Is the impossible possible?

A while ago I wrote a post called Today I cried. I’d had the realisation that to have more children I would have to go through the process of IVF or adoption. Both filled me with fear. The fear of IVF failing. What if it doesn’t work and I still end up passing on ARX to another child? What if something completely different goes wrong?

Before I’d written that post I’d phoned up the social services department to discuss our options for adopting a child. The conversation was depressing. I realised that because of Sam’s medical problems and needs, the adoption process for us would be very different for us compared to other people and we would have so much to prove.

I wrote that post because I was frightened that we may never have any more children. I felt guilty for having this defect inside me that can scupper our chances of expanding our family. I felt guilty that I wanted to have more children. Samuel is our world. We will always adore him and do everything for him. We will fight tooth and nail for him. All the way. That will NEVER change. But I have this dull ache of guilt in my chest and in my gut that I just can’t shake off.

But today we met with the genetics expert to find out about our options for having a child. For me to carry the child. We hadn’t seen this doctor for a year since she told us about Samuel’s diagnosis and she told us that we would probably only have him for months. So it was nice to show her that he was still here, still fighting. Still gorgeous.

So the doctor went over some of the bits we already knew about ARX but she really shocked me. We were always on the understanding that if we had had a girl they would be like me, just a carrier without symptoms. But either new information has been discovered or she’s done better research, but apparently there would be a 1 in 3 chance a girl could be fine (like me), 1 in 3 chance that the girl could have mild learning difficulties or 1 in 3 chance they could be as severe as Sam. So I in effect could have had learning difficulties or be as limited as Sam with a short life expectancy. That came as quite a shock. As females we have two X chromosomes, well the defect is in one of my X chromosomes, but apparently sometimes the body does you a favour and automatically draws on the good X and squishes the bad one into the corner. Because it is a development gene and I am thankfully ‘developed’, it wont cause me any problems now. How lucky am I?

So we discussed options. I have a 50/50 chance of producing a good egg without defect. I could fall pregnant naturally then at 12 weeks they can do a test which involves taking a sample from the placenta and find out whether we are carrying a child with the ARX gene. Then we would have a choice to terminate the pregnancy if we didn’t want to continue. It is pretty much guaranteed that if we did have a child with ARX they would be as severe as Sam because I’m carrying a severe mutation. This is not an option for us at all. It is too much of a dangerous gamble. I do not want to pass this on to another child but I couldn’t terminate. At 12 weeks? At 12 weeks I saw Samuel on the scan. Not for us.

So the next option is IVF PGD. They take my eggs and by removing a cell, they can identify which are viable and ARX -free. Essentially it is like removing 1/8 of that persons genes. Then they implant (like IVF). There are no guarantees. I may not even produce quality eggs that they can work with. It might be a whole expensive, emotional waste of time. Also, to be able to do it they need a licence for the specific genetic condition and there is a chance that they may not have a licence for ARX. That isn’t a problem, the hospital can get one, but it can take up to a year for the hospital to get it. We would just have to hope that a couple like us, in our situation has already been down that route and triggered the need for that specific licence.

Next option is egg donation. It is IVF again of course. There is a waiting list and there is a country-wide shortage of egg donors, so it won’t happen quickly.

So that’s it. Oh and a few other figures to chuck about. Samuel is the only child in the country they know of with such a severe form of ARX. Samuel is one of only 30 children (past and present) to have been known to have ARX worldwide.

How do we feel? Better now then we did when we left the office because we’ve had the chance to process it all. But we have options. Yes all our options are difficult, long, emotional with no guarantees. But we’ve got to try, haven’t we?

Furry dilemma

So, we are debating about whether to get a cat.

We love cats. We both had cats as children and then together as adults. Since being together we’ve had three cats but it wasn’t entirely successful. Our first two, who were simply scrummy got run over. We do actually live in quite a quiet neighbourhood that is full of cats, but I guess our two were just unlucky.

Then we had a little ginger terror who we really did adore but she was a bit of a nightmare.

The ginger terror

We got her as a teeny kitten from a cats rescue shelter and we just thought she was full of beans but she gradually started to show her full character. She could be really clingy to us and want to be wherever we were to then in an instant turn and fly across the room at you and go for whichever limb or bit of skin was most vulnerable. I’ve seen grown men quake when she entered the room. To try to sort this out we got a cat behaviourist in to assess her, we read up on loads of cat behaviour stuff but nothing made any difference. She’d cuddle up to you all soft and sweet and then boom she’s got you!

And then I fell pregnant. We started to get really worried about how we’d manage her behaviour with a baby. We spoke to people, we got advice and in the end we had to give her up for adoption. We cried our hearts out that day we had to hand her over because we did love her and really wanted it to work. She was a beautiful girl.

So do you think that perhaps we are fated? We just have bad luck together as cat owners?

But I do love cats. The boys we had together first were so lovely, so friendly and gentle. They’d be great with Sam. The husband is super keen, but despite it being my initial idea, I keep weighing up the pros and cons:

What if they are hunters like we’ve had before. Could I handle them bringing in wildlife when I’ve got Sam downstairs? No, I don’t think I could now. But we could get a slightly older cat that is use to being a house cat.

But then we’ll have to have a litter tray. Yes, but we would always keep it clean and Samuel isn’t mobile so wouldn’t be crawling into it.

What if we suddenly have to go into hospital, what happens to the poor cat? Auntie C and her daughter are just two doors up and would be happy to help.

What if the cat sits on Sam? Sam is never left alone for very long, especially when he is in his nest downstairs so unlikely to be too much of a problem.

Although it was me that initially mentioned the idea of getting a cat (although I’ve always known that husband would jump at the chance), I do seem to be dithering over whether to go for it. Am I just making a big deal out of what should be quite straight forward? I think just after our bad luck if we do go for it, I want to make sure we make the right decision.

So it’s over to you cat lovers out there. Tell me all the good points of having a cat. Please. And help us to end our (or my) furry dilemma.