Introduce Type 1 Diabetes to Your Baby
When I was diagnosed with type 1 in 1997, meters were still taking 30 seconds per blood test and NPH and Regular were the best options for insulin. I also was told that depending on how I took care of myself, would dictate if I could have kids or not. Well, I’m happy to say, I had a very healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery in 2014—even though he was 9.2 pounds!!
The early days were extremely tough. Delivery is hard on any healthy woman’s body, but being a person with diabetes adds a whole other level of potential complications. Pre and post pregnancy, which only adds to the anxiety and stress of being pregnant. How was I going to take care of a newborn baby, but also take care of myself? And little did I know about the terrible twos, which are now in full force!
Soon after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and celiac disease (yes, I know, I’m the lucky type 1 who got all three autoimmune diseases!). Here’s where some advice comes in from my own experience. It’s important to have a good support system around you in the early days. And it’s okay to ask for help! Mom guilt is a REAL thing and I have found it only gets worse being a person with type 1 diabetes. The most important thing is taking time for yourself, staying healthy, getting rest and keeping on top of your routine with type 1. I just got a Dexcom (continuous glucose monitor) and am kicking myself for waiting so long, it’s a lifesaver! Those low alerts would have saved me on so many occasions. I think we can all agree that having a low blood sugar is one of the worst feelings in the world, well, just add a crying baby to the mix and well, you get my drift.
The way you put your baby into a routine is the way you need to put type 1 in a routine. When the baby naps, you nap (although that NEVER happens, I usually choose to watch Stranger Things or The Affair). When you go out, make sure the baby bag is mostly juice boxes and snacks for YOURSELF. I know, I know, but it’s true, you will be using the snacks and juices more than your child. And one important thing that I didn’t think I would have to do is introduce my first baby (type 1 diabetes) to my new baby, Harrison. My son who is now 2.5 years old helps me when I change my pump and Dexcom. He refers to it as a “Mommy Owie!” and proceeds to tell and point to most people where my “owie” is hiding (sometimes it gets awkward). Teaching my son at an early age has really helped me the most in coping with the disease as a mom.
Before you become a mom, most people tell you what they think you want to hear or to sugarcoat it. But being a mom in general is HARD stuff. There are lots of tears, dark under-eye circles (but only for a couple years), severe exhaustion where you can’t remember what month it actually is and the list continues. But building your relationship with type 1 during your pregnancy will go a long way in surviving the ups and downs of motherhood. Pregnancy and becoming a mom has been the most magnificent journey I have ever experienced in my life. And weirdly enough, having the responsibility of taking care of myself with diabetes since I was 7 was really the best prep for motherhood.
Type 1 will always be my first baby! But I’m grateful to FINALLY experience the role as a mother and to watch my child grow, even when others told me it would never happen. Life is beautiful!
Read more about Pregnancy and Type 1.