Back when I was thinking about having a baby, I wanted to find more stories – any stories – about women with T1D who were successfully managing pregnancy. Which is why, whenever I find those stories, I want to amplify them. Becoming a mother is the greatest achievement of my life and I’m really proud to be sharing Cristina Frank’s guest post about her experiences with T1D and pregnancy. Thanks for sharing, C!
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That’s the phrase that has taken over my mind ever since I read the ‘pregnant’ alert on that good ol’ test. Not only for the little bundle of joy soon on the way … but, for my blood sugars!
I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 23 years now. And about to cross a bridge that I have honestly been very nervous about. Type 1 is a roller coaster of its own. Add a baby into the mix and I’ve always wondered* if I can do it. I’ve read about the needs of tight glucose control. I’ve read about the risks. And I’ve honestly been so scared of everything that can go wrong.
Now, four months along, I’ve really surprised myself that I can do it. I have a wonderful medical team (shout out to the outstanding doctors in the Joslin Diabetes Pregnancy Unit). They have been my lifesavers.
The worst part has been the first trimester. Those pregnancy hormones took my blood sugars on the steepest climbs. Insulin resistance was the worst. Not only do those highs just feel downright terrible. Add in those feelings of anxiety of what that could be doing to my little bubs in there.
The first meeting with my pregnancy unit endocrinologist was a relief (to say the least!). The doctor gave me insight into what what going on in my body and what I could control and what I could not. She told me to really trust in my insulin pump’s bolus wizard calculator. Fighting the urge to rage bolus has been a *really bad habit to break. I cannot recommended strongly enough for any woman with type one who is seriously thinking about having babies to go to a pre-pregnancy endocrinologist appointment. I wish I could have been in that first appointment earlier.
Near week nine, things started to stabilize. Those crazy hormones started to regulate and my blood sugars fell into order. My doctor has been so happy with my glucose ranges and I have an A1c that makes me really proud. My medical teams gives me the needed reminders and assurances that I am doing a good job and that I can do this.
Now in the second trimester, I seriously asked my endocrinologist, “Did my pancreas and its insulin producing cells come back from the dead?” I found my blood sugars tanking and sometimes for no reason at all and with no insulin on-board. My doctor assured me this was normal and to keep an eye on my sugars and my CGM. I’ve now investing in some fun “low snacks.”
FYI: Four peeps are about 28 grams of carbs. I’ve never loved those little marshmallow sugary birds more. (I know that statement in itself is controversial!)
I also learned a tough lesson: do not trust your CGM. I’ve seen HUGE discrepancies between my CGM and the levels of my actual blood sugar. I’ve been on a CGM for nearly 4 years now and it’s a vital tool that I’ve come to depend on. I’m re-learning to test more often. I use my CGM for trends. “Always double check with a finger stick test,” is my new mantra.
As a morning news anchor, I work some quirky hours. I wake up at 2am and in bed by 6pm. That’s even nuttier on glucose control. My saving-grace-tools have been staying active, eating healthy, staying hydrated and really getting enough sleep! Side note: pregnancy really has me missing that second, third, (maybe!) fourth cup of coffee.
My family has been my incredible support system. My parents help to make sure I can make it to my frequent appointments at Joslin. My husband has been my rock(star). He keeps and eye on my Dexcom and is always there to cheer me up when I find myself on the couch crying over blood sugars. (Blame the hormones, blame the diabetes … it’s like a big ol’ emotional mess sometimes! I found myself sobbing after watching Beyonce’s ‘Homecoming’ documentary this week!)
But, it can all be done. Baby is looking healthy so far. I feel so lucky and thankful. I know we are not out of the woods, yet. But, knowing there are so many women ahead of me (shout out to KERRI!) who have type 1 diabetes and have healthy and happy children … gives me an extra boost. Type 1 isn’t an easy road and pregnancy ain’t either. Rely on the people around you. Rely on your medical team.
And more importantly, I’ve learned to trust in myself.
Cristina is the morning news anchor at WMTW, the ABC affiliate in Portland, Maine. She was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was 11 years old in 1996. Cristina has worked closely with JDRF chapters across the country. She was the honorary chairperson for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure in Maine in 2018. Cristina has also been the emcee for JDRF Northern New England’s One Walk since 2016.
She started her journalism career as a reporter in Mason City, Iowa. She then moved to the anchor desk as the morning anchor for WBNG in Binghamton, New York. She then moved to Topeka, Kansas where she was the evening anchor at KSNT News. She moved to Portland, Maine with her husband in 2016.