I’d like to share my experience as a type 1 diabetic and pregnancy. This story is a tiny window to where I was and where I am now.
Rewind to right before this massive life change. The picture of my diabetes was this- ‘I’ll check my sugar later.’ That’s a no-no if you want any sort of control over this disease. I was too preoccupied to be “burdened” with taking care of myself. Diabetes was like an obnoxious drunk friend that you feel obligated to take care of, but really want nothing to do with. I avoided and rescheduled my endocrinologist appointments because I knew what my doctor would tell me: ‘You have to take better care of yourself. You are slowly killing yourself.’ Not words that any 20-something wants to hear. I felt defeated and didn’t want to put in any effort. Part of it was the fact that I wanted to feel normal. I didn’t want to worry about health insurance, or the cost of my meds, or the very real fact that I could go to bed and not wake up. My body and brain were at battle, and my body was taking over. There were days where I could feel pain in my kidneys from high blood sugar, or the opposite- barely be able to keep my eyes open to get sugar in me because I was so low. It felt like I was on a never ending roller coaster. My husband did his best to help me, but any time some one would try to tell me what to do (with love of course) I would put on my professional stubborn face and just tell them “You don’t understand.”
Then pow- a positive pregnancy test. Most women picture this as exciting news, that with their partner they would laugh and cry and feel nothing but love. Our daughter will not hear that story about her conception. I saw that plus sign and just sat in horror. Have you seen Steel Magnolias? I saw that test as a death stick- for either me or our baby. Instead of laughing and being excited, my husband and I sat in silence for hours. Diabetes was stealing our joy. We were told the chances of us even being able to get pregnant was very low, and if we were going to try it would have to be under the strictest of conditions and very planned out. The idea of abortion for my own safety’s sake flashed through my head for millisecond, but as quick as it came the feeling of life overtook that thought. Even though I was terrified of this tiny little human inside me, God put my feet in go-mode.
We went through all the immediate steps: got a appointment with an OB, started prenatal vitamins, and Googling anything and everything about diabetic pregnancy. A switch had flipped in me and everything was about taking care of my body, not for my personal sake, but rather to keep another life safe. The liberal pro-abortion “because it’s a woman’s own body” stance falls so completely short in my opinion. It is NOT just my OWN body anymore, and everything I do affects another life. Before I found out I was pregnant my A1C was 9.1, or an average blood sugar of 230. Trust me when I say that before this pregnancy I was actually pretty happy if my monitor read “230” when checking.
I joined a Facebook group for Type 1 ladies who are/were pregnant. I found a wealth of information and solace with them. Some of the stories gave me hope to be able to have a healthy baby. I also read heartbreaking experiences of women having to deliver still borns after 38 weeks of carrying their child. I cannot imagine that pain. You know your little one by then, you’ve felt them LIVE inside of you, and you know what makes them happy just from their movements. But through all of these stories, the main thing I realized was that these women are BRAVE. Their strength gave me strength. When I informed friends and family of my pregnancy, I was met with a lot of fearful eyes. Most people’s perceptions of a type 1 pregnancy had been formed by watching Julia Roberts die on the big screen. What Hollywood does not explain in the critically acclaimed Steel Magnolias (even though it is a true story) is that the main character did not take care of her body. Yes, this disease is not curable, and some days are a roller coaster. But I needed to shove society’s views of what my body is capable of aside; I needed to control my diabetes and not let diabetes control me. So my habits changed. My numbers, while not always perfect, came down and the next A1C was a 6.1- talk about a personal victory!!! Being pregnant and parenting in general is hard work, and I respect and honor all women who are doing it. But add on the the full time job of type 1 diabetes management on top of that, and part of me feels like Superwoman for going through this!
That “stick of death” became my life preserver. My child has saved me from myself, before even being born. I will never treat my body like I used to because now I have a little life to be there for as long as possible. Being a parent often means sacrificing yourself, but this is anything but sacrifice- this is freedom, this is LIVING!