Monday 24 October 2011

7 weeks ~ morning sickness

Finally the house sale went through and we exchanged and completed in a week.  Luckily the moving date was on a day I was at work and we had lots of wonderful friends who offered to help so I managed to get out of moving lots of heavy boxes without people getting suspicious!!!  It was great to finally be moved into our new house, I felt more independent and with the extra space of having 3 bedrooms it felt like a fresh start.  Although there are lots of reasons why moving house isn’t the best idea when you are pregnant, the benefit is you keep one room empty for the baby, otherwise I think it is easy to fill it with things and then have to clear it all out at a later date!

The first awkward situation where I almost had to tell people at work I was pregnant also arose, I was asked to take one of the children to x-ray with another member of staff who I knew would not be able to keep a secret like that to herself.  So I had to make a quick decision, there was one girl at work who I knew I could trust so I quickly found her and explained the situation and that I was 7 weeks pregnant.  She was great; she found the shift leader and said she needed to go to reception near x-ray anyway so she could take her.  However by this point they had found someone else to go but the shift leader said she could still go to reception to do whatever she needed to do.  So off she went to reception for absolutely no reason!  I knew I could trust her and she didn’t tell anyone.

By 7 weeks I was starting to get morning sickness, keeping that a secret from people was also a challenge especially in the job we do.  Changing a child’s pad and chatting away when all you really want to do is vomit and curl up in a ball is very hard and I think the first people to know about my pregnancy at work were some of the children I worked with as I apologised for gagging, if only they could talk!  Luckily I seemed to be able to refrain from vomiting until 9.45am when the children went off to their therapy sessions and I would then go and vomit in the toilet.  People ask me have I had any cravings?  Truthfully not really, in those first few weeks where looking at food made my stomach turn the only thing I fancied eating before about 4pm when I felt better was twiglets but not sure that really counts as a craving.  I lost three quarters of a stone in the first 4 or so months…

Monday 17 October 2011

6 weeks ~ meeting a midwife

I had seen the doctor the week before who basically said congratulations and referred me on to the midwife.  He also worked out an estimated due date based on my last period of 2nd June 2012.  However I knew this date wasn’t very accurate as I wasn’t entirely sure of the exact date of my last period as we hadn’t really expected to become pregnant so quickly and also my periods had never been very regular anyway which is quite common in woman with epilepsy.  I was surprised they didn’t do another pregnancy test to prove it but apparently over the counter pregnancy tests are so reliable now you very rarely get false positives, doctors only run pregnancy tests if you get a negative test but still have reason to believe you are pregnant.

We had been planning to move house for 18months to near where I worked as since I had lost my driving licence for a third time after a seizure 2 years ago I had been getting taxi’s to work which were paid for by access to work, a government scheme set up to allow people with disabilities the chance to work.  However getting Taxi’s to work made me feel less independent and I was desperate to move somewhere with more transport links so I could get around places myself.   We had lost a house after waiting 6months for the people to move into a new build which never happened and as we still had to exchange on the house we had then found I knew I couldn’t count on the move so I decided I should see the midwife in the area just in case things fell through.  However I wasn’t impressed with the local hospital there so I definitely had my heart set on the move, plus a one bedroom house isn’t really the place to bring up a baby…

So I saw the midwife at my local doctors, it didn’t go too well if I am honest.  She didn’t know very much about epilepsy which is fine, I have got used to the lack of knowledge of health professionals when it comes to epilepsy.  But she didn’t seem to be listening too much of what I said.  We discussed the Downs Syndrome Test, she explained it gave a percentage chance of the baby having Downs Syndrome, not a definitive Yes/No.  Rich and me had already discussed what we’d do even if we knew for sure our baby had Downs Syndrome, we wouldn’t want to have the baby aborted so we decided we didn’t want the test at all, what was the point having something else to worry about?  When I explained this to her she looked surprised and said that often people want to plan for a child with Downs Syndrome… having worked with children with complex needs for the past 5 years I know that there is no way of planning for a child with a disability, they are all completely individual with their own abilities and challenges, you cannot plan for that. It then came to taking routine bloods; I have had many blood tests in the past and I know I am easy to get blood from but she seemed to struggle and when she finally managed it said “I should have more confidence in myself, I can take bloods after all…” as I walked out the room my hand felt a bit funny and the bruise I got after was huge, I guess she hit a nerve and damaged the vein.  After that I didn’t have the greatest confidence in her abilities.

Monday 3 October 2011

4 weeks ~ pregnant! and who to tell?

On arriving home after the holiday Rich just mentioned in passing it was strange Ihadn’t eaten the chocolate we had in the fridge while we were on holiday.  It got me thinking, my Mum had always saidwhen she was pregnant she went off chocolate…

I knew there was the possibility I was, I had had to stop the contraceptive pilla few months earlier as it was interacting with my epilepsy medication.  I went out and bought a pregnancy test andthe next morning took it.  It didn’t takelong for that word to appear on the screen, I was pregnant.  Part of me was so excited, we had talkedabout having a baby, not just between the two of us but also with my epilepsyconsultant in London, so it wasn’t that we weren’t prepared, it may have justhappened a bit quicker than we had expected. Then I suddenly got a feeling of worry, the seizure I had had a coupleof weeks before… how could that not have had an effect on the baby?  I remember walking in to tell Rich, I have toadmit it wasn’t that moment of intense joy I imagined, the worry of the seizurehung over me and so many thoughts about pregnancy and being and looking after ababy with my epilepsy.  But Rich seemedso happy and said if the baby had made it through the seizure it must be apretty tough baby.  Rich made me feelmore confident about it and we started to talk about the future with a babyaround.

