« The One About the Dead Pump. | Main | Fifteen. »

CWD: Parenting With Type 1 Diabetes.

Lead by Korey Hood and Stefan Rubin, the Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes session at Friends for Life was aiming to touch upon the different challenges of being a parent with type 1 diabetes, instead of the concentration on parenting a child with type 1 diabetes that Children With Diabetes was once known for.  This was my first year attending this session, and I sat between two of my best friends in the diabetes community - Scott and George.

"So thanks for coming, you guys.  We're here to talk about parenting with type 1 diabetes," said Korey.

At this point, people started doing introductions.  "Hi, I'm So-and-So and I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1998."  or "I've been diabetic for 16 years and I have three children."  Only introductions.  That's it. 

So why was I already crying?

I didn't expect to feel the way I did during this session.  Instantly, I was completely overcome with emotion.  And not in a quiet, just-a-few-tears-escaping sort of way.  Instead, I was a blubbering mess, sniffling and snarfing and wiping my nose on my sleeve.  It was this intense rush of emotions that I didn't even know I had ever thought about, never mind felt overcome by.  

The group talked about their diagnosis, and their decision to have children.  They talked about what it's like to have a low blood sugar affect plans to go camping.  They talked about how their children react to diabetes, and what inspires them to keep plugging ahead on their daily management.

One woman caused me to have to leave my seat and grab a box of tissue to keep for my very own from the back of the room.  "I was the only person with type 1 diabetes that I knew ... until my son was diagnosed."

I couldn't contribute.  I could barely catch my breath.  And it was embarrassing.  My daughter is only 15 months old.  She doesn't know much about my diabetes, save for the fact that I have my own personal remote controls that she wants to press all the buttons on.  She doesn't understand why I sometimes don't share my snacks.  Or why I can't pick her up every time she wants me to.  She doesn't understand now, but eventually she will.What you so worried about, Mama?

And I think that's what grabbed me and held me.  Before BSparl was born, I planned for her.  I planned and worked to become the healthiest I could be, and I loved her long before I carried her inside of me.  And then she was born, and the focus became adjusting to life as her mommy and as part of a family of three instead of two.  It wasn't until recently that I felt comfortable as a mom - used to it - and my heart finally allowed me to feel something other than the newness of motherhood.

I wanted to introduce myself to the group.  I wanted to tell them that I, too, was a veteran of type 1 but not so much of an experienced mom.  I wanted to ask them how they made sure their kids weren't overwhelmed by their diabetes.  And the question I wanted answered more than anything kept catching in my throat:  How do I explain this to my daughter?  But I couldn't ask.  I just sat there and listened.  And cried like a baby.  And thought about the fat little Birdy who was waiting for me at home in Rhode Island, flapping her little wings and getting ready to fly.

I love my family, extended and otherwise.

After the session was over, we spilled out into the hallway.  George caught me up in a hug and I just let let it all go.  The fear and that heavy feeling of "forever," coupled with a love for my daughter that I didn't truly understand until I thought about diabetes taking me from her.  I knew he understood.  I knew that Scott understood, too.  And so did everyone else who has raised a family while taking care of their own diabetes.  These friends of mine were parents with type 1, with children who were much more grown up than my little bird.  I knew that if they could do this, I could, too.  And having met both George's and Scott's beautiful and loving families, it gave me hope that my own little girl would grow up to love me just as much as I love her.

This session was the most emotional I have ever been in public, but it felt okay.  Safe.  The only casualty was George's shirt, which ended up with a smudge of mascara.  And perhaps some tears.  Or snot.  (Sorry, G.)

I saw Korey in the hotel later on, and apologized to him for being an emotional wreck in his session.  

"It's okay.  I totally understand."  But as soon as he started to talk, I started crying again.

"I'm sorry, Korey!  I think you're like a trigger for me.  I'll just email you."

This session was intimate.  And it hit a nerve on me that I didn't even know was there.  But I felt better afterwards, like I had experienced a therapeutic breakthrough, somehow bringing me even closer to both my family by blood and my family by blood sugar.

Thank you, George and Scott, for being the kinds of parents I hope to become.

