27 Oct Scary Situations are Better with Support!
By Vanessa Messenger
“Now that you’re pregnant, your sugars have to be perfect…and I mean perfect”. Even though I had just been told the news I had been hoping for, the caution from the nurse about my diabetes were the only words I focused on as I hung up the phone. My beautiful daughter was born at the height of the pandemic in June 2020 followed by my sweet son 15 months later (yup…still in the midst of the pandemic). While my blood sugars have always been well controlled, there was now an emphasized pressure to now have them be “perfect”. Jeez – no pressure, right?
This proved to be even more of a challenge when you throw in pregnancy hormones, the stress of the quarantine, and the balance of being a new mom working full-time. All of which can wreak havoc on your glucose levels (individually and collectively). On top of that, the dramatic fluctuation in my insulin needs each trimester brought on another set of challenges. The first few months of pregnancy came with increased insulin sensitivity resulting in frequent lows. While the second and third trimester brought on an increase in insulin needs causing my daily dose to more than double.
Navigating each trimester felt like being diagnosed for the first time. I was repeatedly establishing new carb-to-insulin ratios and fumbling with the right dose for corrections. I was living in a perpetual state of Goldy Locks managing all these variables and trying not to get too high or too low….trying to keep my sugars just right. This pursuit of perfection was equally as exhausting as pregnancy insomnia. Oh, and pregnancy cravings? Forget it! I was too worried to indulge in fear of how it would throw me off.
Despite the long list of worries that came with the responsibility of growing a life inside me, I was overwhelmed most by one overarching concern: how will I explain Type 1 Diabetes to my children? When I was diagnosed at 23, I found it incredibly challenging to explain the condition to my friends and families (especially since there was no history of T1D in my family). Given it was so difficult to educate adults, how can children grasp this concept?
This question drove me to write my first inspirational children’s picture book Teddy Talks: A Paws-itive Story About Type 1 Diabetes. I wanted to share a resource with families all over the world to help facilitate a conversation about diabetes. When thinking about how I would talk about my health to my own children, I knew I wanted to include a glossary of common terms, have a positive message, and an edge of humor. The underlying message of the book is that although there are challenges we face with Type 1 Diabetes, having the condition can be a blessing as it motivates us to lead a healthier lifestyle by making good choices every day.
This message especially resonated with me during my pregnancies. While it was scary to think about the responsibility of managing my diabetes while pregnant. I knew if I let my fear overwhelm me, I would shy away from my management and live in an ignorant state of bliss. Having the support of my CGM, family and, community of diabuddies allowed me to keep an optimistic outlook and stay on top of my treatment.
Now, being a mom of 2, I’m excited to teach my kids about the importance of always staying motivated by optimism instead of being driven by fear. Otherwise, if we’re constantly worried about chasing perfection, we will miss out on appreciating the blessings that are surrounding us every day.
Vanessa is the author of Teddy Talks, a Paws-itive story about Type 1 diabetes. You can purchase Teddy Talks now! At Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Target. Visit her website at https://www.messengerpublishingbooks.com