Today I’m meeting with a genetic counselor. She’s a perfectly nice woman with the unfortunate job of being a total buzzkill. Basically she has to tell me about everything that could go wrong genetically with our children due to my advanced age and the fact that Matt and I dabbled in the dark art of reproductive science instead of letting nature do its thing. Oh, and since we’re having triplets, that triples our risk for everything.
It’s not exactly a fun conversation to have, but as I sit there listening to her detail various genetic abnormalities, it’s hard not to burst out with an incredulous guffaw. I realize that these are heartbreaking disorders that are not to be made light of, but the list of symptoms being rattled off is just too much to handle:
- Angelman Syndrome: Frequent laughter, a happy personality, and tongue thrusting.
- Klinefelter Syndrome (Male): Large breasts; small, firm testicles; and broad hips.
- Turner Syndrome (Female): Widely spaced nipples; a webbed neck; drooping eyelids.
- Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome: Gigantism and a large, protruding tongue.
- Prader Willi Syndrome: Chronic hunger, excess fat, skin-picking, and rectal gouging.
I mean, holy hell!
As an expectant parent, you tend to fantasize a lot about what your kids will be like. I’ve always wanted little mini-Matts–curly, red-headed tykes who love superheroes and entertaining adults with Barry Manilow impersonations. But now, after this conversation, I have to face the fact that we could end up with kids who are less interested in singing “Copacabana” and more interested in removing their skin and destroying their rectums in front of company.
My first reaction is to laugh it all off, but once all the information sinks in I become more disturbed. What if Matt and I have rolled the IVF dice at our children’s expense? What if nature is giving us the finger for circumventing it? I call my mom to freak out, and she calmly points out that if nature knew best, there would never be any birth defects with naturally conceived children.
The lady has a point. I firmly resolve to stop worrying about the “what ifs” and focus on the things I can control: Staying healthy and making sure these kids have full exposure to the entire Barry Manilow catalogue.