As a father of a type 1, I love meeting adult type 1’s that bust the stereotypes that we hear about constantly. We are barraged with poor quality of life stories, shortened life spans, poor health, blindness, amputations, the list goes on. And as the father of a female type 1, we hear a lot about how pregnancy is hard, ill advised, and a difficult and constant struggle of an experience.
Through my association with Canine Hope for Diabetics and being involved in local JDRF events, I have had the great honor of meeting many adult type ones living healthy, productive lives. Some are married, some are extremely successful, some have children, but all of them are kicking type 1 ass. I have reached out to a few of them to shed some light on common myths in the diabetic world. Here is the first in what I hope will become a series. Lori Mayfield, our guest blogger today, is a woman I met through Canine Hope. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for a few years, and even got to photograph her and her amazing dog RJ on the day they were forever placed with each other. Lori has been married for several years with a beautiful family, and I asked her to talk about her experience with pregnancy and type 1. Again, as a parent of a type 1 daughter, Lori is someone I really look up to and admire, a role model, and as we travel further through life with T1, I know she will be a huge wealth of knowledge and experience for our family to tap into. A huge thank you to Lori for doing this for us!
“Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us sometimes. In my case, the curveball was a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis at eleven. The most memorable part though, was being told I would never have children (oh, and I should live my life to the fullest because I would not live as long as others!).
I remember knowing I was young, and it would be years before I would have babies; but I also distinctly remember wanting them desperately.
As I write this, it has been eight years since giving birth to my youngest: I’ve now carried and delivered two, and raised a third as my own. My hope and faith kept my dream alive; and they drove me to diligently manage my diabetes and overall health. At twenty-six, I got pregnant with my first, and while I cannot say that everything was easy, it was far from dangerous. I did have trouble with blood-sugar control, especially in the beginning (which happens to be an important time for development of the baby). Consequently, I checked my blood sugar much more (as many as 15-20 times a day). I also had to work even harder to monitor my carbohydrate-intake. My insulin dosage increased dramatically; and I had to see my doctors much more often.
I strategically approached the matter: I finished school and did not work until well after my son was born. While having Type 1 should never hold one back from one’s dreams, it does require common-sense and strategic planning. We need to take extra precautions to protect ourselves, and our cargo.
There are many doctor visits (sometimes twice a week). We are considered “at-risk,” so there are more tests (e.g., sonograms, blood tests, heart tests, etc.).
While certain foods are bad for any mom, pregnancy-cravings are particularly difficult for moms with Type 1. Snickers, spaghetti, pizza: all brutal to a diabetic’s system–but craved nonetheless!. I didn’t even like pizza and spicy spaghetti until my pregnancy; but I suddenly found myself hit with seemingly uncontrollable cravings! It meant I had to psyche myself up to be intentionally strong!
Toward the end, I was seeing my OBGYN twice a week, and my Endocrinologist once. I did experience a bad case of toxemia with my first child; and had to deliver him via C-Section three weeks before his due-date. Although “early,” he was 9lbs 9oz. As diabetics, our babies tend to be larger. I always joke I gave birth to toddlers (my second baby was even larger weighing in at 9lbs 11oz!).
After my first’s birth, in two weeks I lost 40lbs of water. My second pregnancy was not so bad. I did not have toxemia and didn’t gain nearly as much weight.
I would do it all again for my beautiful babies! They not only have enriched my life, but have shown me how strong I truly am. Things I was told I could never experience, turned out to be blatantly false. As diabetics, we need to watch our health so much more than others; and we may have to think about things in our daily lives others take for granted–but we can live normal lives: My babies helped me see that!
With the understanding and support of my husband and children, I live a happy, healthy life. Instead of rejecting my condition or accepting other people’s limitations, I have taken control of my own future, fate, and dreams. I have many who say my diabetes must not be that bad because I “look good.” I just have to smile! It’s Type 1 for goodness sake! I just choose to work hard, suck it up, and maintain a winner’s mindset.
I am so blessed to have a wonderful family, an amazing Diabetic Alert Dog, and a community of other diabetic families that are always there for support: I couldn’t ask for more!
I’ve learned much from trial-and-error. Even if it seems a difficult or uncomfortable question to ask, chances are I have dealt with it. So please ask!
Stay strong my fellow T1s! You and your families must know there is always a hope!
Again, a HUGE thank you to Lori for providing us with her story and insight into a fairly common misconception about life with T1.