Juggling new motherhood with diabetes burnout.
By Kerri Sparling
December 2010 — Before I was pregnant with my daughter, my life was consumed with efforts to improve my diabetes management. I was in constant contact with my medical team, I was testing my blood sugar every hour, and I was sporting that continuous glucose monitor like it was my job. Then, when we found out I was pregnant, the diabetes obsession was kicked into high gear. Monitoring blood sugars, keeping a fastidious log book, chronicling my food intake – my full time job was keeping close tabs both on diabetes and on my growing child.
But now my baby is enjoying life on the outside, and she's been part of my family for three months. Which means, unfortunately, that diabetes has taken a backseat to motherhood for the last three months.
I wish I could lie and say that I'm able to effectively juggle it all. I wish I could sit here and write, with a straight face, that I am still logging my blood sugars and changing my pump site every two days and keeping a charted food journal – all while ensuring that the laundry is folded and the dishes are clean. But there's NO way I can lie like that. Truth is, I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is test my blood sugar. But after that, all bets are off.
My days are spent breastfeeding my daughter. And when I'm not breastfeeding her, I'm probably using the breast pump to stash a supply of breast milk. And between feedings, I'm changing diapers. And when she's napping, I might be answering emails or trying to throw that soggy load of onesies into the dryer. Or writing thank you notes (late, yes I know) for baby gifts. But diabetes management? Pffft – that's gone the way of my placenta. (Ew.)
I need to shake off this apathy and start reclaiming control. A newborn baby isn't a good excuse for not testing my blood sugar even ONCE in a five hour span. It's like my rational brain has forgotten that the better care I take of myself, the better care I can take of my daughter. In theory, that is a very sage thing to say. But in practice, it's easier for me to go hours without testing or eating because I'm focusing more on the needs of my child.
It's been three months, and since my daughter was born on April 15th, I've seen blood sugars in the 400's more than 10 times. (After not seeing those kinds of numbers for over a year, this is a big deal.) I've also seen my A1c climb a full ½ percent, bringing me back into the 7% club. And when I debate doing my logbook, I realize that I only have about five blood sugars available to log per day. Not okay, especially since I did SO well while preparing for and then carrying my baby. Is this a classic case of diabetes burnout? Am I just exhausted from all the work I did to become a mother in the first place?
Regardless of the reason, the mission remains the same: achieve and maintain good diabetes control. I'm not looking for an A1C of 5.0%. I don't need to be 10 lbs lighter than I was pre-pregnancy. I'd just like to avoid sliding into a spiral of apathy and bad habits. My health is best maintained by being diligent with my monitoring and more careful with my schedule. If this means letting the baby fuss a little so that I have a minute to test my blood sugar more often, so be it. I need to make sure I put my own oxygen mask on first, like they suggest in the airplane safety manuals.
Diabetes is a challenge all its own, just as being a new mom is a huge adjustment. It's up to me to set goals that are not only achievable, but maintainable. I've hit these goals in the past – I know that with my daughter as my incentive towards good health, I can do this!
Visit Kerri's website.
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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