Six years ago, I was adjusting to motherhood for the first time during Diabetes Blog Week, and one of the post prompts was to write about a day in the life with diabetes. My day in the life was flanked on all sides by figuring out what to do with a newborn, so I chronicled that.
And just before my son was born, I thought maybe – maybe? – I’d be less of a mess this time around? Maybe I’d have things a bit more figured out, and a day in the life post wouldn’t read like a desperate plea for help?
Once again, ha.
A Day in the Life of a New (Old) Mom … with Diabetes.
6.30 am – Hi, little baby! Let’s do this feeding/changing diaper thing … again, because it’s not like 6.30 is the first time our tiny tomato goes off. On the overnight, the baby wakes up around 2.30 and then again around 6, so we’re hardly breaking a fast when breakfast time rolls around. The main diabetes thing I do at this point is check my CGM graph, because the baby is usually fussing for food, so even the 45 seconds it takes to check my BG is not happening. (What – did you want me to lie and say I am totally on top of my diabetes stuff? Nope.)
7.30 am – It takes me about 30 minutes to change and feed the baby, and then I go into the bathroom to clean teeth, find face, etc. It’s at this point that I should be pricking my finger to check my fasting BG, but my alarm usually goes off (set for 7.30 am, just in case, even though it is redundant when pitted against the baby) and then I have to run back into the bedroom and turn the alarm off so that it doesn’t disturb the sleeping babe. At this point, I forget what I was doing and am only positive I brushed my teeth based on the delightfully minty taste in my mouth.
7.33 am – Check my CGM graph again. Showing 60 mg/dL. I’ll check my BG officially when I go downstairs to make breakfast, but for now I need to get ahead of that low and have something to eat before the breastfeeding aftermath hypo moment kicks in. Hi, banana. I’ll eat you.
7.35 am – Time to wake up the Birdzone and get her sorted for school.
7.40 am – “What do I need to do again?” “Brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, and put your clothes on for school.” We have the same conversation every. single. morning. Hasn’t changed in two years. Yet she still wonders what the morning routine involves. (Note: now the morning routine involves my head popping off and the subsequent reassembly of aforementioned head.)
7.41 am – Dexcom alarm is still going off, but I drank the half-kicked juicebox that has been on my bedside table for the last three days. Relieved it hadn’t turned to wine after sitting out that long. Or maybe I wish it had turned to wine. #jesusjuicebox
7.45 am – 8.20 am – This is a messy pocket of time during which Chris and I orbit around one another in the kitchen, making breakfast, making school lunch, assembling work bags, finding shoes, checking on baby (who is usually asleep in the bouncy chair in the kitchen, blissfully unaware of the circus), etc. Usually, I check my blood sugar during this time, and most often calibrate my CGM. At 8.20-ish, Chris and Birdy head to the bus stop and I think about combing my hair. (I do not actually comb it, though.)
NOTE: I forced myself to ditch the extra-strength Tylenol prescribed to manage post c-section pain because it rendered my Dexcom useless. The data from my CGM is beyond instrumental in helping me keep my wits intact in this postpartum period. Blood sugars are very unpredictable as I adjust from pregnancy insulin rates to postpartum rates, in addition to the chaotic ebb and flow caused by breastfeeding. I could manage without the CGM, but it’s much, much easier to feel safe and like I have some semblance of a clue when the graph data is streaming. Dexcom gives me the 30 lives I need on some days, Contra-style.
[And I do have a relationship with Dexcom – disclosures here.]
8.30 am – noon – My intentions are good in this block of time. I usually boot up my computer and open my email, letting the messages come flooding in. I read every single email, and in my head, I compose useful responses … that never end up being typed and sent, because this block of time also includes a baby who needs to be fed twice. I use the breast pump once (to build a supply stash for when I start traveling for work again). I try and check my blood sugar once or twice more. I spend at least half an hour coordinating the next round of pediatrician appointments, surgery follow-ups, and attempts at assembling a medical team here in Rhode Island (moving my care away from Boston now that I’m done pursuing pregnancies … more on that another day). Oh, and there are baby snuggles. MANY. Because I did not work this hard for a baby to not snuggle the hell out of him.
So basically, I get a lot of important things done in this timeframe as it relates to keeping my son happy and cared for, but I’m spinning my wheels in a lot of other departments. That’s okay – it’s Baby Time for the next few weeks/months, and I’m happy about that.
