Ian and I have always wanted a big family. We both come from bigger families and treasure our relationships with all of our siblings. Even from when we were young and texting each other all through the days and late into the night! We would talk about getting married, having a little house on the beach and a few kids running around. It was always our dream.
Now we have our little house, two kids... and just have to work on the beach part! We still want a big family, even after we found out we were both carriers of the CF gene and Oli had CF. I look at it this way, we have a 1 in 4 chance of having a baby with cystic fibrosis. Hopefully Oli is our 1 and we will have 3 other unaffected kids.
I know opinions vary greatly when it comes to having subsequent kids after a diagnosis. Hell, my opinion has changed a few times over! Very early on when I was pregnant with Oli I thought 'Right! I'll have IVF and make sure none of my other kids have cf! Then he was born, my thoughts changed...they went up and down like a roller coaster. Initially I thought there is NO WAY I'm risking another baby's health as he was so unwell from his bowel rupturing. But then he healed, we healed and we got to know him. CF is a little part of his personality, he certainly isn't defined by it but it just makes him that little bit more special....not sure if that makes sense. It gives him a little spark. It makes him, him! We have been blessed with Oli having perfect health so far and while no one knows what the future holds we really couldn't justify needing IVF to avoid another Oli?! Sensitive topic I know. Absolutely no judgment for anyone who chooses to take the gene selection route. Initially I thought, easy! Quick fix, IVF and problem solved. But there's so much more to it than that! I knew I could fall pregnant naturally and quite easily.
So we tried once and tada! I fell pregnant with Ruby. We had the usual mixed emotions of fear, excitement and a bit of what-the-hell-have-we-done!!! But overall we were extremely happy. A few days before we found out I was pregnant, we saw the CF social worker. She asked if we were planning more kids and when we said yes her response was so positive. She said the best thing for a child with cf is a sibling. I felt so happy that we were giving Oli the gift of a best friend for life.
My pregnancy progressed and my 19 week scan grew closer and closer. I felt a lot of anxiety around this time because the anatomy scan showed that Oli had an echogenic bowel. When we went in the tech was lovely and reassured us there were no problems at all. We left and I burst into tears in the car. I was so relieved but at the same time I knew things could still progress and problems could happen. My third trimester scan came back clear too, I'm pretty sure I cried in the car on the way home again! Relief and mixed emotions, because of course...there might not be any complications but our baby could still have CF. Most cystic fibrosis cases are diagnosed through the guthrie (heel prick) test anyway!
"Are you going to find out?!"
"No we prefer to get a surprise when the baby is born! It's like a reward at the end of all the hard work!"
"Oh, I meant about cf "
Ahhh awkward!! Maybe it was me being a highly emotional pregnant lady but a little part of me gets a bit ticked off when people kept asking me that. Soo what are you referring to? Me having an amnio? Finding out about cf and then what??! Are you saying Oli isn't good enough??? Gahhh pregnancy makes me soo emotionally charged but even now those question piss me off a bit! I feel like its my story to tell, if I want to tell it I can, if not buzz off!!
Just like I knew there was something wrong with Oli from early on, I had a feeling Ruby didn't have cf. I trusted my gut and went on to have a beautiful home birth and blissful first meeting with our little Rube. The guthrie test was done a few days later and off it went for testing. I was a little nervous but kind of forgot about it among the new baby blur.
I was sitting feeding Ruby when my lovely midwife sent through the results that showed Ruby didn't have CF. I felt a wave of emotion come over me as I told Ian. We both just hugged and cried. The tears are even welling up now as I write this. I felt so so happy and relieved but at the same time I felt and still feel tremendously guilty. I feel so guilty as if I'm making out like Oli isn't good enough. That hes faulty goods, like I wouldn't want another one of him. As I was crying and telling the social worker that exact thing this week she said I'm just happy for Ruby, that she wont have to suffer at all. I guess it helps to think of it that way.
I didn't really tell anyone Ruby doesn't have cf because I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to make it a 'thing' for people to say 'Oh phew!' or 'Oh that's lucky!'
Is it lucky?! I mean I guess it is lucky if you think of it that way. Maybe it's lucky your baby doesn't have your big nose! But I'm not going to say it! If Oli's diagnosis has taught me anything it's that some people can be as insensitive as ANYTHING.
I'm relieved Ruby doesn't have cf. I'm so happy she arrived into the world into a peaceful, comfortable, calm environment. I'm happy that I had a beautiful empowering birth that was healing for both Ian and I, that taught us that having babies isn't always scary or traumatic. I'm relieved that I didn't and still don't have a billion professional opinions on how to care for Ruby like I did and still do Oli. I'm insanely relieved that ruby hasn't had to suffer or feel pain like my little Oli did. I'm happy she doesn't have to be frightened or scared when we go into hospital, or be held down while she yells out for daddy or mummy to rescue her. The thing I'm most happy about is that she can support her brother, when the days are dark and no one else understands. I know she will be there for him. I know he will teach her life lessons about strength, determination and getting on with things when it all seems too much.
A sibling is a friend for life. CF or no CF I'm just happy I have bought two beautiful little souls into the world who will forever have each other.