The Struggle to Find Support, Part 4: Family

When I wrote parts 1-3 of this series, I actually forgot about family. Why? Because my parents have been the most judgmental influences in my life. It’s taken years of excellent therapy and a very helpful husband to realize the extent to which judgement is toxic, debilitating, stubborn, and long-lasting even after the original source has been removed.

After our meetings with Dr. Avery and the genetic counselor, I stupidly told my parents about my Fragile X carrier status and our five reproductive options: TTC with TFMR, IVF with PGD, Egg Donation, Embryo Donation, and Adoption. Actually it was necessary and harmless to tell them about Fragile X, but I really wish I hadn’t shared our options just yet. They were quick to tell me what they thought I should do.

In my conservative Christian parents’ eyes, TFMR would send me straight to hell. IVF, conceiving “unnaturally” outside the womb, “wasn’t what God intended.” Egg Donation and Embryo Donation were like IVF. Therefore, Adoption was the only Christian way to go. They would love adopted grandchildren like their own, they said.

OK, well, most people can tell their parents to shove off. I’m not most people. What if they’re right, I thought. What if I’ll really go to hell? Will my parents be disappointed in me if I choose a different option? (The answer to that last question was, in fact, yes.) A lifetime of their judgements, as well as my childhood church’s judgements, echoed in my head. Plus, as I’ll describe in my next post, I wound up needing my parents’ help.

Ironically, sometimes I think that the delay in our parenthood could have been divinely inspired. The last 3 years have allowed me the time and opportunity to identify my own judgmental nature and negative thinking so I can try not to burden my children with the same anxiety, self-doubt and perfectionism.

So what about Kyle’s family in all this? They have basically been the perfect supporters. On our way home from seeing Dr. Avery we stopped to visit Kyle’s mom. She said that she would support us in whatever decision we made, but that it would have to be OUR decision. The rest of his family has been similarly hands-off. They don’t bug us about our fertility status, but if we bring it up they are supportive and make absolutely no attempt to insert their own beliefs into the conversation. They might be, sometimes, a little too hands-off, but that is vastly preferable to my parents’ insidiously controlling ways.

I guess the moral of the story here is: Take the support where you can get it. Try to ignore the judgements. Do what you think is right.

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