Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Lesson in Self-Care

Today's Prompt: Caregiving. As a parent with health conditions (or parent to a child with health conditions), what do you hope you’re doing right?

There are a few things I know I'm doing right as the primary caregiver to my children.

One of those things is my diabetes management.

I worked hard to get ready for pregnancy, literally years in advance, before meeting my husband, as I tried to bring my A1c down from the dangerous levels of my childhood, teen, and young adult years.

I worked extra hard to maintain that control while trying to conceive my first and then throughout both of my pregnancies. I didn't stop in between either. I knew I wanted a second within a few years, so I kept my targets at pregnancy levels. And since he was born, I have continued to keep up nearly that level of control. Not pregnancy tight, perhaps, but I've kept low targets and high expectations.

It's exhausting sometimes.

But here I find myself parenting with a chronic disease. Many of the women out there with pre-existing diabetes who are considering parenthood can't help but worry about this part of it, too. What happens on the other side of those fought-for pregnancies?

My mantra is that I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of them. I hope that I'm teaching them that self-care is essential.

I hope I don't show how annoyed or impatient I get when diabetes delays me from tending to them. Or maybe that's okay. I suppose I need them to know that sometimes taking care of yourself is inconvenient. Sometimes I'm late to the dinner table because I forgot to check my BG and bolus my insulin. Sometimes we have to leave the park because Mommy's blood sugar is dropping. But when Mommy takes a moment out to take care of herself, she will be able to be there for all the other moments - their graduations, their finding love, their own parenthood.

Maybe once in any given day, my kids will pick up one of my tools or comment on them. "Here you go, it's Mommy's Dexcom," says Sweetie, handing me a beeping CGMS. Dibbs picks up my bottle of test strips and drops it off the side of the bed, to make sure that the acceleration of a falling object stays consistent from weekday to weekday. They aren't old enough yet to know that other mommies don't tote these items around with them everywhere.
I need to poke this. Poke. Poke.
There will be a day when I will have to explain to my daughter why Mommy has to do these things and she and her brother don't. It will involve pictures of pancreases and explanations about locks and keys and hormones. On that day, I don't know yet what I'll say. I don't know where she will be in terms of her fearlessness, her security about my presence with her, her understanding of mortality and sickness and health. I'll be calm and reassuring and answer her questions, as I always do.

Thankfully, right now, health is mainly about sneezing into your elbow and washing germies off your hands, but I'm fairly confident we'll find our way.

In the event that life throws them something I can't possibly imagine right now, I hope I've taught them that you do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And we'll practice caring for one another.


  1. "My mantra is that I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of them. I hope that I'm teaching them that self-care is essential."

    essential.. good god yes!

  2. Beautifully written! My littles are each about a year and a half older than yours. Being a parent is for me one of the most difficult aspect of managing my diabetes. It adds a level of emotion (mummy guilt) to a disease that already has a substantial emotional impact.

  3. This post almost makes me want to cry. Having to negotiate my kids' immediate needs versus my own - with their long-term needs being the tiebreaker, is all too familiar. And the thought of teaching them about my diabetes makes me hope the lessons will satisfy their thirst for knowledge and nota similar condition of their own.