Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Family Planning Issues

Chris and I have been married for eight years. For many of those years, we have really been on the fence about what we want in terms of our own immediate family. There were so many years where having children just felt overwhelming and out of the question. Then, I turned 30, had a third-of-the-way-through-life crisis and got Chris on board to just have one baby, and Noah resulted. I will never forget the bliss of those four days. The bliss of his whole life really. It was such a joy to be pregnant with him and watch him grow. After he was born, I was absolutely, and totally sunk. I loved him more than I ever thought I could love anyone or anything. He was amazing and fascinating to me. Chris felt the same way. We were just giddy over being his parents. The whole “having children” thing had lost all of its sense of impossibility. How could we not do this? Then, just as we realized that that kind of joy in life was possible, it was taken away.

We have always known from the beginning that doing this again was necessary. Life would be meaningless without it. The rewards far outweigh the potential for heartache and struggle. Of anything in our married life, we both felt a strong sense of solidarity in this. We didn’t know how we would get there, but we just knew that we had to get there. Now we have Aaron.

Sitting here, pondering what the future may hold, and wondering if Aaron will for all intents and purposes be an only child, there is so much emotion around that thought. Where we used to be terrified to think of a house with children, those thoughts are long gone. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more? The sad thing is that that may just not be an option for us. The only way to for sure have a healthy baby is to do in vitro fertilization. That process costs an arm and a leg.

Some say “just do it the old fashioned way, and then do the amniocentesis to see if he/she is healthy.” But what if he/she isn’t? What then? I would never have an abortion. (Yes, I have been asked that question!) MCADD is 90% treatable. It makes for a long hard road of special diets, lots of visits to the ER, and a lifetime of specialists monitoring everything. I think of a woman in one of my grief groups that lost her son at the age of 25 from diabetes. As long as he lived at home, she knew she could micro-manage his care, and make sure he did everything he was supposed to. But, someday it would be time for him to move out and live on his own. He would have to be his own primary care giver. As luck would have it, he went into diabetic shock, and he was alone, and he died. I would always live in fear of that potential future. MCADD works the same way. He/she could go into metabolic shock, and as we learned from Noah, it can all go downhill so quickly.

Can you knowingly create a sick child? One that will struggle for a lifetime with an illness? I don’t think I can. So that leaves us with in vitro fertilization, and maybe winning the lottery someday so we can do it again. The money we needed to do it fell out of the sky and landed in our laps once. I don’t know that it will happen again. Our hearts aren’t entirely wrapped around this yet. Likely because we are still in the battle, fighting to get our one healthy child. Maybe he will come and fill our hearts and he really will be all we need. He may have to, because this very well may be our last shot. All we can do is live and see what happens or not.


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