ColumnsLiving with Type 1 Diabetes

How I Handled Pregnancy with Type 1

A wise person once said “nothing worth having comes easy,” and giving birth to a child is certainly not easy. For women with Type 1, the hard work starts long before the bundle of joy arrives. I’d like to share my journey to motherhood to provide a possible roadmap for other would-be-moms with Type 1.

For my husband and me, “pregnancy” meant much more than those final 9 months. I prepped for a long time before trying to get pregnant, and worked out some issues in the process. I sometimes was crippled with fear in the months before becoming pregnant. To overcome the fear, I involved everyone in my medical team in my goal of becoming pregnant, and put in the hard work to get my blood sugar as close as possible to optimal. My medical team also helped dispel myths and bring important items of concern to my attention. Doing the hard work early made the first few months easier than they would have been without the prep work. It became more about maintaining good blood glucose levels than lowering my levels.

There is a huge emotional component to pregnancy, of course, and it’s important to have support. The hardest emotion for me was guilt. Although I knew a higher-than-perfect blood glucose reading was not going to have catastrophic effects, I couldn’t help feeling like I wasn’t doing my part as a mom when my numbers were high. That pressure did come with a positive, however, in that I had tighter control of my blood glucose levels than I had had in years. My unborn baby gave me purpose and focus.
My husband has always been great at helping me manage my diabetes, but during my pregnancy he became even more indispensible. I even had him get up with me during stubborn middle-of-the night lows so I wouldn’t devour the entire kitchen. He stood guard while I waited for my blood sugar to rise.
I often tested every 2 hours to catch and address problems before they worsened, and I documented almost everything for my care team. I found this allowed me the time to ask questions rather than wasting time on regurgitating numbers. It felt like I was well-prepared to lead a meeting with those charts in hand.
In March 2015, my son was born; the birth didn’t go perfectly. He was born 6 weeks premature and with a birth defect that was not diagnosed in utero, so it was a complete shock and a very emotional time. The doctors say it’s extremely likely that neither of these had anything to do with my diabetes, and deep down I know I did everything possible for a successful pregnancy.

Now I have an amazing, vibrant son to love. While he didn’t come easy, he is certainly worth it!

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Laura Ciccarelli has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 18 years. She is the Customer Service Manager at an insulin pump company and a proud mom of her little boy. She lives in Milton, Ontario, and likes to help out in the diabetes community any way she can.

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