As a little girl, I never dreamed of my fairy tale wedding, my ideal home with a white picket fence and beautiful children running happily around our perfectly manicured lawn. Was it because of my health struggles as I child that I knew I wouldn’t follow the so-called picture perfect life? Is it strange that I did not daydream or imagine a life of getting married, purchasing a home and having children?
The most common question I receive is, “Do you want to have children?” It is something Noah and I talk about quite often and very openly. At this point in life, I’m not ready to provide a “yes” or “no” answer.
I find it interesting how those around us observing our lives can sometimes provide greater insight into our inner thoughts and reasoning than we can ourselves. A few weeks ago Noah and I were discussing children and all of the volunteer work that I do for those suffering with PKD. He said, “I think all of the volunteer work that you do is filling the void of not having children.” At first this bold statement caught me off guard. However, a few seconds after hearing those three powerful words, ‘filling the void,’ my eyes welled up with tears. I instantly responded, “What do you mean?” Noah said, “When you have children, you teach them, love them, nurture them, and help them grow. That is what you are doing with the PKD community, through your volunteer work.” I nodded my head as I tried to digest this profound realization that my wonderful husband brought to my attention.
If I was completely healthy, do I think I would have kids? Absolutely! I love children. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I always smile and love to look at pregnant bellies. I marvel at the thought of how we women can carry a beautiful little person inside us. I look at Noah’s baby pictures and how amazingly cute he was (and still is!) I like to imagine what our child would look like. Noah would be a wonderful father. Sometimes I wish so badly I could carry his child.
Then I snap back to reality and look at the big picture. My body has been through so much. I am very thankful for the relatively good health that I enjoy today and would not want to jeopardize my transplanted kidney by becoming pregnant. I have other health issues that could complicate the pregnancy. I am on so many medications and some are so new that doctors are not aware of what complications could be caused to a newborn baby. I fear the thought of something happening to the baby or myself, and then being on dialysis with a newborn. Thinking of Noah dealing with a wife on dialysis and a newborn is just not fair. I would not wish anyone to have to endure all of the health issues I have and I can’t imagine passing them on and watching our beautiful child battle through them. Then a huge factor that most do not calculate into the equation are the colds and flus the child would get and could pass along to me with my suppressed immune system. I am fortunate that Noah and I both share the same sentiments and concerns. We know that a surrogate and adoption is an option. We have not completely ruled out the idea but we know there is a lot to think about, and our concerns are valid.
It is hard not to compare ourselves to other people, but we were not all created to live the exact same lives. I was having a conversation with a wonderful couple at a recent event. The wife is beautiful and they have two precious daughters. To me, they look like a perfect family. The question arose about whether I have children and then, would I like to have them? My eyes moistened as I responded to the woman, saying, “I am sitting here looking at you and you are strikingly beautiful and you have two adorable, healthy girls. Some days I wish I could say the same, but I don’t think that is the path I am meant to be on.” I told her of my concerns and uncertainties of having children. She so kindly responded, “You are beautiful. I stay home and my job is to raise our two girls, to teach them and to love them. That is all that I do. You have touched countless lives and will continue to. Not everybody can say that. I will never be able to say that.”
That conversation was very insightful. It is interesting how each of us perceives each other’s lives. I looked upon this woman and thought that she was lucky for what she has, and she thought the same about me. Yes, it would be great to be able to become pregnant, but that might not be what is right for me; might not be the life I am supposed to live. I will continue to live each day positively and with purpose. I will not focus on what I don’t have but rather what I have. I will continue to fill this void with positive things and know that what happens in my life is exactly what is meant to be.
I would love to hear what stage you are at with PKD and your thoughts on having children.