the monsters in our closet

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16 Responses

  1. Julianne says:

    Ray and I are still taking it all in, so I can imagine how you and John feel. We praise God that prayers were answered and that the doctors were able to detect an underlying issue, just as you were hoping for. We’ll continue to pray that God will lead you as He builds His magnificent House of Gjertsen!

  2. Margot says:

    I have discovered some very interesting and surprising things while working on my family trees. One of the most fascinating and frustrating was the Cherokee branch on the tree. I have studied and done course work on the Cherokee society and have come to better understand the matrilineal aspects of the culture. You see, there is no concept of ‘cousin’ in Cherokee society. Families are related through the females. For example, I would only be related to the children of my mother’s sisters. They would be considered my brothers and sisters. I would not be related to the children of my mother’s brother. In one of the classes I took in Cherokee history, the professor made a passing reference to a study which documented there were no significant increases of children with genetic disorders born among first cousins than children of unrelated parents. As a person with a medical background I find this very difficult to believe. I have attempted to locate this study but have not been successful. My emails to the professor have not been answered. The reason I have pursued this is two fold: I have ancestors who seem to have sprung up from the dirt and there are instances of genetic disorders in my maternal family line that are unexplainable. In Cherokee society, it was not uncommon for women to have children by more than one husband. They were pretty liberal with the concepts of ‘marriage’ and ‘divorce’. Pretty much, if a Cherokee woman wanted a divorce she simply removed the belongings of her husband and set them outside the door. Upon close examination of known photographs of my maternal ancestors there is undisputeable evidence of genetic anomalys. The paper trail for these ancestors is pretty thin. I have found marginal evidence that there was marriage amoung what we would consider today first cousins. Of course, this is rampant European ruling houses of the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries. What I have been trying to say in a complicated way is your family trees may not be as well ordered as you may think. If you wish to post my comment I certainly do not object, but for some it may seem wordy and irrelevant. I am sure genetic specialists can provide you with more conclusive information. I know I got some surprises! All that being said, you remain in my prayers. While I am unsure of many things, I am certain that God’s timing is always perfect. Your blogs have been a blessing to me and have shown me light when I am in very dark recesses. I also know God has the perfect plan. Thank you for your testimony which you have so freely shared with all us blog lurkers.

    • Abby says:

      That was really interesting, Margot, and thanks for sharing your research. I definitely did not know all that about the Cherokee traditions. I don’t think this particular example applies in our case because John doesn’t have any Cherokee lineage, and we have to be related to each other to explain the LOH rather than just having inbreeding in our individual backgrounds. But your general points that we probably have surprises in our family trees and that God has a perfect plan are completely applicable! I’m glad God has used our blogs to bless you and thanks for sharing your research and your encouragement in return!

  3. Ashley M. says:

    I’m…..trying to absorb this. I knew that there would be an explanation, but certainly not this! However, now that they know, is there any chance that y’all could do closely-monitored IVF so that your odds of having healthy babies is higher?

    Oh, and I also agree w/ you that you & Mr. John are certainly not related other than through marriage 😛

    Am now off to bed and shall keep y’all in my nightly prayers!

    • Abby says:

      Thanks, Ashley, for your prayers. Yes, there is a process called PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnostics, which would require IVF and then a testing of all the embryos to see which ones are healthy before implanting. We don’t know if that is a path that would help us yet, or whether we would do it or not, but yes, it’s an option the geneticist mentioned.

  4. Summer Jesse says:

    Glad you were able to find something out. Early on in our beginning with Ryland there was a nonprofit called Laney Bear Care that helped us figure out what all we needed and the mom that started it had a daughter with a rare disease that was caused by the mom and dad having same genes, something like that. I still remember her telling me about it, the doctor kept asking them if they were related also but came from totally different parts of the world. They never did figure it out but didn’t go any further with it.

    You have been in my prayers alot. I can’t even imagne the pain. You have ever right to morn the loss of your children. Please know you are always in our prayers.

  5. PCBO says:

    What a journey you dear ones are on. Praying that you keep your eyes fixed on Him, the author and finisher of your faith, all the way home.

  6. Patty M says:

    Thanks for the update. Sending my love and prayers!

  7. yanksfan says:

    Do you think there will come a time down the road that you both might sit with the idea and decide to adopt? I know a lot of people are against adoption and don’t feel it’s for them, but by putting your body and emotions through some of these trials over and over again, that can also be very unhealthy for you and your husband. I have worked with adoption agencies in two states, and there are thousands of children waiting for parents of all ages. I’ve read your blog for awhile and if your family truly wants to be fruitful and multiply, a family is what you make it. It doesn’t have to be a biological child each time. Check out http://www.adoptuskids.org for more info.

    • John says:

      Yeah, we do think about adoption. As well as having other biological children. I know it probably seems like a double standard to put our lives all out there with a public blog including information about reproductive failure and then ask that people respect our privacy; anyhow, thanks, and that’s a great link. I’d really rather that this comment space to not really be about about why we aren’t doing this or that, whether it’s adoption or IVF or whatever else.

  8. Christine says:

    I am a natural scientist, so your situation is somehow amazing and interesting for me. I thought about this:
    You have miscarriaged two girs and born two boys. Is it possible, that the gender makes a difference in your special case? Maybe it is coincidence. Has one of you the identical section twice? That would make things even more complicated.

    I am also mother to three boys. You are in my prayers. I was so happy, when I heard of your pragnany and shocked, when it was over so very fast. I hope and pray that you will hold another healthy child in your arms one day.

    Christine

  9. Carrie says:

    Relief and frustration – so many mixed emotions that come with knowing an answer! We’re praying that your docs help you the best they can. I’m sure you have more thoughts to process than what you’re putting in the blog — more IVF with monitoring, adoption, why, how, give up, try again… If I could take some of the burden for you I would.

    The ancestry is too far removed to really cause concern, but you know for certain that at some point you and John are related. Remember Noah? Or Adam? (Hope that brought a small smile to you!)

  10. Maggie says:

    I am glad that you are getting to the truth and hope that they continue to be able to answer your questions. You have all been in my thoughts.

  11. Sachu says:

    The answer finally came…of course it was not what we all would like to hear, but at least provides a “cientific” explanation.
    I keep you in my daily prayers and hope that the next appointment provides you with even more information about this.
    Love

    Sabrina

  12. Tracy says:

    I started reading a few months before you lost your sweet baby James.
    I haven’t checked in for quite a little while and found myself recently thinking about how Valor was growing and if he had any new siblings. And here I am now, checking in and my heart is just breaking for you. Unfortunately, I don’t have any words of wisdom or anything to say that you probably have not heard before. I just want you to know how much your family has touched my heart. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. CaitlinO says:

    My population genetics professor in college surprised me one day. He said that if you randomly selected two people of European descent, they would, on average, be no more distantly related than 5th cousins. Of course, since that’s on average, half will be more closely related.

    He explained that this should be statistically impossible given how many tens of thousands of years people have lived in Europe and how many waves of new immigrants have moved into the area. The explanation? Bubonic plague!

    The plague killed between 30 and 40% of all people from India to Iceland just 750 years ago. The resulting population bottleneck has left us descendants of plague survivors much more closely related than scientists had previously thought.

    Any of us may be much more closely related to the people around us than we realize – which may be the case with you guys. To me, this gives a whole new meaning and purpose to the idea of treating each other like brothers.

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