I was out to lunch with my twin boys the other day and an older gentleman commented, "Two Boys! Mighty! It's about time you gave them a sister!" To which I laughed and said, "Nah, they're enough." If he had stopped at that, I probably would have forgotten all about his comment, as I find people are generally well-meaning when they try to engage you in conversation. I'm a mom of twins, and I've heard the seemingly standard "social script" of encountering a mom of twins over and over again, from, "Are they twins?" (fair question), to "Do twins run in your family?" (yes, but that's not how I got them), to "Are they natural?" (this question, thankfully, only gets asked once in a blue moon). But he broke this social script when gave his opinion (well-meaning as he was) about the number of children I should have. He went on: "Children are a gift from God and if you were My Wife..." Fill in the blank however you'd like, but he said something a tad inappropriate and at that point I started tuning him out. I have a general rule about trying to make people feel comfortable IRL (in real life- this rule oddly doesn't apply on the Internet), so I handled this well on the outside even though I was like "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP" on the inside (and thankfully my kids are too young to really understand what he said). Thankfully, his lunchtime companion arrived and he turned his attention to his friend instead of telling me to reproduce.
Before discovering I had a giant tumor growing in my pancreas I might have told you I wanted to have another child. Might. It depended heavily on that particular day: if I had slept the night before, if my children were being particularly cute, if there were winds in the east, mist coming in, etc. It wasn't a decision my husband and I had definitively arrived at, as the twins were just shy of two and had tired us out over the past year (ages 12-24 months with twins is HARD). But there were days we would contemplate the idea of another and try to convince ourselves that a singleton baby had to be easier- didn't it? About the time my twins turned 21 months, I started feeling sick. By the 24 month mark, I knew I had something severely wrong in my body. So the more children question was put on hold for diagnosis and medical treatment, which happened to be a solid pseudopapillary neoplasm (SPN) that was evicted by a Whipple procedure.
Fast forward a year and some, and you have me sitting in McDonald's with a perfect stranger telling me to be fruitful and multiply. I didn't need to give this stranger my medical history, but I thought perhaps I should write about his socially inappropriate behavior. Not to tell you to stop making comments about a person's family planning (that should go without saying), but to reflect on how my tumor changed my plans, specifically in regards to the more children question.
My tumor is exceedingly rare, but there are a few things that medical literature seems to agree on. Most people who are unlucky enough to be diagnosed with SPN are female (about 90%) and young (during the reproductive years, so are quite possibly related to female hormones). Though I have been told by my oncologist and my obstetrician that the risk of reoccurance shouldn't interfere with my potential desire to grow my family, I'm not sure I could handle being pregnant and wondering if this will somehow restart the any lingering tumor cells. There shouldn't be any lingering tumor cells, but I'd be lying if I said that hasn't crossed my mind. Additionally, my body was put through the wringer with the Whipple surgery. I lost some essential pieces of my digestive system and malabsorption of nutrients is a real risk for me presently and in the future. Who knew a duodenum was so important? There are a small amount of people who have gone on to have healthy pregnancies and babies after a Whipple surgery, but as of right now, I don't plan on being one of them.
Being a parent of two boys is an incredible experience. I am sure that joy (and that pain-in-the-ass-ness of having children) would only grow with more children, but we're fine with being a family of four. We are a two-on-two team, man-to-man defense, if you will. We have even gone on an airplane and haven't been totally embarrassed. I share this as MY current stance on the subject, and I in no way want to impose my opinion on anyone else's reproductive plans. You don't want to have kids? Great! You want to have 6? Okay!
Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. It's a life for which I am very thankful. If someday I get that maternal urge, I might change my mind (but don't count on it), but in all likelihood, I'll probably just get a puppy.