Sometimes it feels like you’re walking on thin ice, like the two birds in the picture above. Diabetes is a ‘mind of its own’, unpredictable kind of disease at best times, and throw pregnancy into the equation and it is simply… well, go with the flow, try your best, stay sane and hopeful enough not to burn yourself out with all your efforts to keep those beautiful numbers that you and your growing baby needs to stay healthy. Figuring out diabetes without the pressures of family life and work was hard enough when I was still at school, but definitely manageable. Then I moved to a new country, started working, completed undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, got married, and now have two kids and another one on the way. ‘Phew! When did all that happen?’ I think sometimes, but feel incredibly proud and more confident in my ability to manage my life with type 1 diabetes than ever. But, yes there are big ‘buts’ sometimes, no pun intended! It can get incredibly taxing!
Let’s take a ‘it’s not so bad’, example… Yesterday, my 8-year old son and I was walking my 3-year old daughter home from her childminder, not a massive distance but up hill and about 20 minutes each direction. My son decided it was a good time to tease his sister, like a brother does sometimes, and she got upset. They were both whining, and I decided to let them work it out between themselves to practice their negotiating and diplomacy skills. It started to rain, and I was out of breath and just generally 25 weeks pregnant uncomfortable…. Then on top of that I got low blood sugar. It came on very quickly and caused me not being able to focus, with my eyes as well as in my brain, very tired, shaky, and anxious, so I sat down (on the pavement) in the rain with two unhappy kids. to down my sugary drink as fast as possible. Before full recovery I decided to resume the walk home, since both my daughter and I have a cold, and sitting out in the rain in the winter is not much fun… Feeling wobbly both physically and emotionally, I noticed I had a big smile on my face… I felt happy that I was struggling, funny enough, as I felt so lucky to be spending ‘real-life’ time with my kids, and that I was managing well, yet again, a situation that was frustrating, difficult, and potentially dangerous for all of us. Being with my kids is such happy times for me, no matter what, since I started working full-time.
I have since tried to search the world-wide web out there for others in the same situation, other mothers and fathers who are juggling family, full-time work, pregnancy and on top of that, a 24/7 demanding disease like type 1 diabetes is. Reading other people’s stories, and talking to people in similar situations can be immensely therapeutic, not realising you are alone with it (not that I want others to have the same struggles I do, but I know that unfortunately there are others dealing with similar stuff out there… I really emphasise with you), and feeling that one is not weird for feeling frustrated, burnt-out, depressed, exhausted, and an emotional wreck from time to time.
What helps me manage? Good basics help, like good food, exercise, and sleep, which can’t always be guaranteed with fluctuating blood sugars, growing tummy, and two kids that sometimes need you at the most ‘inconvenient’ times of the day… It is so important to do my best to stay realistic about what I can and cannot control, and trying not to put unnecessary pressures on myself (I probably find this the most difficult!). Spending time, just being in the present, with my kids, and having good quality alone with my husband – there is nothing like a partner’s, a friend or family member understanding and listening to you, some one who can pat on the back. Regular alone time and down time, doing the things I love, like writing, crafts, spending time outdoors, and watching a good film from time to time. Acceptance, honesty, support and self-care are the cornerstones of good type 1 diabetes management for me.
Sadly, I could not find a single story out there – where are you full-time working, pregnant moms or dads with type 1 diabetes? Would love to hear your stories and if/how you’re managing to stay sane. In my next blog post I will be writing a survival list for managing motherhood, work, pregnancy and diabetes.