When I was ten years old, my doctor told my mom I would never have children. I didn’t hear these words; I was laying in a diabetic coma that lasted for 4 days. When I woke up, I woke up to a new life, a diagnosed life that included injections, meal planning, and glucometers. When my mom finally broke the news to me a few months later, the last thing on my mind was having kids someday.
But then 10 years passed. I became an aunt and fell in love with my niece. I told myself this was enough and claimed that I didn’t want to have kids anyway. If anything, I said, I wanted to adopt. I mean, I wasn’t even in a serious relationship at the time. I kept repeating these words, hoping I really believed them, but not totally convinced that I did.
But 8 years passed. I changed jobs twice, I moved three times, I learned the pain of losing a parent, I met the man of my dreams, I accomplished my life-long goal of getting my doctorate all the while secretly longing for a baby. My husband knew as I had shared I couldn’t have children when we began dating. He had accepted it and promised me we would still have a life full of love. We discussed adoption, but the conversation always came back to research and medical advancements. I knew the eighteen years of juvenile diabetes research between my diagnosis at ten and this time in my early married life was enormous. I needed to see what my options were so I began my homework.
First up, my endocrinologist. She explained I would need to get my A1c down and really tighten control of my diabetes if I had any chance of a healthy pregnancy. I was ready and committed! But she wasn’t. I sent my logs and no less than 3 weeks later, she would respond which is a long time to go without an adjustment when you’re desperately trying to improve. I shared my disappointment and she told me pregnancy just wasn’t going to be possible–THAT was her answer to my plea for support. I was devastated and beside myself. I felt like I had messed up my chances of being a parent.
This was my first realization that being a diabetic mom would require mental, as well as physical strength. I needed to accept responsibility that I had not always been an ideal patient. It was time to stop beating myself up and move forward. I began the search for a new endocrinologist, and found the place that was right for me. I found an office that allowed me to own my mistakes with diabetes care in the past, learn, and move forward. I found an office where they would respond to my blood sugar logs and inquiries within 48 hours (and within an hour when I finally became pregnant).
After getting tighter control than than years past, my husband and I were too afraid to actually start trying. We knew the risk:
- possibilities of birth complications
- how physically demanding this would be for me,
- how my life would have to revolve around my health more than ever,
- it wasn’t going to be easy
We were afraid, so instead of trying, we stopped being careful, assuming it would take a while and giving us time to deal with our emotions.
This leads us into the moment… I found out I was pregnant, just one month after we “stopped being careful.” Mike had gone shooting. I was grocery shopping, and as I passed the pharmacy department a nagging feeling I had been having for a week overcame me. My period was late. But this happened all the time, right? I wasn’t that regular, right? I didn’t actually need to check, right? Well, maybe I’d just buy one test, just to have on hand.
I went home and tried to forget about it, but I couldn’t. I was afraid. Afraid of starting the most important, challenging, unknown, and terrifying leg of my life journey so far. So I took the test, and my dog was the first one to know I was pregnant. She sat with me on the couch for the next 5 hours with my glucometer. I literally tested my blood sugar every five minutes, wincing every time the reading came back as anything but perfect.
For these first five hours of being a mom, I felt the unconditional love and sacrifice that all mothers come to know over 9 months. When my husband walked in the door five hours later, I gave him this most wonderful, exhilarating, and frightening news. This challenge was just beginning, but we already knew it was worth it.