Sunday, December 29, 2013

Week 5

This week, things got interesting. Because it wasn't interesting enough envisioning our family of 6 in a 2-bedroom apartment, explaining our complicated Medicaid situation to the social worker well enough to be deemed eligible, hiding from all our regular babysitters the reason that I had SO MANY DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENTS, and spying on the large families in the parish to see which ones would soon be getting rid of their beat-up minivan so we could pretty please beg them for a cheap sale!

Well, I at least had that doctor's appointment bit planned out: just don't go. What are they going to do? Tell me to drink water and take some vitamins and do my best to keep my blood sugars in range? Check. My pregnancies have been pretty uneventful during the first trimester, so I wasn't too worried about it. Not even Rosie's third-trimester discovery that she was having twins was enough to scare me into scheduling an appointment.

But then, on Tuesday, I started to have some crampiness. Enough to keep me awake from 5a to 6a in the morning (or was that the Statesman coughing or the pregnancy insomnia?). Enough for me to put my husband on alert that I might miscarry. However, I didn't start bleeding, and I didn't feel any more cramping the rest of the day.

Then, the next day, Wednesday, the cramp came back. This time, it was sharp, painful, and located on one side. It lasted about 10 minutes. My mind immediately flew to ectopic pregnancy, of which I have a great fear. I have never had this kind of pain in early pregnancy. What do I do? Clearly, avoid calling the doctor (because the appointments! And the keeping of the secret!). So I e-mailed a friend who had an ectopic pregnancy once. She told me about her experience, and told me to call my doctor right away. And I...continued to avoid it.

Later that evening, however, the pain returned after dinner. Again, it was sharp, painful, located on one side, and lasted about 10 minutes. We were cleaning up and getting ready to put the kids to bed. I just about hyperventilated and passed out because I was so scared that my Fallopian tube was about to burst its contents and a whole bunch of blood into my insides. And, of course, they say that faintness is a symptom of rupture, which didn't help...

Long story short, we had to break the news to my mom (who not-so-subtly implied that I was probably just being a big pansy about some gas), so that we could ask her to watch the children. We drove to the ER, I had a transvaginal ultrasound and some bloodwork taken, and they discovered a healthy, 5w4d intrauterine pregnancy. No heartbeat because it's too early, and they wouldn't have been able to find twins, either, because it's too itty bitty. In any case, this was both a great relief and a great embarrassment to me. It was actually also a point of pride, because the ultrasound measurements exactly matched my estimated date of ovulation. I am SO GOOD AT NFP.

NB: My doctor suggested that the pain I felt may have been a ruptured ovarian cyst. For those of you who have suffered this pain regularly all of your childbearing life, kudos for not freaking out and going to the ER every time it happens.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Merry Christmas to You and Yours

While I was sitting at midnight mass on Christmas, it struck me that there is something special about sons. Mary is prophesied as "the virgin who will give birth to a son." Somehow, the fact that the child was male was important enough to include in the prophesy. In a way, it's just another detail of life...but in another way, it's a special detail.

Now of course I'm no Mary, but I have been abundantly blessed with sons. This year, I'm thinking about how special they are. Not because they are simply my children, but because they are my sons. Not in spite of their sex, but because of it. Not because they are simply human, but because they are a special kind of human called "boy."

My reflections haven't gotten much deeper than that yet, but I'm working on it. I'm trying to appreciate the special thing which is maleness, since most often, I myself and others with whom I discuss the subject very often associate it with a) mess, b) destruction, and c) violence.

And, lest you think I have no appreciation for the category of humanity "woman," I leave you with some Christmas meditations from Saint Augustine (courtesy of my husband, who insisted on reading one of his Christmas sermons to me):

"Let men and women alike rejoice, for Christ, the Man, was born and He was born of a woman; thus, each sex was honored. Now let the honor accorded to the first man before his condemnation pass over to this second Man. A woman brought death upon us; a woman has now brought forth life." 

"The heavens cannot contain him, a woman carried him in her bosom.
"She was ruling our ruler, carrying the one in whom we are, suckling our bread..."Omnipotence was ruling the mother on whom infancy was depending..."

