Monday, January 10, 2011

A survival guide to life with D while adding a newborn to the mix

After 4 months of taking care of a 3 year old with diabetes and a newborn, I consider myself to be the wiliest of veterans. And now, I shall bestow that wisdom (such that it is) upon you. Some of what I have written are things that really helped me. Some are sad attempts at humour (see if you can tell which is which!!!). Of course, like all advice, it should be taken with a grain of salt (and shot of tequila), and consider the source; someone who may or may not be suffering from a wee bit o' the crazies.


So you're going to have a baby! Congrats! Babies are awesome!

What's that? You also have a tiny type 1? Okay, okay... no need to panic. You can do this. You can. I've been doing it for over 4 months now, and I'm still alive and mostly sane. Here's my little guide on how:

Before the baby is born

1. Write up a care manual for the person who will be caring for your child with type 1. Unless you already have family nearby who is well-versed in your child's care, the manual will help set your mind at ease, and give the care-giver the confidence that they will be able to handle any situation that might arise (while also scaring the poop out of them). I have a spiffy 11-page thriller that covers everything from emergency phone numbers, to giving shots. I've also included things like; how to check a BG (in case of brain fart), using the CGM, an explanation of carb factors and some of Elise's favourite foods. If you'd like a copy to help you write your own, just contact me and I'd be happy to email it to you.

2. Make food ahead of time. Like, lots of food. Like, the apocalypse is coming and you need to feed your family for a year, food. There are a ton of great "freezer food" websites out there. I looked up a bunch of recipes, spent a few days making up the dishes (complete with carb counts), and stacked them in my freezer in the garage. Now, if I have a particularly hellish day, I know that at least I don't have to worry about dinner.

3. You'll need to learn how to check BG one handed. Because it will always happen that as soon as you sit down to feed your baby, your other child will need his or her BG checked. To practice this, hold your cat or small dog (or if you don't have one, a sack of potatoes will do) in one arm, while cleaning and poking your child's finger and loading the strip into the meter. Bonus points if you don't get an Er5 on the first try. Extra bonus points if you can learn to give a shot one handed.

4. I swore I never wanted a pacifier baby, but the pacifier has been an invaluable tool in keeping Mattias occupied while tending to Elise's needs. Buy pacifiers. Lots of them.

5. Make a recording of a baby crying. Play it, at full volume, while you're attending to your child with type 1. Try to ignore the feelings of being a bad Mom and the tears that threaten to fall. This will help dull the feelings of guilt when it happens for real.

6. If your insurance covers it and/or you can afford it, get a CGM. This was, without a doubt, one of the best tools we added to our arsenal this year. I'll explain why below.

After the baby is born

1. I'm a logger. And no, not a plaid-wearing, cut-down-trees type of logger. I use logs to record information pertinent to my kids. For Elise, that means carbs, shots, and BGs. For Mattias; poops, pees, eating and sleeping. Use a baby log. Seriously, it helps you to remember when you last fed your baby. Or how much. And you can answer the "how many wet diapers a day" question the pediatrician likes to ask with absolute certainty. Again... I have a great baby log and would be happy to email you a copy if you'd like.

2. This one depends on your personality, but being on a schedule does make life a lot easier. But I loves me a schedule, so don't force it upon yourself if it's not how you roll.

3. When you are going to be doing anything with the baby that might take a bit of time (feeding, bathing etc.), check your child's BG to set your mind at ease. There is nothing like settling down to nurse your starving baby, only to hear your other child say, "I don't feel good" (or whatever the phrase of choice is for a low). This is where a CGM is awesome. I can not only see her BG, but make sure she's not dropping.

4. When you do sit down to nurse/feed, or bathe your baby, make sure you have everything you need within arms reach. This usually means meter, and something for a low. I started carrying smarties in my socks (if I didn't have any pockets).

5. If you don't already have one, start a blog so you can rant about how you are losing your mind. Print out all the wonderful comments the people from the DOC leave and roll around in them. Naked.

Hopefully somebody out there will find this helpful. I wish I had known what to expect before Mattias came along. But I did it. And you can too. Promise.


  1. I don't need the baby/toddler advice but enjoyed it anyway. Too funny and, you're good!

  2. Love this post, Joanne. Fortunately I will NEVER again need this advice (squee!) but I now have a resourse for the poor fool, ahem I mean soul, who will need this.

    And, because I am totally a curious person, would you email me a copy of that 11 page guide??? I might use it as a template for relatives and babysitters (HAHAHAHAHA ... like I will ever have a babysiter, but I can dream)


  3. So..... About the nakedness and rolling around in our comments...Should we feel "violated"?


    Great post my dear friend and as always, I am amazed at your grace under pressure. I have always been grateful that Bridge was 5 when Joe was diagnosed at 3.


    AND...NO!!! No more babies for me.

  4. Hilarious! Yes, please email me that baby log. I would love to have it! My email address is

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I love you! Naked!? Duhhh thats the part I was missing!

    While I dont have a newborn Synsyre is 5 and sometimes feels neglected due to D so I may use some of your tips.

  7. by the way... you are a superhero. seriously.

    p.s. can you email me your 11 page guide... i am a big "no need to reinvent the wheel" kinda gal and who knows when having that will be super helpful (you know like literally life saving sort of helpful)

  8. I just love you! You are doing awesome at handling all that you have on your plate. Keep up the great work mama!

  9. and roll around in them...naked!
    You rock lady, I definitely needed a dose of your lovely humor tonight!

  10. What a great post! I love your blog! Our son is 18 months old, and was diagnosed in October of last year, so we're new to all of this. We're also expecting a baby on August 5! I'd love a copy of your manual!! Email is

  11. Where was the post 16 months ago when I needed it? :) I look back and can't believe I survived that time. I was 6 months pregnant when my DD got diagnosed.


Comment moderation now in effect because of jerky comment spammers.

Now please leave your message after the beep.