Type 1 Parenting Triage
A father tries to juggle a baby’s feeding schedule and the blood sugar levels of two girls with Type 1 diabetes.
A screaming baby, and crashing blood glucose levels. In a household of four kids, including one baby and two girls with Type 1 diabetes, there is a lot of crisis multitasking that has to be done. Sometimes diabetes care and baby care go head to head, and that can cause some headaches.
My wife was out for the night attending a business party, so all the parenting responsibilities fell on my shoulders. It was after dinner and my baby boy was getting his bottle. My boy was eating well, and the girls were playing together upstairs. All seemed peaceful.
And then I heard the vibration of one continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and then another. Crap. Seconds later, I heard the squawk alarm of a low. Double crap. I had to put the baby down. He didn’t like that.
I looked at the CGM of the older T1D-daughter, Audrey; it was 59 and dropping. Meanwhile, the younger T1D-daughter, Rissa, was very high, 400+; not good. I checked both girls, corrected the high, and gave glucose tabs for the the low. Meanwhile, my baby boy was pretty much a red-faced scream-fest. I got back to feeding him and and everyone’s blood sugar began heading back to where it should. Crisis averted for a night.
The next evening rolled around and the same story took center stage. This time my wife and oldest daughter (who has a working pancreas) were at play practice. Sometime after dinner, once again, CGM alarm bells rang out, and it sounded as if we were in a fire station, all while the baby was working on a bottle. The girls were playing upstairs while both their arrows were trending downward. I put him in his bouncy seat, and once again he let out a wail that would have done the warring Spartans proud.
Sometimes, parenting with T1D children in the mix can be like performing triage. My baby wasn’t going to be doing any permanent damage to himself screaming for a few minutes. With the girls, on the other hand, it was just dangerous letting them play with rapidly dropping blood sugar. Why they don’t feel their lows when they are playing, well, that was a problem to solve for another time.
I checked both girls, and fixed their blood sugars and then raced back down to the boy with the red face. He went back to the bottle with a few sniffles. I made the girls stay downstairs so I could keep an eye on things. Everything worked out.
No parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes gets a medal for handling these everyday crises, but I did get some extra parenting points when my wife came home. Some nights with children with Type 1, it’s just an accomplishment if no one ends up in the emergency room.