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TCC but my dad has terminal cancer

(20 Posts)
LadderToTheMoon Thu 23-Oct-14 13:55:31

I know there aren't any right or wrong answers to this one, but I just want to get my thoughts and feelings out. I also I hope this isn't inappropriate for this thread. It's not my intention to upset or offend anyone.

My dad was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer about three years ago. He responded very well to hormone therapy, but he has deteriorated very quickly over the summer. He was recently diagnosed with Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression. He had loads of radiotherapy and is taking dexamethasone. He still has mobility (i.e. can walk aided along a level surface, but cannot do stairs). He has been in hospital for over two weeks, but they are preparing him for discharge home (with modifications - living room turned into bedroom, hand rails, hospital bed etc).

DH and I have a 3.8 year old and we started TTC our second over the summer. I am very aware of the ever-increasing age gap between DD and any sibling she may have and my age (I am almost 38). My periods are getting closer together (28, 26, now 24 days in cycle) which I understand can be an indicator of the perimenopause. I also get terrible nightsweats, but they could be simply be related to my cycle/anxiety-based.

I just don't know what to do. I want to be there for my dad, mum, brother and sister when the time comes. We live 90 minutes from my parents, so not a huge distance, but it's far enough. We haven't been given a time-scale for my dad, but I think it's most likely to be less than a year. If I get pregnant soon, then I might be in a situation with my dying father and me either being hugely pregnant or with a tiny baby to think about. I am also very aware that I might not be able to grieve for my father properly with all that caring for a new baby entails (physically/mentally/emotionally).

On one hand I think we should postpone TTC, but then I think, what if, by some miracle my dad lives another 18 months or two years and in that time we have put off having a child. And what if, by that time it's too late and we're not able to conceive? We never wanted children particularly close together, but I am getting more and more aware of a large age gap. And my dad would never know about the existence of his other grandchild.

That's it really. Thanks for reading. My thoughts are all over the place with my dad being so ill. I feel very selfish for thinking about DH and I at this time, but I guess that's why I wanted to get my feelings out. Has anyone been in a similar situation?

CinammonGirl Thu 23-Oct-14 14:22:10

Oh ladder we are in a very similar situation. We are also ttc, and we also have a DD who is 3.8yrs old. My lovely mil had breast cancer about 2yrs ago and in spring this year it returned and has spread to various places. We have not been given a timescale either as mil does not want to know. It's incredibly hard as I know she is as desperate for more grandchildren as DH and I are for another child but I am so scared she will not be here to see it happen. You're certainly not alone x

LadderToTheMoon Thu 23-Oct-14 14:40:35

Thanks CinnamonGirl and so very sorry about your mil. It is horrible to see someone you love going through such an awful illness.

I think I'd feel guilty whatever we do. If we do put TTC on hold it kind of feels as though I'm waiting for my dad to die so we can get on with our lives :-(

Rosa Thu 23-Oct-14 14:49:59

Bit different but we got married knowing that FIL had cancer. He was on the decline but we felt that our lives had to go on. SIL was pg when her F died and I found out I was pg afew months later. It was a bit hard for DH but dd was a wonderful help in the grieving process for him .

jeee Thu 23-Oct-14 14:50:30

My sister had a life limiting condition - for the last decade of her life she was typically in hospital for several weeks in any given year (she completely lost 2000, spending the entire year in hospital).

DH and I didn't really discuss it, but I think we felt that we couldn't allow my sister to determine when we TTC (which makes us sound truly horrible). Ultimately, we had four children and my sister was able to meet all of them. She didn't have time to get a relationship with dc4 - but she treasured all the time she spent with my children. They meant the world to her. In fact, the last time she was really able to smile at the very end of her life was when I brought the children in to say good bye to her.

Best wishes to you, your dad, and your dh. I hope that you make a whatever decision is right for you.

CinammonGirl Thu 23-Oct-14 16:14:28

ladder that's exactly why we decided to just try. It's very hard though. Hugs to you and everyone else going through tough times just now x

LadderToTheMoon Thu 23-Oct-14 16:30:29

Thank you for sharing, Rosa and jeee. How lovely that your sister was able to meet your children. Lots to think about. At the moment I'm wondering if the best thing would be to just see what happens. To be honest we're exhausted emotionally and physically at the end of the day so there isn't a great deal of action happening anywaysmile

Eyespy24 Thu 23-Oct-14 19:08:36

Ladder I'm so sorry to hear about your DF.
You should go with what feels right to you but it must be a hard decision.
If you would really like to have another DC I would try & not let this stop you ttc. You may eventually regret not trying...

