News flash, everyone! Having a baby is hard. And time-consuming. It’s amazing to me how I can spend an entire day doing nothing — and watching the Magpie do nothing — and end up so exhausted at the end of it.
I knew that having a newborn would be a lot of work. (It’s one of the things people tell you right after they congratulate you on your pregnancy: “Oh, you’re having a baby?! That’s so great. You’re going to feel like total death for several weeks after she arrives!”) What I didn’t know is that I’ve actually been taking care of a baby for almost 22 years now. A real ugly SOB that won’t move out: diabetes.
I’ve compared diabetes to a terrible pet before, and no disease is any fun to manage, but I’ve never felt the intrusion of diabetes’ demands the way that I do now. Before the Magpie, I was always focused on taking care of myself and addressing the demands of Type 1 diabetes before all else. Even when I was pregnant, good diabetes care meant good baby care, so there was never a conflict of interest.
Now, though, I feel like diabetes is there to mess up my attempts at doing normal Mom things successfully. It’s almost like I spent 9 months spoiling this thing, and now it thinks it’s going to get special pregnancy-level attention forever. Not quite.
I wake up to feed one baby in the middle of the night, and the other one needs feeding, too. The Magpie’s crying for milk, and the diabetes wants orange juice — and, depending on my low symptoms, an entire box of cereal. Not a minute after I’ve coaxed one baby to sleep in my lap, the other starts wailing; it’s my CGM alarm, sounding off because I’m low from feeding its sibling. I’m getting better at unclipping my pump from beneath my breastfeeding pillow and silencing an alarm by feel alone, but it’s still hard to do without waking up a barely sleeping Magpie.
Her little peanut toes get caught up in my pump tubing, and my pump gets in the way when I try to hold her baby carrier at my side. I’ve dropped so many granola bar bits on her tiny body as she sleeps in my arms, and I always wonder if she notices the reek of insulin, or if she thinks that’s just normal mommy smell.
The good news is, I’m getting better at it. The Magpie can entertain herself (or stay asleep) for short bursts during the day, so we’ve gotten to the point where I can do things like shower or make a PB&J or change my infusion set without feeling like I’m neglecting my child. And look! I’ve even written two blog posts in the ten weeks since she’s been born.
As frustrating as diabetes management can be — with or without a human baby to take care of — I know I’ve just got to get used to it. For at least the next 18 years, I’ll be carefully tending my two children, balancing the needs of the two (along with my own), feeling that little twinge of guilt on the occasions when I fail one or the other, but heartily celebrating every little success along the way.