Your Mom Has Diabetes.
I struggled to think of a title for this post, but the one that stuck is the one that's up there. Because this weekend plays host to Mother's Day, and I wanted to celebrate some of the BAMWD (Bad Ass Moms With Diabetes) I've had the pleasure of getting to know through the DOC. These eight lovely ladies, all living with type 1 diabetes, were willing to share a little bit of their diabetes and motherhood experience, and I'm grateful to have their experience and humor to draw from as I raise my own Bird.
Kerri: How does diabetes impact your perspective as a parent?
Holly (dx'd with T1D at age 22): Even though I have T1, I feel a huge responsibility to provide her with a solid foundation on what is healthy and nutritious to eat. She has been eating solids for only 6 months, and I'm constantly wondering if what she's eating is healthy enough. Is she getting enough vegetables? Protein? Too much fruit? I thought I thought about food a lot as a diabetic!
Brittney (dx'd with T1D at age 11): I think being so health aware as a person for so long, knowing and analyzing every little thing that goes in my mouth, and every bit of exercise I do (or don't do!) makes me more aware of how my daughter is growing up. She's just recently started eating solids (we skipped the purées and went right to "real people food") so she eats off our plates. It's made me make sure both my husband and I are eating only natural, no added sugar or "crap" kinds of foods. I want her to grow up thinking that eating healthy and being active is the norm and just part of every day life. Not something that you have to "work" at.
Gina (dx'd with T1D at age 25): Before I had my son, i never really thought about caring so much about my personal health like I do now. I mean yeah I took care of myself but, not really the best way I should have. Now, I have a little person to care for and I want to make sure that I am around as long as possible to watch him grow up. The thought of not being around for him, scares the living crap out of me. So yeah, I am going to try and do everything in my power these days to make sure that I am in tip top shape, mentally, physically, and healthfully!
Lindsay (dx'd with T1D at age 26): While my perspective as a parent hasn't been impacted by my diabetes as much as I thought it would while I was pregnant, having Kate has made me more aware of how critical it is to take care of my own health even more now because it's not just me. I need to be here and be healthy for HER. That's a perspective I never would have had or appreciated had I not been diagnosed with diabetes.
Kerri: Does diabetes help you appreciate motherhood in a particular way?
Jacquie (dx'd with T1D at age 12): Motherhood makes all the diabetes crap worth it. I feel like it drives me to take better care of myself, too. Now I understand how my mom must have felt when I was diagnosed, and I have more ambition to stay healthy longer. Also, it's nice to finally put so much effort into the care of something that's NOT diabetes. Diabetes and babies are both hard work, but you can only put cute onesies on one of them.
Shannon (dx'd with T1D in 1992): I appreciate motherhood more than words can say. I have wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl. When I finally grew up and got married, I found it difficult to get pregnant. And it's a chicken and the egg scenario .. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18, and was told it's common in diabetics, but nobody knows which one "causes" which. I was able to conceive my first son (now 5 yrs old) with shots and with my twins (3 weeks old) I had to do IVF. So having gone through all of that, and not knowing exactly how much (if any?) of a factor my diabetes played in the process... makes me appreciate being a mom because I had to work so hard and wait so long to BE a mom.
Stacey (dx'd with T1D at age 8): Heck to the yes! I worked my behind off to have this baby (almost 3-year old) girl! We began preparing a year in advance and fought every month of the pregnancy to keep my BG's under control. Even with the constant attention to detail I ended up in the ICU at the start of my 3rd trimester with DKA. DKA with an A1C of 5.8. Yeah, no one knows how it happened but it did. Bottom line, I worked my ass off to become a mother!
Gina: I appreciate motherhood so much more now because it has been such a long road because of diabetes. I struggled for years to get a pre-pregnancy A1c number in the recommended range of 6.5% or lower and felt so defeated time after time when I couldn't reach it. I never even thought I was going to have kids, and was actually talking to my husband about adoption instead. I became extremely depressed because of it and actually left my job to pursue the "perfect pre-pregnancy number". Well, I never did reach that A1c number until after I found out I was pregnant, but I really busted my butt to get it down and it was the first time I felt like a mother. My son and I were perfectly healthy the entire 9 months! He is now 6 months and thriving.
Karen: I am FIERCE with a mental to-do list, and I can pack a diaper bag in about 30 seconds flat. I'm used to having diabetes contingency plans - glucose tabs, backup batteries, spare supplies - and that just naturally transitions to kiddo contingency plans. If nothing else, it gives me a great sense of "I've got this." And motherhood rarely inspires confident feelings of competence ...
Holly: Since my [diabetes] diagnosis was so dramatic (DKA, >1400 mg/dL), I have often thought "I'm not supposed to be here." So I look at Jewel and become incredibly grateful because I get the opportunity to be her mom. It also makes me extremely cautious with my numbers (not wanting to go low) because my biggest fear is going low while home alone with her.
Kerri: What do you want your kids to understand about diabetes?
Shannon: I want my kids to know what diabetes is, but that mommy is ok. I have always taken shots, and checked blood sugars, treated lows, etc., in front of my 12 yr old stepdaughter and my 5 year old, so they're aware of it and I allow them to ask questions ("What is insulin? Why do you have to wear an insulin pump? Why do you have diabetes?") My son understands that mommy has her own juice boxes. I did not know any other diabetics growing up, and none when I was diagnosed at age 17. If/When my kids cross paths with diabetics in their future, my hope is that they won't be that person that we all know that has a diabetes horror story - they can tell people that their mommy has diabetes and wears an insulin pump because her pancreas doesn't work.
Karen: That it's serious, something that has a big role in our lives and can't be ignored, but that I take care of it and myself so there's nothing for her to worry about. My sincere hope is that my disease will help her appreciate her body and instill good habits in her - eating well, living an active life, and just being more cognizant of what a gift a healthy body can be.
Lindsay: I am hopeful that by learning about her mommy's disease, she will learn compassion for others dealing with their own issues and challenges. I can already imagine her sidling up to a buddy who wears an insulin pump and putting that little one at ease by saying "Oh my mommy has diabetes, too."
Stacey: Right now, at almost three, I just want her to understand that my diabetes will never hold up our lives for longer than it takes Mom to treat a low.
Jacquie: That it's not the end of the world. It's just a thing we've got to live with.
Happy Mother's Day, ladies. You are all amazing. xo