Noon-thirty – Tomato Man and I go for a walk around the neighborhood (using the stroller on days when I’m trending lower blood sugars, and on days when my BG is more stable, I wear him and walk that way). This walk is necessary because it gets me out of the house and ups my mental health and happiness.
1.30 pm – Hey, lunch would be awesome, right? I’m still trying to cook more at home/make some vegetable-based options, so my culinary creativity is at a high (despite cooking talent remaining woefully low). I am not ravenously hungry most of the time, but I do want to snack/eat a small meal every two and a half hours or so (modeling my behavior after that of my son’s). I’m kind of into protein balls (uncomfortable phrase) these days, and one version I like a lot is a peanut butter/pumpkin seed iteration that’s easy enough on my blood sugars but packs a caloric punch that keeps me from falling asleep. (Will post the recipe tomorrow!)
2.00 pm – Baby snuggles. And let’s feed him. Oh, and snuggle him again. And restock the ever-waning supply of diapers and wipes.
3.15 pm – Use the breast pump. (Our boy lost a fair amount of weight after delivery, so our pediatrician has been following his weight gain with interest. We’re back up to birth weight, but our doctor has encouraged us to supplement breastfeedings with bottles of pumped breastmilk in order to ensure the little guy is getting enough. So when he’s not attached to me, physically, the breast pump is. Thankfully, he bounces easily from breast to bottle, so we’re thankful he’ll eat in a variety of ways. Also, if you have dissenting opinions on how babies should be fed, can we just agree that babies should be fed, and leave it at that?)
4-something ish – Birdy’s school bus comes roaring through the neighborhood, and she comes scrambling off it, regaling me with stories about first grade and how much she missed her brother. “I missed you, Birdy!” “Yeah, but I missed HIM!”
4.30 – 6.30 pm – Another mangled window of time during which the baby is fed, changed, and snuggled. Chris usually arrives home in this pocket. Birdy (and a cast of characters from our neighborhood) rotate from house to house on their bikes, the embodiment of every gang of kids on bikes from 80’s movies. I remember that I haven’t checked my blood sugar in a few hours, so I do that. Dinner is assembled. Dishes are ignored. Loopy builds a biplane.
7.30 pm – Birdy gets a bath or a shower, and while she’s in there, I charge my CGM receiver or my pump (depending on which one is more depleted). I’ve been trying to stick with changing my pump site every three days (the reminder for the site change on the t:slim is very useful these days, as I forget my name, nevermind when I last put an infusion set in). Changing the site is hard sometimes because I hate wasting insulin, and sometimes my reservoir (even half filled) will last four days without any trouble. I like using every last drop.
8.15 pm – Birdy is tucked into bed. (When she actually falls asleep remains the mystery.) Chris and I start to get punchy, realizing we haven’t properly slept through the night in weeks, and we know another long night is on tap. And then the baby wakes up because hey, it’s getting dark out, and that means it’s time to wake up!
9.30 pm – I look at my email, cry, and shut my computer. I eat a yogurt and wonder if it’s okay to eat these chickpea things straight from the bag with a spoon.
9.31 pm – I grab a spoon.
10 pm – Medical onslaught time. As I’m getting ready to close up for the night, I need to take my blood thinner injection (thank you, Factor V Leiden and c-section combination – three more weeks of shooting up and then I’m DONE), my blood pressure medication (back on that as of last week), check my blood sugar, make sure my pump has enough insulin to last through the night, make sure my CGM receiver is charged, and that my bedside table is stocked with a glass of water (breastfeeding makes me dehydrated as eff) and something to treat low blood sugars with. Baby is fed and changed, and tucked into his proper bed (in our bedroom).
And as I’m about to fall asleep, I realize we made it through another day, and we’re adjusting the best way we know how. The exhaustion will give way to more sleep, and eventually we’ll be a few months out from life with a newborn and more in the swing of things. (I know I will miss the warm, snuggly newborn cuddles a ton.)
We don’t have everything figured out, because our son is completely different from our daughter, so what we knew to expect is braided with a hefty dose of “what the hell do we do with that?!” sort of sentiment. I have realized that all the preparing we did for our second child doesn’t actually prepare us … we’re still hot messes of exhaustion and confusion and hope.
And I also realize that it looks like I’m into some kinky stuff, considering the bag of marshmallows on the bedside table. Whatever. When you’re hypo, anything goes.