Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Epilepsy & Parenting

I've been debating whether to talk about this on my blog for two months.  Remember I mentioned back here that we'd been going through some difficult times?  And then I missed two Motherhood Months in a row.  Well, I am still here and we are still waiting to adopt.  But I did have a seizure.

I haven't hidden the fact that I have epilepsy from my readers nor from any potential birthparents who may read my blog (just to be clear, where I live, it is illegal to advertize ourselves, so this blog is not in any way intended to solicit birthparents to choose us).  I've mentioned it here, here, and most recently, here.  I've also mentioned it in the above tabs.

But I still have felt reluctant to talk freely about my epilepsy here.  My hesitation comes from a fear of not being chosen, the fear of all expectant adoptive parents.  When talking it over with Hubby last month, he said he thinks I should go right ahead and speak freely about my epilepsy on my blog.  After all, he said, how would our future child's birthparents feel if they realized, after they'd placed with us, that we'd kept this hidden from them?  I realized what he said made sense (although my epilepsy, like every other teeny-tiny part of our lives, is written up at our agency for potential birthparents to read anyway!).

Another (lesser) fear is that my readers will judge me for choosing to parent with epilepsy.  This one is fairly simply addressed by telling myself "Who cares what they think?"  Thankfully I have the kind of personality that I can tell myself that somewhat easily, haha.

My other completely wild, unfounded fear is that CFS would take away my child(ren) due to my epilepsy.  I think this fear comes from growing up in a [good] home where my parents fostered children for most of my childhood and teen years.  And I guess living in today's paranoid world, we are all aware of how quickly people will report even imagined things, and CFS will swoop in and devastate a family.  (Don't get me wrong, I know CFS does good as well; after all, my parents worked with them for years.  I just think people are too trigger-happy with their reporting, and that more emphasis should be put on helping families rather than breaking them apart.)  The way to comfort myself about this fear is reminding myself that (1) my doctor is completely on my side, and (2) there are many people who parent with disabilities, successfully.

So.  About that seizure.  I've had epilepsy, specifically Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, for 14.5 years now.  Well, it's been that long since my first seizure.  I had it for probably 1/2 a year to a year or so before that.  So during that time I've had 7 seizures.  One in the year 2000, three in 2005, two in 2008, and then almost a full six years later (my record), I had seizure #7 on September 8, 2014.  As you can see, I don't have them frequently at all.  I do regularly get "jerks" (bilateral muscle spasms in my arms), though they seem to have settled into a "once a month" pattern for now.

So on September 8th, a Monday, I got up and went about my morning, making lunch and going online.  I was jerking a bit and decided to lie down.  I texted Hubby to let him know I was jerking and proceeded to rest.  I then had the seizure but did not realize it til later of course.  What I knew next was I was walking around disoriented, from room to room around the house, very nauseous and feeling terror.  I felt I needed to get help but could not recall any phone numbers.  When my mind cleared up enough that I could recall my husband's phone number, I phoned him and told him I was scared.  He came home immediately (he was there in 20 minutes!).  During that time I rested and my mind cleared up all the way and I realized I had had a seizure.  I knew this from past experience, although did I mention this was my very first seizure all alone?!?  All my other seizures someone has been there to prevent me from getting up, which apparently I always want to do when the seizure's over, and to comfort me, because I always feel terrified while coming to.  Well, anyway, I took all those factors into consideration, as well as the fact that my tongue was a bit bitten and my upper arms were incredibly sore; all normal.  Hubby came home, very concerned, and held my hand while I slept and recovered, sweet man of mine.

Here's to hoping I can beat my record and go over six years seizure-free this time!

Well, how did this seizure affect our thoughts and feelings toward adopting?  It definitely had a big effect for both of us.  I guess this seizure was a bit of wake-up call for us.  We knew epilepsy would affect our parenting, but we hadn't really talked about it thoroughly or made any specific plans.  Now, all of a sudden, both of us completely doubted my ability to parent.  We didn't talk about it immediately but each knew what the other was thinking.  I went from being completely excited about adopting (with the occasional "we'll never get matched" times, of course) to completely losing my joy.  I didn't read any of my (thousands of) adoption blogs I follow, nor blog here, nor read about adoption, dream about it, and I didn't even want to talk about it.  I felt completely --blank-- inside. 

When Hubby & I first approached the topic with each other, I broke down into those physically-painful sobs:  I could not, would not, consider not adopting.  I'd already had one dream - pregnancy - stolen from me, I would not have another!!  We decided to not talk further about it right then.  We prayed about it.  I read up about parenting with epilepsy.  We set a date to talk about it more thoroughly.  When we talked about it we found we were both scared about continuing but I wanted to more; he wanted to quit more.  We talked a couple times and never got upset with each other which was wonderful. 

We took some steps:  I made an appointment with my neurologist (well, I had to find a new one, so that appt's coming up) to see if he knows any parents with my specific kind of epilepsy.  I also talked to some family members to see how willing they would be to babysit in the early mornings for the first few years of Baby's life and that has been encouraging all around.  Hubby read what I had found on parenting with epilepsy.  He also talked with a trusted friend who I know is praying for us as well.  We agreed to continue, and if we get matched, awesome, and if not, perhaps that is God's way of saying "no".  I talked with my regular doctor and she was very encouraging, saying she supports me completely, that I will be a good parent, etc.  A close family member who is very supportive of us adopting has committed to helping babysit as needed.  Although we are now looking at things more realistically, we are all around feeling more hopeful.  My joy is returning.  Praise the Lord!

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing so openly! And I'm so sorry for your recent seizure. :( However, I feel like with your frequency, that that is absolutely NO REASON for you to not become a mother. I imagine that's so hard to have to think about and consider, but I truly believe that you will be a great mom, even just from what I've read on this blog! Hugs to you guys!

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  2. I agree with Elizabeth. Don't give up! I was concerned that my hand would be an issue for some expectant moms. But when I explained to them that I can do everything normally that I have it under control it didn't seem to matter. I'm sure it will be the same for you. I pray God blesses you soon.

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    1. Thanks Kristen, your situation has definitely been an encouragement to me :)

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