Planning For the Future: Relationships, Having Children, and Considering MS

In 2 weeks, I turn 30. I can’t say that I’m nervous about it or freaking out about it but it has made me start think about what I want to do with the next 10 years of my life. So these internal conversations cover all important topics: job, marriage, house, travel and the most difficult for me, kids. I have always struggled with whether or not I want to have kids due to my two chronic illnesses and truthfully I’m not sure I’ve ever had the instinct to mother. But the older I get, the more I think about it whether it be because everyone I know is popping out babies or because my internal biological clock is screaming at me. The reality is, my time to figure this out, is dwindling. Yes, I know I still have time, but I don’t even know if I want kids at all let alone the actual planning for a tiny human. The choice to have children, for me, has always been difficult. I can’t seem to shake the idea that for me, it would be wildly irresponsible to procreate.

I have previously read studies about the statistics of passing along MS to my theoretical children, but to be honest the stats never really influenced my decision, but they always supported it. And in my early to late 20s, I was ok with my decision to pass on having kids. In fact, I was adamant about not wanting kids, not needing kids, and proclaiming loudly that kids were expensive little fun Nazis. I wasn’t exactly delicate about the topic. Fast forward to now, and I’m fighting my body’s instinct to procreate and it makes me rethink every decision I’ve made about the topic. I’ve got MS and IBD and statistically my children wouldn’t have the best shot at growing up disease free. 1 in 200 children of parents with MS will likely develop MS and 5% of children of parents with IBD will also develop IBD. It just sounds mean to put that on a child.

So here is where I’m going to be really honest with you internet. I’ve been thinking about kids a lot more lately. Perhaps it’s the 30 milestone, or my friends who are on round two of children, or perhaps it’s that I’ve recently started dating someone who I think is great. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. Truthfully, probably one of the biggest motivators has been dating someone new. I feel extremely compatible with this new guy on many levels but one of the best things about him? He’s got MS too. Dating someone who also has MS has been an incredibly interesting experience. We take our medication together and it’s adorable, we get tired at the same time, and our late night conversations are so full of gibberish that no one else could possibly understand them. It has been wonderful. We talk about all of the normal “relationship” topics, but we also have excellent conversations about what it means to live with MS. Last night we talked about kids.

“Do you want kids?”

“Do you worry about passing MS on to your kids?”

“Do you think you’ll be physically healthy enough to raise a child?”

“Would you feel guilty if they did develop MS?”

“What are the stats?”

That conversation then turned into the question about what would happen when two people with MS have a child? I haven’t seen any articles about this or read any stats, so this morning I was curious and started doing some research. I had imagined that the stats would not be encouraging, but I have to tell you, they were worse than I had imagine. According to an article I found, children of two parents with MS have a 1 in 17 chance of developing MS.1 When both parents have MS, it’s called Conjugal MS and the research about Conjugal MS specifically, is seriously lacking. But let’s look at that stat again. 1 in 17? Wow, that’s not very uplifting.

So while I’m in this “figure stuff out” phase of my life, it’s starting to feel more like having children just isn’t in the cards for me. I know there are many articles with stats about probability of passing MS on to your children, and sometimes the percentages vary, but I can’t help feel like it would be an irresponsible choice for me and my life.

But what about you? Do you have kids? Do you want kids? Have you done research on the topic?

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