I remember once asking a ‘Diabetes Specialist’ about the do’s and don’ts of getting pregnant with Type 1 Diabetes. The only thing she told me was an emphatic ‘DON’T’, before proceeding to berate me about my HBA1C, which at the time was about 12.6.
Motherhood was a dream, but never something I ever really believed would happen to me. To make it worse, I struggled with PCOS symptoms – irregular periods, long evil painful periods (when they did show up), hirsutism, weight gain, etc – so while I still had distant dreams of one day having a kid, I started to resign my mind to the fact that I was more likely to become a cat mom or just Rich Auntie Marion.
So when the ultrasound technician blithely declared, ‘Congratulations, you’re pregnant’, I laughed him off, annoyed at his bizarre sense of humor. I had come to do an ultrasound to confirm that there were indeed cysts growing on my ovaries – not a baby. So I was certainly not amused.
Well, neither was he.
It may have been the long line of people I’d left outside waiting in the lobby that made him impatient, or the fact that I asked him to go get someone who could actually read an ultrasound to come and tell me what was really growing in my belly. None of the twenty-odd pregnancy tests I had done in the week leading up to the ultrasound, or even on the day of, had detected any pregnancy, so I was sure that this baby-seeing dunce was just way out of line.
Anyways, turns out I’m actually pregnant. In real life.
Today, I’m almost seven months along (this post is late AF, I know) and so far, it hasn’t been the shit-show I expected it to be. My beloved new endocrinologist, Suzette Robinson, had me pricking my fingers 14 times a day before we decided to bite the bullet and pay for the Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring system. Since I don’t live in the US, or have international insurance coverage and CGMs aren’t a thing in Jamaica, it costs me ~US$180 or ~JMD$25,000 per month to use the system – but I promise you, I couldn’t put a price on the benefits if I tried.
For the first time in my life, my HBA1C was below 10 – my last one since having a CGM was 7.6, and now, I don’t know how I ever lived without one. Hopefully, the cost doesn’t become too much for my budget when baby comes…
So far, I’m thankful that the universe has spared me the indignities of morning sickness, swollen appendages, etc. However, my insulin needs have basically tripled, and I’m forced to deny my cravings more often than I indulge them because my blood sugars are a bit more stubborn these days. I’m also at risk of having placenta previa, a challenge I’m not sure is diabetes-related, but still.
My main worry was always if the kid will be born with Type 1 Diabetes. Thankfully, all the studies I’ve been reading have been showing positive indicators for moms who control their blood glucose levels.
One common thread I’ve found among the babies born to Type 1 moms however is low blood sugars right after birth. Because babies become so accustomed to receiving higher levels of glucose from their diabetic moms while in the womb, they’re born with higher insulin levels and may have some trouble maintaining their blood glucose levels.
The thought of this happening to my baby makes me worry – because even as a full grown adult who has had T1D for many years now, low blood sugar still messes me up mentally and physically. I cannot imagine a baby going through something like that – and I’m even more worried that I’m going to have to be pricking the baby’s fingers around the clock to make sure he’s ok.
All that aside, I’m very thankful for all the T1D moms on IG who have so helpfully shared their stories and answered my DMs 😊(@type1diabetic_mummy2two, @bumpandthepump, @mytype1.life and a few others). Type 1 Diabetic pregnancies aren’t the most popular thing in Jamaica, and I’ve had obstetricians tell me they won’t treat me because they have no experience with ‘my type of situation’. Luckily, I’ve found an obstetrician who works closely with my endocrinologist (although they don’t always see eye-to-eye), so I’m positive about the outcome.
It’s been exciting so far – and I’ll really try harder to document this journey a little better going forward. Never mind the fact that the documenting has started late – I’ve heard that it’s better than never!
P.S. if you’re a T1D mom with tips or advice, or if you just know about these things – I want to hear from you. Don’t be afraid to leave me a comment or shoot me an email.