(St. Augustine, Sermon 184)

Anyone else have a significant parenting revelation over Christmas? May these days be a cause for rejoicing, whatever your faith!

Week 4

I don't remember much about this week, but my blood sugars continued to spike over night. I needed about 5-6 units to cover them, which I would give at bedtime. Talk about taking a risk, and right before you go into the nightly, low-blood-sugar-inducing sleep! But I remember this happened during my last pregnancy, too, so I felt pretty confident in the pattern.

We have not told my parents, in whose house we live. We think it's a good idea to have a game plan in case they are feeling overwhelmed and want us to move out. Said game plan is beginning to feel more like a hopeful-wishing-that-someone-might-let-us-live-in-their-house-rent-free-and-someone-else-will-pay-my-husband-to-write-his-dissertation-for-two-years.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Week 3 1/2

I found out that I was pregnant ridiculously early this time around. I ovulated (and conceived) on September 28. I began to feel a bit fatigued, nauseated, and had to visit the ladies' room more frequently within a week. My blood sugars had also begun to spike over night.

So I was quite certain of pregnancy by October 6, but a pregnancy test that day came up negative. October 9: two lines.

For me, time always seems to drag those first few days after a positive pregnancy test. All mental energy suddenly shifts to the new baby, and all the plans for accommodating said baby. It is so absorbing. And yet, you hardly feel like you can tell anyone because it's too soon between the risk of miscarriage and all the questions about your plans to which you do not yet have an answer (where will the baby sleep? I don't know, do you have any good suggestions?). You are completely turned inward upon yourself and your thoughts (now we REALLY need a minivan. Where will we get the money to buy a minivan?). You are probably pretty crabby, and you can't even tell anyone why. I think it's pretty miserable! It's been a half a week in real time, but feels like I've been pregnant forever...and I can't even complain to every friend, family member, and random stranger I meet.

Friday, December 20, 2013

There's Something About This Time of Year

I love fall. The air is so fresh and cool. I love it when so many leaves are falling all at once that it looks like it's snowing. I love the "crunch" sound as I walk through the yard. I love wearing fleece jackets and pulling out my jeans again after the sticky summer which made jeans-wearing impossible. I love it when sun on my skin feels good again. I love going outside with the boys. I love pumpkins, and pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin bread, and mums, and apple picking, and straw, and Oktoberfest beer.

Unfortunately, the one thing that often seems to be true of fall is that there are significant obstacles between me and the full enjoyment of beer and pumpkins. My parents are too busy to babysit so we can grab a drink or two, I'm too tired to have a second, I'm too tired and it's too late to go out, I don't get to finish the first because I have to get up from the dinner table to change a diaper.

But do you know what most often keeps me from enjoying beer and pumpkins in October? Pregnancy. Because I don't like to drink in the first trimester, to avoid unnecessary risk to the baby, and because morning sickness makes pumpkin detestable to me.

Can you guess where this is going?

I'm pregnant!

This is the third time I have been early-pregnant during October. This means that four of our six family members will likely have birthdays within one month of each other (EDD June 23). It also means we really actually need a minivan now, because we can't all fit in our current vehicle (let us know if you have one to sell). It also means the the familiar yuck-factor I've experienced at the site of pumpkin soup, along with a prohibition on beer, are back. It probably seems trivial, but these were some of the first things on my mind...

I actually found out I was pregnant before I had even missed my period. Because we had, with full knowledge, "taken a risk" in September, I was especially alert for the signs and symptoms. One day in early October, I noticed a little twinge, but not really a cramp, in my lower abdomen. I thought it might be related to implantation. Around the same time, I noticed several days in a row that my blood sugar was spiking after dinner/before bed, as it had done early in my last pregnancy. Not more than a few days after that, I noticed that I had been unusually tired, and had taken a few bites of breakfast that I thought might come back up again. Negative PT on October 6, positive PT on October 9.

