Pregnancy and Epilepsy: My Story
I have had epilepsy since I was a year old. My epilepsy is grand mal seizures to the left side of my brain. My seizures are controlled. Or as controlled as they could be.
As I grew up, my body got used to the medications I was on and eventually rejected it. I would be put on a new medication. And it would be the same story. My doctor and I were optimistic though that I would eventually be medicine free and would be able to have children with no side effects of the seizure medications.
I was 16 when I had my last seizure. It was then that my doctor and I came to the conclusion that I would never be off medication. Thus this started my long internal battle of whether I should have children or not.
Well, let’s fast forward five years. I was on a seizure medication that though it was keeping me from having seizures, would be very bad for any child I had. Then again, my boyfriend and I weren’t planning on getting pregnant. All of a sudden though, I was feeling seizure symptoms. My left side would tingle. It was a sign that I was going to have a seizure. But I never had one. I would have to leave work early, just in case I did have one. I would not go to work because, I would wake up and my whole left side would be numb. My bosses thankfully were very sympathetic and understood. They let me take off the time I needed.
I went to my then doctor, and his answer was to up my dosage. But I was still having the symptoms after three weeks. Three weeks turned into a month and I could take it no longer. I went back. He upped my dosage. Again.
I felt nauseous one day and almost threw up. Then on another day, I was ravenous. I had just had breakfast. I ate my yogurt at work and it filled me up, but only for a short time. A co-worker then joked that maybe I was pregnant.
That couldn’t be it. There was no way. My boyfriend and I had been together for three years without any surprises. There was no way that was the answer. Well, just to be sure, I stopped by a drug store and picked up a generic test. Generic is just as good as name brand anyway, right? So, that night, I tested it out. And that night, we got a plus sign.
On one hand we were happy. I had thought for years that I would never get pregnant because of the medications I had been on. One was a very risky test drug that had only been on the market for a year. I had taken that when I had my last seizure at sixteen, and was on it for two years before my doctor weaned me off. The current drug I was on, caused severe medical problems for babies.
The next day, I went to the drug store again but this time, I bought a name brand. Maybe generic wasn’t as good as I thought. That night, we got another plus sign. Generic is just as good. Now what were we going to do? Keeping the baby was the only option. We would never abort a baby for our own personal reasons.
I called around and made an appointment for an Obstetrician. They were able to fit me in fairly quickly since I explained my situation of my seizures and what medication I was on. I also made an appointment to see another Neurologist. I wasn’t happy with the one I had.
At the Obstetrician’s office they did all the required tests and confirmed my pregnancy. We were so happy. The doctor was worried about the drug I was on, and asked if there was a way to take me off the dangerous one and keep me on one that was less dangerous to babies. I told him that I was going to see another Neurologist to discuss that.
Well, my boyfriend and I were so happy, we told everyone. And everyone was happy for us. But we only told our closest friends and our parents. Though we were happy, we also knew there was a chance for miscarriage. I was only a few weeks pregnant. Obviously I was very in tune with my body, the doctor commented because I started feeling symptoms almost as soon as I got pregnant.
We were so happy. For four days. At work on the fourth day, I had really bad cramps while working. I went to the restroom and there was heavy spotting. I took steps to reduce the spotting. I had slight bleeding the night before, but the doctor said that it was okay to have a little bleeding still at that time. If it got heavy though, there was a problem and I should see them right away. Well, this was definitely more that a little spotting.
I called my boyfriend and told my bosses I had to go. They rushed me out the door, told me not to worry about my work, they would cover it. I drove to my boyfriend’s office. We called the doctor’s office and they told me to go straight to the hospital.
It took hours for them to see me. Four hours to be exact. They only had two rooms available for someone in my condition and two other pregnant ladies were already occupying them. Finally I was seen. I took tests, got an ultrasound, and was put back in the room. I was so anxious. The doctor finally came in and gave us the news. I had miscarried.
We were very devastated. We had to call our parents and tell them the news. Outside the ER room, my boyfriend had seen my current Neurologist. And my neurologist didn’t even acknowledge him. I never went to see him again.
I saw the new Neurologist a week later and explained that I had miscarried. When she asked me my personal questions and found out what medication I was on, she was very upset. She said that my previous Neurologist should never have put me on that drug because I was still young and had never had kids. She was convinced that my pregnancy was rejected because the baby was taking in the drug. And at such a high dose, it obviously had fatal consequences to the fetus. She talked about putting me on a new proven safer drug that had been on the market for years and had a very good track record for women who eventually want to get pregnant.
I was weaned off the dangerous drug and put on the safer one almost immediately. Well, it took a year to wean me off, but it was worth it.
It has now been three years since then, and guess what? I have a healthy eleven month old baby boy with my husband, who was my then boyfriend. He is a happy, healthy little boy, and we are thankful for him.