Guest Post: My Glamorous Life.
While I'm attending the JDRF Government Day events in Washington, DC, fellow PWD and mom, Rachel Garlinghouse has offered to guest post here about diabetes, motherhood, and adoption. I've been reading Rachel's blog and her posts at Diabetes Health for several years, and she's an inspiring writer. Today, she's writing about the decision to expand her family.
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My life as a mom can be summed up in one word: busy. While I’m dressing a doll for my two-year-old with one hand, I’m holding a pacifier in my infant’s mouth with the other hand. My days are full of diaper changes, baths, dancing to “Wheels on the Bus,” preparing meals, washing laundry, coloring, squeezing in a workout, running errands, removing spit-up from the carpet, submitting a new article to my editor, and occasionally taking a bathroom break (usually with my two-year-old next to me clapping and saying, “Yay! You peed! Good job, Mommy!”).
I call this my Glamorous Life.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a mother. I have worked as a babysitter, day care employee, children’s ministry leader, and nanny. I taught third and fourth grade kids at a writing camp, and I teach college writing part-time to a room full of eighteen-year-olds. Kids are full of promise and curiosity that is simply beautiful and inspirational.
When I was diagnosed with type I diabetes nearly five years ago at twenty-four, I was altogether devastated and relieved. On one hand, I finally had an answer to why I was thirsty, exhausted, and emaciated. On the other hand, I knew I had a disease that had no cure and would require constant monitoring and management…forever. There I was---young, newly married, and fresh out of graduate school - ready for life’s next adventure: starting a family. Then diabetes came waltzing in, threatening to dash my dreams.
My first year with diabetes was my honeymoon period---a year of blissfully beautiful blood sugar numbers and easy management. My endocrinologist looked at my A1C and told me I was in a prime season of my life to have a baby. But shortly after, my body quit producing insulin, and my sugars skyrocketed. I dealt with feelings of failure and confusion, and I knew from researching pregnancy with diabetes, that my body was not prepared for a pregnancy.
I am a classic type A person: organized, determined, passionate. There was no way I was going to let diabetes dictate my life or steal my dream of becoming a mother. And in my heart, I knew that adoption was the best choice for our family.
Adoption, like diabetes, is its own world. The process started with an orientation, then a home study (a series of paperwork, interviews, and background checks), then waiting for THE phone call. Meanwhile, we educated ourselves on adoption topics like openness with the birth family, raising children of other races, and answering strangers’ questions.
I had many fears about adopting, but mainly, I wondered what many diabetic parents do: could I effectively manage my disease while taking care of another human being? How would I juggle working, taking care of a baby, and keeping my diabetes in check?
As I was facing my own fears, I was confronted with the fearful, skeptical questions from others. I was most often asked, “But don’t you want your own kids?” Or, “I know someone who has diabetes and had four perfectly healthy children. So why are you adopting?”
Adoptive parents, much like people with diabetes, are often challenged by doubts and policing questions from others. I would usually take a deep breath and then begin a mini-lecture on the potential pregnancy complications a woman with diabetes can face. People usually got much more than they bargained for when they asked me a question, but I was convinced that adopting was the best choice for our family and so I shared my passion with others. And I still do. I blog often on adoption topics and write articles for Diabetes Health online. I can’t stop talking about diabetes or adoption, because both are major parts of my life.
Fast-forward to today and you’ll see my family---a dad, a mom, and two baby girls. My husband and I often joke that our life hasn’t turned out like we planned; it’s turned out better. Because of my disease, we chose adoption, and because we chose adoption, we have two beautiful daughters whom we are completely in love with. I’m learning to juggle managing diabetes with parenting. My life is full, happy, and healthy.
If you are considering growing your family through adoption, I would love to hear from you. I offer my readers resources, suggestions, and encouragement. Oh, and a nothing-withheld look at my Glamorous Life as a mommy of two and as a women with a challenging but blessing-filled disease.
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Rachel Garlinghouse is a twenty-nine-year-old type I diabetic, mother of two, wife, blogger, freelance writer, and college writing teacher. I'm so honored to be hosting another guest post from here on SUM, and I hope you check out her writing in other places! (And if you'd like to follow the JDRF Government Day discussions on Twitter, follow the #JDRFGovDay hashtag!)