I went to our new doctors’ surgery 2 days after moving to get the ball moving as time was ticking by and I needed to see a midwife as soon as possible. They were very helpful and the doctor faxed a referral to Epsom Hospital to make sure I was seen quickly. She explained they like women with high risk pregnancies to have their first appointment at the hospital where they can decide whether to monitor your pregnancy in the hospital, community or a mixture of the two. All pregnancies of women with epilepsy are considered high risk, which I see as good thing as it means you are more closely monitored.
As I had decided to have the baby at Epsom hospital I knew there was one other person I needed to tell, my friend Emma who I had known since we were 2 and a half at nursery together, we had been through a lot in the past and had had periods where we drifted apart but whenever we did see each other it was like we hadn’t been apart. Emma was doing a midwifery degree and I knew she was based at Epsom Hospital, I didn’t want her finding out I was pregnant from picking up my notes one day! So we went out for dinner and I told her I was pregnant, she seemed really excited. She also said she needed someone who was a more complex case as a case study for her final year; she would follow my progress through the whole pregnancy to whatever extent I wanted. It seemed like a really good idea, from a practical point of view having someone who knows what is going on in all areas of my care could only be a good thing, but also more importantly Emma had been such a big part of almost the whole of my life, as well as both our families having been so close in the past, having her there at the birth of my baby would be truly special.
So I had my first midwife appointment, my booking appointment, at Epsom Hospital. I had spent a lot of time in Epsom Hospital, be it A&E when I fell off my horse (it was just round the corner from the stables) or on Casey Ward looking after children from work and I actually liked it as much as you can like any hospital, it was always very busy but somehow things at least got done. But walking into the maternity wing of a hospital is very different somehow. It was a very busy waiting area filled with women at different places in their pregnancies as well as mothers with babies and toddlers. It somehow made it all very real, that would be me over the next few months…
The appointment went so much better than my last midwife appointment. They were really helpful and gave me lots of advice about pregnancy, some of which seemed to contradict the last midwife such as it was perfectly safe to have the flu jab at any point in pregnancy whereas the other midwife said I had to wait till I was 12 weeks. I decided to go with what the Epsom midwife said as she seemed to be a bit more clued up, so I made sure I booked a flu jab as soon as I left. They also really listening to me about my epilepsy, they seemed to take it all on board, both the medical side and the fact that I was pretty scared about pregnancy and looking after a baby while having epilepsy. They didn’t pretend to know more than they actually knew and just reassured me that I would see a consultant at the hospital very soon and that there was no reason it wouldn’t be a straight forward pregnancy. People quite often ask me questions such as does your epilepsy medication affect the baby and could the baby inherit epilepsy?
I take Lamotrigine which is one of the safest medications from this respect in pregnancy. However because I am on a higher dose the risk of a birth defect is in increased, so the risk in lower doses is approximately 2.5% and in higher doses is 6% so I fall somewhere in between. But I wouldn’t reduce my medication because when I do have a major seizure I go very blue and I am at a high risk of injuring myself and my baby. Reducing or stopping my medication wasn’t even something I considered as I haven’t really been seizure free so the risk of having a seizure seems to outweigh the benefits of stopping the medication.
They don’t really know why I have epilepsy but it could be due to a low seizure threshold so the possibility of my baby inheriting it is possible but the risk is still small and at the end of the day there are worse things to suffer from so I am not going to live worrying, if they do have epilepsy I will be there to support them just like my Mum was there for me.