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Posts from the ‘Diabetic Mommy’ Category

“How is it going?”

“Oh, I had so much trouble even getting out of the house when my babies were little.  You seem like you have it all together,” said the physical therapist as she massaged the tendons in my arm to alleviate the inflammation (thanks, tennis elbow as a result of playing … baby tennis?)

I would have laughed really hard if she hadn’t been pressing on the ouchiest bits right then.

“Smoke and mirrors.  Also, you haven’t seen my house or my inbox, so hold your praise,” I replied, wincing as her fingertips worked their way between my tendons.

Nothing is “all together” these days.  Everything feels held together by minty floss, so it smells sort of nice but is flimsy and ready to split.  On the surface, there are appear to be people moving around in my house that are reasonably clean and fed, but scratch that surface and you’ll find so much mess.

I’m struggling to find some peace in this mess.  Laundry is a constant battle (one six year old who loves messy craft projects plus a little baby with reflux and spitty-uppiness plus a guy who works out a lot plus a woman who tries to work out and who also is a target of aforementioned spit-up) and there’s at least two laundry baskets with contents that require folding and putting away at any given moment.  Also, if you open the dryer, there’s probably a load of laundry in there, too, waiting to be discovered and cursed at.

And then there’s the medical stuff.  Coordinating care for Birdy and Chris is one thing, but now we have the little Guy and he sees the pediatrician once a month (he’s little, so we check on his weight regularly and also there’s that reflux thing that’s being monitored/treated), so there’s that added mess.  Also, I’m back in physical therapy for de Quervain’s tendonitis (this happened with Birdy, as well – more on that later this week) and also seeing a dermatologist regularly in efforts to beat back the Dexcom rash (more on that ASAP).  I’ve met with a local endo and a new primary care doctor, as well, debating which to keep and where to keep trying. Lots of EOBs and calls to my medical insurer and let’s not forget the ebb and flow of diabetes supplies like insulin, test strips, Dexcom sensors, pump supplies, blood pressure medication, and all the other shit.  The phone feels permanently stuck to my ear and I’m on hold a lot.

Not to mention my lovely email inbox, which is brimming with interesting stuff that I can’t wait to dive into but sometimes comes to a boil in there because it can take me a full hour to answer one email.  (I’ve been doing a little bit of writing, though, and that’s felt good.  Sometimes it’s through the Notes feature on my phone, or in a long text message to myself, but it is happening.  Funny how creative juices flow alongside breastmilk at 4 am.)

Sleep is still at a minimum lately, with my son reverting back to his waking up every three hours for the last few nights, making us both a drooling mess at times during the day.  The lack of sleep is causing brain stalls, and I’ll stand in the middle of the kitchen wondering where the hell my keys are only to find them the hell in my hand.

I’m feeling very mired in motherhood details these days, and while I’m entirely grateful for the chance to parent these two littles, sometimes I’m a little burnt out on the daily tasks.  The list of items I want to tackle every day grows and I find myself only ticking off one or two items at a time instead of charging through the list with a face full of iced coffee and a pitchfork of productivity.  I’m itching to travel again, to get out and be working in full, proving to myself that I’m able to love and raise my children while also loving and raising my career.

“How is it going?” is a question many people ask, and sometimes my response is to show them my silly daughter and my smiling son and beam with pride.  Or my response is an exasperated sigh and a mention of house crap that’s gone undone.

Unfortunately sometimes it feels like the right thing to reply with is the “smoke and mirrors” claim, like I’m not able to say, “Some stuff is a disaster but I am doing really well with lots of other stuff.”  I have to force myself to step back from what I perceive as “the mess” and realize that I am doing a lot, and loving a lot of it, and allowing things like un-emptied driers and missed phone calls to be forgiven.

Sweet boy

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Is it all together here?  Oh hell no.  Have I taken some very long and unintentional breaks from blogging and answering emails and putting on matching socks?  Oh hell yes.  But my focus is different these days.  It’s been more about talking with my daughter about her day at school and working on a craft project with her.  Or holding my son close after he’s done eating and tracing the side of his chubby cheek with my fingertip.  Or taking a morning to go work and leaving all housework and kids in the care of trusted family and friends.

