I have waited 36 years to become a mother. It’s a job I’ve been preparing for both consciously and subconsciously for a long time. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for me. Now that it seems safer to say it will happen, I am, of course, reflecting on my life, my own parents, and my health.
Being a Type 1 diabetic for 24 years changes things. It’s changed me. It’s heavily influenced the way I approach this pregnancy and informed my approach to the prospect of motherhood.
Some of it is inevitable. 10-15 bloodsugar checks a day. Sometimes more. Increased vigilance about carb counting and non-stop consideration of what goes into my body and the impact it may have on me and baby. Being followed by a high risk team including a diabetes nurse. Tracking, trending, scheduling.
Some changes are chosen. A low carb diet. A CGM. Swimming. Prenatal yoga. Support groups. Weekly therapy sessions with a counselor who also has Type 1 diabetes and has herself navigated the sometimes choppy waters of a pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes.
Therapy has helped me get clear on the type of changes I want to make and shown me a clearer path to how I can get there so I can be the mother I want to be. These weekly sessions have helped me get clear on my stumbling blocks and my thought-patterns. They’ve helped me see how to harness my experiences as a type 1 diabetic for good and to see my struggles with this disease as something that can help me be a stronger, more in-tune mother and woman than I likely would be otherwise. They'e helped me work through the pain and loss of miscarriage and address and help and resolve some of the struggles that have dogged me for years.
One of the things I’ve struggled to come to terms with the most is the fact that I am not in peak health and I wish I were. I feel bad for not being a model of fitness and top-notch health. I feel like I am judged more harshly because I am diabetic and pregnant. Some of that may be self-imposed judgment, but some of it seems legit. The high risk clinic sees me as the diabetic with the "geriatric pregnancy" (at 36, I'm of "advanced maternal age"). Regardless of how I'm seen, I can’t let these things define me or unduly negatively influence my pregnancy. Still, when those hormones start raging and the weepies kick in, I go there. I admit it.
Carrying extra weight and being inconsistent with exercise are my biggest struggles. Even before pregnancy my insulin needs were fairly high due in large part to carrying excess weight and not exercising as regularly as I should, but pregnancy has amplified these concerns.
While my pregnancy has progressed amazingly well this go-round, I carry the sting of guilt for not being in better shape for this baby. I wish my body provided a safer place for our little peanut to grow. I wish my little one didn’t have to deal with a string of abnormally high bloodsugars some days. I wish I knew why the same foods affect me differently depending on the day. I wish my pancreas and autoimmune system worked properly, at least for these 9 months. I wish I trusted my body more.
And oh how I wish with all my heart I could provide a perfect home for baby to develop.
Perhaps this last wish—the wish for a perfect home for baby to develop—is one that never goes away. With a little over four months to go before my life is irrevocably changed in ways I’m only beginning to glimpse, I keep telling myself I’ll be so relieved once baby is here. Once I can hold our little peanut in my arms. Once our baby is breathing on her own and developing and growing in the world beyond the womb I’ll be able to relax a bit.
But everything I know about motherhood from those strong, brave women who’ve gone before me contradicts this notion. Once my little sweetheart is here, the whole world opens up to greet her and the whole world is filled with possibilities both grand and scary. The worry and absolute love a new mother feels is something I’ve not yet experienced, but know is very real and very powerful.
In the end, it’s less about getting rid of worry and fear, but understanding where it comes from and learning to embrace the uncertainties. I know if I can do that now and focus on the good that is happening through this difficult but amazing time (like finally feeling baby kick for the first time Sunday night and learning my husband and I are expecting a baby girl who looks adorable already and is right on track growth-wise), I’ll be better prepared to face my fears and worries in the future.
Published On: June 25, 2013