Children or No Children When I Have PD?
Deciding when and if we should have children is a very personal decision for every woman. The reasons are as varied and as unique as snowflakes.
It is also true that having and raising children can bring about not just an enormous amount of joy but also a great deal of responsibility and stress to be a good mom. Now imagine having to stress about whether you’re able to be present when the time comes and whether you can step in as needed as they develop. This is an even greater pressure.
For me it was simply time however, since I developed Parkinson’s at a young age, it played a huge role in our decision to have any more children. My child has had to live with PD most of her life and I navigate the challenges of being a mom with an ever evolving disease.
I have been blessed that the youngest years when I had to physically care for her I was younger, plus had an earlier stage of disease. As I have gotten older not only do I not have enough energy to do the same things because of age, but also because now I am over a decade into PD.
So my recommendations are:
Think about what you can bear
Keep in mind that during pregnancy symptoms may get worse. Plus the treatments you are able to take are limited because of the possible effects on the fetus, as well as afterward if you're planning on breastfeeding.
Do you have other children?
Will your time be divided with other siblings who also need physical care?
Are you employed?
Remember that now you have limited energy, making it harder to spend time on your own care.
Are you a single mom or do you have a supportive spouse or a support system?
Raising a child when ill requires a village as the saying goes. I often had to employ help from family and friends to drive my daughter to school and after-school activities because I was physically unable.
Stage of illness at time of conception and mom’s age
This is huge because you need to keep in mind that the involvement of a parent increases with age if we want to have healthy, well-balanced adults. The physical caring becomes less but the ever presence of a parent, particularly a mom, is of utmost importance in the development of a child’s psyche. Remember that the problems that they can get into are bigger as they grow.
Finally, although PD is not hereditary there are some familial subtypes. If there is a family history of PD, especially young onset, it may behoove you to seek genetic counseling to understand the risks of having children with disease.
Over the years I have had to adjust my lifestyle to be able to care for my daughter by finding work that allows me to be home and does not expend so much energy to detract from my caregiving abilities. I have relied on my mom and close friends as well as my husband to care for her when I am down and have had to host a lot of sleep overs and summer camps at my house to keep my only daughter happily involved with a well-rounded social group and normal development.
If you are still struggling with the question aside from taking into account these issues make sure you discuss it fully with your spouse and your physician, and if needed, a counselor.
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