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Pregnancy: The What If?
Ross and I are no strangers to discussions about our future, both as a couple and as individuals. We spend a lot of time talking about careers, furthering education, our dream home, marriage, and kids. The one conversation that seems to always be contentious is kids. He feels one way and I feel another. Not necessarily in an opposing kind of fashion but just in a man versus woman way. We don’t see eye to eye on pregnancy.
One factor that causes this lack of connection over pregnancy planning is Ross’ lack of experience in the type one diabetes realm. He hasn’t lived this every day, until he met me. And even then, sometimes I think he’s gotten the easy view of it in the last year as control as been minimal and emergencies have been scarce. As management and tighter control picks up, he may start to understand how severe type one can be. How threatening it can be.
In light of all of our conversations, I wanted to attend a session at the Type One Nation Texas conference by Nicole Johnson about pregnancy and parenting with T1D. Of course, I wanted him to listen along with me. He needed to hear someone else’s perspective. Someone else to say that it’s not easy even if it can be done. Someone to tell him how much time it will require for a type one diabetic woman to manage during pregnancy.
Some of Nicole’s session was not informative for either of us. Dating and diabetes? I think we got that down. But she did hit on a few highlights, nothing new to me, but hopefully new to Ross. He’s done some research as we’ve discussed things and of course, focused on the positive, happy-go-lucky stories that don’t show how real this is. The ones that just say, “See I had a healthy baby with type one.” Not the ones who say “Yes, I had a healthy baby but I also spent 20 hours per week in the last trimester going to doctor’s visits and another 20 hours managing my blood sugars throughout the pregnancy.” Those are the stories I know are real because I’ve seen way too many type one friends go through it.
When Nicole Johnson said that her husband at the time checked her blood sugar at 2am and 4am just to give her a break from diabetes during her pregnancy, I wanted to turn to Ross and say “Are you that committed?” But I didn’t. And when she talked about the difficulty of working and caring for diabetes during pregnancy, I wanted to say “Can you support us if I can’t?” But I didn’t. I want to ask so many questions but it’s not the right time, but when is the right time?
Discussing pregnancy and having kids usually isn’t this detailed of a conversation for women and men, I assume. But for us, I feel it’s vital to iron out some details and realities now before things are set in stone. If adoption is not an option, then what happens when I’m out of sick leave and FMLA because I’m managing this pregnancy? What about the risk to MY health, let alone our baby’s health?
Sometimes I honestly don’t know if I want to go down that road. I know that waiting to have kids until after 25 lowers the genetic risk (and now I’ve hit that milestone), but when I consider that we’re talking about having a baby NEXT YEAR that scares me. Yet the thought of not starting then scares me even more. I want children desperately. I would have a baby in my arms right now if it weren’t for life circumstances. I am made for motherhood. Emotionally. But physically? Am I?
With PCOS and endometriosis, infertility is in the forefront of my mind. I don’t hide from the fact that I may not be able to conceive naturally. I don’t hide from the fact that it may take a year or two years to get pregnant on our own. So waiting longer than I already have doesn’t seem right if I’m going to commit to having a baby naturally (or at least, carrying that baby in my own body). I cannot risk putting it off and jeopardizing my own and my baby’s health.
The thing is that I hear Nicole’s and my friend’s stories and I assess my own life. Then I start to think that maybe this isn’t what I want. Maybe I don’t want to have horrendous lows that put my life on hold momentarily. Maybe I don’t want to go to the doctor every week or every other week. Maybe I don’t want to live between 60 and 80mg/dl for ten months. And I think that the problem is that it’s all me doing this work, it’s all me carrying the burden. I carry the risk of dying in the middle of a night from a severe low. I carry the risk of an outrageous high that hurts our baby. I carry the risk of passing this disease on. It’s all me.
I know any mother worries over her pregnancy. Right now, I know this all too well as a dear (non-diabetic) friend of mine struggles. It isn’t something that a man can relate to, even if they are completely and totally engaged. A man cannot know the feeling of a baby inside him. A man cannot understand the guilt that every mother has for the mistakes made, even unknowingly. It just gets lost in translation.
I am sitting here today a bundle of emotions. Maybe it is the tragedy of a friend’s loss. Maybe it is hearing the lack of development in research at this weekend’s conference. Maybe it is the reality finally hitting me that a year is not that far away. All I know right now is that my heart hurts for something that isn’t even here. And that part scares the living daylights out of me- how can it hurt now when I still have a year to prepare? Will it ever stop hurting? Am I changing my mind?
This is one of those areas where I feel so alone in this disease. Ross will not understand this and will just continue to focus on the positives he’s heard. My mom will tell me to adopt as she doesn’t want to see her own baby jeopardize anything. Non-diabetic friends won’t understand and even some type one friends won’t if they don’t have compounding factors like PCOS and endometriosis. And anyone who would understand is too far away.
I need a hug.
Megan was diagnosed in 2009 with Type I. As an RN, she was familiar with the medical side of her diagnosis; learning to be a good patient on the other hand, was and continues to be the challenge of her day to day life. (Read More)
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)