CWD FFL 2012: Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes.
The first time I sat in the Parenting with Type 1 diabetes session, I was a first time mom, and a new one. My daughter was about 14 months old and I was just starting to process the fact that I spent years planning for my pregnancy but I hadn't thought much about what to do once she had escaped my womb.
This year, I was able to function during this session without crying. (Which is a good thing, since I was part of the faculty leading the sessions, along with Scott Johnson and Stefan Rubin.) I'm not sure why it was easier this year - nothing has changed in terms of me being more or less emotional. I still feel weak when I think about how diabetes might affect my daughter. I still feel lost when I think about the hypoglycemic episodes my own child has experienced. But maybe that's what makes it easier, in a sense. She's been in my life for over two years, and we've had some health issues (like Pukefest 2012), so I'm not as scared of "what to do." I've already had to do a few "things."
But it is so comforting to talk with other parents who understand that delicate balance between diabetes and their child, especially at a conference where the focus is, more or less, on parents of children with diabetes. (Though that perception is changing, thanks to the adults with type 1 session track and the droves of adults with type 1 who attended the conference this year!) In this session, it was about being a parent with type 1 diabetes. We talked about things like handling lows when we're in charge of our children, or how to talk about our diabetes with our child. (We take it slow and steady here in my house, explaining things as needed and without too much fanfare. More on that later, too.)
This session was a safe place. Some of the sessions at Friends for Life are so intimate, where people are sharing their concerns and fears (and if you're me, many unexpected tears), that it's not meant for "live-blogging." Sometimes you need to be able to sit in a room with your peers and really talk, without fear that someone is Tweeting or making it public. (Which is a far cry from the session that Scott and I lead about Twitter and the DOC … more on that next round.)
This year, I saw a lot of hope in that room. There were more of us, more parents who were living with diabetes. Some of us have children who are not diabetic. Some of us have children who wear the same green bracelets at Friends for Life as we do. Some of us haven't yet taken the leap towards parenthood, but are thinking about it. (And in the case of one of us, motherhood was just a few weeks away.) The discussions weren't rooted in fear, but more in hope. It was a room full of people who were sharing how they are parenting, or working towards the goal of parenting, and it wasn't about our fears. It was about our hope.
Parenting is complicated, regardless of what kind of health history you're wrangling in. What's important is that hope. And that room, with all of its different personalities and circumstances and situations, had two common threads: diabetes ... and hope.
So much hope.