Disclosure: This post is written by me. All opinions are 100% mine. I received a discount from ViaCord on our daughter’s cord blood banking in exchange for three posts on the decision and process of banking our child’s cord blood.
When I was pregnant with Big Brother six years ago (*sniff, sniff*), I soaked up all the information I could possibly get my hands on regarding pregnancy and infant care. In addition to incessant questions to my obstetrician and my dad (who is a family physician), I devoured books, magazine articles, and websites in an attempt to be as prepared as I could possibly be. We thought we were ready…until Big Brother actually arrived and we couldn’t believe they were letting us leave the hospital with him. Didn’t they know we had absolutely no clue what we were doing?!?!
This is the life of an expectant parent: Prepare as much as you possibly can just to feel completely inadequate once the child actually arrives. :) In all our preparations, we felt assured that we were literally doing everything we could to give Big Brother a healthy start in life.
But there was one thing that we didn’t do: We didn’t bank Big Brother’s cord blood.
Six years ago, cord blood banking was a fairly new option for expectant parents. I had read about the advantages of banking our child’s cord blood and we were very interested. We discussed it with my obstetrician, who told us that he highly recommended cord blood banking for at least one child in the family (because siblings can be compatible matches for stem cell transplants). We knew that the likelihood of us needing it would be pretty low (at least for this child), but we felt that it was a worthy investment.
But because it is rather expensive, we chose to wait for our next child.
Twenty-two months later, Little Brother came along and we chose to wait once again. My husband had just started a new job which was largely performance-based and we were unsure whether we could justify the expense. Plus, we knew we wanted another child and we could just bank that child’s blood instead.
After Little Brother’s birth, I went through a very low time. I always wanted at least 3 children (if not 4 or 5), but I was overwhelmed and utterly exhausted. I couldn’t imagine having another child anytime soon. For the first time in my life, I began to consider that our family might be complete with our two amazingly precious boys.
The boys (now at 6 and 4 years old) have matured greatly and I have learned to embrace the chaos, so I finally felt like maybe, just maybe God might not be done with our little family after all. And before we knew it, we were expecting another child.
Prince Charming and I both agreed: this was the time. It was now or never: We were going to bank this child’s cord blood.
Then at 13 weeks, I was sure that I was miscarrying. I was put on bed rest after I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hemorrhage/hematoma dangerously close to the placenta. I refused to let myself get overly attached to the baby at this point in time. Besides my secret Pinterest boards decorating the baby’s nursery (hey, I had A LOT of time on my hands), I didn’t do much preparing this time around. After 7 long weeks, we were greatly relieved to find that our baby looked healthy on my 20-week sonogram and there was no trace of the hematoma! I was officially off bed rest and began to get excited about our little girl!
Since then, life has pretty much been a blur. In addition to trying to get back into the swing of being a wife and mom (and not relying on other people to do everything for me), we have had numerous birthdays and then Christmas. I haven’t had a chance to think about getting things lined up for our daughter’s cord blood banking.
I finally ordered our cord blood banking kit on December 19th. Below are just a few of the many reasons we have chosen to bank our daughter’s cord blood this time around. I won’t get into too much detail about the science behind it, but you can read more about cord blood banking from ViaCord:
- The uncertainty of life: We never know what challenges will come our way. I pray that we will never need to use our daughter’s cord blood (for her or for our other children). If, God forbid, one of our children gets sick or needs a stem cell treatment, I will be so very thankful that we made this decision for our family, especially since we are in a position this time around that we can make the investment a priority.
- The ideal nature of cord blood: Cord blood is a valuable source of stem cells because it adapts easier to a patient’s body after a transplant than adult bone marrow stem cells, therefore reducing the possibility of rejection. It is also painless to the mother and baby and takes just a few minutes after delivery. Collecting adult bone marrow stem cells is a more complicated procedure with more risks involved.
- The possibilities of the future: Cord blood can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases these days, including genetic diseases and some cancers. Since this is a relatively new field, the uses for cord blood are still being researched, like for cerebral palsy. Who knows what cord blood could be used for in 10 or 20 years?!?!
Choosing to bank your child’s cord blood is a very personal decision. There is still some discussion in the medical community as to whether it is worth the investment. Nearly all medical professionals agree, however, that a sibling’s cord blood should always be banked if an older sibling has a known disorder or disease that could be treated with umbilical stem cells. I never want fear to be a primary motivator for any decisions in my life. When it comes to my kids, however, I would much rather be overly cautious and as prepared as possible.
If you are unable to bank your baby’s cord blood privately, I would still strongly encourage you to ask your doctor or hospital if you can donate it to a public bank. There are very few hospitals at this point in time who offer this option to their patients, but it would at least be worth asking. You will most likely not have access to it if it is ever needed in the future, but it could possibly save someone else’s life!