Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby on my mind

"You have to want it more than you fear it." - unknown

I've always wanted to have a child of my own. I seemed to only find men who didn't want children, though; or, if they did, they were just not the right guy. What was up with that? Then I met Mr. Right. A few dates in, I learned that he had decided not to have any more children, that his two beautiful teens from his previous marriage were sufficient. However, I was falling for him and had to decide whether to end the relationship and continue to search for the right man to have children with, or give up that dream and take a risk that a life without my own child could be very fulfilling. I had a heart-to-heart with my mom, mother to three children, and we discussed the pros and cons of my possible futures. I decided to continue dating Mr. Right and today we are happily married. I love his children as my own.

Six weeks after we married, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type), a painful genetic condition. My husband told me that he had been prepared to ask me about having children because he loved me so much, but this new diagnosis and all the uncertainties that we faced nixed that idea. Genetically, there is a 50/50 chance of having a child with EDS, and then the manifestations are different person to person. I also struggle with clinical depression that also seems to have a genetic component, though it's possibly related to the EDS. In addition to the risk to the child, it's possible that the damage to my own body from the relaxin hormone released during pregnancy could leave me disabled. This hormone is what enables the pelvis to relax/spread enough for vaginal birth. For some women with EDS, their pelvis is never the same.

So, life has been fine without a child in the house. We travel a lot; I can sleep in regularly; and we enjoy eachother's attention without much distraction. Yet I have this emptiness deep inside that I've been struggling to keep quiet. Am I making a mistake by not asking my husband to have a child together?

My two best friends have very different baby stories. One friend had an unexpected pregnancy that ended in an amazing, smart little boy who was intensely loved by his single mother. The boy's father was not in the picture until he was a toddler and even then, my friend didn't want him around. The father was dangerous and took unnecessary risks in life, so it was inevitable that his son would get hurt. My friend tried to limit contact and even took court action but they favored the father. At 5 1/2, her son died in a tragic accident caused by his father. She has never been the same. Though I knew her since she was pregnant with her son, she and I only bonded after his death. She's not able to have another child due to age, but she's considered adoption. However, she is also taking into consideration that she's enjoying her life as is, with no child or husband.

My other friend just had a beautiful baby boy a month ago. She never wanted kids but she married someone who really did. She said the other day that if she hadn't had a child, it would have been a big mistake. She's totally in love and will be an amazing mom. It's neat to be around a newborn too. Could I handle a newborn?

So, DH and I finally got around to the subject and he just doesn't see how it is possible, especially since he'd have to have surgery. He's also of similar mind to me that this world is pretty f'd up. And then I saw the quote above on a friend's Facebook page. She actually wrote, "When it comes to making big decisions - you've got to want it more than fear it." That struck a HUGE chord with me. At this point in my life, I have way too many fears about bringing a child into this (crazy) world. I think I'm done.

Although I know I'll have more moments in life where I regret not having a child, I now have this saying to look back onto. I don't like to succumb to fear, but this is one decision that will forever be ruled by it. If I were younger and unaware, I could have ignored my fears of the world we live in - who's to say we wouldn't have the world's next Nobel Peace Prize winner, or president; plus being a good mom is one of the best jobs ever. EDS is too big for me to handle. Plus, what if we had a child with autism or some other disability - yikes! I don't know how those moms do it on top of handling their own disability. At least EDS is familiar. I guess you do what you have to do for the loves in your life.

So, I will be the best mom I can to my two beautiful grown-up kids and will spoil my future nieces/nephews like crazy. My bff has also granted me honorary auntie status for her little guy. I am so grateful for these younger people in my life.

God works in mysterious ways...

(Do any of you deal with these worries or issues? I'd love to hear your perspective.)


  1. Elise,
    I wrote a really long comment, and it deleted itself, after not etting me log in to blogger... Grrr...

    The jist of it was:
    I'm going through the same war of fear vs. wanting, and it depends on the day as to which one wins.

    And... As far as the depression goes, it's pretty common with chronic pain (doesn't make it any easier knowing that though).

    We walk a similar path, you and I.

    Love and HUGS!!!

  2. Hi pretty lady.

    Oh, I totally know how that feels! I've gotten into the habit of copying long posts/notes/emails just in case something happens. Then I can paste when the 'net burps.

    Things were so different when I was younger. I think I'd be having a harder time if I was at your age, since age isn't a factor. I'm up against 40 and all the joys of the sad eggs left inside. The thought of possibly having a kid with Down's or autism (poss assoc with older dads. DH is 8yrs older than me) is terrifying. I don't think I could handle that. I'm not sure our marriage could handle that considering all the effort we'd have to put into actually conceiving (if it's possible). The days of "oops" are long behind me and sometimes I long for them. But they I would have had to deal with an inadequate baby-daddy.

    What does your husband think? Does he want kids?

    Re: depression and EDS - I was diagnosed with the former way before the latter and now wonder how much it has to do with the EDS. My dad has EDS and depression, as does my brother (though he's not formally diagnosed). I'm looking for a therapist who has experience in chronic pain and marriage. Such a challenge. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Do you know anything about Vit D and depression? I ran out of my Vit D a while back and forgot to get more. I wonder if that's part of the problem - suggested by a friend.

    I love you and hope you are doing well, my sister.


  3. I know the feeling - I had my son when I was young and stupid :-) Not knowing anything about EDS. After he was about 2, my body started falling apart. I would really love another but I'm 36 now and it's getting to the point it would be really difficult. We are trying to adopt but it is taking a long time and sometimes I wonder if I'm fit to even do that. I think about it a lot and I realize I think pregnancy/babies are romanticized a lot in our culture. Everyone loves babies and makes such a big deal over them. They are very special but I think maybe my job is to help older people, and I am really into animals - they are sort of like my children. My son is 12 and is starting to have some EDS problems and I would really hate to bring another child into the world to suffer. It is very difficult to deal with - I know exactly what you are talking about. I have cried many hours of tears trying to figure out what to do.

  4. I know you posted this awhile ago, but I just read it. I had four kids before I knew I had EDS. I only had problems with my third one - some bleeding and she was born a month early because she broke my water when she kicked me real hard. I had my last one at age 36. I would do it all over again. They all are showing some signs of EDS, but they are living full, happy lives, just like I did.

    Now that I'm not working, I am able to spend time with them and my 3 grandchildren. I thought having children was a great experience, but having grandchildren doesn't even begin to touch the joy I had when I had my own. Grandchildren are the reward for having raised your own. My Grandchildren are my whole world, I didn't know I could love so much.

    I don't mean to confuse you more, only you know your energy level and pain. I just wanted to give you my viewpoint.

  5. You need to do what is right for you. Adoption is an option. We've recently decided to have our own child. Yes this will be hard, more work and often tears, but nothing worth while in life is ever easy. Yes I use a cane, Yes I sometimes use a wheelchair, Yes I am different, Yes I have to be careful, and Yes this may mess me up worse. However, this is the right path for us. After weighing the pros and cons of having our own child; the pros far outweighed the cons for us. Only you can decide what is right for you. For some people the right path is not having a child by birth. For those people there are so many other alternatives. Take care, be strong, you will find your right path. Not everyone’s path is the same.