For the past fifteen years, my diabetes has been an anomaly in our family medical history. No one else in my family has Type 1. As far as we know, there's no hereditary component to my diabetes. I'm unsure if my siblings, parents, or extended family members mention my disease when asked about their medical history. But, even if they do, it's probably viewed as insignificant, since they're all adults and past the prime age for a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.
Now that Sienna is here, I'm confronted with the concept of my diabetes being a real part of someone's medical history. And not just someone's, my baby daughter's. In the past few weeks, Sienna has had several doctors' appointments, between her tear duct surgery and her six month immunization and "well baby" check-up. Since she's only six months old, doctors continue to ask about her pregnancy and birth, as those are the major medical experiences in her young life.
Here's the typical scenario: the nurse or doctor will ask if she had a normal delivery, to which the answer is thankfully, yes. Then they inquire about her lungs and heart, the major concerns for an infant at delivery. Luckily, all of her major organs are just fine.
Then, they pose the question I've been waiting for. They'll either ask, "Did Sienna have a normal pregnancy?" or "Any other family medical history for Sienna?" That's when I reply, "Yes, well, I have Type 1 diabetes." (Read more about Kelsey's diabetic pregnancy)
A stream of questions follows this confession:
"But, you had a healthy pregnancy, right?" "How were her blood sugars at birth?" "What was her birth weight again," (checking her chart), "... hmmm, 8 pounds, 5 ounces, a little big, but not much." "Was she born very early?"
As I answer each question, I begin to feel a bit defensive. After all the work that I put in to foster a healthy, diabetic pregnancy, this interrogation frustrates me. On the other hand, I appreciate that my daughter has medical care that is thorough and sophisticated. The truth is that diabetes is a serious medical condition. The fact that her mother has diabetes does impact Sienna's health, at least potentially. A conscientious doctor obviously has to ask about the conditions of her high-risk pregnancy.
Interestingly, I don't get the feeling that Sienna's doctors are so much concerned about whether she'll develop Type 1 diabetes. That makes sense, I suppose, because her risk of getting Type 1 is the same as any child who doesn't have a mother with the disease. Unlike a family history of heart disease, cancer, asthma, or most other medical conditions, with maternal diabetes, the medical concern for Sienna is how my health impacted her development during pregnancy. There could be long term implications for her health because of my body's inability to make insulin and metabolize glucose.
To end this thought on a positive note, unless they discover that maternal diabetes can lead to tear duct complications, it seems that the impact of my diabetes on Sienna's health has been positive. She's a healthy, strong, active, and ridiculously happy little baby. If anything, the meticulous care I received during pregnancy and the healthy habits I maintained helped to give Sienna a solid start in life.
Why can't I just say that when a doctor asks me about Sienna's maternal diabetes?!
Published On: August 14, 2008