As I was now being treated by a specialist at the National Neurology Hospital,they have an epilepsy nurse service that you can call whenever you need someadvice.  As soon as I found out I waspregnant I rang the epilepsy nurse who rang me back after a couple of hours andreassured me my seizure was unlikely to have affected the baby and made me anappointment to come and see him and have a chat about pregnancy and parentingwith epilepsy.

Next we had to decide who to tell, I took a second pregnancy test to check, I didn’twant to be making all these decisions unless I was sure but that one came uppositive just as quickly.  We decided wewould tell my Mum, she wasn’t just a mum to me but one of my closest friends, Itold her everything and she had supported me through all the years of seizuresand doctors’ appointments.  Rich and myMum had become a little team when it came to my epilepsy, I could never havedealt with it without them. Because no-one could ever tell whether yourepilepsy would get better or worse through pregnancy and having had one seizureI knew the possibility of having more seizures was very real it seemed onlyfair my Mum knew the whole story.  When Itold her she seemed happy but surprised, we were in the process of moving houseas well so it wasn’t really the best time to happen but then is there ever abest time to have a baby?  A little whilelater mum said she was just surprised I felt ready to have a baby when myepilepsy wasn’t completely controlled but she said she thought we were verybrave and that she was very happy for us and looking forward to being a Nan,not a Grandma as that made her sound old!

Wethen told my Dad, my sister Nikki and Rich’s brother Dan as they all live withmy Mum and it seemed unfair to expect my Mum to keep it from them, we also toldmy Grandad as we were a very close family and my Mum sees him every day so itmade sense to tell him especially as it would be his first greatgrandchild.  So going back to the point Imade before, my sister and Rich’s brother live with my parents, you may wonderhow that came to be… Nikki and Dan are in fact an item and have been for wellover a year now, pretty much since we got married.  It may seem a bit strange and if I’m honesttook some getting used to but it has turned out as a truly wonderful thing, wesee each other all the time and have become a pretty strong little unit.  It never surprised me when they got together;they had been practicing for a set they played at our wedding party, which wasamazing, so they had been spending quite a lot of time with each other.   We always knew they had a lot in common,they were both very creative, both artistically and musically, and justgenerally were very similar in their outlook.

I also told my friend in Switzerland, Leti, she is probably my closest friendeven though we live so far apart and I really wanted her to know.  I needed someone my age to talk to about itall with and she had had a baby about a year ago and so I knew I could ask herall the questions I so much wanted to ask but couldn’t because I didn’t wanteveryone to know I was pregnant.

I had to go see the occupational health doctor before I could return to work due to the seizure.  Understandably to keep the children safe more limitations had to be put on my role, I didn't want to put the kids at risk, but it didn't make it any less difficult for me.  It makes me feel very useless, frustrated and down that the job I chose to do I can't give my full potential due to epilepsy.  It's one area where however positive I am about my epilepsy, it will understandably have a huge negative impact on my life :(

But as far as the pregnancy is concerned, I am not going to mope around, I will work as hard as possible for as long as possible :)  pregnancy is not a disease!

Saturday 1 October 2011

3 weeks ~ the seizure!

I have to admit waking up on the floor at work with the rhesus trolley and oxygen cylinder nearby was not the way I imagined my pregnancy to begin.  At that point I didn’t know I was pregnant, it was just another seizure.  I had gone a whole year without having a seizure so it was a real blow.

When I have a tonic-clonic seizure I have no idea it’s going to happen, one minute I am awake getting on with my day, the next thing I know I am on the floor feeling pretty confused, the strange thing is I have no idea I’ve had a seizure until someone explains it to me, even though I am on the floor surrounded by people looking after me.  It is strange explaining to people something that happens to me which I only know about because other people have seen it happen.  The last few seizures I have had I go blank, staring into space for a while and completely unresponsive to anything, but at this point I am unconscious.  I then go stiff, the tonic phase, and fall to the ground.  The clonic phase happens next, this is what people know as convulsions, where you shake.  I go very blue as my breathing pattern is affected, and bite my tongue.  Slowly I then regain consciousness, I have a headache, my body feels like I’ve run a marathon and I have bitten through my tongue which is one of the worst parts of a seizure.  It takes me days to fully recover.

Luckily the week after the seizure we were going on holiday to Wales.  We had been planning it for months.  We were going away as a whole family, my Mum and Dad, Rich and me, my Grandad and our Dog, Lily, my Sister, Nikki, and her boyfriend, Dan, who also happens to be my Rich’s brother!  We stayed in a cottage near to where my Grandad used to go on holiday as a child.  It was an absolutely amazing week, just what I needed and looking back it was my baby’s first holiday.  I had a couple of episodes of feeling faint but we just put it down to having put up my epilepsy medication after the seizure, I was taking Lamotrigine and the dose had got quite high so it didn’t seem unlikely I was starting to experience side effects.  But looking back it was probably because I was pregnant.