It’s not all together, but it’s not all smoke and mirrors, either.  It’s all hard work.  And love.  And the constant ding of the dryer.

Word Choice.

“Mom, why do you wear that bracelet again?”

She knows why, but every few months, she asks again.  Why do I wear a medical alert bracelet?  Why is that thing as important to leaving the house as having my keys?

“I wear it because it says I have diabetes, just in case someone needs to know.”

“Why would they need to know?”

“In case I wasn’t able to say it myself.  Like if we happened to be in an accident or something, or if I was asleep.”

She thinks about this.

Medical alert bracelet #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“Is this why we have a house phone?”

“Yes.”  She knows the reason but asks anyway.  We decided to get a landline telephone in the event that there was a storm that knocked the power out, or if we had a babysitter and needed to call the house.  Or if my husband or children ever needed to call 911 on my behalf.  “We have a house phone on the waaaaay off chance that I’d have trouble waking up because of a low blood sugar.  You know, if I was passed out.”

I forget that the words we use matter.  That they are easily confused and conflated.  That she’s just a little kid.

“Passed out?!!”

“Yes, but that’s a very rare thing.  It hasn’t ever happened to me.  It probably won’t ever happen, but it’s smart to be prepared, just in case.”

“PASSED OUT?!!!”

It was then that I remember hearing her and her friend talking about her friend’s grandmother, who had recently passed away.

“OUT, honey.  Not AWAY.  Passed out means I would be having trouble waking my brain and body up and need extra help.  Not dead.  It’s very different,”  I scooped her up and held her close, aiming to hug the panic away from her as I listed all the reasons why passed out was different from passed away and also how it wouldn’t ever happen to me, right?  Right.

The reality of my own thoughts every night before bed stood in contrast to the confidence in my voice talking to Birdy.  The thought is fleeting, but also sharp and cuts through my mettle, reminding me that diabetes looks easy and seems quiet but exists with an undercurrent of worry.

And I’m learning that I’m not the only one who worries.

Just Past Three.

Mr. Guy Smiley,

Hallelujah!!!  You have started SLEEPING and it makes me want to hit the caps lock and sing your praises.  Thank you, sweet boy, for finally deciding that nighttime is the best time to sleep.  I don’t even care if you ever nap predictably during the day because you sleep at night.  (Remind me I said that.)  Your else close around 8.30 pm, you sleep until about 11.30 pm, you wake to eat, and then you’re lights out until 7.30 the next morning.  THANK YOU.  I can tie my shoes again without becoming confused.  I remembered how to use the coffee maker.  I don’t cry while brushing my teeth.  HallelujahHallelujahHallelujah!!!

And not only are you sleeping, but you’re such a happy guy when you wake up.  Instant smiles, instant cooing, kicking your legs and flapping your arms like the happiest chicken there ever was.  You remind me so much of your sister with your morning joyousness, but you bring your own smiley guy flair to things.

We spent a lot of time together, you and I.  Big sister Birdy flies off to school every morning and Dad zips off to work, leaving you and I to try and make sense of the loads of emails, loads of laundry, and loads of diapers.  (That last one?  Ew.  Love you, but ew.)  You and I have done at least a dozen conference calls together, two or three video calls (those are tricky), and you’ve come to your first conference with me.  (Note:  Thanks, Tandem, for not thinking I was weird for bringing my mom and son to a conference with me, and to TCOYD for making my infant feel like part of the party.)  Working alongside you is a little complicated and sometimes distracted, but I’m inspired to keep pushing my boundaries because I want you to know that your mom is fueled by many interests and passions.  Just as I want you to be interested in so many different things.

For now, you’re most interested in talking.  And this little lion blanket thing that you have set your sights on gumming to death.  You also want to go for walks around the neighborhood in your stroller as often as we can, and you love, love being worn in the baby bjorn thing.  Just recently, we flipped you around in that baby carrier so that you face out and are able to see the world (instead of staring at my collarbone).  You love EVERYTHING.  I love that about you.

