Balancing Motherhood And Diabetes

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As mothers with diabetes, sometimes, worrying about blood sugars or making sure what we eat, takes a back seat to the demands of our family. When the baby is crying, there's homework that needs to be done, there are laundries and chores, and it seems like there will never be enough time to do everything that needs to be done; then our blood sugar spikes, sometimes it feels like it's us against the world. There have been many days when I want to scream or cry in frustration, and diabetes is just one of the things that make my life harder. Those are the days that my grandmother's words ring in my head: "This too shall pass." I take a deep breath and hold on (or yell or figure out a way to go for a run or a walk), and it almost always gets better.

Rachel Garlinghouse has two young daughters, Ella and Emery and she says: "I know that if I do not put my health first, everyone in my family will suffer. Diabetes or not, how I treat myself is likely how my daughters will learn to treat themselves. I value exercise, healthy eating, sleep, and relaxation. I work very hard to make sure we aren't overscheduled as a family. At times, yes, it's difficult to say 'no' to others and 'yes' to self, but if you don't take care of yourself now, you will pay for it later."

Cara Bauer has three kids and says:

Aside from checking my blood sugar and having to deal with changing out my pump and such; for me, I don't think being a mom with diabetes is always much different from being a mom without it. I do need to realize my limitations in many things, I can't spontaneously go swimming with my kids, I need to do something with my pump. I need to keep on top of my blood sugars, but it only takes a few seconds. Having diabetes has made me realize I can't do everything, and it's ok to say no and not feel guilty. But I make myself take time for me and do what is good for me. I want to be around long enough to spoil my grandchildren.

Stella Biggs says that one of her biggest challenges is keeping her low blood sugars from scaring her children. It's most difficult when her husband travels for work. She narrates:

[When lows happen] my husband says, "Mommy is silly right now." Most of the time it is when we are on vacation and away from reality that this happens, but they still get scared. They are old enough now that they even ask me how my blood sugar is doing, and if I act even a little weird, they ask me to check my blood sugar. I know they are scared, but they also love me and want me to be around. The hardest thing is when my husband travels for business. I have to be extremely aware and careful that I do not get any low blood sugars because I am the only one taking care of them at that time, and I don't want them to have to take care of me. I have been lucky so far that it has not gotten to the point of losing control, especially now, since I have my [continuous glucose monitoring] CGM, but before I had it, I was checking all hours of the night to make sure I was ok. Another challenging part of motherhood and diabetes is exercise. I work full time and then I have to juggle dinner, homework, and baths, plus spend quality time with my husband. I have been going to the gym at 5 am to try and fit in exercise, but then I am so tired at night that I don't get to spend enough time with my husband. If I go to the gym after work, then I have to juggle the low blood sugars at the gym. It has been very challenging to find time with work and motherhood/marriage[and] to make time for exercise, which I clearly need.

Balancing work and motherhood is challenging for any mother. Making time for anything beyond work and home is very challenging, such as exercise, doctors' appointments for 3 people, birthday parties, etc. That is not exclusive to diabetic mothers, but we may have more doctors' appointments for ourselves than most mothers do; also, we can't skip the gym if we don't feel like it or the day gets too long at work.

Michelle Sorensen believes that her health needs to come first so she can be a healthy mother and someday, a healthy grandmother. She says, "However, at times, it is hard in the moment to put my needs first. For example, if I need to check my sugar but I have a crying newborn or whining toddler, it is hard to control my impulse to soothe my child first."

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