This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from November 1 through November 30, 2016. Follow along!
In July, I went through the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. All mothers out there know the experience. My beautiful daughter, Samantha, was born on July 16th, 10:50am, happy and healthy, and immediately filled my heart full of joy. After 9 months of a carefully managed pregnancy, and 5 months before that of slowly transitioning my epilepsy medication, I could finally say, “I did it. And I knew I could do it.”
Other mothers had warned me that I would be tired and spread thin. Their predictions were, of course, spot on; I was exhausted. Thankfully, their warnings also came with tips and tricks like “sleep when baby sleeps”, “a stroller walk always calms a crying baby”, and many, many more. But there was no advice, tips, or tricks that prepared me to be a mother with a seizure disorder. Now, my world has changed in so many ways, including how I am living with epilepsy. What I’ve written about in the past, is my adventurous spirit inside saying that epilepsy can’t hold me back. But now, I feel a very sudden change in the risks I take.
At first, everyday ordinary things were overwhelming. I was anxious when holding or carrying my daughter. It’s such a natural thing for a mother to embrace her child, but I was afraid I would drop her. The “stroller walk” that all seasoned parents recommend for calming a crying baby was terrifying to me. I couldn’t help but imagine having a little jerk and knocking the stroller over. Or even worse, it rolling down the hill unmanned. Everything felt dangerous knowing that at any moment I could have a seizure. But I knew I had to pull myself together as our first trip was around the corner.
I wish I could say I confidently navigated my way through the airport for my daughters first flight; daughter in arms and boarding pass in pocket! But truthfully I was a wimp with my internal monologue of “don’t have a seizure” on repeat. It was my husband that carried her, changed her, and burped her while I stood on the sidelines. The following day would be different as my husband would be busy with the wedding party. It would be just my daughter and me for the day.
We were staying at Fair Hills Resort in Minnesota. We had a small cabin on the far end of the lake that was secluded and quiet. When my husband left to meet the other groomsmen I had a fleeting thought of “what if I have a seizure” but I quickly pushed that thought aside and filled myself up with all the fun “firsts” my daughter would be able to experience today. I was excited to take her for a long walk on the lake; after all, she’d never seen a lake before!
The unpaved trail around the lake wasn’t exactly stroller friendly so I carried my daughter in my arms. I kept a safe distance away from the water and held her tightly to my chest as we embarked on her first walk (ever) around the lake. She was wide-eyed in awe of the towering trees and bright blue sky. Seeing her inquisitive eyes scanning the scenery filled my heart with joy. As we continued walking I spotted a shallow entrance to the lake. I took off my shoes, waded in and slowly dipped my daughters’ toes in the cold water. Her lips pursed and immediately turned into a frown. Immediately after the frown she made a loud squawking noise that could only translate to, “get my toes out of the water!” I lifted her to my chest and used my shirt to dry her toes, and slowly made my way to the trail. As I was putting my shoes back on my wet feet I realized that I had always been frightened to be around water alone. But here I was wading in to dunk my daughter’s toes! Her sense of wonder had boosted my confidence.
My experience in Minnesota made me realize that as a protective mother I feel hesitant at times, but also recognize that now I have a greater responsibility to not let epilepsy hold me back. Seeing the world through my daughter’s eyes makes each and every day an adventure. She makes me appreciate the small things in life like going for a walk, feeling the rain on my skin, and even just examining the colors of an apple. The spirit inside of me has only grown to take into account instilling this sense of exploration & curiosity of life into my daughter. Upon returning from this vacation, I immediately printed out a passport application and went to Walgreens to have my daughter’s photo taken. After all, it’s time to plan our next adventure.
I’m Maureen, and I have epilepsy. You’re probably reading this because either you have epilepsy, or you love someone that has epilepsy. Whatever sparked your curiosity, I am happy to be sharing my experiences with you. From having seizures in foreign countries to begging pharmacists that don’t speak English for medication, I can definitely say that it’s been an interesting journey. Hopefully reading about my ups and downs, and my everyday and not so everyday adventures will inspire you too! Welcome to my life of living well with epilepsy!