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CWD FFL 2012: Parenting with Type 1 Diabetes.

The first time I sat in the Parenting with Type 1 diabetes session, I was a first time mom, and a new one.  My daughter was about 14 months old and I was just starting to process the fact that I spent years planning for my pregnancy but I hadn't thought much about what to do once she had escaped my womb. 

This year, I was able to function during this session without crying.  (Which is a good thing, since I was part of the faculty leading the sessions, along with Scott Johnson and Stefan Rubin.)  I'm not sure why it was easier this year - nothing has changed in terms of me being more or less emotional.  I still feel weak when I think about how diabetes might affect my daughter.  I still feel lost when I think about the hypoglycemic episodes my own child has experienced.  But maybe that's what makes it easier, in a sense.   She's been in my life for over two years, and we've had some health issues (like Pukefest 2012), so I'm not as scared of "what to do."  I've already had to do a few "things."

But it is so comforting to talk with other parents who understand that delicate balance between diabetes and their child, especially at a conference where the focus is, more or less, on parents of children with diabetes.  (Though that perception is changing, thanks to the adults with type 1 session track and the droves of adults with type 1 who attended the conference this year!)  In this session, it was about being a parent with type 1 diabetes.  We talked about things like handling lows when we're in charge of our children, or how to talk about our diabetes with our child.  (We take it slow and steady here in my house, explaining things as needed and without too much fanfare.  More on that later, too.)

This session was a safe place.  Some of the sessions at Friends for Life are so intimate, where people are sharing their concerns and fears (and if you're me, many unexpected tears), that it's not meant for "live-blogging."  Sometimes you need to be able to sit in a room with your peers and really talk, without fear that someone is Tweeting or making it public.  (Which is a far cry from the session that Scott and I lead about Twitter and the DOC … more on that next round.)  

This year, I saw a lot of hope in that room.  There were more of us, more parents who were living with diabetes.  Some of us have children who are not diabetic.  Some of us have children who wear the same green bracelets at Friends for Life as we do.  Some of us haven't yet taken the leap towards parenthood, but are thinking about it.  (And in the case of one of us, motherhood was just a few weeks away.)  The discussions weren't rooted in fear, but more in hope.  It was a room full of people who were sharing how they are parenting, or working towards the goal of parenting, and it wasn't about our fears.  It was about our hope. 

Parenting is complicated, regardless of what kind of health history you're wrangling in.  What's important is that hope.  And that room, with all of its different personalities and circumstances and situations, had two common threads:  diabetes ... and hope.

A whole pile o' hope.

So much hope.


This is a great summary, Kerri. Safe and intimate describe it perfectly, I think

I was actually worried about this. So glad it went well.

Last year this was one of my favorite sessions. So safe.

Parenting a kid with diabetes is kind of like living in a foxhole. You might not know the guy in the hole with you, but at that moment he's your best friend because you're sharing the same experience.

Some day I would love to be able to attend something like this. In my small Canadian city I know only a handful of diabetics and none of them are parents. I have a wonderful, supportive husband, caring friends and beautiful diabetes-smart kids who have known since a very young age how to help mommy when she has low blood sugar. But I have no one who truly understands the anxiety and guilt that accompany trying to be a good parent while managing diabetes. I think a gathering like this must be amazing!

It was so interesting to me to hear the often similar and sometimes so vastly different perspectives people have on this. I feel like the conversation was only just starting and look forward to its continuation.

@Shannon, this was my first FFL and I encourage you to do whatever you can to attend one. I don't plan to miss another. Friends for Life Canada 2012 is next month, and 2013 in March, just a few months away. I know it's a big country, but either of these must be closer for you than Orlando!

Sean do you know of any of these meeting happening in Southern California? i live in Palm Springs and ive never heard of such an event. I would be intrested in participating also; my daughters is the same age as Kerri's and its been a great but tuff journey thus far :)

I'm also new to the "parenting" gig..& I appreciated this session. I still fear that my child could develop diabetes..but the fact that there are other type 1 parents (both living it, and dealing with it in their own kids)makes me see that it can be done. All of us want the best for our kids & diabetes doesn't change that. We need that support as well.

I am so excited to be coming to the 2013 Orlando Meeting. Being displaced from your job does have it's advantages. whatever I can share will be rewarding for me. It will be fun to have the Birdy in attendance. She told me While Kerri was away that I was her best friend. That made my heart swell!
Kerri's Mom

I've found your posts about parenting with diabetes very encouraging. I've always wanted a family, so when I was diagnosed with type 1 5 months ago the thing that scared me most was how this disease might affect my ability to have kids. I love seeing pictures of your happy, healthy little girl. I'm grateful that you've chosen to share some of the ups and downs of being a mommy with type 1.

I'll be heading into the parenting territory hopefully within the next year so this post was very timely. I'd be very interested to attend something like this. You are right though, being a mom and having T1D takes A LOT more planning!! I keep telling myself, one day at a time because it can get overwhelming to look too far into the future. Thank you Kerri!

I really appreciate your post. I'm a T1 mom (dx'ed 18 years ago) to a wonderful 6yo boy and expecting #2, which is a little girl, due in November. I also work full-time, live in a big demanding city, and am considering separating from my husband of nearly 11 years (another story for another type of blog).

The parenting aspect of diabetes is one of my biggest worries- I've always wondered if I'm not as good as a mom as I could be because of my diabetes, and I worry for my future health and its burden on my children. Part of my wanting more than one child was rooted in the fact that I didn't want an only child to have to care for both of his aging parents alone (which is another life challenge I'm dealing with now, caring for my mother as her health is failing - luckily I have a sister too!).

While I've never experienced hypo unawares or any serious emergencies, the fear that my children will see me in such a state without knowing what to do shakes me to the core.

Its a learning process, that changes as our children get older, and as we and our diabetes age together as well. I love this topic so please keep posting on it, as your experience grows with time, Kerri!

Your mom's comment just made my heart melt. That little bird is too sweet.

I hope I can be there to meet you mom!

beautiful, kerri.

and i'm with george, hope to meet your mom next year! :)

It was such an emotional session for me.

But Kerri, you and I did very good at not crying our face off while pretending to be in charge. :-)

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