The Batman.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

You also love eating, and I’m still working to feed you.  You had a little trouble gaining weight at the outset (a combination of reflux plus falling asleep while eating), and even though I preferred to feed you myself, I had to start pumping breastmilk and using a bottle to ensure that you were getting a set number of ounces per feeding.  That’s kind of the system we’re still rocking at the moment – I feed you two or three times a day myself and the rest of your meals are via bottle.  My days are marked by three hour windows where I either check my blood sugar and then feed you or check and then pump. This means I am constantly pumping (insulin pump plus breast pump equals oh so many pumps) and constantly concerned about the stash of milk in our fridge.  I have ambitions of keeping you on breastmilk for several more months and I hope I can keep up the supply.  So far, I meet your needs.  (And even though I’m not one for supplements, etc. I am drinking a cup of this tea every day.  It might be helping.  It’s not hurting, at least.  And I’m developing a taste for black licorice as a weird side effect.)

Postpartum body blargh is in full effect, as you’re a little over three months old and I have not been on the ball in terms of self-care.  I am working to focus more on my diet in a consistently healthy way (eff off, pie … no wait, come back!!) and I’ve just recommitted to my exercise routine.  I have (blond) ambitions of burning any and all shapewear crap by next June.  Or, at the very least, feeling more like myself by then.

(Why am I writing about breastfeeding and postpartum body images in these letters to you?  Well, part of the reason why people read this blog is because I chronicle diabetes stuff, and it all plays in.  You’ll understand more when you’re older and you tune into the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time writing on the Internet.  I know, it’s weird.  Especially since we now have MentalNet, where you simply blink your eyes and your thoughts auto-publish to the cloud.  Man, picturing the future of the Internet is terrifying.)

We have plans to introduce you to some of our dearest-but-most-far-flung friends this month and you’re spending plenty of time with your aunts and your grandmas. Oh, and you’ll spend your first Christmas on the outside, with your sister very much looking forward to sharing the excitement of Christmas morning with you. You’re very, very loved, kiddo.  You’re a little over three months old but you’ve owned real estate in my heart for ages.

(And thank you for falling asleep at night and sleeping for several hours.  Seriously.  All of me thanks you.  🙂 )

Love,
mom

My Third Child.

Diabetes’s needs are incessant.  WAAH I need to have my blood sugar checked WAAH I need a snack WAAH the Dexcom sensor needs swapping WAAH what do you mean, reorder insulin WAAH chronic illness is forever WAAAAAAAAAAH.  This disease whines and cajoles for attention all day long.

Over the weekend, I stood at the bathroom counter changing my infusion set while Birdy brushed her teeth and the little guy sat singing in his bouncy chair.  A loud burst of noise not unlike an industrial-sized coffee carafe percolating came from the bouncy chair, which prompted Birdy to announce (through a mouthful of toothpaste suds), “He needs a diaper change for sure.”

True.  (And ew.  Ew-true.)

Diabetes always needs a diaper change, too.  But diabetes is not cute.  And while it also wakes me up in the middle of the night for feedings, it doesn’t reward me with a toothless smile or a snuggle.  These days, diabetes management feels thankless, frustrating, and very ARGHH would you just go AWAY?!  Getting into the swing of things with two kids is still an adjustment and I’d like very much if diabetes would go quiet for a spell.

Unlike with my daughter, I am not deep into diabetes burnout this postpartum cycle, but I’m not a big fan of all the diabetes crap that’s still on tap.  Small victories keep me going at the moment, like keeping up with inputting the data into my pump (so it can properly calculate my insulin doses instead of me SWAG’ing things) and trying to treat lows conservatively.  But I have blood work orders in my wallet that I still haven’t followed through on (they’ve been in my billfold for three weeks now).  My fasting BG checks are sometimes taking place two hours after I’m woken up by Guy Smiley.  I’m wearing the Dexcom but there are hours worth of highs that ride for too long.  I reorder my supplies on time but mostly because I’ve reached my deductible.

I need to shake this settled snow globe of apathy that my diabetes has become.

Oh hey, awesome turtleneck-wearing cat in a snow globe.

I have an appointment with a new, local endocrinology team at the end of the month and I’m actually looking forward to it.  This appointment will be a paradigm shift in my care, taking a break after 30 years at Joslin. Like hitting the reset button, bringing my care hyperlocal and giving the visits a facelift.

