Seizures: From Pregnancy to PostpartumOct 02, 2022
A pregnancy - postpartum story by Jasmine Witt. (Originally published: 2020)
Are You Seizing the Moment!?
Disclaimer: By no means am I a medical professional. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
For each great story ever written; the author first had to do a little bit of brainstorming.
In the writing world, Brainstorming is often applied as a creative technique by which efforts are made to compose anything from a short story to a New York Best Selling Autobiography. However, for this writer, it brought about a whole new meaning.
You see, the type of “Brainstorming” I’m referring to came with some cloudy judgments, dark thoughts, foggy vision and a lot of pregnant pauses! But, fear not! Clarity soon appeared to seize the moment...
My name is Jasmine Danielle Witt! I am a 31year old Super Mom of 5 with Epilepsy as my Super Power! And this is my story...
“911! What’s your emergency?”
“I need your help! My girlfriend is lying on the floor convulsing! Please hurry! She’s pregnant!!!”…….
These were the words that rang loudly in my ears as (my then boyfriend) Antwan was describing what had just occurred to the emergency operator. Much to my surprise, I was indeed stretched across our bedroom floor; six month pregnant belly protruding and a mouth full of blood.
Funny thing is, the only thing I could wrap my mind around was the petty argument Antwan and I had moments prior as he shot down my ideas for what I wanted to name our son. I can laugh at it now that we’re married with a healthy energetic toddler. But back then I was probably already planning our divorce before talks of wedding bells were even in the works.
Bringing myself out of my dramatic thoughts; I was met with Prince George’s County EMT Squad asking me a barrage of questions. They were sure to handle me with care after concluding that I had just had a seizure.
With a look etched in fear and concern on Antwan’s face; it was then that I grasped the seriousness of the matter as I was being placed on a stretcher and onto the back of an ambulance.
With the blare of each siren came anxious thoughts of not only my health, but the health of our baby boy.
It seemed like it took forever to reach our destination, even though it was only all of 20 minutes. Pulling up to the hospital, I must admit that I felt like a celebrity as a host of doctors and nurses rushed to get me to the maternity ward and away from general population.
As I was being hooked up to the monitors, I couldn’t wait to find out what could’ve possibly happened to bring me to this moment. Thoughts of disability and even death ignorantly clouded my judgment; causing instant tears to well up in my eyes. Here I was six months pregnant, with no previous history of having seizures or any knowledge of the effects that they would have surrounding my fate and that of our unborn child.
Out of my siblings, I am known as the optimistic extrovert. There was nothing that I couldn’t find a silver lining to. And you could definitely count on me to be the life of the party.
Surprisingly enough, one seizure was all it took to shake me out of that fantasy; spoon feeding me a healthy dose of what I thought would be my newly fated reality.
Thirty years on God’s beautiful, green earth and here I was questioning my entire existence. Faith flew out the window and left me on the hospital gurney to accept my seizing side effects of doubt, failure, depression, and fear; or so I thought. Little did I know; this was just God’s way of shaking things up a bit.
Ignorance is NOT Bliss
Fast forward to my 9th month of pregnancy; I had suffered 4 more seizures with no real explanation other than, “It’s probably just your hormones”. No longer being one to settle for such a vague explanation, on top of my loving family always on my back about being more proactive with my health; I finally began doing research. Up until then, I had become accustomed to thinking that these seizures were just a mere pregnancy related inconvenience and that all would go back to normal once I gave birth.
Accepting Google as my trusty doctor afforded me a wealth of knowledge that I hadn’t even been told by the ones with several degrees behind their name. By that time, I had been seen by 2 different neurologists and gone through a host of testing.
You can probably imagine how frustrating it was to go from appointment to appointment only to walk out with a receipt for your co-payment and out of pocket expenses. So, back to the drawing board I went; committing myself to dive deeper.
Do you have what it shakes?
My neurologists categorized me as a “new onset epilepsy during pregnancy” patient. While this particular disorder is common amongst women 22-30 years of age across the U.S., the National Institute of Health advises that its diagnoses is still unknown.
With having no prior history of having seizures, I was deemed lucky by my doctors; considering none of my symptoms affected my growing fetus from an internal perspective. I, however, didn’t find myself so lucky at the time due to the amount of falls I took as a result of having yet another episode.
I often described my seizures as touch and go. For most epilepsy patients, seizures tend to come with triggers. Epilepsy.org defines triggers as “something that occurs consistently and most often than by chance”.
These triggers/warning signs may include having an “outer body experience”, feeling faint, nausea, seeing spots of color, smells of gas, and a metal taste on the tongue; to name a few. From my experience, there weren’t any triggers that were directly tied to my seizures. I never knew when one was coming on. My awareness of them came after the fact due to the physical pain I was in, coupled with my inability to remember what I was doing in the seconds before one was triggered.
This was indeed frustrating because I wanted desperately to find out what was going on with me so I could commit to fixing it.
Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?
Growing up, one of my favorite shows to watch was "Three’s Company". I could always count on “Chrissy Snow” to keep me laughing because of her super blonde moments. To this day, my family affectionately calls me by my alter ego “Chrissy Snow”.
For as much as I am intelligent, more often than not, you could catch me having a blonde moment. What I didn’t know was that this childhood memory was prepping me for life after epilepsy.
One of the major side effects associated with having a seizure is the affect it has on your brain’s ability to store memory. I could literally hear a song on the radio; that I most likely sang a million and one times, and believe that I was hearing it for the first time. This was really a blessing and a curse for me.
It was inviting because of those not so treasurable moments that I wanted to chuck up as a fail and just forget. On the unfortunate side of things, I was forgetting major life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and outings. And if that wasn’t bad enough; I could literally be engaged in a conversation with someone and completely forget what it was that I had said moments after.