I'm certain that the date of ovulation was between September 29 and October 1. I'll be interested to see how close I am to delivering on my due date, and whether the ultrasound estimate matches the ovulation estimate.

So how did this happen, especially given the "plans" I mentioned back in JulyNatural family planning is flexible. So flexible, in fact, that your plans can change pretty dramatically, pretty quickly. Like when you say one month that you think you'll wait a while, and then it turns out that what you meant by a little while was actually rather short. The term in the scientific literature for it is "pregnancy ambivalence," or, more popularly among NFP users, "TTW." I haven't publicly updated the blog with my feelings on pregnancy in a little while because, well, it's complicated. But isn't it always? That's part of the reason we don't always go with our feelings and we just do what we know to be good anyway.

So here's a little preview of my soul resulting from this pregnancy: anxiety, enthusiasm, fear, gratitude, determination, hope, desperation. I've learned not to talk about these things too much, for fear of putting my foot in my mouth, offending a woman who has had many miscarriages or been unable to conceive, or saying something that might make my child cry when he reads it 15 years from now.

I'll just say this to my little one: I love you dearly, and we will do whatever it takes to make this work!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Good for her, and all the babies she helps!

A social worker in the Philippines has continued breastfeeding her own child - and the children of other women - during the crisis following last week's typhoon. What a generous act of love!

Would you do this? I've always thought that I might, but probably only if absolutely necessary.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Put this one away in the "perfectly content baby" file. Twins given a bath together after birth, and they seem perfectly happy to be smushed up against one another just as before birth!

Have any of our diabetic readers had twins? Double whammy! You must have some serious war stories.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lyme Disease

Remember when I mentioned that I was tired and my back hurt all the time? As it turns out, I had Lyme disease! I was sick! I finally got a fever that lasted a few days, a stiff neck and headache, and a classic rash.

Moral of the story? I'm apparently not just a whiner, and childrearing isn't always to blame if you think you aren't going to make it through the rest of the day.

A Visit to My Cheerful Endocrinologist

I visited my endocrinologist yesterday. I brought all three of my kids with me. It went a little like this:

(Typical, friendly greeting. The kind you would expect from a doctor who has known you for 20 years. Lollipops for the kids, which they loved and quietly consumed during the visit. Typical questions regarding the status of my diabetes. Then.)

Doctor: "No more kids, right?"

Me: "You know how I feel about this. And look at these children." [They were, fortunately, behaving perfectly.] "Do you really mean to tell me you don't want more of them in the world? If I choose to take on the difficulty, what concern is it of yours?"

Doctor: "I'm staying out of this."

Me: "If that were true, you wouldn't tell me to stop having them."

The good news is that he and his whole staff are so very accommodating when I bring the kids. I was in and out of there in less than 30 minutes. One nurse (or tech) held the one-year-old Statesman while I went in the bathroom to produce my urine sample. Nothing but smiles and kind words towards the kids.

We've exchanged some unpleasantness, and we disagree about the size of my family. But he's cheerful and helpful and knows me better than anyone. So it basically works.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Long Time

It has been a long time since I have posted on our blog. I know some of your come back and read encouraging posts from time to time on your own, and I am so glad that you have found something here that is worth reading more than once.

Here I explain the reason for the long silence. I often don't have a lot to write about other than what is personal to me. Since I am not pregnant, the question of "what is personal to me," on this particular blog about pregnancy and childbirth, devolves to the question of whether or not I *will* be pregnant in the near future. But I've always hesitated to share information on our blog about whether we are trying or not trying to conceive, and this is for a few reasons.

The first: we live with my parents. As you can imagine, inviting one's parents into a conversation about whether or not one will conceive another child is kind of awkward. It's not that I think they would disapprove, or even that I would mind telling them if we lived in another place. It's just that us having another baby will so radically affect their lives, too. That revelation to them, at this particular time, will necessarily require them to think about how they will be affected, and whether they will continue to let us live with them. We have always considered their generosity towards us extravagant, and we would happily thank them and move out on our own way if they asked us to. It's just that I'd rather tell them, "I'm going to have another baby! How would you like to handle this situation?" than ask them to predict how they would feel about it while it is still a point open to negotiation and debate. I think they, and I, would both feel awkward if they became too involved in the questions of whether or not to conceive. A parental mandate on the sexual behavior of one's married daughter just seems...wrong.

