How CF Has Impacted My Family Planning Decisions

I've known for a while that pregnancy isn't an option for me due to complications related to my cystic fibrosis. Now that my husband and I are planning for children, here are some of the thoughts and considerations that impacted our family planning decisions.  

| 5 min read
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Cheriz K.
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I knew at a young age that pregnancy was not an option for me. Each case of cystic fibrosis is different and affects the body in different ways. While most men with CF are infertile, the ability to conceive, carry a baby to term and to give birth varies widely among females with CF. Some need fertility treatments, many do not need them at all, and for some, pregnancy is not an option. I fall into this last category. Along with my lung issues and arthritis, I've also had multiple hernia repairs, parts of my intestines have been removed and I have had other stomach-related surgeries that prevent my body from carrying a baby.

When I was younger, I never really understood what this meant. It wasn't until I was older and ready to be a mom that it truly hit me. My future husband Andrew and I had discussed my inability to carry children early into our relationship, and he told me that it would just be something we would have to deal with together when the time came.

Cheriz-Kunkel-and-Husband-Family-Planning-Featured-Rectangle

Once Andrew and I were married, we sat down and had a long conversation about our choices. He has always been very supportive and understanding about the situation, and we worked together to narrow down our options for building a family. The options we are currently looking into include: surrogacy, adoption and fostering. While everyone has their own reasons for the choices they make, I want to share our decisions and the thoughts that led us to them.

For starters, Andrew and I know that we want to experience being parents to an infant. We want to see our child walk and talk for the first time, and as a nanny to an infant for several years, I know that I can handle it. At the same time, however, we both also feel strongly about fostering older children. Since I'll be 32 years old in April, we decided that we should first start by adding a baby to our family. My joints and energy decrease with age and we all know that infants and toddlers require a lot of energy. So, we are currently looking into adopting a newborn or becoming a family via surrogacy. It doesn't matter if our child is genetically related to us, but a lot of the choice will come down to cost and timeline.   

Andrew and I also decided that we want to get our feet wet with just one child until we feel ready to add onto our family. Then, we will foster or foster-to-adopt older children and siblings. We hope to become a family of at least four -- with at least two children -- but have decided to take it one step at a time. We have to make sure that I can keep up with my CF treatment routine, which is one aspect of having a family that Andrew worried a lot about at first. My CF (including ten breathing treatments), my career, a house and a family can be a lot for me to juggle. He was worried how we would be able to handle certain issues, such as if I was in the hospital or needed a transplant.

So, we sat down and made a plan: costs, income, schedules and routines. We came up with a long list of questions and discussed each one in depth. This helped us both feel more at ease about the uncertainty of the situation and focus on each step of the process.

For example:

  • What do we do when I go into the hospital and Andrew has to work, which is typically at least once or twice a year?
  • Who do we have nearby that can help us?
  • How do I fit my treatments in during the day?
  • What if he is a CF carrier?

Taking the process one step at a time helps -- similar to buying a house. If you think about the whole situation at once it can be nerve-racking or overwhelming. We are focusing on our first step right now: seeing if he is a CF carrier, along with meeting with an adoption, fostering and surrogacy center.

I know that there will still be surprises along the way. Having a family is not an easy process. It will be a long road, but we are beyond ready for this chapter of our lives. We are just so happy and excited to become parents. We cannot wait to welcome our new child into our family in the future!

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Topics
Fertility and Reproductive Health | Social Life and Relationships
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Cheriz lives with her husband, Andrew, near Peoria, Ill., where she is a freelance blogger and stay-at-home mom. Cheriz has taken on several volunteer positions with the CF Foundation, including serving on the Partnerships for Sustaining Daily Care Champions Committee, Community Voice, and the Adult Advisory Council. Cheriz and Andrew have a national Great Strides team and co-lead several CF events fundraising in their community. They are foster parents, and in their spare time, they work on their family blog, MoreThanDNA.org, to spread awareness and CF education.

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