A bump in my diabetes road – by Helen German
I’ve achieved so much already in my life actually because of diabetes. I was diagnosed shortly after my first year of university. I was told I would never do endurance exercise and in the last 10 years I have run 5ks and 10ks, I’ve done swimming and cycling challenges, and finished my first-ever triathlon last year. Once I graduated I pursued a teaching career and was an English lecturer for seven years.
After 10 years of injections, I was moved over to pump therapy this year. And now I face the biggest challenge so far in my relationship with diabetes: I am pregnant with my first child! Diabetes was forced into my life, but it’s a force that has made me stronger. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns, but diabetes is a massive part of my life. And although it does not define me, it has shaped who I am today.
It was the longest three minutes of my life. It is a time in any woman’s life where the world stops and a thousand ‘what ifs’ wrack her mind while the stick scrutinises her wee. What if it’s positive? What if it’s not? But for a diabetic woman trying for her first baby, I was bombarded by a million questions. What if it’s positive? What if my HbA1c for conceiving wasn’t good enough? What if it’s positive?
What if that high blood sugar at lunch time has done permanent damage to my fertilised egg? What if it’s positive? Then there’s the fear. The fear of the future nine months and how you’ll cope managing so many changes to your body, essentially an already unstable system. And then the dread. The dread of what if my baby has diabetes? What if diabetes means my child will have developmental issues or will be so large I’ll have a horrendous birth? What if diabetes means I’ll lose my eyesight, or worse, the baby will never live beyond birth or past its first week of life?
Then in all this dread and fear and worry, I began to hope. Hope that the stick was negative. Yes that’s right, I began to hope against the dream I’d wanted for so long because there was an ocean of so many negatives drowning the positives. Even when discussing family planning with my husband, what should be the happiest and most exciting time soon descended into doom and gloom as doctors and nurses all told me of the difficult barriers I would face in pregnancy, how hard it would be, how much of a risk, how dangerous…
All the warnings and cautions told me how treacherous and bumpy the pregnancy road would be, yet there I still was, staring at a wee-soaked stick because my life depended on it. And then it appeared. The little line. The start line for the pregnancy pathway. Positive. Two to three weeks pregnant. And suddenly I gasped for air, hugged my husband, and cried tears of – joy! All those questions, but only one answer. The steely resolve and determination to brave the journey ahead, with the biggest bump yet in my diabetic life.