Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can you love a man with too many X chromosomes?



Have you ever heard of Klinefelter Syndrome? Neither had I until last week. It’s relevant here because men who have it are usually sterile.

Klinefelter occurs when a male baby is born with an extra X chromosome, sometimes more than one. Usually males have one X and one Y. Females have two X’s. That extra X wreaks havoc with the boy’s system. The sexual characteristics that usually come with puberty come late, if at all. They have small testicles, sometimes grow breasts, sometimes have higher voices and don’t grow facial hair. They may seem more feminine than other boys. There are other aspects of the syndrome, such as emotional and cognitive delays, personality problems, weak muscles and a tendency to develop osteoporosis and bad teeth. The symptoms can be treated to a certain extent with high doses of testosterone, but hormone treatment does not restore the ability to produce sperm.

I recently read a book called Living with My X, written by Stephen Malherbe, a South African man who has Klinefelter Syndrome. Well into his teens, he still looked and sounded like a little boy and didn't know why. After he got the diagnosis and was treated with testosterone, he grew to normal size and went through a late puberty, but his problems were not over. Malherbe has been married and has had many relationships with women. Most of those relationships failed, partly because he had trouble communicating and partly because sooner or later he had to tell the women he was infertile. The first woman he told was his fiancĂ©e a couple weeks before the wedding. He shouldn’t have waited that long, of course, but how do you say something like that? They went ahead with the wedding, but the marriage didn’t last long. Neither did his second marriage.

Most of the women he told about his problem said it was all right. They could adopt children. But sometimes they realized that wasn’t going to be enough. Sometimes his personality got to them. He was always leaping into new schemes, unable to sit still. He has also suffered a variety of physical problems stemming from his Klinefelter Syndrome. In later years, he has found someone to love, but Klinefelter continues to affect his life.

Klinefelter Syndrome and other genetic variations can manifest themselves in various ways. They do not always cause infertility, but KS usually does.

Here’s a shocker. Approximately one in 500 male babies is born with one or more extra X chromosomes. The degree to which it affects them varies. Some have no idea until they want to have children and discover they’re infertile. What if a woman falls in love with such a man? What if he can’t give you children but he’s the sweetest person you have ever met? What if you don’t find out until you’ve been married for a few years?

There are a lot of reasons people don’t have children. This is one most folks don’t know anything about. You can find more information at the Klinefelter Syndrome support site.

Have you ever known anyone with Klinefelter Syndrome? I’d love to hear your comments about this.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Monkey children, fantasy Sundays, mean questions—It’s a crazy world



Dear friends, 

Today, I’m sharing links to a series of articles that I think you’ll find entertaining.

1. Here are two articles about a couple who are leaving their fortune to their pet monkey, who is like a son to them.


Okay, these Sundays are both fantasies. I may not have kids, but I have never had a Sunday like the one described, and kids or not, nobody does that much laundry. Read it for fun.

If you’re not Christian, skip the early paragraphs and go right to the list. I’m guessing you can identify with these. 

Hang in there, my friends. And somebody send me some comments that are not spam.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What’s the big deal about childlessness?



What is it that makes people feel bad about not having children? That’s what the young man interviewing me over the phone yesterday wanted to know. I struggled to find an answer that he would understand. It became very clear that men and women have different ideas about this stuff, especially when they come from different generations. His questions showed he really didn’t get it.

Is it that everybody else is doing it? Are we looking for a sense of accomplishment? Do we want to leave something behind? Does it help to be around other people’s children?

Well, I could answer that last one. No. When you are hurting over your own lack of children, it does not help to be surrounded by everybody else’s. It just makes you more aware of what you’re missing. I don’t think he understood that either.

I tried to explain that it’s all of the above and more, that we’re missing a major life experience, that we have no younger generation to replace the old ones who are dying, that we have no one to inherit our keepsakes, and that for some people children are their only legacy, but none of that was really getting to the heart of it.

Why does it hurt so bad to realize we may never have children? Is it a deep-down physical need to reproduce? After all, every living thing on earth is designed to reproduce. Some can’t for various physical reasons, but reproduction is the plan. Humans are the only ones who can say, “No, we’d rather not,” the only ones who mate and don’t procreate. So maybe it’s just a basic biological need. But then why don’t some people feel that need?

Almost a quarter of women are not having children these days, and a lot of them don’t feel bad about it. They choose to be childless, preferring the unfettered life. Why do the rest of us grieve the loss of the children we might have had?

The young man segued into a discussion of social media and wouldn’t I like my blogs to be reposted in perpetuity if some company offered that service. No, I don’t think so, and was he actually scamming me to sell a product? I don’t know. But his questions about childlessness linger. What’s the big deal? Why do we feel so bad?

What do you think? Help me find answers? Why do you feel bad about not having children? Please share in the comments.