Determination to Have a Family
Epilepsy should not remove you from the joys of life. People with epilepsy can work, care for children, go out with friends, play sports, and have meaningful relationships.
Since childhood, I have dreamed of having a family and becoming a mother. I was determined to make sure that my disorder would not interfere with my goals and dreams. When I was young, others told me that there was a possibility that I might not be able to have children. Despite what others said, I knew deep down that when the time was right and I found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I could focus on having a child.
I got married in 1997, and in 1998, my husband and I discussed the possibility of having a child. Both of us were nervous because I had epilepsy. Something inside told me that it was going to be all right. Therefore, we decided to have a child and leave it in God's hands. I truly believe all things happen for a reason. I knew that nothing worthwhile comes easily. Both of us were willing to sacrifice our lives and ourselves for this child. We were willing to put all our effort and love into this baby. We knew the time was right.
In the past, women with epilepsy were discouraged from having children, and sometimes women were sterilized against their will to prevent pregnancy. Over the years, the public's view of epilepsy has grown, and the medical community has developed useful information and tests to help women with epilepsy women who want to become pregnant.
When I told my neurologist that I wanted to have a baby, he was optimistic. He started me on folic acid a couple of weeks before I got pregnant. While I was pregnant, I was very careful. I went to every appointment with my neurologist and OB-GYN. I made sure I had my monthly blood tests. I had my EEGs and sonograms. Most importantly, I reported all my seizures to my neurologist, so he was able to adjust my medicine accordingly. I was scared. I was not sure if the medicine I was taking or my seizures would cause birth defects. I was afraid the baby would be born with Down syndrome. Many issues crossed my mind, but I was determined to have a family of my own.
When I looked up the percentage of birth defects in babies whose mothers have epilepsy compared to those who do not, I found there was not much difference. I had an excellent pregnancy with no complications. My seizures actually got better during my pregnancy. I had fewer seizures compared to when I was not pregnant.
In 1998, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Michael Andrew Chillemi. In the year 2000, I gave birth to my daughter, Alexis Athena, and in 2003, I gave birth to my son Anthony Giovanni. All my pregnancies were easy and I had no complications, no nausea, and the number of seizures I was experiencing monthly decreased during the nine months I was pregnant. All three children were healthy, and the medicine I was taking to control the seizures did not affect them.
In short, there is very little in life that having epilepsy should prevent you from doing. The vast majority of women with epilepsy have uncomplicated pregnancies with normal deliveries and healthy children.
Spiritually, I learned what my wants and what my needs are. I have also learned that I cannot let having epilepsy control my life. Yes, I have epilepsy, but life goes on! I am proud of whom I am, and I am determined to live a normal life. You cannot compare your life to someone else's. If you do that, you are going to be unhappy. You need to love yourself and be satisfied with the life you lead, and if you are not satisfied, then change it!
You need to realize also that there are plenty of people who take medicine and there are many individuals who do not drive for many reasons. You should not feel ashamed or feel different from others. We all have a special beauty within us. No one is perfect or has a flawless life. So do not be ashamed that you are epileptic. Someone I met awhile back taught me that there is nothing wrong with having epilepsy.
It is very easy to feel sorry for yourself until you realize that some people may have it a lot worse. Knowing that there are many other epileptics in this world also helps to make me feel better. We may have different seizures, but our feelings about living with epilepsy are all very similar.
I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. I believe that our lives are planned for us ahead of time. Having epilepsy has taught me to appreciate life and appreciate what God has given me. It has helped me develop confidence in myself and to love myself for who I am and what I have become.
I am committed to helping individuals with seizure disorders and developmental disabilities. I am aware of the challenges and triumphs of helping individuals and their families who have disorders or disabilities. Still, I am determined to conquer any obstacles that get in my way, so individuals who have a disorder can live a healthy, happy, and productive life.