me in the eyes for a split second, looked down, then told me she would be right back with me and left the room,” she wrote. A few minutes later, she returned with the doctor, who said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, honey, but there is something wrong with your baby’s heart.”

A month later, Berrelez was told that her son had a double outlet right ventricle, patent ductus arteriosus, and pulmonary stenosis. That was 14 years ago.

Since then, Adrian has had five open-heart surgeries, three pacemaker changers and countless heart catheterizations. A heart transplant is almost inevitable.

“We are estimating this will occur sometime in his teenage years,” wrote Berrelez, who says she wouldn’t wish this for anyone—mother, child or family.

“There is no greater worry, pain, anxiety or nauseating sensation that compares to what my little boy has gone through since the day he was born,” she wrote.

“If there is a chance of your child being harmed by the medication you are taking, do all you can to discontinue the medication for as long as possible.”

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