Not quite the same but my DM was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer during my pregnancy with dc2. It has meant I haven't been able to support her as much as I would have liked to due to looking after the baby but on the other hand it's lovely that she's met him & will hopefully see his 1st birthday... (& hopefully more but looks unlikely)

A hard decision for you. I hope your DF is kept comfortable. thanks

TeaandHobnobs Thu 23-Oct-14 23:27:05

Ladder I'm in a similar situation. My dad was also diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, in February 2013 (DS was 10mo). He lost his mobility at this point anyway, due to the pressure on his nerves. He was first in hospital, then being cared for at home, then at the start of this year, after it was established his hormone therapy had stopped working, he was moved to a nursing home. He has actually been pretty stable since then. I never thought he would still be around now...

I felt the same dilemma about TTC #2, particularly as I had quite a rough time after DS' birth mentally, and was wary enough of having another child without all the added stress and grief of a terminally ill parent as well. But in the end, we decided that we wouldn't want to put off having another, because we are never going to know how long my dad has left. I'm now 20 weeks with DC2, and my dad is really excited - I think it gives him something to focus on and look forward to.

I know when he reaches the end, it is going to be desperately hard, and I know having small children around is not going to make it any easier, but I will just have to deal with the situation at the time - nothing I do now is going to make it any easier.

Thinking of you and hope you come to a decision you are comfortable with thanks

Viviennemary Thu 23-Oct-14 23:33:12

I think you should go ahead with your plans to have another child and let nature take it's course in when this happens. But of course you must do what feels right for you. And a lot of people get joy from a new baby in the family when they have suffered a bereavement.

Hamuketsu Thu 23-Oct-14 23:45:09

My father had a terminal diagnosis with the same condition when I was newly pg with my dd2 and had a 2 yr old. We didn't have to make a decision as I was already pregnant. He was very ill throughout my pregnancy and died when I was 8 months pregnant. I can't pretend it wasn't very hard, trying to be there for them when I was pregnant. I also worried, when grieving and hormonal, that I hadn't been able to concentrate enough on being pg with dd2, and that she wouldn't be properly welcomed into the family as we would just have lost my Dad.

I was wrong on both counts. For start, with work + a toddler, I would NEVER have been able to concentrate on my second pregnancy the way I did with my first anyway. And as for the "welcome" - dd2 was a blessing to our family at that dreadful time. My Dad smiled and knew that a baby was coming. As VivienneMary suggests, we all had the joy of a new baby and seeing the family continue. I really don't think that these circumstances should stop you TTC. I'm sorry to hear about your Dad's illness. All the best to your family xx

Procrastinatingpeacock Fri 24-Oct-14 07:34:41

Slightly different situation but my DH and I started TTC our first after my DM had had a terminal diagnosis. It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster but I'm very glad we did, DS is 18 months now and has brought so much joy. However my mum is now declining and probably has a few months max, and this has put me off TTC number 2. I just don't think I could cope with toddler plus pregnancy plus my mum dying. I would also find it so hard to be pregnant knowing that my mum would never meet the baby. Your situation sounds harder though given your worries about your age.
As you say, there's no right answer and it's a very personal decision. Wishing you all the best.

LadderToTheMoon Fri 24-Oct-14 09:02:18

Thank you all again for sharing your stories. It is really helping me to clarify my thoughts at this time.

It looks as though my dad will be discharged from hospital in the next couple of days. He is very much looking forward to being home.

GailLondon Fri 24-Oct-14 09:11:46

My Dad was diagnosed with cancer around the same time I found out I was pregnant, and was estimated to have a few months to live. I went to visit him every week in the specialist London hospital, growing bigger as he grew more skeletal. It was his first grandchild, he was so excited to try and meet the baby that he kept fighting and hung on until the baby arrived, and even had 9 months of relative good health out of hospital while i was on maternity leave. He passed away the day after my son's first birthday.
In your position, i wouldn't put your plans on hold, a new baby on the way is a joy for everyone in the family.

TeaandHobnobs Fri 24-Oct-14 09:17:57

That's great that he is going to be discharged soon Ladder. Hope you and your family are getting lots of real life support thanks

WoohoohooandaBottleofBlood Sat 01-Nov-14 10:10:06

I probably conceived the night before my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and my sister was just starting her first cycle of IVF. It was particularly hard for my sister to go ahead as she lived abroad so knew she could face being unable to fly at a time when my dad was dying.

