Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just rest and enjoy the ride

I know I've talked a lot about Grant's impending first birthday lately but it's just a really big milestone for me. We did have his birthday party this last weekend. It went off without a hitch. Minus the 109 degree weather during the party...that was outside. However, our huge pecan trees provided some much needed shade and the sprinkler kept the kids cool. And the cake...I know I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure that was the best devouring of cake I have ever seen at a first birthday party. Not only did he EAT half the cake, he also stuck his feet in it, wiped icing on Daddy's shirt, and looked comatose from the sugar binge after he finished. Seriously...this kid had never even had juice before. Talk about a shock for the tastebuds.

A year ago, I could only dream about getting to this point.

Pregnancy was a long, tough road for me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually...exhausting.

I've had type I diabetes since I was eight years old. Not the kind you get because you're older, or overweight, or have a family history of it. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or chrons disease. My own immune system got a little confused and attacked the beta cells in my pancreas. Beta cells are what make insulin. Therefore, my body no longer makes it. The good guys are dead. I have to give myself insulin. I wear an insulin pump, but up until I got that in 2000, I was giving myself insulin injections about eight times a day. A big misnomer is that a diabetic can't eat sugar. That's not the case. I just have to count ALL of the carbohydrates I eat. So there's a little lesson on diabetes.

Back until the late 1970s and early 1980s, diabetic women were encouraged to not even get pregnant. The baby may have spina bifida, a heart defect, or at least be really big and a c-section would be the only delivery option. I want to say that the specialist in saw in Fort Worth told me that almost half of the babies who were carried to full term to diabetic moms were stillborn. That's a sobering statistic.

Good news is that medical advancements have been made and we've come a long way from those statistics. Those possibilities are all still very real, but not as common because the opportunities to monitor blood sugars and fetal development are so much better. God is good. Now, a type I diabetic mom can have a healthy child...but there's A LOT of work she has to put into it to make it happen.

So, back in October of 2009, I took a pregnancy test one morning at 4 a.m. and it was positive. Naturally, we are overjoyed that we would soon be parents to a precious little boy or girl. We told our family and closest friends so they could be excited alongside us. But as I smiled ear to ear as we shared the good news, my heart was so overwhelmed.

Oh my blood sugars have to be PERFECT. (And here's another medical lesson for you: blood sugar management is an art, not a science. Just because I input the right amount of carbs into my pump doesn't mean that a piece of wheat bread with 12g of carbs is going to be digested the same as 12g of carbs in grapes. Or that when I exercise for 30 minutes on Monday morning that it'll lower by blood sugar the same amount on Tuesday morning. Or that my body will produce the same amount of hormones on Wednesday afternoon as it will on Thursday.) All I could think was...I can't screw up.

IT WAS OVERWHELMING. Doctors appointments weekly, diabetes educators weekly, sonograms weekly, working on a mother/baby unit, studying maternal/child health in nursing school, parents asking how my blood sugars were, doctors asking how my blood sugars were, AAAAHHHHH!!!! And still with all of that, I was my harshest critic. Meagan...YOU HAVE TO BE PERFECT.

It's one thing to want to study hard to make good grades. But take that same concept and apply it to the health and wellbeing of your unborn child and the potential downfall of your kidneys? IT'S EXHAUSTING.

As I'm walking around, cool, calm, confident, and collected on the outside, my stomach was in knots, my heart was racing, and my brain kept saying...Meagan, don't screw up. This is on you. Grant's health...yeah, God is "in control," but this is on you.

One morning, being particularly tired, nauseous, and feeling fat, I was walking in our neighborhood. Walking is a release to me. It's when I think and pray and rejuvenate. I was on my favorite stretch of the walk under the tree-covered canopy over Berkeley. I was focusing on the uneven sidewalk under my feet, hoping to not fall and break an ankle. As I look up, I picture someone walking about 20 feet ahead of me. Don't really remember what he looks like. I just remember what he said. No, it wasn't audible. But it was spoken right to my heart.

"Meagan...look up. I've already walked the path ahead of you. I know where you're going. I created the path you're on. Just rest and enjoy the ride."

Yes, that mirrors a few Bible verses I've heard over and over and over. But on that morning, something clicked. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much or little I screw up, the Lord is still in control. I can't be perfect. Never have been. Never will be. I guess if I was perfect, I wouldn't need a Savior, huh? For the first time in my life, I felt like I had to hand over EVERYTHING to the Lord. I HAD NO CONTROL. No matter if I had my kidneys at the end of my pregnancy or if my child was born with a hole in his spinal cord...He has prepared the path before me, set my feet on it, knew every crack and stone on the uneven path, and wanted me to let go, let God, and enjoy the ride.

