Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pros and Cons

I'm sure I'm not the only woman who has a pros/cons list in her head about having children. I've just never met one, it seems. Everyone I know seems to have given little thought to the idea of having children, assuming it was just a given. I have never assumed that.

Growing up in a large Irish family, I used to help take care of cousins and second cousins, and I had a few babysitting gigs. I quickly learned that babies and children are a lot of work. Sure, they're cute and cuddly sometimes. But they also scream, cry, poop, get sick, choke on bacon (that's a story for another day) and can be downright miserable sometimes. People always say "it's different when it's your child" and perhaps that's true, but for about 10 years, I didn't believe it!

Since about the age of 16, I knew I didn't want children. Then, at 25, I probably didn't want children. At 27, I couldn't really see my life with a child, but it wasn't something I was going to rule out. As soon as I was diagnosed with RA, I thought I wouldn't be able to have children - and that triggered some serious thinking about it. Before, it was MY decision not to have children. Now, it seemed, that choice was being made for me. And it really made me question what I actually wanted deep down in my heart of hearts.

Fortunately, I met a great rheumatologist who told me not to believe anything I read about women with RA not being able to have children. It simply wasn't true, he said. He would fully support me if I decided to do so. So then, the pros/cons list started in earnest (with the help of the hubby, of course). Now, I will warn you, not all of these reasons are selfless. Really, having a child is not a selfless action. There's got to be something in it for you, or you wouldn't do it, right? I ask you not to judge, then, without seriously thinking about the issue for some time.

Anyway - here is the ever evolving list (in no particular order):

PROS                                                               
1. We could bring another life into this amazing love that we share
2. We would have someone else to share fun experiences with
3. We could raise a responsible, caring citizen of the world
4. We would complete an innate biological drive (seriously, this probably sounds lame, but when you get to a certain age, you just feel like having a child is something you want to do/were made to do)
5. We would have someone around when we get older to plan our care, visit us, etc.
6. We might get grandchildren (which seem to be all the fun of kids without the work!!)

CONS
1. We would lose a lot of sleep that first year
2. We could risk our relationship (studies show children do not improve marriages, rather they put strain on it)
3. Because of my RA, I may not be able to be there (physically) for the child at all times
4. We would have to sacrifice some luxuries we currently enjoy (trips, not having to worry about every penny we spend, etc.)
5. My RA may flare significantly after the birth - which I'm not sure I would handle well
6. I'm not 100% sure that my husband is 100% sure about kids

So the list is seemingly even. But it's not just a numbers game. The loss of sleep is temporary - and certainly doesn't outweigh any of the Pros on its own. But, con #3 is a biggie. As is #6. I guess those are the 2 I have to figure out.

5 comments:

  1. I'm right there with your list...here's where I have the issue. We have 1 kid already...which seems like it would make the pro/cons more clear, but the bump from 1 to 2 is even more confusing b/c you think, "Should I be selfish enough to jeapordize care for the first kid and try for the second?"

    In your case, I definitely think you should go for the first kid! In all honesty, my RA did seem to worsen after my kid's birth, but it coulda been a timing issue and happened anyway...the thing is, I doubt I would want to get out of bed most days if it wasn't for my great kid. You know? He kinda makes all the pain worth it. It sounds strange, but it is true.

    But now he wants a sibling like no one's business, and we can't lie...we are not strictly opposed to having another one, but it will be a hard road to hoe, I know that.

    But here is something I did think when I saw your list: seeing it put in a list form from someone else, makes me realize that a pro/con list is not what is needed for this type of decision. You have to go with your heart, you know? And I don't mean that in any kind of insulting way, b/c up till 9 second ago, I was doing the same thing. LOL!

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  2. I totally know what you mean. That's why I said even though there's an even # of pros/cons - it's not even! #s 1-3 in PROs column are ones you can hardly put a value on!

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  3. That makes sense!

    I saw my Dr. today. We talked about maybe looking at getting pregnant again. She said to look up this group called The Otis Project...but she did say, they never take anyone until they are actually pregnant. But they work specifically with women who have RA and are pregnant. They work with you to try and keep you on your drugs while you are pregnant safely, or do other things that might help. I may check it out!

    - RA SB

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  4. RA SB - The OTIS project is actually the source of one of the research links I posted:
    http://www.otispregnancy.org/hm/inside.php?id=40


    They have some great info. I know another blogger (Clare from Muscles and RA) participated in the project when she was pregnant. My rheumy says he'd want me to sign up for it, too. Let me know if you learn more about it!

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  5. As to Con #2: We have three kids, all boys, very active. But my husband and I are closer than ever. We love the kids, the kids love us, we love each other. It's this big giant circle of love that feeds on itself. For me, it makes a big difference that someone is watching me, watching my relationship, making me want to be a better person so they can learn to be a better person, too. It makes us more loving and less snarky with each other (even when we're feeling really snarky).

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I welcome your comments and experiences! If you have any questions, I will try to get back to you as soon as I can.