How I Curbed My Fear of Pregnancy with Type 1
In this excerpt from a forthcoming book, Ginger Vieira describes the mental shift it took for her to want to try to become pregnant.
Insulin Nation contributors Jennifer Smith and Ginger Vieira are collaborating on a book called Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes: Your Month-to-Month Guide for Diabetes Management. They have launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help fund the book’s completion and publication. You can contribute here.
Below this video about their campaign is an edited excerpt of this forthcoming book about how, after years of doubt, Ginger Vieira decided to become a mother. Enjoy!
If you had asked me when I was 18 years old if I wanted to have a baby, I would’ve said, “No way. Absolutely not.” I’d felt that way for as long as I could remember.
Looking back, I realize now that I saw babies and pregnancy as a threat to my own well-being and health, and conversely saw my diabetes as a threat to babies and pregnancy. I now know that my feelings were actually fueled by fear.
While I definitely don’t live in fear on a daily basis, and certainly don’t think about my fears around diabetes regularly, those fears are still there lurking in the back of my mind. And I would guess that may be true for many of the people I know with Type 1 diabetes. No matter how diligent we are, how many marathons we run, powerlifting competitions we win, or promotions we get at work…no matter what our A1C scores are, there is still always that fearful little voice somewhere in there saying, “My body doesn’t function properly.”
I rationalized with myself that a woman with Type 1 doesn’t need to endure that stress of pregnancy or raising an infant while trying to maintain healthy blood sugars levels. At one point, I even thought maybe women with Type 1 diabetes shouldn’t put themselves or a baby through that kind of stress, that it wasn’t fair to anyone.
And I told myself that my career was too important–a baby would get in the way. One afternoon, I even told Roger, my husband, that I wanted to get my tubes tied so I could ensure that I’d never become pregnant by accident. I think it was more of a way to stubbornly say, “You cannot guilt-trip me into having a baby!”
But he had never guilt-tripped me. Not once. He never begged, or demanded. Instead, he just left conversations open-ended, gently implying, “You know, it’s okay to change your mind in a little while,” or “It’s okay if you don’t want a baby, but we don’t have to decide that right now.”
I didn’t like that pressure of knowing he was hoping I might change my mind. It annoyed me. It made me feel tremendously guilty even if that wasn’t his intention. And every time he said, “It’s okay if we don’t have babies,” I never believed he really meant it, because I’ve seen this man hanging out with my friends’ children. Not only is he a natural with kids, it’s just so obvious that he enjoys every second of it.
And then I suddenly found my brain thinking about babies.
The thoughts surprised me, because they were different than anything I had felt before. These were thoughts of wanting and wondering what it would be like to have a baby. Active wanting.
While I’m not good at containing secrets–especially my own–I actually didn’t tell anyone, not even Roger, about these baby-making thoughts for several months. Still the thoughts kept on coming.
Things bubbled to the surface on Father’s Day, when Roger and I went out for dinner, just the two of us. Our waiter asked Roger if he was a father. After the waiter left, I heard myself saying, “If I did want to have a child, I know you’d be an amazing father.”
He smiled and thanked me, and then said, “I’ll be happy with you either way, my love.”
This time his “I’ll be happy either way” sentiment felt genuine–in a way that his statements in the past never did. Or maybe it was me that changed. Or, most likely, it was both. Either way, the pressure felt like it was off. No guilt. My shoulders, my heart–or whatever part of the body that holds onto guilt – felt lighter after that.
And still, I kept my baby-making-thoughts to myself for a few more weeks, and they became stronger and stronger. And still I worried.
How would I work as much as I do now and raise a baby? How would I make sure I had plenty of time during the pregnancy to dedicate to every blood sugar reading, every meal, every insulin dose? Yes, there are mothers working full-time who do it all and endure pregnancy with Type 1 successfully, but it didn’t look easy.
And then, I’m not sure what changed, but I just started to realize I could do it. I suddenly believed fully and completely in my ability to do it well.
I was still scared, but I kept reading the stories from other women’s pregnancies with Type 1 diabetes. (I am so grateful that they shared their adventures in pregnancy with Type 1 publicly with the diabetes online community.) And I thought that if they did it, I could do it.
I can do it. I can totally do this.
And so, one afternoon, after we visited my friend’s newborn baby, I confessed one of the only secrets of my own that I’ve ever managed to keep.
“Lover, I’ve gotta tell you about something I’ve been thinking about lately,” I said.
“Okay,” he said evenly. Roger knew me well, and wouldn’t have been shocked if I’d said I wanted to paint the house lime green, rescue 5 stray dogs, or start my own strawberry farm.
“Well, for the past couple of months I’ve been thinking about babies a lot. And how I’d like to spend the next year preparing my diabetes and my body for pregnancy.”
Fortunately, his level of shock and surprise was contained just enough that he didn’t drive us right off the highway.
“Really?” he asked, in total blissful shock.
His eyebrows practically flew off the top of his head, his smile went from ear to ear, and the sparkle in the whites of his eyes was shimmering like somebody just plugged in the lights on a Christmas tree.
“Yup,” I said. I could feel myself blushing as I smiled. “I’ve got major baby on the brain.”
To read more about Ginger’s pregnancy, and advice on pregnancy with Type 1, support the funding for this book on Kickstarter.
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