Is three kids after cancer pushing it?
March 22, 2011
© Erin Zammett Ruddy
First, let me say that I am A. not pregnant. B. not trying to become pregnant and C. not thinking about becoming pregnant any time soon. But, as many of you know, once you have one kid, people like to ask if you’re having a second. And when you have two, people wonder, “so, you gonna go for a third?” Not an easy question for anyone but when you throw cancer in the mix, well, it’s damn near impossible to answer.
In an ideal world, Nick and I would have three kids. But in that ideal world, we’d also have tons of money, tons of help, tons of space, tons of patience and endless amounts of time to spend together with our family and without. I also wouldn’t have cancer. Quick back story: I take a pill every day that keeps my leukemia at bay and, for lack of a better way to put this, it keeps me alive. For both of my pregnancies I went off that drug. Fortunately, my cancer never came back. It’s been over a year since I resumed treatment and I just got my latest results and it’s still all good—no trace of cancer anywhere. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And that it shouldn’t be a big factor in our decision to have another kid (sometimes, I’ll admit, I forget).
Last night I was a guest on The Stupid Cancer radio show (you can listen to my segment here). The topic was parenting and cancer and I was on a panel with other survivor parents. We discussed the challenges of having kids after being diagnosed. Both the logistics of it—one woman who survived ovarian cancer used a surrogate and a donor egg, which is awesome—and the emotional side. When do you tell your kids you had cancer? How do you not obsess about every little ailment of theirs? Do you rid your house of any and all potential toxins and become neurotic about the what-ifs or do you relax more because you know what a gift every day is? It was a great roundtable and I loved hearing other perspectives. It was also a good reminder for me. I am so freakin lucky. I feel that anyone who is able to have kids is lucky and blessed, but I like to add an extra dose of that because nine years ago I was diagnosed with cancer, and I didn’t know if I’d be alive at this point. Here I am with two super cute little mini-me’s.
My sister, Melissa, a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, will give birth to her third post-cancer baby next month. It’s pretty unbelievable, actually. And I am so proud of how far we’ve come and how full our lives are, but I am very much aware of not being greedy. Of not pushing my luck. Of being grateful for what I’ve got and leaving it at that. Both as a cancer patient and as a mom who has two pretty awesome little kids already. I don’t have that constant longing for another the way I did after having Alex, but I do think about it. I'm also someone who likes being pregnant and likes giving birth (it hurts like hell, but what an amazing experience) and I like having an itty bitty cuddly baby. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s not a decision we’re making any time soon. I just wanted to share my thoughts today!