Chris and I are undergoing DNA testing via a DNA kit we are using from 23andMe. I was a bit skeptical about it at first, but I realized that it may actually be helpful and interesting to know for our future children and things they could potentially be at risk of. I’m already aware of things that they may be at risk of based on our family histories: heart disease, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, crooked and ingrown teeth, gum disease,near-sightedness, and potential depression and mental illness. That’s a long list of negative things to be at risk of and covers quite a variety of health areas.
The more I think about future children, the more terrified I become of all the things I hope they don’t have to deal with. I think about the mental breakdown my dad’s mother had when she was in her late thirties and how she was hospitalized for over a year when my dad was a little boy. I think about my mother’s traumatic experiences in Vietnam, and Ed’s initially gradual and then quickly escalated decline and eventual death. Maybe there’s even something dormant lingering in me somewhere, and it’s just waiting to unleash itself with a given external event that needs to happen. All of the mental illness that has been exhibited in my family stares at me grimly in the face when I think of having babies. No one wishes that their child inherits anything like this, but we have zero control over it. And while nurture has a strong role in shaping a child, nature does, as well, and the strength of nurture versus nature in a child’s upbringing in determining how healthy and happy and functioning he becomes is still quite hazy. So, it’s scary to do this testing because at some point I will be reading these results right on a computer screen. But it’s probably better to know than to remain ignorant.