Diabetes, Pregnancy, and What’s “Meant to Be”

When my boys were younger, I used to tell my husband that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was time alone. As the mother of three boys, I wanted to sleep late, stay in bed with a cup of coffee, and read The New York Times uninterrupted. I was grateful for my children, and in fact, as a young woman with Type 1 diabetes, I had worried that I might never be able to have children, but sometimes I just needed a little peace and quiet.

But this year was different. This was my fifteenth Mother’s Day, and I no longer have to try so hard to find time for myself. My boys are at school all day, and sometimes when they are away with friends or at various activities, I find myself missing them. I knew this would happen of course. This is the natural progression of being a mother. Letting go. I just didn’t think it would come so fast.

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So, this Mother’s Day I told my husband that instead of a gift, I’d rather do something with the boys. Maybe we could go to an event or the movies or the pool. My kids chose the pool. It was a gorgeous day in the south, and we invited some friends to join us on Kiawah Island. My friend and I sat by the pool and watched our boys jump off the diving board and swim for hours. My friend and I talked about motherhood and her ongoing struggle to add to her family. “Maybe it’s not meant to be,” she said. I knew she was trying to find peace with her struggle, but her words had a negative effect on me and reminded me of a conversation I had during my first pregnancy.

I was working in retail at Saks Fifth Avenue and pregnant enough that it was visible to the public. One afternoon an older woman was shopping and smiled at my protruding belly and wished me well. She said she had never been pregnant because it “wasn’t meant to be,” and went on to tell me the reason why she was not a mother was because she had Type 1 diabetes. I can’t remember if I told her that I too had Type 1, but I remember feeling dizzy and quickly excusing myself to return to my desk. Sitting there, I went over the words she’d said and tried hard not to cry. I was pregnant, after all, and filled with hormones, but her words, the same words my friend was repeating to me, were defeating, frustrating, and frightening. No! I wanted to tell that older woman that day, no, it’s not about “what’s meant to be,” it’s about what you want, it’s about beating the odds, it’s about hard work, it’s about having faith, and it’s about believing in yourself. It’s about saying no to all those people over the years who have told me what people with diabetes “aren’t meant to do.”

I didn’t say anything to that woman shopping in Saks that day because I was young and I wasn’t a mother, and I was full of insecurities and doubt. I’m older now and have been a mother for 15 years, and that’s why I told my friend that I don’t believe in “meant to be.” I’m not sure I did a very good job of explaining myself to her, but I tried to tell her that if she wants to add to her family, she has to believe, and have faith, and ignore those voices telling her it’s not meant to be. My boys are proof. Happy Mother’s Day.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), recently made some controversial remarks about diabetes and health insurance. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to read nurse David Spero’s take on the situation.