“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to let your heart go walking around outside your body.” — E.Stone
I’ve always wanted to be a mother. My entire life I’ve wanted to take on that role in life. To be blessed with the opportunity. On my 9th birthday I asked my own mother for a baby name book so that I could get a head start and pick the names I would want for my children when the time came. Sure enough, I got a baby name book for my birthday. Filled with hundreds of names to choose from. I starred names I liked and wrote them in many different ways on paper to be sure. That feeling never left me. Through the years it stayed with me and the name choices did continue to change ha ha! I was by no means in any hurry to become pregnant or any such thing. However, holding near and dear the gift of motherhood for when the right time came to be. I grew up to have relationships that I had hoped would blossom to have a foreseeable future. Unfortunately, those relationships ended in heartbreak. I had reached a point of heartbreak where I had decided to throw in the towel and give up on relationships. The individuals I had been involved with that had broken my heart, proved incapable of being faithful, loving and I could no way imagine them being a father at any foreseeable point. At this point in my life, after careful thought I had decided that I would become a mother on my own. I had heard of a procedure called Artificial Insemination and that some women do indeed decide to create a family on their own. I had requested an information packet and scheduled an appointment to be evaluated. My friends and family of course caring for me immensely asked that I change my mind. However, I was certain of my desire for motherhood and no longer certain there were any good and decent men left in the world. To my surprise and unexpectancy, I did eventually meet my now husband Chris! Great long story for another blog. God truly blessed me abundantly and much more than I deserve. I eventually wed my Prince Charming and we rode off into Happily Ever After! Starting a family was something we both absolutely wanted and something that could now be seen as a definite option when we both decided was right timing. 4 months later, I was hit with an Epilepsy Diagnosis. On the inside, I felt like I was sitting in a place in time and everything around me was crumbling down. My dreams. My hopes. My future. I wasn’t sure of anything. Could I still be a mother? Would it be right to be a mother in this condition? Could I even do it? Would I pass this on to my children if I did? Everything we had begun to plan for our future had to be put on the back burner as I healed and adjusted to my Epilepsy Diagnosis. We struggled so very much and lost so very much for a time. I wondered often what my future might entail. What I would be able to do and wouldn’t be able to do. Over the years, I began to educate myself on Epilepsy. I began to meet and speak with women in my same condition and we talked about motherhood. Delightfully, I discovered that you can indeed still have a happy healthy family even if you have Epilepsy! Of course following strict doctors orders and creating a plan health wise before starting a family. It was definitely going to pose an additional challenge for the both of us but neither he or I have any intentions of allowing Epilepsy to stand in our way of becoming parents one day.
When it comes to Epilepsy and planning a baby:
Most women with epilepsy have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. However, there is a small risk that having seizures or taking anti-epileptic drugs may affect the health of you and your unborn baby. This is why you are advised to plan your pregnancies, where possible.
● Pre-conception counselling
Pre-conception counselling happens at an appointment with a doctor or nurse who knows about pregnancy and epilepsy. The aim of pre-conception counselling is to plan to make your future pregnancy as safe as possible. To do this, your doctor or nurse may suggest making changes to your anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) before you get pregnant. This might help you to have fewer seizures or lower the risks of your AEDs affecting an unborn child.
The advice you are given will depend on your own situation. But you may be advised to take fewer AEDs, a lower dose of your AED or a different AED. In some cases, your doctor may help you to gradually stop taking your AEDs altogether, before you become pregnant. This would usually be if you have not had any seizures during the last two years and you are at a low risk of having further seizures.
When you are pregnant, it is important that you don’t make any changes to your AEDs without following advice from your doctor. If you stop taking your AEDs it could cause you to have more seizures. This could put your health and your baby’s health at risk.
You can ask your doctor to refer you for pre-conception counselling at any time. For example you might want it before or when you start a sexual relationship, just in case you become pregnant unexpectedly. Ideally, all women with epilepsy should have pre-conception counselling before every pregnancy.
● Folic Acid
During pre-conception counselling, you might be advised to take five milligrams of folic acid all the time, just in case you get pregnant. This is to help reduce the risk of your baby having a malformation such as spina bifida. As it is a much higher dose than for women not taking AEDs, you will need to get a prescription for this dosage from your GP.
Folic acid can affect how well the AEDs phenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone work. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
FAST FACT: 90% of babies born to mothers with Epilepsy are born completely healthy
It has been almost 9 years since my Epilepsy diagnosis. December 11th of this year. Just about 9 years worth of coping with Epilepsy, rebuilding our lives from the ground up, rebuilding ourselves health-wise, heart-wise and spiritually-wise. The difficult road we were given to trek from the get-go developed us both into stronger wiser people. And here we are nearly 9 years later preparing to venture out and finally begin anew. Place our hopes dreams and ambitions back on the table and off of the back burner. Finally, when the time is right when we see fit, we will become parents. I will become a mother just as I’ve always wanted. Epilepsy will not take that away from us. It may attempt to strike fear but I’m not afraid. It feels so good to know that door stands wide open for us. It hasn’t shut and locked.
Names? Ha Ha I suppose you will all just have to stay tuned!
To be continued….