I started having seizures when I was 16, and I’m not going to lie, they were bad. My brain’s seizure of choice was the Grand Mal, the most heinous, consuming and damaging in the seizure world. Once I had a seizure while walking down the stairs and ended up with a black eye. I lost my driver’s license (temporarily) and was put on all kinds of different drugs.
While the seizures were bad, they were infrequent – about once a year. Eventually my body outgrew the raging hormones of adolescence, my hobbies outgrew drinking and staying out late, and my brain also outgrew the seizures. In retrospect, I was very lucky. It’s been 8 years since my last seizure although I still take a very low dose of oxcarbezapine, an anti-seizure medication.
A few years back I asked my neurologist if I should go off the meds, if they’d be harmful during pregnancy. He said no, as long as I took plenty of folic acid. He also told me this: The risks of any pregnancy out there having a birth defect of some sort is 1%-2%. A pregnancy with an epileptic mother adds an additional 1%-2%. And on top of THAT when the mother is taking medication (even if not necessarily harmful) there is another 1%-2% chance of risk.
So that bumps ME from the 1%-2% range of everyone out there to the 3%-6% range of medicated epileptic. I decided a long time ago if I ever get pregnant, I’m stopping the seizure meds. Since there is no drinking or wild nights anyway (a personal recipe for epileptic disaster), reducing risks from the 3%-6% range to the 2%-4% range seems like a no brainer. Ryan’s a little iffy about my decision, I know my parents would freak out, but doctors have kind of left it up to me.
So I was surprised last week when I went to the OBGYN (a pap, hurrah) and her main focus out of everything pregnancy and IVF related was the seizures. She tells me she will not prescribe birth control until I get the ok from the neurologist, and she seems to think if/when I’m pregnant I’ll need to INCREASE my seizure medication.
Huh? That’s a first. I suppose the OBGYN is the one most concerned about the baby, not fertility or getting pregnant, but the baby. As she put it, if the BC messed up my liver’s ability to process the seizure medication and I had a seizure, getting pregnant is absolutely 100% off the table. A person having regular seizures has no business getting pregnant because a seizure is that catastrophic to a baby.
Another reason I say I am extraordinarily lucky to have outgrown my seizures. They were a pain in my teenage/ young adult ass with all the parental concern, suspended license and brutal medications, but thank God they stopped. I’m free.
I forget sometimes that I’ve already cleared one monstrous medical road block to pregnancy. Why let another one hold me back?