The second: If I told you right now that we were trying to conceive, we might very well be making a pregnancy announcement two weeks from now. Assuming some other necessary preliminaries, that is... It seems a little like we might as well celebrate the real deal when it happens, rather than leaving everyone in the lurch.

The third: I know there are some people in the world that probably would find it offensive that I am supported by federal healthcare subsidies and, in these difficult economic times, prepared to pose an additional burden to the government's budget. Not to mention, doctors are reimbursed PENNIES on the dollar for their Medicaid expenditures. Believe me, my husband have had this conversation many times. Should we just pay for it ourselves? What if I have to have a c-section and it costs three times as much as we thought it would?

So, this is part of the reason I have been silent. I have so little personal information to share. I am not pregnant, my littlest Statesman turned one year old on June 14 (happy birthday, dude), and I am tired and my back hurts most of the time. I did recently ovulate, though, and WOW! was that SUPER OBVIOUS and REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I really felt like I was pregnant for about 3 days - nausea, cramps, fatigue, and all the rest! This is the longest I've gone postpartum without a period (13 1/2 months), but I think it will be soon.

Hope all the rest of you are doing well. Peace!

Monday, February 11, 2013

When I Am Weak


It's a word synonymous with fragile. Breakable. Delicate. Weak. Crumbling. Frail. It means "a whisper away from falling apart."I conjure to mind an antique china tea cup that's lovely as a mantle piece, but only as long as no one comes too close. It looks nice, but it's unusable, because the lightest touch might break it. The cup is still valuable - for example, it might be sold for a good deal of money, or kept as a treasured family heirloom - but unless the user disregards the cup's potential to fail, it will never again hold a piping hot cup of tea. The loss of its original days of happy use is palpable. Some who do not know how much it has been through may even find its presence on a crowded mantle place irritating, inconvenient, or downright ugly.


It's also a word that my endocrinologist used to describe me the last time I went to see him.

According to my doctor, I'm a "brittle diabetic." The word and associated concept immediately made sense to me, without any explanation, because I know that it describes me and my blood sugars. It is a term applied to a diabetic whose blood sugars are "touchy." They won't stay put, they rise and drop at the touch of a feather, and sometimes without any predictable provocation at all. They are entirely dependent on exactly the right amount of food and exactly the right amount of insulin at exactly the right time, all quantities selected by yours truly, with a wild amount of guesswork. And that's before you factor in crazy hormones.

It means that without my pump, I'd be lost. It means that if I forget to bring Gatorade with me when I leave the house, I will probably have to stop at a gas station convenience store before we get home. (And sometimes I have to stop anyway). It means that every time I exercise, I often have no idea what to predict from my blood sugars for the next few hours or days. It means that my husband has to be especially vigilant during the night, in case I wake him up with slightly manic, unintelligible nighttime utterances. It means that if I am to achieve a decent A1C, I'd better be prepared for a whole lot of low blood sugars along the way.


I have had Type I diabetes for almost 20 years. In many ways, my body is fragile. I am crumbling. I am weak. I am like an antique china tea cup that is rapidly losing its happy usefulness. This is particularly evident as a woman, bearing and caring for children. It is getting harder. Even my 2-year-old has learned what it means when my blood sugar is low, because he has to amuse himself quietly while I'm treating it. They all do. I am continually interrupted by caring for my frail body's constant needs. Poking the buttons on my insulin pump, running to the kitchen for Gatorade, gulping as much as I can in as little time as possible so that I can move on to the next diaper change. Some days, I am almost embarrassed by how ridiculous the whole charade would look to someone who doesn't understand that I can't live without it.

