FARGO — Sheri and Chris Finstad could sit and play with their son, Isaac, for hours.
"He is a miracle baby and ... everybody who has walked through this journey with us calls him that," Sheri Finstad said.
Sheri was in her early 20s when she had her first seizure while on vacation with family.
"I had a seizure in my sleep, and that one was a grand mal seizure, so they knew it was a seizure," she said.
The seizure marked the beginning of years of medication, unique diets and specialists. Nothing seem to reduce the seizures, and surgery was not an option because of the type of epilepsy she had.
Because of the seizures — often occurring several times a week — she and husband Chris couldn't have children. The drugs were also too dangerous for a pregnancy.
Then Mayo Clinic's Dr. Gregory Worrell proposed another option: to implant a deep brain stimulator.
"In Sheri's case, she required multiple drugs to control the seizures," Dr. Worrell explained. "The brain stimulation ... device gave her the opportunity to get the seizures under control with fewer medications, and really give her the best chance to have a successful pregnancy."
A team of epilepsy specialists at Mayo Clinic used an implanted deep brain stimulator. The procedure worked, and the seizures became more controlled.
So, a plan for a family moved ahead. The couple got the news from an alert on their phone that Sheri was pregnant.
"And I still remember screaming and then laughing. That was such a joy," Sheri Finstad said.
"We both started crying and jumping up and down. We were extremely excited," Chris Finstad said.
Because Chris had testicular cancer, the couple had Isaac through in vitro fertilization.
For the Finstads, life has changed. Seizures have been reduced to one a month and are mild.
Best of all was the new addition to their family, the center of their life: Isaac, the reason Sheri Finstad went through all those challenges in the first place.
"We are definitely in love with him," Sheri Finstad said. "I just think of the journey we've been on."
Because the seizures have been drastically reduced, the Finstads are thinking about a sibling for Isaac.
To learn more about National Epilepsy Awareness Month, visit the Epilepsy Foundation's website.