There is a hushed feel to the room. Even as people walk in to register, they whisper their names and nervously ask if they can take copies of the resources from the tables. They usually come in pairs, and together they speak softly to each other and stand close. As the doors open to the lecture room, they walk in, sit down and look ahead. This isn’t one of our usual events where there’s lots of chatter and sharing of stories. This one is more personal, more urgent. This one is about babies.

It was our diabetes and pregnancy information evening. We started running these sessions almost 10 years ago. I can still remember the first session. As we planned the event, I was terrified that no one would show up. Over 100 people attended – women with diabetes and their partners or mums or sisters or friends. I spoke to a couple of women who didn’t have diabetes, but their teenage daughters did. Although their daughters didn’t come along, these mums wanted to have all the information they could get. What wonderful mums!

Now, all these years later, we still get a good number of people attending. We had over 80 booked in for this session and most showed up, eager to find out about diabetes, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

There is so much hope and anticipation in the room. And you can almost feel the rollercoaster of emotions in the room as the obstetrician and endocrinologist gently, but firmly, outline how diabetes can impact on a pregnancy and how pregnancy can impact on diabetes. There’s some scary information in there, but there is also a really positive message. And when I’m emceeing the event, I make sure that message is not lost. Here it is:

Can I expect a healthy baby?

Yes. Women with diabetes have an equal chance of having a healthy baby if they become pregnant at a time when their diabetes is controlled and general health is good. It is highly recommended that women with diabetes plan their pregnancies.

                                                                                                                                                   From ‘Can I Have a Healthy Baby?’

It’s good news, it’s positive news and I can feel the relief in the room when we focus on this for a moment. At that point we bring it all together and ask the women in the room (and their partners) to take a deep breath. Because we bring out our ‘case study’ – the good news that ties it all together!.

This year, my dear friend and colleague, Kim, stepped up and volunteered to share her story. Kim has two beautiful children. And when I say beautiful, I’m talking put-them-on-a-box-of-nappies gorgeous!  We keep using photos of them for our diabetes and pregnancy resources because we can’t get enough of them!

Kim’s story is wonderful. And her candidness and honesty about how her family came to being so perfectly complete is not all perfection. There were struggles, disappointments and the need to wait. But her children are here and they are a joy.

I’ve said before how much I love my job, and this event is one of the reasons. I love the fact that each year after we’ve run the event, I get calls from women who were there, and are now pregnant. And others who have attended send me photos of their beautiful, beautiful babies.

Pregnancy with diabetes is not easy. But it is absolutely achievable and even though whilst we’re in the middle of a pregnancy that we feel may never end, as we check our blood sugar for what seems the millionth time – just for that day!,  as we sit in the waiting room of yet another doctor’s office or hospital clinic, it is all worth it. And as we hold that precious baby in our arms for the first time – and every time after that we know that it was all worth it.

My own healthy baby; a day old and so precious.

Looking for information about diabetes and pregnancy? The ‘Can I Have a Healthy Baby?’ information booklet is a great place to start and can be downloaded for free here.

And call Diabetes Australia on 1300 156 588 for a free copy of the fabulous ‘Having a Healthy Baby’ DVD.

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