Type 1 Diabetes And Motherhood
Diabetes is engrained in all the nooks and crannies of my life. Thus, it makes sense that motherhood would also be influenced by my disease. Over the last few months I have seen how having diabetes has helped me to maintain perspective and my sanity.
When a baby arrives everything changes and moms tend to focus all of their attention on their new addition to the point of neglecting themselves. When you have type 1 diabetes, you simply cannot put other's needs in front of your own. In order for me to have the ability to care for Sienna, I have to keep my blood sugars stable which requires frequent blood testing, insulin delivery, and healthy eating. It's like the directions they give you on airplane when they tell parents, that in the case of a drop in cabin pressure, to affix their own oxygen mask before assisting their child. Parents have to attend to their own needs.
Many mothers fall into the trap of thinking they have to do everything themselves. This is dangerous, however, because burnout quickly follows when women try to do too much.
Diabetes helps me to be in touch with my limits and vulnerabilities. This disease sometimes puts you in the position of needing to ask for help. Low blood sugars can often require assistance, as does daily meal planning. Since Sienna has arrived, I've often had to ask Dennis to bring me my meter or a snack while I'm feeding the little one. Having a spouse that recognizes the importance of maintaining my diabetes provides me a lot of comfort and security.
Learning to take time for myself and ask for help when I need it are both lessons that diabetes has helped teach me. Now, I take pride in the fact that I readily ask for help and do not attempt to take on too much, even if others might see it as slacking off.
Case in point, last weekend Sienna and I went to visit my friend an hour away from San Diego. Dennis stayed home and spent hours cleaning our condo. He finished all the laundry, cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, and vacuumed. Later that evening, my mom told my 86-year-old Nana what we did that day. When Nana learned that Dennis cleaned the house, she commented "Once Sienna gets a little older, Kelsey will get organized and be able to handle everything."
When my mom reported this comment, Dennis and I irrupted into giggles. Of course my Nana, who stayed home and raised her five children, has no concept that men and women could share domestic chores. However, in our home, since both of us work, we divide all of our household tasks very equitably. I cook, Dennis does the dishes. I do the dusting and Dennis handles all the vacuuming. It never occurred to me that I should do more because I'm the wife, mom, or woman.
Obviously, having diabetes does not preclude me from attempting to do too much. However, I believe that this disease has shaped how I behave. Since my own physical care cannot be dismissed, I'm also careful to maintain my own mental and emotional health. Diabetes always requires a certain level of attention. Thus, it's important not to overload your life with too many tasks or chores.
So, I can happily report that I am quite organized and efficient, yet I don't attempt to handle everything... at least not on my own.