Despite it being very long odds my sister's first IVF was successful. Telling my dad I was pregnant with a baby he might not live to see was awful, he wanted desparately to make it to them arriving but we were both around 6 months pregnant when he died. I did feel as though I couldn't look forward to my baby arriving as I couldn't look forward to a time when my dad wouldn't be here, that was hard when other friends were busy decorating the nursery etc. Once my dad passed away I felt able to look to the future as well.

I wouldn't put off ttc as you never know what life will throw at you anyway, don't risk not having another child. It gave my mum something to look forward to - and something positive to talk about with other people too. There were dark moments in those middle of the night feeds but nothing I couldn't cope with.

I was so surprised when DS was born as he looked so much like my dad - I had assumed he would look like DH who is all dark and italian with a roman nose, but here was a little blond newborn with my dad's eyes and fat squashy nose. My mum takes great comfort from the fact that the grandchildren have something of my dad in them.

Good luck OP, I hope your dad gets home soon.

thereinmadnesslies Sat 01-Nov-14 10:33:24

I experienced similar - DS1 was 6 weeks old when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer (skin cancer that spread extensively, diagnosed when it presented as a brain tumour). In retrospect he was acting strangely for weeks before - he forgot to tell my mum when DH called to let them know about DS' birth, which must have been the brain tumour hmm. He died two weeks after DS' 1st birthday.

I won't lie - coping with a baby and an ill parent was hellish at times. My dad wanted family with him at appointments, and felt that as I was on maternity leave I was available to take him. My mum is disabled as well, so every hospital appt was a nightmare trying to juggle two adults requiring assistance and a baby. There were times where I had to leave DS crying in his buggy cos I was trying to deal with my father. I think my dad initially found DS a good distraction, then as the cancer progressed he withdrew into himself and lost all interest in DS which I found hard to understand. DS was a non sleeper, so being sleep deprived then doing long drives to the hospital was tough.
Then as DS got older I was permanently on edge - being in a dirty hospital with a baby that wants to put everything in his mouth is not easy. I can't even show DS the pictures of him with my father because frankly my father looks terrible with his hair half falling out and his face bloated with steroids.

Somewhere in all this I developed hideous PND / depression. There was just not enough time to process my feelings about either becoming a mum or losing my dad. I just had to carry on in a fog until after my dad died, then it took months to process my feelings and the grief. I felt crap that DS didn't have the perfect (unrealistic) babyhood I had imagined. I still wonder if DS' slightly melancholy nature is a result of what he experienced.

In no way am I saying that you should not TTC - but make sure you have the best possible support network available. We didn't have anyone (1st DC, moved into new area so no local friends, no other family able to help) but if I was in the same situation again I would definitely try to put as much help in place as possible when the baby arrives, especially if this happens at the same stage as the end of your father's illness.

Jenny70 Sun 02-Nov-14 00:34:10

I think you should TTC, even if it means a hard road with being pg during your dad's illness. It may be that he gets to meet the grandchild - sometimes people did deep to hold on for important events like this... or it may be something that the rest of the family can look forward to as a happy family event if he does die during the pg.

I was early pg when my FIL died, and whilst there is never a great time to experience a death the pregnancy really was a silver lining for the family - it gave them something to look forward to and focus on, other than FIL's decline and death. For us it was 5 months from his death to my DS's birth, so some time to grieve etc, but a friend lost her father at 37 weeks, and even for them the birth felt like a positive thing after so much sadness.

It is hardest on you obviously, as you're the one carrying the baby and caring for it, but personally I would go ahead and if you conceive then you deal with the situation as it unfolds.

StillProcrastinating Sun 02-Nov-14 08:09:13

My dad's diagnosis came after I was pregnant. But my pregnancy brought him such joy and was a good distraction. It also gave him a target to aim for, he did not want to miss meeting the new baby. He died when she was 6 weeks old. Although I feel that I was unable to spend proper quality time with him at that point, because I was dealing with a newborn - and I will always feel guilty that I let him down at the end, I think he would have preferred to meet dd and know that I had one of each.

LadderToTheMoon Mon 03-Nov-14 15:05:41

Thank you once again for sharing your personal stories. I hadn't considered that a new baby would bring joy and something positive to focus on during this difficult time.

I think we'll continue to let nature do her thing - we won't ttc with the help of charts, ovulation sticks etc but see what happens.

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