I am only 28. As a woman, I have many potential children to bear. And I've discovered that I like children! No, scratch that. I love children. Especially my own. I have paid dearly and sacrificed to have them, and I don't regret one single bit of it. It's true that the smallest newborn squeak, one single smile from one of my children, a peaceful nursing session in a dark room, or sitting on the couch with a cranky toddler trying to wake up from a nap, makes it more than worth it. I do not like being pregnant, but that crazy thought experiment in which I try to imagine what life would have been like if I hadn't done this is both frightening and confusing, every time. Not that I wouldn't have done something, of course. But that hypothetical woman is not me, or at least not the me that presently exists.

And not only do I like children, but I like the me that is now much better than the one that was before. Learning how to bear and care for children has made me a better woman. I am more patient, teaching and reminding and demonstrating all manner of things, more times than I think I should have to, carefully and thoroughly. I move more slowly, to make room for the little ones that cannot move otherwise. I empathize more deeply, both to know my children and to help them know themselves. People are no longer problems for me to solve, they are just people like me, even when they are little or screaming.


So how much am I like that antique china tea cup? When it comes to bearing children, am I too fragile to take the risk? What about me, woman-as-mother? What about the children? What about the children I could have, and the mother I could be?

I know that one way I am different is that even if I am not "useful" for childbearing, I will still be loved and cherished and cared for until my natural death, and not my husband nor anyone I know thinks about me in any other way. I am not an artifact, and I will not be discarded as irritating or inconvenient or downright ugly. That is not my fear.

Another way that I am not like an antique china tea cup is that we get to choose. Tea cups don't choose whether they will continue to be used at the risk of breakage, or whether they are retired to the mantle  to live as a cherished heirloom. But my husband and I, we do. We look at my life, and decide how likely I am to break. We organize the details of our family life to keep me and our children, before and after birth, safe. We keep snacks handy. We don't leave the house when I'm likely to get low. If my exercise routine makes my blood sugars too unpredictable, I ditch it and do something else. My husband watches me closely and doesn't grumble when I need his help. I decide whether being pregnant is too hard, or whether I'm willing to give just a little bit more.

So yes, my diabetes is brittle. My life is fragile. I am weak. One day, I may need to retire to the mantle piece of motherhood.

But I still maintain that if my body is weakened now, it is not yet broken. I am not the sum of all the statistics ever generated about the horrible things that happen to people with diabetes. I am not destined to kidney damage, or nerve damage, or blindness. I am not destined to have unhealthy babies, children with birth defects, or preeclampsia. I am still strong to give, to persevere, to judge my own circumstances, and to sacrifice.  I am not willing to enter retirement. I am a woman and a mother, I have children yet to bear, and to love, and to care for. This gift is one I want to give, more than anything in the world. It is hard work that has weakened my body but strengthened my soul. And the children! How can I explain to you that frightening, confusing blank space that arises in my mind when I think of life without them? Life is not only better with them, it is life because of them. They are the life, filling up this house and filling up our hearts. The more, the merrier! Pain and suffering are a small price to pay for the infinite goodness of a small human person.

So I will, Lord willing, have more children.*  If my health continues diminished, if my endocrinologist tells me that it's too hard, or if my friends and family are confused and think I am crazy, I will tell them: I am weak, but I am not broken. God loves the weak. I am free to choose, and I choose the life of mother. I am strong in love, because He is, and that makes all the difference.

*One of our greatest obstacles to having more children is needing a minivan. If you know of a cheap one, keep a sister in mind, will you?

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Letter to My Former Self on the Day I Became A Mother

I came across this post, linked to on Facebook, and found it to be something with which I identify strongly.
"Not everyone has to become a mother to learn to really love, but God knew this was the path for you. It’s only looking back that I can see how perfectly planned this path of motherhood is for you, for me. To experience this transformative love. The sort of love that will give you the strength to give of yourself until you think there’s nothing left."


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Coming Soon...

I've been taking a few months off thinking about diabetes. It's one thing to live diabetes, and another thing to think about diabetes and write about it for other people. In any case, I've got a couple of ideas for posts lined up, so stay tuned.

Anyone else with thoughts about diabetes and breastfeeding, diabetes and pregnancy, or diabetes and natural childbirth should feel free to chime in!