I've reached the age where a lot of my friends are starting to have children or are thinking about having children. Basically, there is a lot of talk about babies in my life right now when I talk to my friends. Which normally doesn't bother me. I'm happy for them to be moving on to that stage of their lives.
But I can't help but feel like I'm being left behind somehow. Not because I want children. I've never had a desire to reproduce; whether or not that stems from being told that the chances of me having children are very slim or I simply don't want children is something that would take a psychiatrist years to unravel.
However, this is the first time where having cystic fibrosis feels like it's blocking me from part of being an adult. I've been able to do all the other 'adulty' things, but it seems that making the actual decision to have children is something that I would've wanted. I guess it's the difference of having something stolen from you versus giving it away.
I didn't realize this until all my close friends started talking about babies and then the full force of the chemotherapy drugs hit me a few weeks ago. It seems that there are two days in the chemotherapy cycle, after the jaw pain and the no white count where it's a full out hormone attack on the body. During those days last cycle, I had several panic attacks about nothing overally important but one of them was about the fact that it seems that everyone is moving on without me.
I don't think that I'm jealous of their having children, I think it's more that I would like to at least have the choice. Men with CF are usually 100% sterile. I know some women with CF have children but those women tend to have a more mild form of CF or have the children when they're quite young and healthier. Women with CF usually have a hard time conceiving due to the extra mucous in the uterus (it's not just all in the lungs). And then if they get pregnant, carrying a baby is hard on the lungs so it's not recommended for many women with CF as it would make them even more short of breath. There is also a lot of nutritional aspects to consider as often women with CF are underweight and then having to eat for two can be very difficult. All in all, it's very difficult. Of course now with the chemotherapy, I'm doubly infertile.
[Side story: when the pharmacist was rambling off the list of side effects from the chemotherapy an hour before I got my first dose she failed to mention infertility. Until she came back in the room 20 minutes later and casually mentioned 'oh, by the way, you'll most likely be infertile after this, have a good chemo session!' What if I had planned on having children? You tell people 30 minutes before their first dose? I don't think any woman planning on having children would process that information well when she wouldn't have time to prepare a plan B like freezing eggs. It was all so sudden.]
I know that I could adopt or have children other ways. However, with my shortened life expectancy, I just don't think it's worth agreeing to support a child only to die early on in their childhood. The other thing is that I can't exactly take care of a child when I'm too busy taking care of myself.
This isn't something I think about very often and not something that often makes me sad but it just hit me and I can't get it out of my head. I thought maybe rambling on about it would make me feel better. It's not really a big deal, I'm happy with my childless life, it's just that it's another reminder of how having cystic fibrosis limits certain parts of my life. And I don't like those reminders.
I ended up calling Amy in my panic to ask how she dealt with the feelings of being left behind and her response was basically to 'get use to it, it's all shitty.' It's just another thing of living with CF. We'll never have children, probably never plan for retirement, never go scuba diving (it's really hard on the lungs), and never be able to fully digest corn (not really a big deal but super annoying).
To my friends, I don't want you to stop talking about babies or baby planning with me. I'm honestly happy for you. It's just these chemo meds that are messing with my mind, making me super emotional some days. They make me think the worst about everything and hopefully in 12 weeks, I'll be done with it all and can go back to being a bit more emotionally stable. Urgh emotions!