Mothering with Epilepsy
Words by Samantha Walker-Rosetta
In 2008, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy after having a few major seizures, one of which landed me in the ER. Neurologists and my doctor at that time quickly put me on a handful of medications due to me having continual breakthrough seizures; seizures that cannot be controlled by the anticonvulsant.
When I was diagnosed with Epilepsy, doctors had told me that having a child would be too risky for my health as well as the baby due to the chances of my future children also having Epilepsy; the doctors also stated that the medications I was currently cocktailed with were too harmful for a potential baby. My OBGYN at the time told me that I would not be able to have children at all, so I honestly did not question having children. I was just utterly heartbroken.
In late 2010, I reconnected with my fiancé (high-school mates) and I made the move to Texas to live with him, as well as go to college. Shortly after moving to Texas in 2010, we became pregnant, the best news we were told. When we told our loved ones, not everyone were very supportive of us and our choice to have our baby. We were told a few times to either abort our daughter or give her up for adoption at birth. A family member of mine went as far as shaming me for being pregnant while out of wedlock. With all of those new pregnancy hormones, and not having full support from our families, we both weighed out our options and quickly decided to keep our miracle and defy all the odds.
Doctors safely weaned me from all harmful medications onto “safe for the baby” seizure meds about a month after finding out about our daughter. I also changed all of my classes from the campus I was currently attending to online classes when I was no longer able to fully walk to school, as it got very hard traveling to college while pregnant and wanting to sleep in class or having random food cravings.
I will be honest and say that my fiancé and I have had our ups and downs, yet the strength in our relationship is our honesty and communication with one another. Our daughter has truly pulled the both of us closer together as a couple. We have learned, as parents, the true value of being united and what it really means to be a family. He and I are states apart at the moment, so we co-parent our daughter through distance. It does take a big toll on the three of us, as we do not see him every day, but what keeps us going is our unconditional love for each other, along with taking life literally one day at a time.
I greatly appreciate that my fiancé fully supports me in all aspects of my life, as well as his determination to fight hard and work hard for the three of us. There are moments when I feel defeated as a mom, since he is not physically here to parent our daughter with me. However, I genuinely love and value that we are on the same page when it comes to parenting our 5 year old, and he is always supportive of my decisions.
At this moment, I am still learning about my Epilepsy, as I have not had many tests done due to the type of insurance I have. My seizures occur in my sleep, which puts me at a high risk for SUDEP- sudden unexpected death in Epilepsy, yet I do not let this deter my outlook on life. Right now doctors have me pinned with “nocturnal grand-mal” seizures. I can say that everything my daughter has taught me these past five years has truly shaped who I am as a mother, and having my best friend beside me through all of it is a total blessing.
Samantha is a full time stay at home mom, spouse and (part time) student who is an Epilepsy survivor. She co-parents her daughter over several states with her fiancé/father of their daughter. Her goals in life are to make sure her future legacies (children) have a better life than she did growing up.