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Posts tagged ‘parenting with diabetes’

Five Months.

To my Guy,

Five months old!  (And I’m pretty sure I forgot to write you a letter at the four month mark, so here’s a quick high five for turning four months old a bit back, too.)  Five months ago, I was excitedly awaiting your arrival and folding piles of baby clothes.  Now, I am greeted by your big, toothless smile every morning while you excitedly slap your legs against the crib like a mermaid.

Sorry.  MerMAN.

You are a tiny sweet potato with an appetite for both pears and destruction.  Despite being on the more petite side at the moment (single digit percentile for weight and barely double digits for height), you eat like you are a teenage boy.  In the last few weeks, I’ve had trouble keeping up with your food demand, so we’ve started working in the occasional formula bottle here and there.  I’m still breastfeeding and pumping as often as possible, but you need to eat, so formula is at the ready for the moments when I’m not.

You’re more tolerant about tummy time these days and you spent a lot of time on your play mat.  (Although when you’re feeling done being on your stomach, you fling yourself to the side to roll over, like you’re trying to roll down a hill.)  Just like your sister, you are content to holler happily at the plush animals dangling overhead.  This morning, though, you slammed a rattle against your head and engaged in your first “crying because of little injury” jag.  Real tears. It sucked.  And now you are giving that rattle some major side-eye.  Welcome to the world, little Guy.

Real food is also a recently introduced thing, and you’ve joined us at the table in your very own (belonged to your sister and is more than six years old but whatever – we like to save stuff) high chair.  The food you’ve tried so far are pears, and that first go wasn’t very successful.  Lots of confusion about what on earth a “spoon” is and also WTF “pears?”  But now, a few days and many attempts later, you wait with your hands on the high chair tray all excited, ready for the SPOON! and PEARS! and the mess that follows.

At the table. #milestone

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

In the last few weeks, you’ve gone on your first trip to New York City to meet some friends, slept over at your Grammie’s a few times, and you’ve decided that Loopy is your favorite cat because she has a fluffy tail and she walks circles around you and makes you laugh, while Siah is the one who watches you sleep from afar, not daring to go closer but keeping tabs on you all the same.  The world is starting to crack open and let you peek inside, and it seems like you’re a fan.

It still amazes me, even though I’ve done this once before, how quickly the weeks change you.  You used to be a little thing with half-closed eyes and unable to hold up your own head, snuggled carefully and warmly against me at all hours.  Now you’re this much sturdier little man, smiling all the time and entertained by books, patty cake, and the series of foolish songs we make up and sing to you.  I’m afraid to blink because you’ll be crawling, then running, then refusing to eat your eggs before school every morning.

Time goes by very quickly, and I’m trying to appreciate these moments when you are little.  

Thank you for being part of our family. And for sleeping. And for the smiles that make me feel like I must be doing something right. You’re my littlest friend and I love you bunches.

Love,
Mom

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.

“How do you explain diabetes to her?”

“How do you explain diabetes to her?”

How do you explain diabetes to your kid?  I wish there was a strategy, a predictable path that conversations about health and wellness could take, like when my daughter brings out The Game of Life and I want to replace all the normal life stuff with the diabetes versions I marked as milestones along the way.

  • First time checking my blood sugar on my own.
  • First time giving my own shot.
  • Explained diabetes to a new friend.
  • Went to a sleepover and my mom didn’t come with me.
  • Earned my driver’s license and permission to get a car after proving I would check my blood sugar every time before driving.
  • Going to the endocrinologist by myself.
  • Moving out and living alone.
  • Managing emotional and physical diabetes-related complications.
  • Creating a family (this would earn me more people in my little car, right?  “People” being the little matchstick shaped things you shoved into the plastic car.)
  • Living beyond diabetes.

Trouble is, there’s no set path that diabetes takes, even with the best intentions and optimal care.  And the milestones aren’t always triumphant.  I’d be inclined to roll again if I landed on the “Manage diabetes distress pockets” or “Deal with health-related discrimination” spaces.

How do I talk about the emotional stuff tied to diabetes without shuffling those emotions right onto my daughter?  When she asks questions like, “Does diabetes scare you?” or “Are you afraid I’ll get diabetes, too?” I’m reaching to roll again.

How do I explain diabetes to my most beloved Bird?  I don’t.  Not entirely.  We have conversations about normal things, with diabetes built into the context clues.  When she was very small, we talked about how she should not push the buttons on mommy’s pump.  As she grew up, we talked about why I wore an insulin pump and other mom’s did not.  Sometimes conversations about low blood sugars came up and we dealt with those as part of the moment instead of scheduling a sit-down discussion with flash cards and a quiz at the end.

But she’s tuned in, and she notices things.  And in the last year or so, she’s elected herself captain of my support team.  If my Dexcom low alarm goes off, she drops everything she’s going and comes over and wraps her arms around my waist.  I don’t know what prompts her to do this – sometimes I think it’s the vacant look in my eyes when I’m low that makes her feel the need to double-check on me.

“Does this help, Mom?”

“It does,” I say, through a mouthful of candy corn.  “You help.”

