Children and multiple sclerosis?
Not always a straightforward decision.
Although life was good during my last relationship, I secretly decided that having children would probably not be on my list of things to do. Not because of the lack of love, but because I didn’t want to pass on my illness to my future son or daughter. When we eventually talked about possibly mixing my illness with screaming babies and hectic lifestyle, I realised I made the right decision.
Being broody comes with being female, and despite my decision, I still get broody sometimes. If MS wouldn’t have crossed my path, I absolutely wanted children. One of the few “nice” things about being chronically ill and being childless is, however, when looking after children of friends and family, I can give their children back at night. I get to go back to my own cool, dark bedroom in my quiet house, and I have my broodiness resolved for a while.
Eventually, the decision why I didn’t want children came up when friends started to wonder when they would see mine. A few people raised their eyebrows when I said that I most likely wouldn’t. Especially in a country as matriarchal as Ireland, I was asked if that wasn’t selfish, or if I simply didn’t have any motherly feelings.
Brutal honesty told me to defend my decision, but I also had to tread carefully. Not everyone understands what life with MS is like, and I don’t always feel like explaining my illness, symptoms, medical schedules etc. Family and friends who know me, very recently commented on my lack of verbal behaviour, because they noticed my sudden silence. I only need to say one word for them to know that my energy is completely gone: “tired.”
Nothing registers anymore and talking gives way to trying to preserve that last bit of energy for what I am doing at that moment. Also with trigeminal neuralgia, the slightest sound or whiff of air against my cheeks can make me yelp. The only place I then need to be in is my bed. It’s the last place you imagine yourself being in when your child wants you to play.
My relationship ended for reasons different than not wanting children, but it taught me a valuable lesson. When chronically ill with the possibility of passing your illness to your future children, being honest pays dividends, especially when a new relationship is on the cards. After all, MS is a life-changing event, but so is having children. It’s very much a personal choice, but also a very important one that cannot be ignored.
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