Comments

When Lauren was dx the FIRST mom to ever call me (this was pre internet days) was another mom with a Lauren with D. Her Lauren was a teen at the time. Needless to say, we bonded. So a few weeks ago I was at the local tavern at about 11 p.m. after a party (so that tells you how my guard was anyway) and Marsha, the mom, walked up to me. She didn't say a word, just held out a photo of a big, shiny, beautiful baby. "Lauren's?" I choked out, and she nodded. We both BURST into loud, sobby, snotty tears and hugged one another for about a full minute. Then this guy at the bar we don't know said, "Wow. You two REALLY like babies." :-)

I thought *we'd* all just had an emotional session with Jill, and then I walked out and saw you three.

I want to say I'm sorry that you got so upset, but I also know how good it felt to be around people who got it.

I guess I'm just sorry we all feel like we have to keep it in the rest of the year.

Kerri -

As always, another great intimate read on what many of your readers go through each and every day.

Please remember how much of a "role model" you are to both your male and female individuals in the DOC!!

Hi Kerry, I was the girl who made you get the tissues (lol) , I just wanted to say that I LOVED the session. Now I know that I am not alone in this battle. I was diagnosed in 1997, I have been pumping since 2007. Everyday is a battle to keep my son's (and Myself's)number close to normal, now I know when I need support it's just an email away! Thank you so much for coming up to me and giving me you card! God Bless you and your family!! ox Dawn

Wow, tear jerker. Im not a parent yet, but hopefully in the next 5 years or so, and this is always on my mind when I start to think about my future and my future family. Its hard enough thinking the what-ifs and possibly be taken away from my boyfriend and my furkids. But diabetes be damned! I've learned that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that includes being a healthy mom to my fur-kids and future family.

You can do it Kerri, keep telling yourself that :D

Awww shoot now I'm a blubbering mess, too. You passed on the nerve strickeness. Parenting is so emotional and type 1 is so emotional...put em together and...:) Great post, Kerri.

Whenever I think about having a family of my own someday and what having a low blood sugar can do to me, I completely freak out. No one in my family understands what lows are and how the affect me, even my father, who experiences lows, too. And NO ONE in my life knows that I feel that way about everything. "What if" flies through my mind every time I "happened" to test and saw I was low without realizing it. And that happens quite often. I'm careful, but sometimes there just isn't much you can do. It scares all of us, Kerri.

Holy hitting close to home, Batman! I'm sitting here in my own blubbery messiness with a wad of toilet paper (no tissues to be found) crying over what you've written while my beautiful girl sleeps peacefully and unaware in her crib. She doesn't yet know, but she will. While you're looking up to Scott & George (hi Scott & George...you rock!) I'm looking up to YOU. Birdy is so very, very lucky.

I cannot open my mouth to talk about my kids without crying.
And I welcome all the mascara, tears, and even some snot if need be. Being a parent is the best and most terrifying job on the planet. Our kids are everything to us which is exactly how it's supposed to be.
The time will come and BSparl will learn and in the end you will still be her mommy and she will love you all the same. Any time she can help she will be happy to just like we are all happy to help the people we love.
We never want them to worry about us but I think we worry when we care so maybe that is the way to see it.
Not a burden.

Honey, I know just how you feel. I probably would have been blubbering just as much. Like I said at the session with Dr. Polonsky, one thing that sucks about diabetes is getting a low just because I went outside to play with my kids.

On the other hand, they're older now, and my middle grader was able to call the ambulance when I got a wicked low. Not the kind of thing I'd wish on anyone, but kids grow and adapt to the situation. And all you can do is love them with your heart, which is unaffected by pancreatic challenges.

Now, I'm crying. Somewhere around "why I can't pick her up every time she wants me to".

I never thought of that side of what Justin will face later on.

I am glad they offered that session for you and that you had such wonderful friends to share it with.

Just remember, our kids never see our "imperfections", they only see how much we love them. BSparl is one lucky little bird to have you. (((HUGS)))

Kerri, I come from the perspective of a non-diabetic parent caring for my diabetic daughter. We have the opposite issue in making sure our daughter does not become overwhelmed by her own diabetes. One of the ways we do that is to read your blog to her. Not every post, but often I sit down and read her what you wrote. I feel like your 24 years of experience helps her see the big picture and understand what others go through. Thank you.

I'm always a little worried in the back of my mind that I'll pass it on, or that it will skip a generation like it did with my and my grandchildren will be afflicted. My kids have never been tested, but I am always keeping an eye out for symptoms.

I always sheltered my kids from the "reality" of diabetes. In hindsight, I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do or not. They've learned much of what they know of diabetes from the media, though since I've started blogging we do talk a little more about it.