If she were to list five things about her mom, diabetes might be on that list.  But it comes with expectations of conferences at Disney World and friends around the world, and sure, there are doctor’s appointments and moments where I need a few extra minutes and sometimes I am distracted by the need to reapply a sensor or prick my finger and all these things that beep, but that’s life with this disease. Diabetes is a cumbersome to do list that comes with a monster under the bed who I don’t often make eye contact with.

But we manage.

Explaining diabetes to her is its own challenge.  But sometimes, through her eyes, she re-explains diabetes to me.

 

What Happens to Your Brain When You Don’t Sleep.

There’s a little boy who lives in my house now and he seems to likes us.  He likes his big sister and he likes his mom and dad and he likes the cats.  He likes socks.  And fluffy blankets when we go on walks.  And he loves taking naps while the sun shines through the living room windows.

All awesome.

What he doesn’t like is sleeping during the night.  He fucking hates that.

As a result, we are not sleeping at night, either.  The dance of feed/change/snuggle/attempt sleep/feed/change/snuggle is endless throughout the night, making the baggage under my eyes significant and the days are starting to blend together into one, big diaper change.  My mind is on a sad circuit of this monkey:

But this is a diabetes blog.  So how’s the diabetes stuff going?  There might not be sleep, but is the brain responding to diabetes related requests?

Shit, the same gif.  That’s not optimal.

Diabetes is still there.  I still have it.  It didn’t “go away after I had the baby.”  And sometimes, throughout the day, I have myself fooled into thinking I’m on top of things.

But I’m sort of not.

Stuff I’m not on top of:  

Blood sugar checks are not happening as often as they were, or as they should be.  I’m checking my fasting blood sugar (making a point to do it immediately upon waking, because once I’m out of bed, I space out), but that’s sometimes it until after lunch time.  Not optimal once again.

Exercise is also not happening, but that’s because I’m still under the lock-and-key of the c-section.  My six week follow up is in two weeks and I’m hoping to be cleared for exercise, etc. but until then, I’m doing slow walks around the neighborhood with the tomato in the stroller and hoping my scar doesn’t rip open and all my guts spill out.  (This is a mental image I have with frightening regularity.)

Food remains a challenge, as well.  Weirdly enough, I’m having trouble eating enough these days (a stark contrast to my delight at eating too much a few weeks ago) and my spotty food intake is making breastfeeding a little bit of a challenge.  (As in, I produce less on days that I consume fewer calories.  It’s a frustrating tell.)  I am trying to make more grabby, healthy snacks (see also:  balls) so I’m able to eat on the fly without too much effort.

But this will all come with time.  Or so the mystics tell me.

Hey, but there is stuff I’m still on top of:

I’m still using the Dexcom every day,and that data is keeping me informed on how SWAG-gy my boluses have been.  My graphs have been all over the place, but I chalk that up to hormones re-balancing after giving birth, insulin:carb ratios being tweaked for postpartum needs, and a sleep schedule that is abysmal.

I’m also on top of my doctor’s appointments.  As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m building a hyper-local care team from the ground up and I’ve been on the ball about finding doctors, scheduling appointments, and working to flesh out the team.  So far, so good.

And I’m staying on top of what my kids need.  Laundry is all clean (granted, not folded and put away,  but all clean and a lovely, sorted mountain of clean it is!).  I have a steady flow of breastmilk being stashed in the freezer (in anticipation of upcoming travel, Grammie visits, and overnight feedings that Chris handles).  The Bird is being shuttled to friends’ houses and soccer practice and school without missing a beat.  My son is fed, diapered, and hugged a bunch, and is a very laid-back (albeit nocturnal) baby.  I might have only JUST NOW sat down to answer emails and work today, but my frigging KIDS are managed, so I’m calling today a mangled version of success.

Soon – SOON?! – we will be reunited with sleep.  Just in time for the time (and lancet) change.

Fifteen Minutes, Fifteen Grams.

I just needed fifteen minutes, after fifteen grams of carbs.

“I can’t go with you, because I need to eat something else and wait for my blood sugar to come up.  You guys can go without me and come right back, if you want?”

The sentences sounded soft and measured.  Sure, go for the bike ride around the neighborhood, dear daughter and trusted neighborhood friend.  I’ll just sit here and eat fifteen grams of carbohydrate, then wait patiently for fifteen minutes while the food works its magic.

Instead, I was shouting up at them from the bottom of the well, hoping my voice carried in a way that didn’t make my kid nervous, hoping she’s hearing the reassuring tones of my voice instead of the panicked inner monologue that was playing out:

“HEY!  Go on outside and play and don’t watch me mop the sweat from my forehead while I inhale two juice boxes and a packet of fruit snacks.  Ignore me while I fight back the urge to lie down on the kitchen floor and let this weird wave of unconsciousness wash over me.  Pretend not to notice that I’m looking through you instead of at you while I’m talking to you.  Go on outside and let mommy fall apart for fifteen minutes, after these fifteen grams of carbs.”

My daughter and her friend strapped on their bicycle helmets and took off down the street, enjoying the sunshine and almost-summer weather while I stuck a spoon into a jar of Nutella, not giving a shit if this was the best option or healthiest decision but mostly because I wanted to have something sweet on my tongue, reminding me that I was still here and capable of coming back from this low blood sugar and that I could start making dinner soon because I would be capable of standing unassisted, without fear of falling into the abyss, in just fifteen minutes, after fifteen grams of carbs.

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