All of my pregnancies and deliveries have been just about textbook, but there is one aspect of my pregnancy that is unusual.
It’s not something I want to make a big deal out of all, but I feel like it should be okay to acknowledge and talk about openly. The proverbial elephant in the room if you will.
My entire life I have been a carrier of a genetic mutation called connexin 26 and so has my husband, but we never knew it until three years ago. You may be a carrier of some kind of genetic abnormalities too. The thing about being a carrier is that it doesn’t affect you. From what I understand we all have genetic abnormalities. I believe it is approximately 1 in 50 people that have Cx26, if I remember correctly. I can’t seem to verify this information online so don’t quote me on that statistic. Anyway, it’s not all that uncommon, but like I said carrying only one copy of the gene doesn’t effect you, however if you have a child with someone else that has a copy of that gene you have a chance that you will pass one gene from each of you to that child. If the child has two copies of the mutated gene then they will be deaf. There are a lot of diseases and genetic abnormalities that work this way, so you may be familiar with the science behind it already.
Here is how it works when you have Connexin 26.
We have a 1 in 4 chance of having a child that gets two copies of the normal genes which means no genetic hearing loss at all, not even carriers (as shown in blue).
There is a 2 in 4 chance of having a child that receives 1 copy of the genetic mutation (shown in purple).
Lastly we have a 1 in 4 chance that the child will receive 2 copies of the genetic mutation and be deaf (shown in red).
We never suspected that SJ’s hearing loss was genetic because we had no history of deafness in either of our families. She had testing done just before my due date when I was pregnant with Ezie. I remember talking to our speech therapist saying that I didn’t know if I wanted the results before the baby came because if it was genetic then I would be worried. They assured me that I did not have to hear what the results were until I was ready and it could wait. My response to that was, yeah right I am not going to have the patience to wait one extra second for an answer! I was just too curious about how all of this happened. In the end the problem took care of itself. Ezie was born passing the hearing test and then about a week later I learned of our genetics so I didn’t have to worry.
I say all of that because this is the first pregnancy where I am well aware of my odds. This child could be deaf and I know it. In fact I know lots of families from SJ’s school that have proven that it doesn’t really matter what the statistics are. The chips will fall where they may (if that’s how you want to look at it). I know a Cx26 family where 2 of their 3 children are deaf, one where 2 of 2 are deaf, another that has 3 of 4 even! So even though J likes to joke that we have our 1 out of 4 so we’re done, it obviously doesn’t really work that way.
It’s nice to have other families in the school that I can talk to because they’ve been in my shoes. I know one mom whose first two children were deaf and the last one was not. She tried to make nothing of it, but she distinctly remembers her last baby going berserk in her belly when the fireworks were going off on the 4th of July and she felt like the baby must be able to hear. She was right. I know another mom who said that with her 2nd (out of 3) who was deaf she didn’t have any clues until after the baby was born, but she could tell almost immediately after knowing what to look for with her other two.
Honestly, it’s not something I think about too often. I am going to be fine with it either way, but of course we would love it if the extra challenge of hearing loss was not something that this child or our family has to face. I was reading recently in the updates about the baby that her hearing is fully developed now. The book encourages you to talk to your baby and play music for your baby. It says that the baby will be able to recognize our voices when she is born. I paused in that moment and just allowed the emotion to well up into tears.
We do talk to our baby girl, and again I want to stress that Connexin 26 is not something I focus on, but the fact is- it’s a possibility. It’s information I never had to face when I was pregnant with the other three.
Who knows what will happen. The irony of all this is when SJ was a baby we had her vision tested because Z had such totally unexpected vision and eye problems when he was a baby that he actually had to have surgery. There we were. worried about her eye sight when it turns out that she had hearing loss the whole time! So the moment I think I prepare myself for one thing a completely different issue arises. All I know is that each one of our children are hand crafted by God. They are fearfully and wonderfully designed and he knows each of us in the womb. I put all of my trust in the Lord and I have a peace about it. I really do.
We will have the standard newborn screening at the hospital just like we did with Ezie. I probably won’t announce it right off the bat if there are any concerns. I just want the initial focus to be on the baby and all the fun aspects of birth announcements. If we do have anything that needs to be addressed medically, we’ll tell everyone soon enough after our family has had time to process things privately.
So that’s about it. I know that was a lot of info and this is quite a personal update, but I did want to get it out in the open. As far what we can tell so far the sweet little baby girl is healthy and the perfect measurements for my due date (which is 99 days away). I am 26 weeks and almost done with the 2nd trimester. She will be here before you know it. We are overjoyed.