I am writing this quickly and won’t be editing it. Because when I stop and think about this I freak out and then want to curl up in a ball in a dark room. I don’t want to verbalise it, I don’t want to think about it. So, I apologise in advance for the typos, the grammatical errors and (Heaven-forbid!) the punctuation problems.
What I want to say is this: I am beyond terrified that my daughter will develop type 1 diabetes. It keeps me awake at night; it gives me nightmares in the day whilst I’m awake. I feel guilt for this thing that may happen. May never happen. But may happen. May. Happen.
I know a lot of women with diabetes who have children. Beautiful, smart, wonderful, fabulous, bright, gorgeous children. And I know statistics. And I know that possibly sooner or later one of our children may be diagnosed with type 1. Some of us speak about it regularly. Others keep it hidden –as if putting thoughts into words will make them come true.
For me, I continue to watch in wonder and amazement as the miracle I know as my daughter continues to grow and grow. But the moments where I think she has visited the bathroom an extra time, or is asking for a drink of water ‘because I’m soooo thirsty, mummy!’ will continue to terrify and paralyse me. And I will continue to fight the urge to do a quick finger prick check – something I’ve only done four times in her nearly-seven years.
For the first time I am starting to ask myself what it is that I fear. Of course, I don’t want her to develop diabetes, but if she did, we would deal with that. It wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be fun. But we’d work through it and aim to surround ourselves with the best health professionals, the best treatment, the most information possible and peer networks to help us through.
I think the thing that I struggle with is how I will start to feel about myself.
Whilst I was pregnant, I worried about what my diabetes was doing to her as she developed from a pea to a person – even with an HbA1c of under 6.5% for the whole pregnancy.
And then when she was delivered amongst the euphoria of meeting my beautiful daughter, I wept with guilt as her heel was pricked repeatedly to check her blood sugar levels. An hour after she was delivered, her BGL plummeted and she was whisked away from me and taken to the Special Care Nursery where the paediatritian tried and tried and tried again to get an IV line into her. An hour into being a father, Aaron was doing all he could to not grab his precious newborn baby and protect her from the pain she was obviously feeling. Her wails could be heard throughout the Nursery. He told me about this weeks after her delivery – he knew the anguish and heart break I would feel.
And this was because her mother has diabetes. Mother guilt starts early with diabetes.
How do we move on from this? How do we be kind to ourselves about what may happen? How do we rationalise that we cannot be held to blame?