Monday, April 18, 2011

Stay tuned for next week's blog

Hello everyone, I won't be blogging today. Stay tuned for next week at 32 weeks pregnancy, Type 1 diabetes, and twins. Happy holidays, Ophir

Monday, April 11, 2011

Inspirations (and questions) on parenting as a diabetic

Among the many things on my mind at 30 weeks of pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes is what our method of parenting will be.

I think about how I was raised, and how I would like to adopt the traditions and values that my parents passed onto me – while of course creating some of our own. I’ve also been observing all of my friends with kids, taking mental notes, and quite frankly have been very impressed with them. I was also a teacher once upon a time, and learned a bit about classroom management and child/adolescent psychology, and so I’m sure those lessons will come into play as well – such as consistency, how to give constructive feedback, the stages of childhood development, and so on.

I know that we will have our own style that will probably involve building on our own experiences and beliefs mixed with learning combined with winging it.

And of course, there’s the diabetes. There is no doubt in my mind that diabetes will play an instrumental role in how I parent – whether I’m aware of it or not. It simply changes how you do things, your outlook, how you manage life.

As a T1 diabetic, I’m very structured on a day to day basis. Although my heart is that of a creative free spirit, I eat and check my sugars at certain times of the day. That’s just how it is. I had to learn to balance the demands of life with my true passions at a young age, and to be honest still struggle with it sometimes. I’ve also learned to roll with the punches. You never know when you may have a low or a high sugar, and you just have to deal with it no matter where you are or what you are doing. The good news is that I handle crisis situations pretty well – in my own way.

There are also the physical demands of diabetes that will come into play when having twins. What do I do if I have a low sugar while I’m changing or feeding them? My response: I need to handle my low sugar first. Kind of like how on an airplane the safety directions advise you to place the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child. It won’t be much help to the child if I’m passed out.

Another issue that comes with living with diabetes is dependence vs. independence. Type 1 diabetics are insulin-dependent. We need insulin to live. I’ve had diabetes since the age of 3, and so I was incredibly dependent on my parents not only for what normal kids are dependent on their parents for – but also for my insulin shots. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived. I was also dependent on my parents to help me when I experienced low blood sugars, to think about the types of foods I was eating, to make sure I stayed active, to check for ketones when my sugar was high and to dose the right amount of insulin.

At the same, diabetics crave independence. So many of us want so badly to take care of ourselves, show people that we can achieve anything, and not let the diabetes define us.

I know that all of this will influence how I raise the twins. I’m sure of it.

What I don’t know is what it’s like to not have diabetes. But I believe that the lessons of living with diabetes will help make me more aware of and sensitive to whatever our children experience and go through in life.

Mothers want everything to be good for their children. Life isn’t always like that though. I’m sure my parents weren’t thrilled or jumping for joy when they learned that I have diabetes. So it’s my job as a parent to not resist when bad things happen, and instead, help all of us accept that this is what life has dealt. This is a part of the journey. Now let’s see how we can make it the best it can be.

There are so many ways to do this, and my favorites typically involve learning lessons. Using the challenges in life as an opportunity.

True happiness involves discomfort, according to Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben Shachar in his book, Even Happier. “We should remember that going through difficult times can augment our capacity for pleasure: it keeps us from taking pleasure for granted, reminds us to be grateful for all the large and small pleasures in our lives. Being grateful in this way can itself be a source of real meaning and pleasure.” (p. 26)

I definitely agree with this approach, and it’s worked for me. Many people suppress when bad things happen, while I find that it helps to face it, let it out and learn from it. And then I’m able to let go.

Here’s another strategy: I was listening to an inspirational talk show called Positive Living on ION network the other day. A life coach, whose name I can’t recall, advised that when faced with challenges in our lives, observe what questions you are asking.

For example, if you are afraid that your place of employment is downsizing and that you may be a part of it, you may find yourself asking, “What am I going to do if I’m laid off?” “How will I afford things?” As a result of that way of thinking, your brain focuses on coming up with those kinds of answers. You may start thinking of unemployment or worse. And then that energy brings about those results.

Instead, he advised asking, “How can I make the most of the situation?” “What can I do to keep my job?” And then your brain will creatively think of ways to deal with those questions instead, and bring that energy to the situation.

I found this to be a real aha moment for me. It’s all in the phrasing of the question.

