Though it’s been 11 years since I had my first child, I can remember those first days and weeks with clarity. My son, Rian, developed acid reflux just days after his birth. I remember his cries and screams, and the helpless feeling that came from not knowing what to do or how to help him. It was clear to me that something was wrong, leading me to make a handful of trips to our doctor’s office. I told the tale to one provider after another, and one by one, each explained that my son had colic and that I had to ride out his suffering. It was only after a late night visit to the emergency room, where I encountered a doctor whose own son had suffered as much as a newborn, that the path toward answers was finally revealed.
Over the subsequent weeks, I slowly learned how to discern and interpret Rian’s cries. In doing so, it was as though a veil was being drawn from my face, allowing me to eventually see and hear and feel with intended capacity. Allowing me to know. And when I finally had this knowing, my anxiety subsided and I began to trust my instincts. My confidence grew. I realized that I could do it. I could be a mother.
I realized quite recently that, at least for me, the process of learning how to parent a child with diabetes and manage T1’s logistical and emotional impact on my family, has been parallel to that of learning how to mother a newborn. I have never felt as helpless, alone and incapable as I did during those first many weeks with a newborn or during these first many months with diabetes. Of course a great many people have helped me by lending me support, love, encouragement, and information. And yet, that help has not spared me from the journey that must be taken in these circumstances. I needed to learn how to take care of my child. Tools were given to me but I needed to learn how to use them. I needed to lift the veil myself.
And so, by degrees, I have. The numbers, the trends, the influences, and the impacts all seem less mysterious to me now. I am understanding Madeline’s diabetes now, in the way I grew to understand Rian’s cries all those years ago. And because I’m more capable now, I’m less burdened by fear and anxiety. I still have a long way to go, and I’ll never be a master of this disease, but I’ve been able to shed the veil.
Do you remember when you first understood that your baby’s cries meant she was hungry? Or tired? Or indicative of pain? Or just plain cranky? Do you remember understanding that and knowing how to help and comfort her?
It’s the deepest relief. And I’m so grateful to feel it.