Friday, July 13, 2012

My Fault

"It's not your fault," says the physical therapist as she shows us the photos they've taken of the baby's head.

I nod. It's my fault. My face betrays nothing of what I'm thinking.

"It's nothing you did," she smiles reassuringly.

It's something I did, I think. Or didn't do. It must be.

I think of the repositioning tactics I tried but how he still insisted on sleeping on his right side. I think of how many times I failed to notice him preferring turning to his right. How I didn't have torticollis on my radar because he seemed to have full range of motion in his neck.
Dibbs getting his DSI (imaging) for his helmet.
He licked the stocking on his face. And drooled a lot.

"No, it's just that he was a big baby and he didn't have a lot of space in utero. It happens."

Aaaaaaand...there it is. The kicker. This woman doesn't know that I have type 1 diabetes. Doesn't know that "big baby" is one of the many phrases we tire of blaming ourselves for. And it's all the ammunition I need to metaphorically shoot myself with the guilt gun.

I look at my perfect, chubby adorable Dibbs, drooling his enormous grin at me. I love to snuggle with him, bury my face in his ticklish neck folds until he cackles. Every friend and stranger stops to tell us how smushy he is.
I love him. And if there's anything potentially wrong, it's got to be my fault.

I towed the line during my pregnancy. But could I have done more? Worked harder? Been more diligent? Half of my team assured me that I was doing great. The other half criticized as the baby continued to grow.

At 5 months old, the boy is now 23 pounds. Humungachunk.

They say you can't overfeed a breastfed baby. I've been satisfied with that. Knowing that, unlike a baby on formula, he takes what he needs and when he needs it. I've felt proud that I've been able to give him a breastfed start for just that reason (and many others). No worries that he gets an amount arbitrarily assigned to a bottle. He gets what he needs.

As a mom with pre-existing diabetes, you feel a sense of relief once the baby is out of your womb. Knowing that you can't "hurt" them any longer. It's counter to what many women feel post-birth, where some find they want the baby back inside where it was safe.

But that relief for me didn't last for long.

Not as I sat across from a physical therapist showing me my son's marginally lopsided head from a neck issue he was born with...because he was out of space. For which he'll need a few weeks of band therapy.

And then, in a safe place where I least expected it, at Friends for Life.

In a session on pregnancy, immediately after I confided to a group of my peers considering breastfeeding that I breastfeed regardless of my blood sugar and they shouldn't be afraid to do the same, the diabetes educator in the room counters with "sugary breastmilk from a high blood sugar can contribute to rapid infant growth."

I think my face turned bright red as I glanced across the room at my husband and our big old boy.

My fault.

Thank you for contributing to that, Mr CDE.

Nevermind that my lactation consultant, my children's pediatrician, my endocrinologist, and my certified diabetes educator all said to go ahead with breastfeeding with no concerns. Encouraged it for the health benefits to me and my children. Encouraged it because it could potentially reduce the risk of my kids developing type 1.

Nevermind that my daughter survived 18 months of my breastmilk with no ill effects. Nevermind that if you google "breastfeeding with diabetes," it will return searches with phrases like "beneficial for mother's health," or "don't feel like you can't breastfeed!" I have books about breastfeeding and books about diabetes that say no worries. Countless online resources that say go for it.

But all it takes is ONE naysayer to bring out every fear you have about yourself.

Rapid infant growth. My perfect son is made mutant by my radioactive breastmilk.

I know what you will tell me. That he's flawless. That I'm faultless. On some level, I know there's truth to that.

But if I have a fault (and I'm sure I have many), it's this damn dysfunctional pancreas. And though it's not my fault, it is a fault nonetheless.


  1. Don't waste your energy i "I shoulda". Joie Mitchell sang "we can't return, we can only look behind from where we came".
    You have a healthy wonderful baby that just needs a little tending to. No biggie.
    Praise to the Source and yourself for bringing him into the world intact.

  2. Sending you huge hugs. It is not your fault. I felt horrible guilt when my youngest was born because she had low blood sugar and needed formula to bring her blood glucose level up. I felt like I had not done enough during my pregnancy to keep my gestational diabetes under control. My entire team complimented me on how well I was able to keep it under control. I even asked my endocrinologist, and he had no explanations for her low blood sugar. He is perfect, and he's healthy.

  3. OK. First things first. The guy you referred to is Gary Scheiner, he's just a CDE (not a doctor), a type 1 PWD for 27 years, and he's just one guy. If everyone on your medical team says it's fine, then maybe it was fine. Or at least mostly fine. And secondly, he was definitely not trying to make you feel bad. Like anyone with PWD, he just wants to make sure you're informed. When you breastfed with high BGs, you didn't know. It's not like you knew it could be a problem and said, "Screw it!" So you can't blame yourself for something you weren't aware of. I'm not going to say you weren't faultless because I don't know, but what I will say is that you can't blame yourself for doing something you didn't know you weren't supposed to do.

    Second of all, I was a big baby too. Close to 9 lbs. Did my mom have gestational diabetes? No. Did she breastfeed? Yes. All good things, and I was still big and I still got diabetes. Sometimes shit just happens.

    I was a chub baby. I've always been chubby... except for a brief period when I was like four. My dad even told me that my mom would strain her back carrying me around. Some babies are just that way. You have no way of knowing it was something you did, especially since your first waffle came out just fine. So who knows? Maybe that's just how he is.

