No Pancakes for Pancake.
Before BSparl was born, I spent a lot of time focusing on the pregnancy. (You guys know this - my blog was littered with "I can't get my A1C low enough!" posts before she was conceived, and then the "OMG I need to protect this growing peanut" posts while she was inside.) I was so focused on the Get Pregnant/Have Baby process that I sort of forgot to look into the Once She's Out adventure.
Chris and I learned how to be good (we hope) parents as we went, gaining knowledge from books, websites, our doctors, and that thing called trial-by-fire. (Something about changing the diaper of a wiggly three week old in the dead of night helps your brain learn the process real quick.) Like any other new parent, we worried about just about everything. But there was one unique thing that we were concerned about, and it was BSparl's chance of developing type 1 diabetes.
I've written before about The Thought and how we do our best to keep it from ruling our life. Honestly, we don't give it much of our attention at all - we know the warning signs of diabetes, and if they ever present themselves, we'll pick up on them immediately. But I can't go dipping a ketone stick into her soggy diaper every day because I will make myself absolutely insane.
There are a few things I can do to help "prevent" type 1 diabetes. And I use "prevent" in quotes because the genetics are what they are, and I don't think I can do much about them. But there's this weird, antenatal checklist that I felt the need to follow, in effort to keep any diagnosis at bay as long as possible.
Topping that list? Breastfeeding. As I've mentioned over and over again, breastfeeding your child is NOT what makes you a good mom. It's jut an option for feeding, and one that I chose. But part of the reason I chose to breastfeed was because of the research that pointed towards breastfed babies having a lower incidence of type 1 diabetes.
"But Kerri, you were breastfed! And you were the only one who was breastfed in your family. What gives?" I know, right? (See also: crapshoot) But one thing I came across in my research on raising BSparl was the importance of vitamin D in relation to type 1 diabetes. Breastmllk doesn't contain much vitamin D (if any), and my pediatrician and I decided that adding vitamin D supplements to BSparl's bottles was a good idea. So at the two month mark, I began supplementing the kiddo with Tri-Vi-Sol drops.
And the third poke on this trident of attempted prevention is the decision to go gluten-free for the baby. Research on type 1 diabetes in children pointed to some studies about how a gluten-free diet may help prevent a diagnosis in NOD mice (oh those frigging mice - always gettin' cured). Will it hurt my child to avoid gluten for the first year of her life? Not even a little bit. So BSparl will enjoy rice cereal and vegetables and fruits and protein, but the Pancake won't have any pancakes until she's a year old.
One thing we didn't decide to do was the soy protein route. Research on the cow's milk protein and the soy protein gave me all kinds of reasons to go with, and to avoid, both kinds of formula. I was completely torn. (But Bsparl wasn't - she hated the soy formula and puked it up regularly.) After talking with my team at Joslin and then my pediatrician, it seemed that using whatever formula worked best for the baby was what I should go with. So once we were done breastfeeding, we used Earth's Best Organic formula with DHA and Iron. Going organic for BSparl was something we wanted to do not just because of the diabetes component, but because of all the crap that's in "regular" food.
Could it all be weird science and old wives tales? (Not that the NIH tells old wives tales. They tell old lab coat tales.) Perhaps. I could be working hard to ward off a diagnosis that isn't coming, or pointlessly trying to avoid one that is. But these are the parenting decisions Chris and I made as a team, and it's not a recommended course of action for other parents who have a history of type 1 diabetes in their family. It's just what we decided to do. To each set of parents their own. We do our best, and that helps me fall asleep at night.
That, and sheer exhaustion. :)