Until then, I’m trying to parent all three “kids” in my house and keep them all safe, sound, and freshly-diapered.

Two and a Half.

To my son,

Good lord you are a cute little person.  You make me stupid with your cute. (And I don’t care if I’m biased. I should be biased; I’m your mother.) I love your tiny hands and little toes and kissable nose and the consistent mohawk that your hair enjoys becoming.  You started grinning back at us in the last few weeks and watching your face crack into a giant smile is my favorite, favorite thing.  All of those overused expressions like “he lights up a room!” were clearly first used to describe your smile.  (Let’s just ignore the fact that you’re only 12 weeks old.  Maybe you’re like Vigo the Carpathian, only the nice guy version?)

Twelve weeks, kiddo.  We’ve been swimming as a family in all your newness for twelve weeks.  Birdy has adjusted to you with excitement and vigor, wanting to give you bottles and hug you and kiss you all the time, even if you are crusty with spit-up.  “I don’t care, mom.  I just want to snuggle him.”  She’s been waiting for a little brother for a long time and now that you’re here, she’s beside herself with glee.  Her first grade teacher knows all about you.  So does the the bus driver.  And anyone we encounter at the grocery store.  Little man, your sister is a fan of yours.  Remember that, because by the time you read these letters, she might be battling you fiercely for rights to the bathroom.  Forgive her, sweet boy.  She’s always been your champion.

We love you, madly and permanently.  That’s a sentence with a full stop at the end.  Actually, I’m going to end that paragraph here.  We love you.

The lack of sleep is a separate issue, though.  Kiddo, for about ten weeks you were not the biggest fan of closing your eyes at night.  Instead, you preferred to burp and grunt and wiggle throughout the night, either wanting a pacifier or to nurse or to be held or to have looong and intense conversations about the recent political turmoil.  I was not okay with the whole routine, and despite showering and getting dressed every day, I was stupid with exhaustion.  I cried in the grocery store because I couldn’t find the counter where you purchase fresh fish.  I got lost trying to bring something into the basement.  My mind was powdered.  Only in the last two weeks have you started to grab four hour clips during the night, allowing your parents to finally surface from the bottoms of their coffee cups.  Thank you for deciding that nighttime was a good time to rest, because we were starting to crack up.

Cozy

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Breastfeeding is your only source of food at the moment, which I’m very proud of accomplishing because it’s not without significant effort.  (Are you reading these letters as a teenager?  Is it gross to talk about breastfeeding?  If you’re grossed out, skip this paragraph because this discussion is more for the sake of the diabetes stuff.  Trust me.  Come back in a paragraph.)  If I’m not feeding you myself, I’m pumping and trying to build up a stash of milk in the freezer for days when I’m traveling for work.  It’s important to me, for a few reasons, that I breastfeed exclusively as long as I can and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.  Thankfully, the post-feeding or post-pumping blood sugars have become a little more predictable and I’m not tanking with hypoglycemia all day long.  Considering buying stock in Juicy Juice for a while, though.  And just as thankfully, you take a bottle and bounce back to breast without any issue at all, so that concept of nipple confusion isn’t a factor in our house.  (Yes, I said nipple.  NIPPLE.  I told you to stop reading this paragraph, love.) I’m glad you take bottles without issue, though, because it took you a fair amount of time to get back to your birth weight, and you are still a little on the petite side.

We’ve had a lot of questions about your “internet moniker,” and to be honest, your sister spent almost six months as BSparl before she became tagged as Birdy.  I don’t want to force a nickname on you, but Guy Smiley seems to be what we’re calling you these days.  Your smile is so sweet.  And maybe someday you’ll host a gameshow for Muppets.  Who knows!  The world is your weird, little oyster.

For now, you remain my littlest friend.  My last little friend.  And this month, you’ll take your first work trip with me and I’ll have a chance to introduce you to some of my friends in the diabetes community.  I’ll say, “This is my son,” and my heart will swell with pride when you burp your hellos.

I love you, sweet boy.  Always, always, always.

Love,
Mom

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