I learned something new earlier this week. It is something that I think I already knew, deep down somewhere. That inexplicable gut feeling. But, already ‘knowing’ didn’t lessen my reaction.
My DNA testing came back. I am a carrier for OTC. I had a feeling. Things in our family history were a little too coincidental for me. Still, hearing it, having it confirmed by professionals, was a bit like being punched in the stomach. I kind of stopped hearing the world around me. I moved and went through the checkup at Georgetown just like every other time. But I wasn’t really there. It was like some thick blanket of fog had descended. On Monday, I walked around in a daze feeling just like I did that moment that the doctor came to my hospital room and said “Mrs. Long, we aren’t going to be able to send Matthew home with you right now.” I had just started to convince myself that everything he is going through isn’t my fault. But, here I am again, trying not to go back into that mode of apologizing to him for giving him this disorder. But I did. It’s right there on my X-chromosome. If you unravel it and sequence it you’ll see, right there in the urea cycle, OTC Deficiency, in big flashing neon letters. Caution. Having children is dangerous. Your X is poisonous.
Think back to high school science and those punnet squares. (Weren’t they fun? I really did love genetics.) Here’s what we have: A child gets one sex chromosome from each parent. Dad gives an x or a y. Mom only gives out x’s. One of my X’s carries OTC. So, My daughters could have the ‘good’ X or they, too, could be carriers. There is a 50/50 chance of any future son having OTC. Or, a 25% chance of a future child being a son with OTC.
Which brings us to a post that I was saving for a later date. Will there be any future children? It’s the question that everyone asks immediately after the birth of a child “Are you done now?” Well, here is the answer. Rusty and I have always gone with ‘let’s take it one at a time’. We have a child we love them and watch them grow and then (so far) at around a year or so of age we decide “hey, this isn’t so bad. Let’s do it again.” and decide to add one more to our family. Even after Matthew’s birth, I hadn’t totally ruled out the possibility of more children. Not knowing what his needs are going to be, we certainly haven’t planned to have more, but it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. However, knowing that this wasn’t some chance mutation, I find myself wondering if we are ‘finally done’ having kids. Knowing that I’m a carrier means that a baby can be tested in the womb for OTC and we can start him immediately on proper formula and medication to prevent any brain injury. But will that child also need a liver transplant? Is it at all responsible of us to continue to have children knowing that one could need that type of drastic intervention to preserve its life? Is it silly to let the news change our plans? It’s not impossible for us to have a healthy son or daughter, after all.
There are so many things to consider now. And, maybe I shouldn’t be considering anything. I am certainly not at the point where I want another child. But, I am the crazy lady who truly enjoys being pregnant. And I love those sleepless nights of cuddling and nursing my baby. It’s weird to think that that might be behind me. But then again, as so many strangers like to tell me, I do “have my hands full” already. Erynn has told us over and over again (since before Matthew was born) that we were going to have one more baby ‘because Matthew needs a friend’. Maybe she knows something that we don’t know.
I need to sit back and relax. I need to enjoy what God has blessed me with and be content with what His plans are for the future. I certainly don’t know what He has planned. He may have 3 healthy boys in my future (although, I hope not!).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34