I'm always a little nervous about who in my family reads my posts. My kids are older, 18 and 20, so I guess they are old enough now. I've never asked if they do, tho I think my oldest does. Sometimes she makes a comment or two that kinda ties in with something I recently posted but I may just be imagining it.

But anyway ((HUGS))!! Kerri, you and Chris are great parents and you'll figure out the best way to explain things when BSparl is ready for it

We all need a good cry once in awhile. It can wash away the fear, and the sadness that we as mothers like to stuff down deep to our toes.

I'm glad you got to participate in this session, and I'm glad you feel good about it all!

Kerri:

As a parent, it was hard at first on my kids to understand my T1, but now they understand a little. They call it "getting silly" when I get low. They used to be unaware, but now they have seen it too many times, usually on vacations, when I am out of element. My girls are 8 and 5 and until they get older, we won't explain everything, but seeing the concern on their faces when I am low, reminds me each and every time what I have to live for, oh and my husband too!!!You cannot stop them from seeing the good and the bad to T1, but making sure they understand Mommy is not going anywhere, goes a long way with my young girls.

Thank you for helping me understand what it's like to be the one in the relationship with the CGM and pump literally attached at the hip. I think the thought of having children the old fashion way has been the biggest and most difficult part of our marriage, but until I read this post I didn't really get it. You and your family are amazing, thank you for letting us into your life!

Wow! I am in tears as well. I am a T1 mommy that has 2 daughters, (ages 12 and 15) My 12yo recently informed me, in a casual way, that she thought everyone's mom had an insulin pump. She now understands that I am different from her friends' moms. I started pumping in 1995 - before my 1st pregnancy. So she has no memories of me without one. There have been multiple times I have had to apologize for being grumpy (highs and lows) and many times I have had them bring me a juice/cola whatever is available. I give them information as they ask for it, in an age appropriate manner. They know I love them and that I happen to have T1. They don't know any different and neither do I.

Whew, now I'm crying too! I have the "thought" way too often and it actually makes me sick to my stomach. I sometimes look at my beautiful 5 month old baby boy and just start crying. I love being a mommy and I hate how my diabetes sometimes effects it. It sucks. Thanks for a wonderful post Kerri! :)

Kerri,
You are amazing and an inspiration to all PWD. I think it is great that FFL had a session for this and maybe in the future they can have one for kids with type 1 parents. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kerri, I was so comforted to have you and George right there with me as all three of us blubbered and watered the conference room floor.

I think parenting is the most incredible thing ever, and it is utterly crushing when diabetes gets in the way of stuff.

I have to think that diabetes will also somehow give us opportunities to bond with them too. Is that too much wishful thinking? Maybe, but a guy can hope, right?

You've got me all blubbery and i'm not a mom (admittedly the tears might be due to the likelihood that I never will be).
Becca's nosing my knee to be sure I'm ok and, I'm sure, to let you know that she thinks you're doing great and you will figure it out as you need to and BSparl will be no less amazing than she is now. (I agree. Projecting, what?)

I swear your posts should come with tissues. Or maybe we need to get you a sponsorship from Kleenex. :P

Seriously, thank you for always letting us into your life. I've never met you (or anyone else in the DOC) but you're all very close to my heart. I'm still trying to figure out how I did this for 19 & a half years without you guys.

I don't have any kids of my own (and sadly never will) but I have a niece that I lived with for several years. She was 4 when my sister & her moved in. I remember the day, not long after they moved in, that she crawled up next to me and asked me if I would die if I stopped taking shots. I have no idea how I managed to explain my diabetes to her without ever bursting into tears, but I did. And sometime during that conversation, my sister asked our brother to come over & get my niece so she & I could have some quiet time. Less than 5 seconds after they walked out the door, I burst into tears. My sister held me & assured me that I had in no way scared or scarred my niece.

Now my nephew is 5 and starting to be curious. We don't live together so it's taking him longer to work up to the questions, but I think it will be easier this time.

So I know when the time comes, you'll be fab because you're way better at parenting that I could ever hope to be. BSparl is in great hands. :)

As Jacquie said, we came out of our session crying - and although I didn't see you, George told me everyone in his session was crying too. It was hard, but I'm thankful that CWD arranged those sessions. Tapping into that trapped stuff and letting it out in a room full of people who understand is something we really really need - even if we didn't realize how much. Hugs to you and BSparl!!

oh *HUGS*. also, that pic of li'l birdy is SO TOTES ADORBS OMG.

