I thank you all for your thoughtful responses to my question in my last post. It helps to see other people’s perspectives, particularly the concerns, and it was all good fodder for discussion for J and I. We are about 95% certain we are going to go with our old donor, Pops.
The first consideration, of course, was the medical matter, and because BG’s oncologist told us this was not a hereditary issue (and because she knows this disease better than almost anyone else in the world), I trust her. We had a lengthy discussion with her about it, and she didn’t know what she would do either, though she never once suggested we use someone else, only that we make the decision that felt right to us knowing that even the mutation that made BG more at risk for JMML was not hereditary. I imagine we’re always going to be a little gun shy about any child’s health, but this sort of lightning really doesn’t strike twice. It would be statistically pretty much impossible, and while there are always other cancers and childhood illnesses, I have a fair amount of certainty we’ll not see JMML in our own family ever again.
It occurred to me as we entertained using another donor that we would be opening ourselves up to a whole new set of odds, unknown genetics, etc. We wouldn’t change donors to have a known donor. We don’t necessarily want that, and in BG’s case, it wouldn’t have helped anyway (any parent can only even be a half match for a child who needs bone marrow, for example, and a half match really isn’t good enough). So that issue is sort of irrelevant to us too.
With the health matters out of the way, the biggest factors are psychological, emotional, sentimental. We always wanted to meet a future sibling of BG’s–long before leukemia ever became a part of our lives. We still want to meet that sibling with similar genetics. He or she will be a new person, a new soul, and an individual all his/her own. The thing that was so great about BG was that he was utterly himself. J and I didn’t get in the way of that. If he was going to be into kitchen appliances, well then we let him. We gave him an old CD player so that he could have control over his own music. We let him pick out clothes that he liked. We valued his opinion and his sense of self, and we encouraged him to be him, even when that happened to be so different from what we expected. We would do that for any child because it’s how we parent. That fear of transferring hopes and dreams we had for BG to another child is something people have encouraged us to consider, but our real hopes and dreams for BG were for him to live a healthy, happy, long life. We would have those dreams for any child. We’re certainly not going to put a blender in our baby’s crib to encourage a love of appliances, but you can bet we’ll cook with another child, and if he or she likes it, great. We’ll read to another child, and if he or she likes the same books, that will be wonderful; if not, we’ll get to explore something new. We’ve definitely thought about all of this, and what it comes down to is that we want to keep being parents, and we want to keep being the same kind of parents because, well, that’s what parents do. And we want to be parents of BG’s full sibling first and maybe someone not at all related to him later.
So with our decision mostly made, it seems we’re heading in the direction of TTC again. I have an early morning alarm set and a basal thermometer at my bedside. I even have a Fertility Friend app on my phone (I feel like I’m trying to get knocked up in a different century!). Sometime in the coming few months, I’ll put away the wine (mostly) taper off the caffeine (mostly) and even move my body a little in hopes of creating a happy environment for some happy little cells to grow. Honestly, most days it’s hard to imagine, and I don’t know how it’s going to be to go through the roller coaster of this process. I hope it’s healing. I hope it’s a short journey. In the meantime, I’m trying to be a bit selfish, hoping to find myself beneath the heaps and heaps of grief that sit on me each day so that I’ve got something to offer a new child, my wife, and, yes, even myself.