As I sit here thinking about becoming a parent, I ask myself, “How can I be the best parent I can be?” “How can I provide my kids with the best life possible?” “How can I manage motherhood and diabetes?” “How can I bring the positive aspects of having diabetes to my kids?”

And the answers will come.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It’s third trimester time

We’ve entered the home stretch. I am 29 weeks pregnant – with twins and Type 1 diabetes and still at ‘advanced maternal age’ – and I entered the third trimester a week or so ago at 28 weeks. Forty weeks is considered full term, and that means that I’m in the middle of my seventh month.

To be honest, I started feeling the effects of the third trimester at around week 25 or 26, when my blood sugars began to fluctuate - totally expected for a Type 1 diabetic according to my doctors. I am still monitoring, dosing insulin accordingly, etc., only now I need a lot more insulin, and blood sugar control is not as easy as it had been in the first and second trimesters when my blood sugars were stellar. But considering I’m a Type 1 diabetic, both my doctor and I are pleased with my blood sugar readings.

Other changes that have been developing: It’s harder to move around. I walk – or rather waddle – at a snail’s pace. I can’t see my toes when I’m standing. I got a cut on my ankle, which I can’t see and have to contort every which way to get to, and I have been asking Lior to put band-aids on it for me. And why must everything fall on the floor? I am dropping things left and right, and it’s getting harder for me to squat down to pick stuff up. I am pretty good at squatting from all of my yoga, but between the weight in my tummy and newfound lack of balance, it’s getting a wee bit harder to do that successfully.

Sleep just isn’t the same. I miss a really good night’s sleep. I wake up really early, and for whatever reason, I’m not tired in the evenings. And so I don’t fall asleep until later than usual. I miss my solid eight hours.

The most popular question I get asked during the third trimester is: Do you feel movement? This question always gets me, especially when it’s from people I hardly know. And what if I didn’t? Am I going to tell you about it? But yes, the babies are moving. Actually, I hardly feel the girl because she’s nestled further back, but I go through so many ultrasounds that I know that she’s right on track. The boy is very active. He kicks and jabs, and my whole tummy jolts during one of his many soccer goal attempts. He’s clearly in training for the US National Soccer Team because I don’t know why else he would kick so hard in there.

The fun parts: We’ve picked names. I’m not going to tell you what they are though. Shhh…it’s bad luck to tell you before they’re born. Isn’t that such a tease? We’ve been decorating the babies’ room. Well, now there’s just a bunch of boxes sitting there. But we’ve painted, and Lior installed lighting over the weekend. The better to see them during 3 am feedings.

Here’s the deal: No one really prepares you for all that’s involved with getting pregnant. Actually, I’m not sure that you can prepare someone for all of this. There are so many emotional and physical ups and downs. I’ve never worried so much in my entire life and been so excited at the same time. I can’t wait to meet them, but at the same time, I’m freaking out about how we’re going to handle it all. I feel like a slow-moving cow with a very big belly, but at the same time, everyone’s telling me how great I look. People see a pregnant lady and are blinded by the pregnancy glow and stop seeing clearly.

Pregnancy is like the ultimate dichotomy, the yin and yang of life, opposing forces, a Star Wars flick where good and evil battle it out. Okay, maybe I'm going a bit too far here with my metaphors.

But life isn’t black or white. Just as nothing in life is either good or bad. Everything is just what it is. So perhaps pregnancy is the ultimate lesson in acceptance and being present?

I know I feel good physically – even during this third trimester – when I’m doing yoga or sitting in the sun listening to the birds chirp. I’ve been calling both my therapy. I know that I feel my best emotionally when I’m writing. Not so coincidentally, these are also my most present moments, when I'm in the zone.

In instructor Shiva Rea’s prenatal yoga video, which I have been doing a couple times a week, she says that pregnancy and motherhood are the ultimate opportunity to practice presence. She continues by saying that being a parent is the ultimate lesson in presence - with your children. Yoga, in her view, prepares you for that. I agree with her.

Seems to me that the process of pregnancy is preparation for what’s to come, not only in getting the nursery together, picking names, and learning all you need to know to care for an infant. The third trimester is a chance to practice presence under physical and emotional duress. And I know I feel better when I do.

The lesson is figuring out when you feel present and then incorporating it into your day as often as you can. You'll be grateful you did.