My Diabetes Inklings

2022: Diabetes, Pregnancy and Covid

Well, this was not how I had expected to kick off the new year. We had to take an unexpected extra week off from work and an even longer break from childcare thanks to COVID. On top of managing a sick household, there’s little ‘ol me here growing a little human in a broken body with a dodgy pancreas.

First it was the gastro that started on my daughter’s first birthday. Then it was conjunctivitis and a cold from her childcare. All of these somehow skipped her and went straight to me. One weekend my husband woke up with muscle aches, a cracking headache, immense sinus pressure and loss of taste and smell. A rapid antigen test confirmed it was indeed COVID.

Not long after, my daughter and I started developing symptoms. She had a fever, which resolved after a few days and a chesty cough that hung around. I had a dry cough, congestion, headache and lost my smell and taste for a couple of days (yay to not being to smell during those pooey nappy changes!).

A PCR test confirmed that the whole family had covid and we were sent into isolation for seven days. Stupidly I thought I could try and work through this time since my husband was home. It wasn’t until we were 2 hours into waiting at the drive through line for a PCR test panicking that I wasn’t going to make a meeting that I decided work could wait.

I think I’ve been anxious about taking extra time off work because I’ve just returned from maternity leave. A small part of me feels pressured to jump back into the working community just like my pre-baby days. Maybe I feel like I have something to prove about being “that” working mum who does it all. Either way, there’s been a lot of anxiety and angst around my ability to keep up with work. Giving myself permission to be kind to myself has been incredibly difficult and I feel like I have to constantly apologise for postponing meetings and deadlines.

Thankfully all the stress, lack of appetite, and changing hormones balanced out my blood sugar levels. There were only a few days where I had to throw on a temp basal when I was at my sickest. The greatest help during this time was my CGM because there was very little chance I’d have any brain space or time to constantly check my blood sugars manually.

👏🏻 Make. CGM. Available. To. All. People. With. Diabetes. Who. Need. It. 👏🏻

A few people had been asking about how bub is doing. To which I honestly replied “I have no idea”. I’m 17 weeks pregnant now and it’s still a bit early to feel any kicks. The biggest reassurance I was given was that my body will tell me if something is wrong and so far nothing seems out of the ordinary. So don’t worry until you have something to worry about. But it is hard not to have the heart flicker in panic when you hear “has COVID impacted your baby”.

We’ve also been so lucky to have an amazing support network with friends and family dropping off food and supplies to keep us going. The regular check-in’s has been really comforting to not feel so isolated. Looking on the bright side, we were able to spend a bit more time with the family and my little girl practising her first solo steps! It’s not quite the family holiday I had envisioned but I’ll take what I can get at this point in time.

My Diabetes Inklings

Embracing Working Mum Life

The transition back to work has been…interesting…to say the least. Especially when you throw in pregnancy into the mix. Currently I’m juggling getting my daughter (and I) settled into childcare, switching my teaching and research planning mode on, navigating changes in my workplace I’ve ignored for the past 12 months, diabetes and first trimester pregnancy (!!).

Childcare…at least Miss N seems to be settling well there. I feel awfully guilty for having to up root her to a different childcare when we move to be closer to family next month. We’ve lucked out with the current place where the educators have been so great with the lil munchkin and she’s starting to feel comfortable there too.

The only downside is that I seem to be catching every little bug that is floating around the childcare. All she’s got is a runny nose and I’ve somehow picked up gastro (or food poisoning), the sniffles, some other random virus (none of which were covid). Seems pretty unfair in my opinion.

All of this also leaves me being sick for the second half of my first trimester of pregnancy with baby number two (eep!). Not only do I feel like I’ve been continuously sick for the past month or so, I’ve battled morning sickness, extreme fatigue, a lack of appetite and ongoing hypos. At one point, we were coming home for a walk and I remember almost crying because I didn’t want to eat lollies anymore.

I’m grateful that I’ve got a great endo who’s been helping me with my diabetes management during pregnancy. There was no judgement when I said I simply didn’t have the brain space to do what I needed to do to fix my basal rates on my pump. Instead we worked on alternative solutions that I could manage until I’m able to come into the clinic to sit with the diabetes educator.

On top of that, I threw myself into the deep end at work by agreeing to lead a small internal research grant application. Imagine trying to prod a sodden, half melted brain into full capacity. That’s probably the best description for what that felt like. Thankfully, my teaching commitments were pretty light coming straight back from maternity leave and most of my teaching is in the first half of 2022, which means I still have a bit of time before I need to learn to navigate a slightly different learning management system and changes to my subjects.

Thankfully the Christmas and New Year break has come at the right time. Just as I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by everything, it’s nice to take a break and reassess how I’m approaching things. I’m nervous as to how I’ll handle the new year, especially with a move to a new suburb coming up. For now, I’ll try to enjoy the chaos and haze of a toddler during the festive season.

Not impressed with having to share the limelight
My Diabetes Inklings

Think Before You Ask

What are the chances my child will develop diabetes? That’s been a question that has come up a few times since I fell pregnant and have seen been asked about in the community. Of course it’s also a question I’ve mulled over many times. Recently, while I was being interviewed by a friend about living with diabetes as part of her Masters thesis, we discussed this at length. We ended up having a pretty deep chat about it especially as she lives with diabetes herself.

Statistically speaking, the answer to that question is readily available on the web. You can read about them here. But I think often people who ask don’t just want to know the science. Some might want to know if we have considered this chance of passing on diabetes to our children and the ethics of doing so. I have seen comments online and heard of people who say people with diabetes are selfish for having children, knowing that they could pass the condition on; like diabetes is the worst thing in the world they could have (I would argue being rude would be far worse but anyway…).

How would I tackle the question? It would probably depend on who was asking it and the tone they had approached this. I am all for having an honest discussion about this topic. However, if the question was asked in a way to set me up for a big guilt trip, then I would have no interest in entertaining them.

Having children is such a personal and huge decision and responsibility. It’s one I don’t take lightly and have debated with myself internally for years. I remember someone once said to me I was still too selfish to have a child. I wanted to travel, and splurge money on delicious foods and tech gadgets. Now I realise that it can also be considered quite selfish to have a child. AND I don’t necessarily have to give up all the things I want to pursue and indulge in.

What if my child does develop diabetes? The more I think about it, the more I realise that it doesn’t really matter. Yes my heart will ache for them. But if diabetes is the worst thing to happen to my kid in their life, then they’re doing pretty well. Being diagnosed with medical conditions, whether they are chronic or short term, is a part of life. You can never guarantee someone a perfect life without any adversities. How boring would that be?

I know that whatever happens, we will support our kid however way we can. If my child does develop diabetes, I’d almost be relieved, as I know what we will be dealing with and our kid will be surrounded by some amazing role models to learn from. If anything living with diabetes has taught me so many valuable life lessons that perhaps they will come to learn and apply to other situations too.

Overall, I think it’s important that people understand that being diagnosed with diabetes does not diminish a person’s worth or a parent’s love for them. So next time you want to ask a person what the risk of them passing on <insert health condition> to their child is, I would implore you to give serious thoughts before you do. Think about what you’re actually trying to ask and how it may impact them.

For her, seeing an insulin pump is normal…