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Posts from the ‘Diabetic Mommy’ Category

Seven Months.

To my Little Guy,

Suddenly, you’re not so little.

Over the last few weeks, you’ve growth-spurted in a way that’s made every plant in this house super jelly.  Pajamas that once fit with room to spare are threatening to hulk out at the feet and your appetite is already edging towards the scary things that moms of teenage boys told me.  (“Prepare to have him eat you out of house and home!!!” they said, running to their second job that pays solely for their son’s lunch consumption.)  Despite still running small for your age, you’re a completely proportionate tiny human tank.

Food is your favorite thing, after your sister and making the “pppbbbblllllltt” noise with your mouth.  Most often you can be found in the high chair eating sweet potatoes,  scrambled eggs, peanut butter and bananas mashed together (that’s your favorite this month), and your hands.  Still no gluten until you’re over a year old, like we did with your sister.

You’d very much like the cats to be your friends, but so far only Loopy will give you the time of day.  She comes up and purrs maniacally, weaving herself in and out of your reach and letting you pet (mash) her on the head.  Siah, on the other hand, is horrified by your existence and keeps serious distance between her fur and your paws.

Unrelated:  Squirrels and chipmunks seem to like you just fine and they grin at you when we go from the front door to the car.

Side eye because he knows it ain't Valentine's Day. #anachronisticbib

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I finished breastfeeding recently and you’re now on formula.  Ending breastfeeding was a difficult choice but one kind of forced, in part, by the eye injury that resurfaced a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t able to feed you because I couldn’t see or manage pain very well during that episode of corneal chaos, so you were receiving pumped breastmilk instead of being able to latch on to me.  Fast forward a few days once I had recovered and putting you on my breast didn’t produce food fast enough for you, so you fussed and freaked out.  Back to bottles of breastmilk (and formula) until pumping wasn’t an option anymore, either.  (Not being able to physically feed you myself slowed production down to nothing.  And yes, I’m writing about breastfeeding you again.  Stop rolling your eyes.)

With the stopping of breastfeeding finally brought an end to the deluge of pregnancy-related hormones that took up intense residence in my body, and that’s been a very positive mental shift.  The postpartum anxiety thing has tapered off quite a bit, in part due to cognitive behavioral therapy once a week and also the lack of hormonal influence.  (We also joined a gym, you and I … more on that in a non-you post.)  I’m feeling like I’m more capable of taking good care of you instead of feeling like I’m holding on to everything by a thread.

And with a more relaxed mindset, I’ve realized you’re it … the last little baby I’ll ever have.  Watching you grow so fast has made me want to slow time down.  Which translates into you and I reading a lot of books together, or going for walks with your stroller.  We snuggle, often.  And I like to look into your eyes and wonder what color they’ll eventually settle on.  Time goes by very quickly and I am trying to spend as much of it as I can with you and your sister.

We’re lucky to have you, little Guy.  So very lucky.  And while I want to enjoy the little friend that you are, I am looking forward to seeing whoever it is you become.

Now go to sleep.

Love,
Mom

Sixaroo.

Little Guy,

Six months old!!  Is what you are.  Indeed, six months ago you were all coiled up in my belly like a snake ready to strike into our lives, which sounds super violent but was more super exhausting and super cute than anything else.  Hey, run on sentence, there you are.

We’re at the point with you where we can’t exactly remember what it was like NOT to have you in our lives.  A highchair in our kitchen?  Always.  The extra bedroom suddenly inhabited by a crib and a stack of diapers?  Always.  The laundry machines churning and burning at all hours, for all eternity?  ALWAYS.  We’ve always had mashed bananas in a bowl.  We’ve always had a giggling little monster man.

We’ve always had you, kiddo.

This Guy. 🍅

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Now, at six months old, you have left behind that squishy infant baby person and have become this full-faced, big-eyed little grabby-handed peanut.  You love to grab your feet and try to force them into your mouth.  You think my nose is something removable and you attempt its removal daily.  You laugh – hard – anytime anyone startles you.  (Except the other night, at that restaurant, when the automatic hand dryer in the bathroom made you lose your mind with fear.  Poor little fella.  You sobbed so hard that a woman who was about to dry her hands threw them up in a panic and said, “I’ll drip dry!  Drip dry!  Poor little guy!!”)

On the food front, you’ve tried plenty of different tastes.  Pears are pretty popular.  Bananas are delicious.  Mashed cauliflower confused you but you ate it anyway.  Avocado could potentially be a friend.  But sweet potatoes are your JAM.  They make you delighted.  DELIGHTED.

Your favorite person isn’t me.  Or you dad.  Your favorite person is your sister.  Your whole face completely lights up with a smile reserved just for her whenever she talks to you.  The other night, while we were in New Hampshire for a few days, the two of you refused to fall asleep because you were too busy giggling.  She, playing peekaboo, and you, letting loose a belly laugh that could have caused an avalanche in the White Mountains.  She loves you, big time, and you return that love plus ten.

We snuggle often, you and I, and I love the moments right before you fall asleep for a nap, when you reach up and hold my face.  I love that.  LOVE.  It makes the memory of years of wanting you dull and fade, erasing so much of that pain and replacing it with love.  And spit up.  And diapers that I wouldn’t FedEx to my worst enemy.

But mostly love.