I just want to put my arms around you right now.

These little people reach inside our hearts and we are changed forever.

It's hard to explain the emotions you encounter when you least expect them.

Motherhood.

You're doing it...and doing it well.

Kerri, another wonderful post. You know how to tug at the heart. I am a T1D and I am now in my 51st year. I have two daughters, 40 & 41.
There is a great day coming for you and that is the day your daughter takes you to school for show and tell. She will proudly show off her T1D mother and have you tell the kids what life is like being a T1D and also mother to their classmate. It happened to me. So look forward to a great experience with your daughter.

Just reading about it made me cry, so don't feel embarrassed!

Remember when we were in DC and you stared talking and said that it was like blogging 'out loud'...I 'hear' your voice thru your posts...today, no words are necessary...just hugs..:)

Even though she is only 14, I am already bracing myself for the day that M decides that she will have children of her own. Your posts help me understand how I can support her when the time comes.

Thanks.

I'm crying just reading what you wrote. Being a parent with diabetes (regardless of type) just plain sucks! We're supposed to take care of and worry about our children, not the other way around.

Kerry - this blog gives me so much support and helps me through day to day life with diabetes - that other people could never understand. thank you!
I am quiet about my T1 to most people, but now my 5 year old asks more questions. I feel like I need to explain more to him, and have been looking for a book geared to kids about their parent who has T1 and what it means. has anyone found something like that? (or maybe I need to start writing!)
thanks!

Holy tears!! ...and that's just from reading your post. I get it. I totally do, and I don't know why it happens to me, either. I *hope* it gets easier! Maybe it's because all we ever heard growing up was that we'd never have a baby. Then when we did get pregnant, we worked hard... darn hard... to make sure everything went smoothly. I think Diabetics are the proudest parents out there! (but I'm kinda biased on that one!)

Kerri! You rock! Not getting to speak to you for longer than "Hi! I am Michelle! I am a huge fan!" as we passed in the exhibit hall, was my ONLY disappointment at FFL! But it is a big disappointment none the less! This might be my favorite post YET! I am totally a blubbering crying hot mess...it's is, once again, nice to know I am not alone! Hope we get to chat someday very soon! HUGS!

What a beautiful post. I have had T1 for 39 years and my one and only daughter is now 31. My fears were not necessarily, what if I go low, taking shots, checking my BS all the time.

My fear was always if I developed complications and I could not participate in special moments that were important to both of us.

Now that I am older I occasionally get a phone call... Mom are you OK? Dad said you had a low last night. Is everthing OK? And my natural respose is always, "Yes everything is fine."

I do not what Diabetes to take the most presious moments away from me. This Fall my daughter married. I walked down the aisle with my beautiful dress and my pump in my pocket. I pray to God that Diabetes will not take other moments away from me.

Again, thank you for your heart felt post.

Thank you for sharing. My son was diagnosed last year at the age of 2, but my wife and I already find ourselves worrying about life for him far down the road to when he is a parent.

I just found this blog, but I am going to be keeping up from now on.

I have cried, blubbered really, at every single FFL conference I have been to! So, you are not alone in that!

I was not diagnosed until I was 5 months pregnant with my now 4 year old daughter. I was 30 and it was extremely scary for me. I pray EVERY SINGLE DAY that neither one of my sweet girls will ever know what it's like to struggle with this disease. I just wanted to share a little video I took almost a year ago of my sweet first born, Wynnie, as a 3 year old when I was trying to teach her what to do if mommy needed help. :) http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=dc483643b1203b40f8e9f8&skin_id=701&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url
I try not to teach her too much yet but she needs to know what mommy has going on if I am unconscious and need help. She's such a good little helper and Birdie will be too!

Hi kerry
You know you are here like "role model" you are to both your male and female individuals in the DOC. Really an insipirational post.... I ll surely say that lots of people ake advantages from this blog.

Thanks for sharing your experiences of being a parent with Diabetes. I am not near any support groups, yet I could benefit from one. I have had diabetes for 40 years and have eight beautiful children...yes, 8! I'm in great health and no complications.I have been on shots for the first 20 years and a pump for the second 20. I have handled things well until about 18 months ago when my daughter, who is now 8, was diagnosed with Type I herself. Her control is fine, but I don't know what to do with my emotions. I'm still angry about it. I thought I was busy before, but now this...

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)