In order to help someone else, YOU have to be okay. It’s why on an airplane, in the case of needing oxygen, they have you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before your child. When you are a mother with Type 1 diabetes, you always have to put yourself before your children. Because if you don’t, then you may not be alive and then you can’t help your children at all. It sounds dark, but it’s the truth.
Do you know how hard it is to put yourself before your children? It goes against everything in a mother’s instinct. Our brains tell us to take care of our little ones before us. They eat before we eat (and sometimes we don’t.) They get baths, we don’t shower. They get new shoes, we wear the same ones for years. But when you have type 1 diabetes you wake up and have to force yourself to take care of YOU before them. It’s unfortunate because sometimes I don’t always do this. Sometimes I wake up and think “my kids are hungry, breakfast comes first.” My kids eat and by the end of breakfast and cleanup it’s an hour and half later and I’m feeling like total crap because I haven’t done my long acting yet or dosed for the 200 blood sugar I woke up with, but still didn’t know I had.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes I was told that I probably shouldn’t ever get pregnant, that it was far too dangerous. For both me and the baby. I even remember reading something online when I was 9 years old, about a type 1 diabetic dying during childbirth. So to be able to have gotten pregnant, had healthy pregnancies, smooth deliveries (with a few bumps along the road,) and healthy children, is the biggest blessing. But don’t get me wrong, pregnancy and diabetes is no walk in the park. In fact, it’s utterly terrifying. There are so many things that can go wrong as a complication of diabetes. Your blood sugars seem to have a mind of their own, your control needs to be 5x as tight as it usually is, and your sugars have to be PERFECT. It’s stressful. It’s hard. It’s still worth it. Many woman have complications when their children are born. In particular, my youngest son had low blood sugars and ended up in the NICU. After a few days his sugars recovered and he went home a healthy boy. Not everyone is as lucky.
Even after being home from the hospital with your healthy children, the stress of type 1 diabetes and motherhood never stops. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disorder, one that is “genetic.” Which means that I’m constantly worried about my children being diagnosed. It’s a day I hope I never have to face. Again, not all are that lucky. Every time my children are sick, I worry. Every time they are thirsty, I wonder if it’s because of the food they are eating. Or if it’s because of high blood sugar. My oldest son is 2 and I’ve already checked his blood sugar at least 6 times in his life. I’m a mom, so I worry.
Type 1 diabetes is a huge part of my life. But it’s also a huge part of my children’s life. They see me as I check my sugars and as I give myself insulin. They see me when I’m on the phone calling my husband in a panic. Asking him to stay on the phone with me while I drink my juice, just in case I pass out from the low blood sugar I was having. I didn’t want my kids to be alone. They see me when I don’t feel good. When I wake up with a headache and want to lay on the couch because my pump ran out of a battery in the middle of the night. Or when I’m in the hospital and they have to come visit me with daddy, because I had gotten the flu and in turn went into DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis.)
It hurts me, because I don’t ever want them to feel like I’m ignoring them. Or that I’m choosing myself before them. I have to take care of myself before I can be a good mom to them. And I think they can see it. One day, I hope I can explain that it is all for them. Having them was one of the biggest motivators to take care of myself. I’ve never felt more urged to control my diabetes then when I see their beautiful little faces looking back at me.
JDRF is an organization working towards a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. If your heart leads you towards it, you can donate here.