Love you, little Guy,
Mama

From NOPE to Yes.

My friend Susan is a huge part of the Postpartum Progress group, and on her Facebook feed I saw an article that she had shared.  I like to see what my friends are working in and sharing in and out of the diabetes space, so I clicked.

Reading through the postpartum depression list had me nodding a little bit.  But the postpartum anxiety list had me leaning forward, nervous that I was finding myself in almost every bullet point.

This one in particular:

You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.

After my daughter was born, I did not worry all the time.  I worried in a way that felt normal, about her eating patterns and my ability to meet them, or whether I buckled her in the carseat the right way … that sort of thing.  The worrying started right after she was born and was background noise by the time she was six months old.

With my son, everything was worry.  I worried the whole time I was pregnant, reluctant to get too excited or attached.  I kept thinking the pregnancy was ending, even though I saw his dancing little self on the ultrasound screen every few weeks.  My friends and family wanted to throw a baby shower and I avoiding committing to the idea for weeks, nervous that celebrating his soon-to-be arrival date would somehow make him not come.

After he was born, I worried incessantly about my health, and his.  My second c-section wasn’t as easy as my first, and I recovered slowly.  My son had swallowed some amniotic fluid during birth and he spent the first three days choking slightly and needing to have the fluid cleared from his mouth and through via suction.  We knew he needed assistance when he would gag and cough and then flap his arms because he couldn’t breathe.  The nurses in the hospital told us to push the call button immediately if he did this, so they could come in and help.

“This is normal.  It’s common for babies to experience this the first few days after birth.  He will clear the fluid out and be fine; don’t worry.”

Except I worried.  Like professional grade worry.  I was afraid to leave his side because I thought he was going to choke to death in his sleep.

No one on my medical team was panicking about anything at all, yet I was panicking about everything.  When my son settled into a pattern of waking up every 20 minutes for the first 11 weeks of his life, exhaustion and anxiety dominated my mind.  I wasn’t myself for the first three months.  Which makes sense, considering the little bits of chaos we were managing, on so little sleep.

But around the 3 1/2 month mark, he started to sleep.  And my incision was healing.  And blood sugars were becoming more predictable, even with exclusive breastfeeding. Things should have been feeling better, but I had some trouble appreciating the things that were going right as I was already halfway down the anxiety slide at all times.  I had horrible thoughts all the time, born out of innocuous moments.

Like I’d be pushing the stroller around the neighborhood and mentally picture the stroller tipping over and my son’s body crushed.  Or a big hawk would fly overhead and I’d immediately picture the bird coming down and jamming its beak into my son’s leg.  (Fucking bird.  I had this particular thought often.  Weird shit, the mind.)  The thoughts would come ramming into my brain and I’d immediately banish them, saying, “Nope.  Nope, nope, nope,” to myself and physically shaking them free from my head, but I was feeling anxious regardless.  I had zero desire/thought to hurt myself or my child, but I kept picturing some scenario where he’d get hurt.

I felt like I was in fight-or-flight mode at all times.

Reading that list of symptoms jolted something inside of me.  I showed the list to Chris to see if that list put words to any concerns that he had.

“Seeing this all written down, I do see a lot of these in you,” he admitted.

I called my OB/GYN that afternoon and made an appointment.  After a screening process and a discussion about my concerns (including telling her that I called mainly because a list of symptoms had me nodding “Yes” to almost every single one) my OB agreed that there was some kind of postpartum thing going on.

“You have experienced a few things that would influence this kind of response, like infertility for several years.  And pregnancy after loss.  And then a complicated pregnancy due to diabetes.  And then deciding on permanent sterilization.  And then the sleep issues after birth.  One of those things might be enough to warrant intervention; all of those things definitely might.”

I felt weird that I was experiencing this stuff five months out instead of immediately after birth.  She reassured me that it happens often enough this way.  She made a recommendation for medication, I told her I wanted to try therapy before medication, and she deferred to my requested treatment.

“While you wait on your therapy appointment, I’d suggest that you get outside.  Often. And don’t stay holed up in your house; see your neighbors, call your friends, be as social as you can in efforts to help keep you from feeling so overwhelmed by the worries.  It might help.  And if you feel worse in any way at all, you need to call us,” she said, handing me a card with the therapist group’s number on it.  “This team will call you today or tomorrow.”

It felt oddly comforting to identify what was going on in my mind as something that could be addressed.  That I wasn’t stuck feeling this way forever.  That others have felt this way, too.  That there’s a light at the end of this sometimes dark tunnel that has made me feel so very much unlike my normal self.

And now?  I’m trying to ask for help instead of feeling like I have to shoulder the anxiety and chaos on my own.  My mother has been instrumental in helping me maintain my mental health, coming by regularly to spend a few hours with the baby and help with laundry.  My son is currently at my aunt’s house while I work from a coffee shop down the street.  My husband is quick to step in and make it possible for me to exercise daily.  And my friends in the neighborhood and beyond are vital to my mental health checklist, serving as people I can see throughout the week so that I don’t feel confined to my house. (Working from home with the baby makes for very long and lonely days without much grown-up interaction.)

There’s a network of people I can lean on, helping whittle some of the anxiety off me and reminding me that I’m still here, underneath all these worries.  That it’ll be okay.

And that?  That gets a big Yes, yes, YES.

 

“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.

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