    Now that he's out, you can help him be the best, strongest, healthiest second waffle ever. Mmm, waffles... ;)

  4. I went thru something similar when my son had seizures when he was very young. I felt that guilt as well, and honestly? I think any parent would feel that way and it's a normal reaction.

    I know that doesn't make it any easier, but when I see you guys I see a happy, loving family.

    love you guys!

  5. Ok, I'm also going to chime in here and tell you it's not your fault. As you know,my son also has the same issues & during pregnancy,he had practically an entire swimming pool to himself. (our therapist said quite a few babies are born with those issues) No one can say for sure "that caused it". And you're doing a kick-ass job with raising/providing for his needs-bm still trumps formula, any day of the week. Even if its rather sugary(just my point of view..when I was pumping/feeding my baby it I still used "high" milk.And if it hadn't dried up I'd still be doing that.) Dibbs is a gorgeous, happy baby & you're doing what's best for him.

  6. We experienced this too. Ours was diagnosed a little earlier (because the pediatrician noticed it -- not me!). It was gone quickly. We only did focused playtime, talking on the least favored side, and positioned sleeping with head facing towards the least favored side (though that didn't always work). This should be a short lived problem, I think. And though it is more common with big babies, it happens to other babies who just got into a strange position too.

    I know that we worry about any set back our little ones face, especially because of our diabetes. But I think that this is one to sigh about and let go. He'll be conquering the world before you know it.

  7. My 2-minute-older twin boy had the same issue with his head. He was 5lbs 6ounces when he was born. Yes, there was another baby in the oven with him, but with just a little physical therapy the issue went away quickly. I want you to give yourself a pass here sweetie.

  8. ((((((Big Hugs)))))) That's all I've got. I know from experience that none of the good & wonderful things I can point out about you as a person, mother, & even diabetic will counteract that bad thought that keeps ricocheting through your brain. Sometimes the bad things come far better equipped to take a firm hold in our heads than any of the good things do.

    But for the record, you are awesome & this isn't your fault. At all. Dibbs will be just fine. And also on the plus side he's adorable no matter what size he is. Babies, as well as people, come in all sizes. He just came with more to snuggle. :)

  9. Nope, not your fault!
    He's healthy and cute and will be fine.
    You're a wonderful mom to both of your children.

  10. Hey Melissa,
    I've never had or raised any children so in that regard I cannot speak from experience.

    What I do know, is that it is hard to miss your generous and giving nature in even the most casual of encounters

    Only a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend just a few minutes talking with you at Friends For Life in Florida. With two young kids in tow, I am still moved how you found the time to listen to and provide some advice to me, a wayfaring Australian.

    Though imperfect, as indeed we all are, I would consider you an inspiration and a great role model.

    Things may not be exactly as you might have hoped and that through no fault of your own but I couldn't think of a better and more caring mother to guide her son through lifes journey, just as you helped some virtual stranger make some decisions and progress in his life

  11. I have an 8 month old daughter and am a type 1 diabetic. Having diabetes and trying to take care of a child is HARD, and sometimes trying to take care of both at the same time means my diabetes loses. I breastfeed my daughter no matter what my blood sugar - 100's, 200's, 300's, and even 400's. And guess what? She's BELOW the 50th percentile in weight. Let your guilt go - you are doing the best for your child, and I can say from experience, high blood sugar does NOT mean your child will be fat. My daughter is living proof of that. So keep on breast feeding and know in your heart that your son is getting the best, healthiest food.

  12. Don't make me get all "Good Will Hunting" on you!!

  13. While I am not a PWD I am a mom, and so I get it.

    I blame myself in some way daily for Justices type 1 and Synsyres hormonal issues.

    Its what we as parents tend to do. But we didn't. We did all we can, all we needed to take care of the,, nurture, protect and love them


    FYI both my boys were HUGE and still are. Just more to love!


  14. This hurts my heart. As a mother of three children with type 1 diabetes...I've been there sister. Mothers LOVE to blame themselves and I am no exception. I'm glad on some level you know that you are doing an exceptional job taking care of your family. He is a brilliantly gorgeous baby. All babies are different sizes and shapes, all of my boys were...and I think that is the way the good Lord planned it. You are loved. You are supported. You are wonderful. <3

  15. Your family is BEAUTIFUL!!!! And every ounce of your sweet boy is PRECIOUS!

    I've been a RN for 17 years, and have never heard that about breastfed babies. I was a L&D nurse for 5 years, and have no idea how many T1 mamas I helped after the birth of their babies. I also extended nursed 3 kids of my own, at one point was very active in LLL, AND was a certified doula...nope...still haven't ever heard that.

    BUT!!! I say keep on keepin' on MAMA! You're doing a WONDERFUL job!!!!

    I blamed myself for my daughter's T1 dx for years. And her Celiac dx too.

    But it wasn't my fault.

    And this isn't your fault either...(((HUGS)))!!!!!

  16. I'm just gonna chime in here and say

    1) my daughter was 6lb 7oz at birth - small, and she was also born with issues with her neck. And she had PLENTY of room in there to move around, she just chose not to.

    2) L has been nursed or received breastmilk for nearly her entire first year of life (excepting 36 hours in the NICU at birth) and she is LOW on every single weight growth chart there is. My "radioactive" breastmilk has been made while high and low, I have never dumped any because of my glucose level while pumping or nursing, and it certainly didn't make her giant.

    Sometimes babies are just full of squishy goodness. Everyone is different. It's NOT because of anything you did.