Diabetes and Motherhood

My pregnancy was a surprise. It was a happy, warm, lovely, surprise, but also a terrifying one. My diabetes wasn’t well managed and my life wasn’t where I thought I wanted it to be before starting a family. I was gearing up to write my masters thesis and, well, I’d recently been mugged and was filled with anxiety about the brevity of life. I wanted to accomplish my goals, only one of which was becoming a mom. When I learned I was pregnant, I was afraid I’d already caused the fetus damage. The day prior to peeing on that stick my blood sugar rose to 513. I’t’s been over a year and a half and I still remember that number. I was also relieved to learn I could conceive. Finding out whether or not I ever could is something I was dreading. I so badly wanted to experience pregnancy and to have a baby, but a little bit of me never wanted to try in case I couldn’t. I feared that heartbreak. But, there I was, unexpectedly pregnant. Both celebrating my ability to create life, and crying through the unknown of getting through a pregnancy with diabetes.

Pregnancy was not a glowy time. My feet were swollen, I had epic heartburn, I cried all the time, and I had to get down on one knee to pick up the dog’s poop. I had so many doctors appointments I had to delay taking the oral part of my preliminary exams, and I was as tired as a night owl at dawn. But, I got through it. I got through it with the best diabetes management I’ve ever had. Also, I was a forking boss at birthing that baby. I labored for 48 hours and then had a non-emergent cesarean section.

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Then, I became a mom. My son, called Bubs on social media, is a light in my life. He is one of my motivators for good health and a source of happiness. As a mom, there is this little bit of fear that creeps up now and again, though. I try and repress it, or face it and accept it. But it is cyclical. Even when I accept it, it comes back in new ways. It is diabetes. It’s my diabetes and the fear that I may pass it to him. It’s the fear that he may see me have a seizure one day, or have to intervene to help. This is a fear that just sits there, dormant until it’s not. And I think it just sits there because it’s an unknown.

When Bubs was just four months old, I did have a seizure in my sleep and he was in the room. There is little I’m more thankful for than the decision to not co-sleep that night. I scratched the fork out of my own face during the seizure, the effects of which remain in scar-form below my right eye. I’ve had a couple other diabetes-related sicknesses recently that reduced my capacity to care for him.

Being a mom with a chronic illness is a careful psychological balance of acceptance, self-care, and pushing through the tough stuff. I’ve never felt so tested, nor so rewarded. But, by golly, this shit is HARD. I need more help than I’m usually willing to admit, and I’m always wondering if what I’m able to do and give is enough.

I have talked with other mommas with chronic illness about this, and some other moms who don’t. Guess what? We all feel this way. We all worry that we will not be able to be what and whom our kids need us to be. We all play a game of push through and surrender, push through and surrender. We all hope and cross our fingers that our kids will accept us as we are, with all our flaws, disabilities, and eccentricities. We are all just doing the best we can with what we have got going for us.

My goal in this post is not to claim normalcy or to align my diabetes motherhood with the able-bodied experience. Our experiences are different. Motherhood with diabetes is not the same as motherhood sans diabetes. I will never have just motherhood. But, I’m okay with that. I know that the challenges in my life have mostly made me stronger. Some have broken me down, but mostly I’ve come out of traumas with growth.

Life with diabetes has taught me that motherhood with diabetes is a damn good opportunity for growth. Parts are going to forking suck. But, other parts are going to be beautiful. Motherhood with diabetes is something I will never take for granted. Motherhood with diabetes is motherhood, and I’m ever grateful for that.

Now, if I could just get through all this laundry….