1 December 2014, by Tan Yi Lin
It’s been almost a month and a half since we first found out – a moment that remains fresh in my memory.
It was around mid-October and I had been anticipating the onset of yet another dreaded seizure, which tended to coincide with the arrival of my period. I had commented to a colleague one Friday that my period was unusually late and she said, “Could you be…. pregnant?” I laughed and jokingly replied, “Riiiiiiggghtt. What are the chances? But okay, pass me a pregnancy test kit on Monday and I’ll test anyway. Okay?”
Now, I was due for a pap smear that following Monday. Till then, I was pretty darn sure that my period was just playing punk and would screw things up by arriving on the very day of the appointment. But as I was seeing a new gynae for the first time, I decided to buy a home pregnancy test kit just to make sure that I wasn’t pregnant. Just in case she asked (not knowing my IVF history) as part of the routine checks and I replied “PFFFT! OF COURSE NOT!” then subsequently found out that I was. Now THAT would have been very embarrassing. Like hello, didn’t I know – at the grand old age of 35 – that having sex could lead to pregnancy?
So on the day before the appointment, I peed on the stick and nonchalantly waited for the indicator to show a result. I didn’t even brace myself for any negative results as we had been told all those years ago that NATURAL CONCEPTION WAS NOT POSSIBLE. After 3 rounds of IVF and accepting that IVF was our only route to parenthood, we were beyond hoping against all hope of a natural conception.
I tapped my foot impatiently. Come on, let’s get on with it. This busy mama has other things to do.
Then, my tapping slowed to a halt. My eyes widened. I perched on the toilet seat, frozen in disbelief.
I somehow made my way down the stairs in a zombie-like trance, found Dan watching over our playing daughters in the garden and slowly presented the pee stick.
“I guess this means that I’m pregnant.”
He reacted in slow motion, “Oh… wow. Wow.”
By the time that this published, I will be almost 12 weeks pregnant. It has been tough first trimester, unlike the other pregnancies. The good news is that there haven’t been any more seizures. Life works in strange and wonderful ways. Maybe the seizures were my body’s way of resolving the infertility (unlike what Dan claims about CoughSexTM and his heroic Spermtroopers). Maybe the pregnancy is the solution to the freak fits. Maybe in seeking TCM treatment for the epilepsy, by removing the ‘blockages’ that obstruct the flow of blood, oxygen and Chi to my brain, the blockage in my fallopian tubes somehow dissipated. Nobody knows.
Still, the issue of seizures during pregnancy still needed to be discussed. Earlier on, I had resisted the option of trying to conceive while on daily epilepsy medication (to prevent the occurrence of seizure attacks) due to worries of the drugs harming the unborn baby. But with the surprise pregnancy, I now had to weigh the risk of harm from the medication versus the harm of further seizures on the baby.
I sought the opinions of 3 medical experts and this is what they shared:
Neurologist: “The standard risk of abnormal development in pregnancies is 1%. The risk of the baby developing abnormally (e.g. cleft lip, deformed hands and feet) while on epilepsy medication is 2%. This is already lower than the earlier versions of the drug, which had a risk of 3% to 4%. But I do understand that while the risk at 2% is not high, it still is double that of the standard risk.”
TCM Doctor: “The risk of serious damage to the foetus from a seizure is remote. Your seizures are short (about 20 seconds). During this time, there is still blood circulating in your body. As long as your blood is circulating, it will continue to bring oxygen to the child. A seizure during pregnancy may be a setback to your body but unlike epilepsy medication that will go into your – and the baby’s – bloodstream, there is no risk of direct harm to the baby. So why expose your child to this risk?”
Gynae: “You should consider the option of taking epilepsy medication when you’re 12 weeks into the pregnancy. This would be when the baby is fully formed and the risk of foetal abnormalities is greatly reduced. While your seizures are short and are not likely to harm the baby directly, you need to weigh the risk of harm from anti-seizure drugs and the danger of, say, falling during an attack and hurting yourself and your unborn child. It’s a difficult decision to have to make, I know.”
5 December marks the end of the 12th week of my pregnancy.
I need to make a decision.
If you were me, what would you do?