Wednesday, December 29, 2010

For Seamus

One day, Seamus is going to find out the circumstances of his brother's origins and I wanted to write down the story to help him understand.

When you have a child with Cystic Fibrosis, deciding whether to have more children is a difficult decision with much to take into consideration. We did not make this decision lightly.

My childhood was full of moments that I couldn't imagine getting through without my brother being by my side and I know James feels the same way about his siblings. We always wanted Seamus to experience that too. He is definitely in for a bumpy road ahead and there is nothing like the love of a brother or sister.

But we also knew the risks. The chances of having another child with CF was 25% which may not seem like a lot to some people but it's huge when you are looking at your child suffer in the hospital and have to watch him go through all the daily stuff he has to endure just to try to stay healthy.

Another CF mom I know put it well when she said "Women take all kinds of precautions like not eating soft cheeses or raw fish when the chances of that causing a problem are so small. Why would I take the much bigger chance of giving another child a horrible disease like CF?"

If we had another child who did have CF, I can't imagine the guilt I would feel. Not only for bringing the child into the world knowing how much he would suffer, but also knowing I would be affecting Seamus' health as well. The recommendation is that people with CF should not be within 3 feet of each other because of cross contamination but obviously CF children in the same family can not adhere to that. Whenever one grew something in their lungs, they would be sure to give it to the other.

There is one way for two carrier parents to have a child and insure (at least 95%) that they will have not the disease, and after many years of deliberation, that is what we decided to do. It's called Pre-Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which is used with in vitro fertilization. They can tell as early as 3 days whether an embroyo carries the genes for CF.

It's a very touchy subject in the CF community because people have many opinions about it. Some think we should leave it up to God who does or does not get the disease or they think a cure is going to be found soon, so if another child has it, they will be fine. Some people who have CF feel that if their parents had used PGD they would never have been born and maybe it makes them feel like the world is telling them they shouldn't exist.

I want Seamus to know that is not how we feel at all. We would never, ever change anything about you. You are a kind and compassionate little boy and we know part of that comes from your experiences with CF. We desperately hope for a cure, but with or without one, CF will always be a part of the wonderful person you are.

I hope you can understand why we made the choices we did for your baby brother. We wanted to protect both of you. You are going to be a fantastic big brother and he is going to love you so much, just like Mommy and Daddy.

In no way did I write this post in judgment of other CF parents who may have made a different decision than ours. There is no easy answer and I respect any parents who have to deal with these issues. I ask that you respect our decision as well.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Catching up

It's been a busy Fall and Winter at our house. The big news is I'm pregnant! We are expecting another son in March and we're all excited. I think Seamus was more excited earlier and just wishes it would be over already. When I ask him to come feel the baby kick, he rolls his eyes and says "Mommy, I don't need to feel the baby again." Mommy also wishes it would be over soon. This is hard work for a "mature" lady like me.

Seamus was sick the entire month of November. He started the month with an endoscopy because an x-ray showed a piece of his old g-j tube stuck in his stomach. They went in to remove it but then couldn't find it. However, the breathing tube used for anesthesia seemed to stir up gunk in his lungs because two days later he ended up in the ER with pneumonia. He stayed for a week and then went home on IV antibiotics for another two weeks. After that, he still wasn't better and has been on oral antibiotics hoping to finally kick his cough that he's had since July. He finishes on Christmas Day and hopefully he can get a Christmas miracle and have it be gone for good.

He's been enjoying school a lot this year. He's a big Kindergartner and is really learning a lot. He told me today he can't wait for Christmas break to be over so he can go back to school. We're having a very difficult time trying to find a school for him next year. His current school is just Pre-K and K. Our local elementary school has class sizes of 30-35 which would definitely not work for him because of all the germs.

He's still taking dance class, tap and ballet, and even though he's not the most coordinated, he still loves it. And of course, he still spends hours each day drawing and cutting his "paper dudes". I think art is going to be his thing.

Seamus is very excited about Christmas but I think he's catching on about Santa. He keeps talking about how the Santa he saw this year didn't look like the one from previous years. He's too smart for his own good. Yesterday, he ran around the house and collected all the tissue boxes and drew family portraits on all of them. Then he wrapped them up for Christmas presents and said "Now when they blow their nose, they can look at pictures of their family." He's very thoughtful.