Between the Lines - Anna F

Between the Lines - Anna F

Anna F
Program Director of
the College Diabetes Network

Lines are lines are lines: dotted lines, colored lines, slanted lines, straight lines. In diabetes, lines matter a lot, especially if you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Even if you do not, data can dictate so much self-confidence living with type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at the age of six, seeing numbers on a screen multiple times a day, and having that number determine the actions I take was overwhelming to say the least.

Fast forward 25 years. I got married with diabetes, attended graduate school halfway across the country with diabetes, and was eager to embark on the journey of motherhood with diabetes. Other friends and peers in my diabetes rolodex paved the way with their tips and tricks: what to eat when, the roller coaster of pregnancy plus diabetes hormones combined, endless appointments and more.

After a heartbreaking loss with our first pregnancy, my husband and I welcomed our daughter in July, 2017. My world changed. I had done it – naturally delivered a healthy baby girl, weighing in at at 6lbs, 13oz; she was home in my arms three days later. I was in love. To get there, I often attended three appointments a week, pricked my finger hourly, and paced around the house to avoid post-meal spikes in blood sugar. It was exhausting, frustrating, and hard to envision the reward at some points. But I did it; she’s here, and being a mom is the most amazing feeling, job, and motivator I’ve ever had.

All of that being said, after spending the majority of my pregnancy attempting to have my blood sugar lines be as flat as possible for as long as possible, my personal “between the lines” goal of 70-120 mg/dL, got bigger. Postpartum, most, if not all, CGM alarms were turned off. Sleep barely happened and the only “thing” I wanted to be awaken by was the sounds of my daughter.

“My daughter’s needs trumped mine,
and for months continued to do so.”

Adjustment to motherhood with diabetes was almost as challenging as being pregnant. All the focus is on the baby: friends and grandparents visiting want every second of snuggle time possible. After eating meat and grilled vegetables almost exclusively for dinner during pregnancy (I tried to avoid a lot of high-carb meals ), the casseroles and lasagnas started showing up. Although I was incredibly thankful for help in the form of food, suddenly finding the time to eat and bolus for it, or think about bolusing for it (forget pre-bolusing here) became the norm. My daughter’s needs trumped mine, and for months continued to do so.

Breastfeeding was successful, but meant a lot of couch time, and sometimes meant an insulin pump site change didn’t happen if it meant she was fed and allowed me to doze for fifteen minutes. Speaking of breastfeeding and pumps, when I went back to work at 12 weeks a new kind of pump entered my world.

Holy pump supplies! If anything prepared me to use a breast pump it was already knowing that not having one tiny piece of the “pump site change process” meant the end goal was not going to happen. Breast pumps have just as many teeny little parts and pieces to be cleaned, prepped, and transported all in a day’s work, and if you forget one little piece: game over. The worst is if you forget one piece for BOTH pumps! Daughter doesn’t get fed, and I don’t get insulin. Who wins? If neither win, oh man…one sad and frustrated mama.

The mentality of dual pumping was harder than I ever imagined, but she started to need less milk, and I began to figure out a solid work routine. More often than not, I remembered extra supplies and a meter, and felt more and more confident in doing the diabetes daily routines that were second nature just months prior.

They say it takes a full year to really grasp the grind of any major life change. For me becoming a mom and balancing the lines between was almost as hard as enduring a diabetes diagnosis. My adjustment to motherhood was almost a dual diagnosis to me, re-learning and re-prioritizing what is my normal. I am okay with this normal and will be for a very long time.

About Anna

Anna F is the current Program Director for the College Diabetes Network. Before that, Anna served for over 5 years as the Associate Director for Patient Engagement at the T1D Exchange. There she focused on maintaining connectivity between clinics and patient-centered research opportunities for people affected by type 1 diabetes. She has served on multiple national and international committees for non-profit organizations and spoken world-wide. Anna has been living with type 1 diabetes for nearly 30 years, spent the majority of her childhood and young adult summers with the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, and continues to serve on the local board of AADE, as well as the JDRF psychosocial speakers bureau. She also serves on the local AADE board serving as the social media advisor for the state of Massachusetts. She resides in the Boston area with her family.