What Type 1 Diabetes Taught Me About Motherhood – by Noor Alramahi

Women with type 1 diabetes are often worried when it comes to juggling diabetes and starting a family. For Noor, her dreams of motherhood came true with not one little bundle of joy, but twins! To celebrate Mother’s Day, Noor shares how living with diabetes has helped prepare her for motherhood.

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a mom. During my teen years I was young, naïve, and invincible – so I never thought much of it besides: One day I will have the most beautiful kids, I will do school pickups in skinny jeans, a white t-shirt and heels with perfect contoured makeup and hair, Victoria Beckham-style (yeah, right). 

Once my frontal lobe fully developed, the reality, fear and mortality of the situation started to settle in. How was I supposed to grow and take care of healthy babies while taking care of my very needy and temperamental forever “child:” my diabetes? 

Little did I know that my diabetes would be my blessing in disguise. It has taught me lessons that helped pave my journey to and through motherhood.

1. Things don’t always go as planned

There are so many times when we do everything “right” with diabetes, but blood sugar levels still manage to not make sense. Carb counts and boluses are correct, and still blood sugar levels go out of whack. Better yet, when you plan to arrive to a meeting on time – but you rip out a site on your way out the door and end up showing up late. 

So I was no stranger to unpredictability. Our plan was to get pregnant three months after we started planning; it took us two years, four rounds of fertility treatment and one round of IVF. We planned for one baby per pregnancy, and we ended up with two!! Things got more interesting after our boys arrived: cancelled trips due to sickness, destination detours to Target because explosive poop happens and lazy PJ weekdays thanks to teething sleepless nights (hello, deadlines!).

2. Shots? No biggie

Three years of fertility treatments and a high-risk pregnancy meant there was a lot of extra shots and blood tests. For most people, having to suddenly deal with fertility treatments or a high-risk pregnancy means that all the daily shots, and the poking and probing is a new and overwhelming ordeal to wrap their heads around. Luckily (or unluckily??) for me, that was one less thing for me to worry and panic about. 

3. Baggage for life

With all the diabetes stuff I have to carry around, I can never leave the house with just my wallet, keys, and phone. I upgraded to a Mary Poppins mommy bag way before diapers, pacifiers, bottles, blankies, milk, snacks, and toys took over my life and made it a necessity.

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Over the years, T1D has taught me to always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I learned the hard way to anticipate worst-case scenarios and be one step ahead of them. That can mean packing two infusion sets, backup basal insulin and fast acting insulin, enough low supplies to end world hunger, a meter inside a ziplock bag for a day trip to the beach – all because diabetes likes to “happen” at all the wrong times. Well that was an amazing skill to have, especially during the “wonderful twos” and “threenager” phases, because God forbid I pack the wrong kind of crackers.

5. The food doctor

Anyone who has diabetes knows that food is a major factor. From the day I was diagnosed, I was taught to read nutrition labels and ingredients. I have a great understanding of how certain foods affect your body, was more in tune with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the food industry. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the marketing catch phrases like “net carbs,” “no sugar added,” “fat free,” and “all natural.” Having that knowledge helped me make more informed food choices for my kids. However, getting them to eat what I choose is a totally different story.

6. Contagious compassion

Diabetes has given me every reason to be angry at my myself and the world, but instead I let it teach me how to be compassionate and kind to myself and others. I can’t even count the times when I’d be battling a high, a low, or just a roller-coaster day, feeling super crappy and snapping at the person in front of me. This taught me that most people are fighting a battle we don’t know about or can’t see: that jerk that cut you off while in traffic might be a concerned dad rushing home to see his sick daughter or that douche Kanye wannabe wearing sunglasses indoors might be dealing with a migraine. Our kids have picked up on that sentiment; they care about people. They ask, “Mama does Baba need candy for his blood sugar?” when he’s not in the best mood.

7. Be kind and gentle

Living with diabetes and being a parent are two of the hardest jobs on Earth. They are both exhausting. Unpredictable. Constant. All day, every day.  In our social media world, filled with straight Dexcom lines and perfect, obedient, happy-looking families, it’s easy to feel like I’m failing at the D-Life and the Mom Life everyday. 

I realized it’s impossible for anyone to have those perfect numbers 24/7. We all have our moments and days and that’s ok! As a mom, the urge to beat myself up is even greater. Mom guilt is real! Luckily, I have that reminder that social media isn’t the real world; it is a filtered, tiny piece of the greater picture. At the end of the day, I am able to be kind and gentle to myself and acknowledge that even if the day was not perfect, I tried my best and am doing a great job raising these little loves of mine and trying to be a human pancreas.

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