Of course, I still checked my blood sugar, exercised, took my insulin, and counted my carbs. God wasn't telling me to be lazy and stupid. He was telling me to rest and trust. I'm not going to lie and say that from that point on, I never worried or got anxious...because I did. It was and still is a daily battle I fight. But most nights when I would lay down, I wouldn't stay up and let my mind race over the "what-ifs" and "then-what's." There was a peace I would fall asleep with as I thanked the Lord for getting me through the day and trusted that His plans were intentional and good.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

And oh how we praise Him for the sweet, perfect, healthy child He gave us!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My poor girls...for women only :)

Grant will be one in a little less than two weeks. time flies. I ordered his cake, bought some plates and napkins, a pinata...pretty sure he could care less but I'm learning that the first birthday party is really for me. Not so I can get presents and have everyone sing to me...but for me to feel like a mom who is providing a fun day full of laughter and cake for my kiddo. I know he knows I love him. The birthday party is just icing on the cake. The cake of which will probably be disgustingly and oh-so-adorably devoured at his party.

So, with his one year birthday approaching, do you know what that means? It means BREASTFEEDING IS ALMOST COMPLETE!!! I have LOVED the bonding moments with my child that come with breastfeeding. I have LOVED knowing that he has gotten the best nutritional start to life that he could possibly get. I have LOVED knowing that my body is providing his nourishment. HOWEVER...let me tell you why my nips will sing praises when this breastfeeding stint will be completed.

I should have known that I was going to have troubles with my nips or "the girls" we shall lovingly call them. Life for them had been completely normal until a funny thing happened when I was about 24 weeks pregnant. And then, life as they knew it changed.

One night, I was getting ready for bed in our bathroom. I took out my contacts, put them in their holder, put on my glasses (which is a MUST because I am as blind as a bat), and proceeded to shut my glasses case. DIRECTLY ONTO MY RIGHT NIP. I screamed loudly, pulled off the case, laughed so hard I wet my pants because I was A. in shock B. completely embarrassed C. feeding off of Ben's laughter and D. no longer had great control of my bladder since there was a small child using it as his trampoline.

Now here's where it turns from funny to a little scary for a second. After I finally regained my composure, I realized that my heart has jumped out of rhythm from my immense laughter (not that uncommon during pregnancy) and is beating at about 215 beats a minute. My nursing knowledge kicked in. I did the valsalva maneuver (where you hold your breath and bear down) and it kicked my heart back into normal rhythm. Problem solved. However, I did feel the need to let my OB/GYN know that my heart was acting weird. Talk about an odd conversation.

At 10:45 p.m.: "Yes, I need to have Dr. Lamar paged....Hi, Dr. Lamar. Sorry I'm calling so late. Ummm...we had an incident...ummm...end result was that my heart went into SVT."

Later that week, I did tell him the whole story at my next appointment. I believe it was the talk of the office for a while. As he was laughing while I was telling the story, he said, "I figured it was either something funny or something sexual." Welp, let me tell ya, it was about as far from sexual as you can get.

So there was the start of the rough road my nips began.

Since then, they have lived through the initial shock of breastfeeding. It's like taking the hose of a vacuum and attaching it to your girls. Eight to 12 times a day. Day and night. Then 5 different episodes of thrush. If you don't know what it is...look it up. All I can imagine comparing it to is having your nips look like red hot tamales, clamped down into a vice, and twisted. Then I accidentally burned the right one (poor girl...she's always getting beat up) with my flat iron as I was straightening my hair in my robe. Who even knows how that happened. Then Grant got teeth at 6 months. I called him my little piranha. For a while, it looked like a small hand grenade went off inside my bra. One time he bit me so hard (left side this time) that he drew blood. A lot of blood.

Then, smooth sailing for a few months until Memorial Day weekend. Grant fell on his face in the kitchen and chipped his two front teeth. Naturally, it was on Friday afternoon. The dentist was closed until Tuesday because it was a holiday we (myself and the girls) had 3 1/2 days of breastfeeding a child who had razors for teeth. I would have pumped, but I just don't have the best pump and I feared my milk would dry up.

So, do you see why my nips will sing a song a freedom and redemption when Grant is weaned in a couple of weeks? They've been through a lot. They're tough gals. They've earned a break.

P.S. I really contemplated whether or not I should blog about my girls since it is somewhat of a sensitive (no pun intended) subject. Then I decided to put myself out there. A little humor to all you moms currently breastfeeding or have done it or are getting ready to do it...I'm proud of you. It's a sacrifice but oh-so-worth it.