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Pregnancy With Diabetes: Anna’s Story

motherhood-diabetes-type 1 diabetes
motherhood-diabetes-type 1 diabetes

One woman shares the unique challenges of pregnancy and motherhood she faced living with type 1 diabetes.

Lines are lines are lines: dotted lines, colored lines, slanted lines, straight lines. In diabetes, lines matter a lot, especially if you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Even if you do not, data can dictate so much self-confidence living with type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at the age of six, seeing numbers on a screen multiple times a day and having that number determine the actions I take was overwhelming to say the least.

Fast forward 25 years. I got married with diabetes, attended graduate school halfway across the country with diabetes, and was eager to embark on the journey of motherhood with diabetes. Other friends and peers in my diabetes Rolodex paved the way with their tips and tricks: what to eat when, the roller coaster of pregnancy plus diabetes hormones combined, endless appointments, and more.

After a heartbreaking loss with our first pregnancy, my husband and I welcomed our daughter in July 2017. My world changed. I had done it — naturally delivered a healthy baby girl, weighing in at 6 lbs 13 oz. She was home in my arms three days later. I was in love. To get there, I often attended three appointments a week, pricked my finger hourly, and paced around the house to avoid post-meal spikes in blood sugar. It was exhausting, frustrating, and hard to envision the reward at some points. But I did it; she’s here, and being a mom is the most amazing feeling, job, and motivator I’ve ever had.

Adjustment to motherhood

All of that being said, after spending the majority of my pregnancy attempting to have my blood sugar lines be as flat as possible for as long as possible, my personal “between the lines” goal of 70-120 mg/dL, got bigger. Postpartum, most, if not all, CGM alarms were turned off. Sleep barely happened and the only “thing” I wanted to be awakened by was the sound of my daughter.

Adjustment to motherhood with diabetes was almost as challenging as being pregnant. All the focus is on the baby; friends and grandparents visiting want every second of snuggle time possible. After eating meat and grilled vegetables almost exclusively for dinner during pregnancy (I tried to avoid a lot of high-carb meals), the casseroles and lasagnas started showing up. Although I was incredibly thankful for help in the form of food, suddenly finding the time to eat and bolus for it — or think about bolusing for it (forget pre-bolusing here) — became the norm. My daughter’s needs trumped mine, and for months they continued to do so.

Breastfeeding was successful, but it meant a lot of couch time, which sometimes meant an insulin pump site change didn’t happen if it meant she was fed and allowed me to doze for fifteen minutes. Speaking of breastfeeding and pumps, when I went back to work at 12 weeks, a new kind of pump entered my world.

Pumps galore

Holy pump supplies! If anything prepared me to use a breast pump, it was already knowing that not having one tiny piece of the “pump site change process” meant the end goal was not going to happen. Breast pumps have just as many teeny little parts and pieces to be cleaned, prepped, and transported, and if you forget one little piece — game over. The worst is if you forget one piece for both pumps! Daughter doesn’t get fed, and I don’t get insulin. Who wins? If neither win, oh man…one sad and frustrated mama.

The mentality of dual pumping was harder than I ever imagined, but she started to need less milk, and I began to figure out a solid work routine. More often than not, I remembered extra supplies and a meter, and I felt more and more confident in doing the diabetes daily routines that were second nature just months prior.

They say it takes a full year to really grasp the grind of any major life change. For me, becoming a mom and balancing the lines was almost as hard as enduring a diabetes diagnosis. My adjustment to motherhood was almost a dual diagnosis to me, re-learning and re-prioritizing what is my normal. I am okay with this normal and will be for a very long time.

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