Continuing a Family
When youre considering making your first baby your last.
By Deanna Glick
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
June 2007 — It seems everyone's a cheerleader for procreation. If you are married and childless, family, friends, even strangers are eager to know when you'll be starting a family. No matter whether it's their business. And then, once you've started, no one wants you to stop. They often refer to your lone child as "your first."
I suppose in some ways it's a testament to my daughter. Her smile, eyelashes and personality draw continuous compliments from aunts and uncles at the Thanksgiving table, fellow moms at the park or store clerks at Target. A business associate, after gushing over her recently, turned to me and said, "Oh, you have to have more."
But I'm considering making my first baby my last. My friends and family respect my tentative decision. They offer empathy for rising housing costs, day-care expenses, saving for college tuition, even the difficulty of a pregnancy for a diabetic woman. But there's no advocacy for the idea of an only child.
My having diabetes certainly figures into the decision. When you have diabetes, having children is a completely different proposition than it is for the disease-free long before conception has occurred. I worked diligently with my doctor months in advance to ensure the tight control necessary prior to pregnancy. However, no one ever mentioned that my blood sugars would throw a wild party with my hormones after the egg was fertilized. I remember the Sunday morning in November 2004 when I found out I was pregnant. I sat teary-eyed in my bedroom, having just realized I should have started my period a week before and wondering what all those blood sugars in the 200s, even 300s, might have done to the unborn baby that I might be carrying. I drove to the drug store, did the home test and shed more tears when I saw the extra pink line. My husband was in the kitchen making me eggs for breakfast so that I could kill my hunger pangs without raising my already high blood sugar. This was supposed to be a happy moment. We planned this. We wanted this to happen. But diabetes made it bittersweet.
My husband and I learned to appreciate joyful moments while on the roller coaster that is a pregnancy complicated by diabetes. That included a few days in the hospital to stabilize my nose-diving blood sugars at 16 weeks. But my current leanings toward having an only child are not because pregnancy is a lot more work for me than a complication-free gestation.
The most important consideration isn't finances or the size of our house, either. It's one that no one brings up: the day-to-day responsibilities of raising a child. Those responsibilities affect my diabetes care far more than nine months of carrying the baby inside me, where he or she doesn't demand your time and attention so much so that you deny yourself that trip to the gym or doctor to keep your health in check. Pregnancy ends. Motherhood doesn't. And I want to enjoy this ride a little more than I did that comparatively short trip I took to get here.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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