Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Man Does Not Give Up

I visited my endocrinologist again this week.

Maybe I should just end my post there, since you probably know what's coming next, based other things I've written about him.

I dreaded the visit, knowing that I would have to tell him about the stomach bug and bathtub incident, and the difficulty I'd been having with my blood sugars ever since Christmas. I was ashamed, and questioned whether this pregnancy might be less healthy than the other two, whether I might be having trouble keeping it together, and whether I might be crazy for wanting more children.

But I knew it would be better to own up to the difficulty and seek his advice. I was ready to acknowledge that, even though I know a lot about managing my own blood sugars, it's useful to have an extra pair of eyes.

After explaining the trouble I'd been having, and especially the stomach bug incident, he grumbled. He made sure I knew that next time my blood sugar showed up that low, no matter how inconvenient it might seem, I really ought to wake someone up to help me. I got defensive, but I concurred.

Then, he used the incident to bolster his case against future children.

Him: "You really want to do this again?"
Me: "Yes."
Him: "OK, well you really need to wait at least 3 or 4 years. Your body needs a break."

Maybe it's just because I feel like a teenager talking to my dad when I'm in the office (never mind the fact that my own father would never, ever say that). Maybe I just like to play the part of the embattled Catholic. Maybe I have a rebellious, youngest child streak in me that looks for opportunities to buck the system. Or maybe he's really actually wrong... I'm not sure, but after I got over the shame and confusion, I was just plain miffed.

First of all, I'm already pregnant, and I already feel bad about the way the blood sugars have been going in the last month. Can we move forward? With some problem-solving? Rather than making future plans, let's just deal with what we have. It's unnecessary for me to decide right now whether I'm going to have 3, 4, or 8 children. For now, all I need to do is get through is this pregnancy. Focus, focus, focus.

Second of all, stop harping on it. The Man Does Not Give Up. I dread my visits, because it's like he's a broken record stuck on the track titled, "Stop Having Babies." I'm tempted to lie to him, and pretend everything is perfect, because I'm tired of feeling like he's looking for reasons to tell me to stop having babies. And besides that, he's condescending. "You really want to do this again?", as though the "solution" is just SO OBVIOUS. I'm sorry, but it's NOT obvious that using my down-and-out mood to manipulate me into agreement with your personal prejudice is a good solution, even if you do think the "recommendation" is meritorious (which I obviously don't). The ends don't justify the means (and I'm not prepared to assent to the ends in this case, anyway).

Finally, he used an incident that very well could have happened apart from pregnancy as a reason for me to stop having children. Stomach bugs happen all the time in this household. They've never caused a low blood sugar like that. Maybe it would have happened, pregnant or not. But regardless, the problem is diabetes, not pregnancy. He should stick to his area of expertise: both of us would be happier.

My sister-in-law can always tell when someone has gone too far in ascribing negative intentions to another person, and she is to be highly praised for so gently reminding me today that it sounds like he really does care about my health. And I want you, dear reader, to know that I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. But please understand that it's hard when every time you go into the office, you are scolded, chastised, and manipulated into an ideological conclusion that is not the only or best alternative. In fact, it goes far beyond patient care (which would include assisting me in blood sugar management and immediate solutions to immediate problems) and strays dangerously into badgering me into life decisions that can, in fact, be reasonably managed in a different way.

I do want to be careful to say that I am certainly aware that low blood sugars are not to be sneezed at. They are dangerous for me, and they are therefore dangerous for my babies both on the inside and on the outside. I know that taking care of myself is a very important part of taking care of my children, and I am doing my best. It may mean that waiting a little longer is advisable next time, and I have not taken that consideration off the table. In fact, it was something I thought very carefully about before my husband and I agreed that we could start not not trying to having a baby again - particularly, whether I could manage the lows well enough to keep myself healthy, and whether I could manage the highs well enough to keep the baby inside healthy during another pregnancy. My assessment at the time was: it's hard, but worth it.

Unfortunately, I can't always predict when a massive stomach bug will hit and keep my blood sugar low for hours. I can't always know exactly when things will get hard. I wasn't having trouble before I got pregnant. I didn't have this kind of trouble the last two times I was pregnant. In fact, I haven't had a low blood sugar incident that bad in years (since before I was pregnant with my first son). I thought it reasonable to open my heart and body to another baby at that particular time. So I did, and now I'm praying extra hard to my guardian angel to help keep me and these children safe.

My doctor is blinded by his ideological convictions that contraception is acceptable, NFP doesn't work to delay childbearing, two children are "enough," having diabetes and being pregnant is too hard, and babies of diabetic mothers are in constant, unmanageable danger within the womb. His conviction is so forceful that he feels that it is justifiable to bully me into assent.

But there really, truly is an alternative to this conviction: NFP does work to delay childbearing, children are not commodities like cars, having diabetes and being pregnant is hard but can be done, and babies of diabetic mothers are at a moderately increased risk of mostly manageable danger within the womb. I may be convinced that I need to take a longer break after this baby is born, but with a good 15 years of potential childbearing ahead of me, I will NOT be bullied into the conclusion that future children should be barred from my life. It's just not necessary or reasonable to say that.

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