You can only imagine the effect it had on my relationships with loved ones, friends, and my day to day interactions with people in general.
For this social butterfly, it was quite depressing.
Because of my inability to remember things, there were some that took offense to me not showing up for certain gatherings. There were those who thought I was illiterate because it would take me longer than usual to process a sentence. There were even some that didn’t want to invite me to social events because it was considered a burden to pick me up due to not being permitted to drive.
The worst of it was when I was talking to my Sister and couldn’t even remember my own child’s name. How’s that for a fun blonde moment!?
Despite all the ups and downs, anxious and fearful moments, and the like; I finally made it to the big day! On May 2nd, 2018, I delivered a healthy 7 lb 7 oz baby boy. What made it even more worthy of celebrating was the fact that I did it seizure free!
Fast forward to a month after delivery, I was recovering nicely and well versed in a solid routine. To be expected, I really couldn’t go anywhere or do too much. I did however want to make sure I had a good hold on things before heading back to work. I was excited to have gone this long without having a seizure too. At this point I had chalked them up to hormones being out of whack.
Surely enough, my excitement was short lived as I had yet another episode. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to how disheartening this was. I just knew I was at the point where I’d be able to put this all behind me.
I went on to having roughly about 5 more seizures during the summer months after giving birth.
Things progressively got worse before they got better. I tried to shield my oldest children from what was going on with Mommy for as long as I could. Both of them, unfortunately, had to witness one of my episodes. What I wasn’t ready to accept about my condition was how they would be impacted mentally by all of this.
I was no longer the fun mom. I couldn’t drive, which kept us in the house often. I would get frustrated trying to assist with their studies because I would forget basic fundamentals at times. For the most part I had to refrain from cooking and holding sharp objects.
Because of the seizures, my nerves were affected; causing me to jolt at any given moment. I had to be supervised while holding the baby to prevent dropping or falling on top of him. That part affected me the most.
Always Remember to Put the Great in Grateful
Previous to now, I never wanted to talk about my “disorder”. Of course people had several questions for me. But instead of choosing to be a beacon of light, I just wanted to be left alone in that moment. Each question would just remind me of how unfortunate I must have been, or that this was just one more karmic lesson I was learning for something stupid I must’ve done in my past!
It was just so much easier to just put the blame on life itself! How cowardly of me right?
Has anyone ever just sat quietly and “listened to the walls talk”? While one might suggest that this tactic was crazy; for me it was my wake up call.
Instead of embracing the fact that I still had my life, 3 healthy children at the time, and a family that loved me; I chose to put all my energy into being inconvenienced. I soon realized just how ungrateful I was being.
That’s not something that I was even ready to admit out loud at the time. I mean after all, I always conveniently said the words “thank you”.
Thanksgiving 2018, I had yet another seizure to add to my roster. Instead of wallowing in pity a second longer, I chose that day to be grateful.
I had learned so much about myself and the desired changes I wanted to acquire moving forward. There is so much to be thankful for and more often than not, I was too focused on things that did not go my way or stimulate positive growth. I wasn’t even realizing the setbacks that I contributed to just by being overly worrisome and negative.
Breathe! Stretch! Shake! Let it go!
Hip Hop Artist Mase coined the phrase “Breathe, Stretch, Shake, Let it Go” in his 2004 pop hit “Breathe, Stretch, Shake” ft. P. Diddy. I began using this phrase regularly to adapt to my new life as a mother with epilepsy.
I had seizures, but I could no longer continue to let them have me. It took me some time, but I accepted the role I played. I couldn’t claim my life as an optimist all the while walking around as a pessimistic poster child for oxy morons.
Today, if you ask me; Epilepsy is my Super Power.
Why is that? Well, during an epileptic episode, there’s an electrical surge that fires off in the brain.
That being said; because rewiring takes place during that time, it subconsciously powered my brain to engage in more positively effective thinking. After choosing to acknowledge that my wayward thoughts weren’t serving my highest good, profound change could respectfully take place.
Having those seizures, for me, acted as a flashing red light to encourage me to try again. Don’t get me wrong, nothing about having seizures are fun; however, I am grateful that I learned the lesson that I believe was intended to take root.
I began adopting practices such as yoga, meditation, clean eating, intermittent fasting, and deep breathing exercises. I even committed to doing research on the healthy effects that marijuana has on epilepsy patients. This new way of doing things, coupled with my new outlook on life, brought about greater desired changes than I could even fathom.
Ever since my moment of clarity on that Thanksgiving Day back in 2018, I’ve only encountered one epileptic episode! As if that wasn’t enough to brag about; Antwan and I got married! But wait, it gets even better!
We even ended up pregnant again; seizure free, and with the blessing of delivering another beautiful, healthy baby boy! Life truly doesn’t happen to you! It happens for you! Cheers to finally Seizing the Moment!
Who Ya Witt!?
In this lifetime, you’re only as successful as the people you have in your sphere of influence. I would love to sit and tell you that my healing and recovery was attributed to just my own will power! However, I’m even more grateful for all those who rallied around me.
ADVICE FOR MOMS:
Never be ashamed to tell your store, fight your fears with gloves and grace, and be you un-apologetically.
Written by Jasmine Witt @justgo_wittit
What you should do next:
#1) Subscribe to my newsletter below for weekly tips, inspiration, tools, and truthful information to help you feel more confident and ready for your journey into and throughout motherhood.
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#5) Click here to grab a copy of "Wild Mama": 10 steps to self grace and love when you feel like you've lost your identity. A very powerful quick read for anyone hoping to add more grace, patience, joy, and forgiveness of self during your postpartum healing.
With love & light, Danielle Jai Watson (your Cosmic Doula) xo
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