My daughter is amazing. She is smart, bright, beautiful, funny and has an incredible sense of what is right. For an almost-eight year old, she is incredibly mature and, thanks to spending a lot of time with adults and travelling the globe, she has a pretty broad view of the world.
But today, she is sad and my heart is breaking at the reason for her tears.
She wants a brother or sister. Desperately. I am not surprised at her telling me this today; she has mentioned it on numerous occasions. Often as a throw-away comment, other times as a pleading question. Perhaps the way I’ve dealt with it has been too flippant, or I haven’t paid enough attention to just how much she is affected by our family situation. ‘Oh, mummy decided that after you came along she was perfectly happy and didn’t want another baby’ or ‘You have all our attention and love – that’s pretty special, isn’t it?’ or the more truthful, but not really complete ‘It was very hard for mummy to have a healthy baby. I am so lucky to have you’. The underlying story is that my diabetes is a reason that our daughter does not have a sibling.
And to a degree, that is true. But really, diabetes is not the reason that I didn’t have another child. Well, not the only reason. After finally getting pregnant (following fertility treatment and many months of trying) I had a miscarriage. It was the saddest, darkest period in my life. I mourned the loss of the baby I wanted so, so desperately but, at ten weeks, had died. I felt my body was useless – the same body that had taken me so long to get pregnant had not been able to carry a baby. Useless, hopeless and more broken than I could imagine.
My doctors assured me, reassured me and were certain that diabetes was not the reason for my miscarriage. I had achieved an ‘in-target’ A1c prior to conceiving, I monitored my BGL diligently and adjusted insulin accordingly, I ate well, I don’t smoke: I ticked all the ‘having a healthy baby’ boxes. And still something went wrong.
Today, with the benefit of time, I know that this was just ‘one of those things’. But at the time, I had a need to ‘blame’ something or someone. So I blamed diabetes.
And I made a deal – not sure with who; maybe myself. But I decided that one healthy baby was all that I would ask for. Once I was able to conceive, grow and deliver a healthy baby I would not ask for anything further; not be greedy; not push my luck.
It took another eight months for me to get pregnant and I spent the next 38 weeks waiting for something to go wrong. The fact that I delivered a healthy, wonderful, beautiful baby girl was nothing short of a miracle to me. It still is.
When our daughter was almost two, my sister-in-law had her second child and suddenly, I had a nephew. He was (he is) beautiful and I dared to think about having another baby. I once again did all the ‘right things’ – saw my ob/gyn, had all the pre-pregnancy tests done, made sure my A1c was under 6.5%. Tick, tick, tick. And then, first month of trying, I got pregnant. My husband and I could not believe our luck. We were having another baby. For a few weeks we planned, decided to renovate our house, wondered how we would love another child as much as the one we had, dreamed of what this one would look like.
But then I miscarried again. I was sad – I went home after the D&C and hugged my daughter closely to me – but certainly not as bereft as after the first miscarriage. I once again felt that my body was broken and that I was not accepting its limitations. And I remembered the bargain I’d made. At that point, I knew that I would not try again and that I would be forever happy with our family of three.
By choice or by fate? Sometimes I feel that having only one child was not something I decided to do. My body has limitations and diabetes is one of them. Is it the reason that I have only one child? Probably not the only reason; but certainly, definitely, absolutely one of them.
So today, I explained this to my daughter. I spoke about the miscarriages in a way an almost-eight year old could understand; I told her how much her daddy and I wanted her; I explained that our family is perfect for us; I explained that she is loved . She took it in, thought about it and looked at me through teary eyes. ‘I really want a baby brother or sister,’ she said to me. ‘But more than that, I wish you didn’t have diabetes.’
My daughter is amazing.