It was one of my yuppier parenting acts, I'll admit.
I froze my kids' cord blood, collected at birth, because, well, it seemed like one of those things you'd kick yourself for NOT doing if your child ever had a dreadful disease for which source of his own stem cells could be a lifesaver. We're lucky that we can (sort of) afford this.
In case you're not familiar, it works something like this (details slightly fuzzy because nature makes women forget some aspects of childbirth):
For around $900, a private cryogenic storage facility supplies you with a kit you take to the hospital. Your doctor collects blood from the baby's umbilical cord shortly after his first cry. Sometime between the phone calls to the grandparents and that first sushi run, the proud partner summons a courier to gallantly transport your child's genetic material to its frosty new home, where (fingers crossed) it will forever stay.
In order to continue chilling these little super-cells, the private company charges you about $100 a year (per kid).
Of course, when we were expecting our second child, there wasn't any sort of debate about whether or not we'd collect his cord blood. Just try to imagine the scenario where your younger child needs them and you only have a chance of a partial match from his brother's stem cells. "Sorry, son. When your big brother was born we were all on top of the cord blood and the photo albums, but we just didn't get organized when we were expecting you."
So during this bill-paying session, I made another comment about how when you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound with cord blood (or more like, when you're in for 90,000 pennies, you're in for 9,000 pounds, once you have a second, plus about 100 pounds a year).
My husband grumbled, "Well, when they're grown they can pay for it themselves."
Me: "So, when they move out we'll simply explain that, 'We'll cover your tuition and residence, you pay for books and your cord blood?'"
I don't know about you, but given their incredible senses of immortality, I'm not sure 18-year-olds can be relied upon to make the right choice between Kraft dinner and their stem cells.
I kind of feel like this is just one of those things we'll need to keep doing because it's a little legacy project that we began. Sure, it might seem silly to others when, as senior citizens, we'll still be writing cheques to preserve the umbilical cord blood of our sons, ages 40 and 36.
But maybe then we'll treasure that little act of parenting simply because our children are all grown up, and there are no more snow suits to zip or parent-teacher meetings to attend.