At a very young age, Sienna is already being affected by having a mom with diabetes:
- Frequently her little ankle or hand becomes tangled in my pump tubing. Most often this occurs when I'm wearing something that doesn't provide a good place to stash my pump. Particularly at night I'll temporarily put my pump in the top of my bra which leaves the tubing draped down the front of me. The other night, as I laid her in the crib, I felt a strong tug on my infusion site. Sienna's leg was looped through the pump tubing and I had to carefully untangle it without waking her! The darn pump gets in the way at other times too. Sienna is unaware of it, but sometimes my pump will become dislodged from my waistband or pocket, causing it to dangle from the infusion site. Of course, this nearly always happens when she has fallen asleep and I'm carrying her to bed!
- Luckily, it's only happened once or twice, but I always feel badly when I have to tend to a low blood sugar before addressing Sienna's needs. I have been awoken by her a couple of times during the night and realized that my blood sugar was low. She only has to fuss for a minute or two while I heat up her bottle and chug down some orange juice. I try to multitask so that she doesn't have to wait for her food any longer that necessary because I'm treating a low. (I have always remained quite functional during lows, but if I don't feel like I can safely tend to her I would definitely ask Dennis to help).
- We take lots of walks and Sienna really enjoys being in her stroller, for the most part. If she's happily awake or taking a long nap, we can stroll for hours. However, after she sleeps for awhile, if Dennis or I stop pushing the stroller for any length of time, she'll become hysterical! She likes to keep it moving! This is unfortunate because walking often causes my blood sugar to drop. Stopping to test my blood and grab a snack can be just long enough for her to realize we've stopped moving and throw a fit. I've tried to explain to her that, "Mommy's just testing her blood," but she doesn't quite understand yet.
As a diabetic, I'm used to my disease having an impact on the people I love. I'm comfortable with the idea of my parent's having a diabetic daughter, my siblings' having a diabetic sister, and even my husband having a diabetic wife. However, it's new for me to contemplate Sienna having a diabetic mom. For her entire life (unless a cure is found) she will witness her mom's blood tests, infusion sites, and carbohydrate counting everyday. I wonder how she will feel about having a parent who has a chronic condition.
Will she fear diabetes? Worry that she'll develop it? Will she think of her mom as "sick"? Will she feel sorry for me?
Obviously we'll explain to her that mommy has her diabetes under control and that her chance of getting diabetes is very slim. I hope to demonstrate my strength and determination to manage diabetes, so that she does not view my condition as a weakness or disability. I'm looking forward to one day explaining how much my pregnancy with her helped me achieve the best diabetes control possible. She'll know that I cared so much for her when she was "in mommy's tummy" and we both were stronger because of it. Mostly, I want her to see my diabetes, like I do, as a condition that encourages me to live an active and healthy life. Diabetes doesn't keep me from doing anything I want to do; it actually helped me to develop strength and personal discipline.
I know that she'll be knowledgeable about diabetes from an early age. I'm quite vocal about my diabetes and I can already see that Sienna is a very curious child. She'll undoubtedly have questions about what mommy's doing as soon as she's old enough to notice. Sienna will probably tell the other kids in her class about diabetes and, as Dennis has joked, be explaining the difference between type 1 and type 2 to her friends!
Since type 2 diabetes is an epidemic that isn't going away anytime soon, I'm glad that Sienna will understand the condition and learn to eat healthfully and be active, so that diabetes doesn't have to touch her life any more closely than it already does.
Published On: June 24, 2008