I became a mother when I was 32 years old, 14 years after my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Until then, I had weathered my personal diabetes storm as best I could: sometimes with ease, oftentimes with difficulties. But by the time I decided to embark on the journey of motherhood, I had a good grasp of how to best live with diabetes.
In my mid-20s, I acquired an insulin pump to accommodate my lifestyle and I mastered that pretty quickly. When I got pregnant, it was an ideal way to manage my blood sugar and the changing insulin needs my body required. After delivery, I found it comforting as well, allowing me to dial back my dosage as my insulin needs declined.
As my son grew and needed my attention, I soon learned that my diabetes did as well. I was managing two unpredictable forces in my life. And it brought me the question “What comes first?” Was it my son? Or diabetes?
As a mother, I was responsible for a small, helpless baby, who needed everything. Diaper changes, feedings, clean clothes. And then my diabetes, with blood sugar checks, pump changes, endocrinologist appointments. I did, somehow, manage for a few years, although the blood sugar management I had previously accomplished slowly became less of a priority for me.
Then I began to experience hypoglycemia unawareness.
This came at a time when my husband was occasionally traveling for work, leaving us alone for a few weeks at a time. Our family had recently moved and we didn’t know our neighbors well, so I was uncomfortable asking for any kind of help, especially of the diabetes kind.
And one day, I was out with my son, who was two years old at the time, and I experienced a blood sugar so low that I lost consciousness. I only remember waking up with emergency responders hovering over me, a glucagon drip in my arm, and my son sitting his stroller, happily playing with a toy.
I was scared. Scared that one day I might be in a similar situation but at home, alone, with a baby who could barely communicate.
Immediately, I reached out to my endocrinologist, who recommended a continuous glucose monitor. I agreed, not completely understanding what a CGM did, but convinced that it would improve the quality of my life as a mother.
A few weeks later, I trialed my first CGM. With my endocrinologist, we determined a range of blood glucose that we both felt comfortable with and she sent me home. I recall going about my usual activities and hearing a buzz, then a beep. My husband, who was home, immediately asked for a lesson in the buzzing and beeping, and when I explained, he was hooked. “We are getting this, no matter what it costs,” he said to me.
And so, another chapter of my life with diabetes began - that of CGM use. It’s been nearly ten years since my first CGM and I am forever grateful to those buzzes and beeps, alerting me of where my blood sugar is, and where it’s going and how fast.
Having a tool like this has allowed me to embrace motherhood fully. Because I know what’s happening diabetes-wise, I am able to immerse myself into whatever activity my son is involved with. Whether we are at a sporting event or a Cub Scout meeting, I can glance down and see if I’m within the range my healthcare team and I have agreed upon. And without much fanfare, I can adjust my insulin or activity needs to accommodate diabetes.
Life with a CGM is second nature in my home. My husband and son both are attuned to it and can identify the beeps. My son, now a tween, has grown up understanding how important it is for me, for our home life, to live between the lines of my CGM. Or, at the very least, to live as closely as we can between those lines.
Anna N was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993. She is the current CEO of DiabetesSisters. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, reading, traveling, Hip Hop Fit dance class, and cheering on her son at baseball and soccer games.