November is Diabetes Awareness month.
November is also the month that my son died.
So as a Type 1 Diabetic and a mom, November is a little bitter sweet for me.
I want to rejoice and embrace November for all the love and support that is out there in the Diabetes Community, but I also want to just lay in bed and wake up December 1st when the month is all over.
21 years ago my son Shawn was brought into life and also sent to Heaven!
November 7th will always be hard for me.
"IN OUR ARMS FOR A DAY, IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER"
So hard to believe that I would have a 21 year old son.
What would he be like?
What would he look like?
Would he be close to his siblings?
A good big brother to them?
That I will never know but will only wonder.
Since his birth I have been so blessed with 3 more wonderful children.
2 daughters and 1 son.
My pregnancies were all high risk after that and very stressful. I feared the same thing happening with all of them.
Maybe that's when the Diabetes began in my life but I just didn't know it.
Maybe my blood was clotting from Diabetes.
Maybe if I had taken aspirin the cord wouldn't have clogged.
These questions still run in my head to this day. Of course I would like to blame his death on something.
Diabetes would be a good one to blame since I hate the disease.
I guess I will never know!
After 18 hours of hard labor, I delivered my lifeless son. We never lost hope that he would be breathing and crying but the silence in the room only confirmed my worst nightmare.
Every pregnancy after that was very stressful and high risk.
My first daughter (Haley) was preemie,4lbs of cuteness.
She was having irregular heart beats at 32 weeks and I was told that it could have been caused by me. I could have Lupus. They had seen it before in mothers that had Lupus.
Seriously? I thought to myself.."then get her out of me"!
If I'm the reason this is happening, I want her out!
She was delivered by c-section and after a few days of her being out of me, her heart started to beat normal again.
Tests did confirm that I had an elevated sed rate and positive ANA but I didn't have enough criteria to have Lupus. Thank goodness!
"Could this have been the Diabetes laying dormant in my body"? I think that now only because I have diabetes!
My next pregnancy, was also a little girl and was probably the most normal pregnancy of them all. My fear for each was that the baby was going to die in the last trimester. My body was so stressed out that it caused all my babies to come early.
I was determined to go through a vaginal...HAPPY...live birth with her.
I insisted on being induced at 37 weeks.
I checked into the hospital and the inducing began. I was to lay flat on my back for the night while the gel softened my cervix.
(I will never forget this next moment and that is why I need to share it.)
While laying on my back in my dark room, the door slightly opened with a ray of light. The nurse was coming in to check on me. She lightly tapped my arm and asked me how I was doing. She was holding my chart and said "this may sound strange but I'd like to ask you a question"... "O.K. I said"
She continued " did you happen to give birth to a stillborn son about 5 years ago"?
I answered her in shock, "Yes"!
(Nobody really talked about my son. It was as if that part of my life hadn't happened and now a complete stranger to me was asking me about him.)
She said " well I was your nurse and at the time just starting out. Going through your delivery changed my life and the way I practice as a nurse". I have never been the same! I was wondering.. I'm getting off shift at midnight and I would love to stay and watch you delivery this baby! Is that o.k. with you?"
WOW...I thought to myself.
What a small world.
My life had an impact on hers.
This nurse wants to wait for me to deliver!
She had to have been brought to me that night! We both needed each other.
She had an impact on me as well and it was because of her that I had decided that I wanted to be a Nurse.
Of Course..I said to her!
My second daughter (Hanna) was born 6 hours later and was healthy and crying when she came out. The room was filled with all my family and I was surrounded with love, tears and joy. They too needed to witness a happy birth from me. Although I had already had one healthy daughter, Haley's delivery was traumatic and she had to stay in the hospital for a month.
My daughter Hanna was just a normal, typical delivery and she could come home with us the very next day.
I was so blessed.
I had my girls.
I did still yearn for that little boy.
Would I get to have a healthy son someday?
My husband and I at the time eventually divorced and went our separate ways.
Now single with 2 beautiful daughters and still the emptiness in my heart for my son.
I met my soul mate 2 years later named Jeff.
Jeff was definitely sent to me from above.
He was an angel and proves himself everyday to be nothing different than that. He is an amazing, gentle, kind, nurturing man that I fell in love with instantly.
We could relate to one another deeper than anyone else I have ever met.
You see, Jeff too had a similar loss in his life. Although his son is still alive, he also experienced a tragic loss.
A loss of a child that would never be able to read with his eyes but only with his hands.
A child that would never be able to drive a car but would have to learn his way through public transit.
A child that would never be able to play basketball but could only listen to the kids laughing and playing.
His son (Jack) was shaken when he was only 12 weeks old and sustained a severe brain injury.
It's called "shaken baby syndrome"
An injury that would cause him to loose his vision.
Jeff and I instantly connected. He wanted to hear about Shawn and I wanted to hear about Jack.
We eventually introduced all our kids to one another and Haley and Hanna instantly started the mothering role for Jack. It didn't take the girls long before they had Jack dressing up to play house with them.They absolutely loved him. Jack and my youngest daughter Hanna were both 2 when we met and although Jack didn't have much vocabulary, being around my chatty girls quickly changed him.
We merged our family and eventually got married. Now we had 3 beautiful children. We were both so blessed. I gave him some girls to be a father to and he gave me a son that I would love as if he were my own.
I think we both still had that sadness in our hearts though.
Can I give him a son that he might be able to experience some things in life with that he may not be able to with his other son?
Can he give me a son that I could eventually hold tight in my arms and watch his chest rise and fall as he sleeps?
We discussed trying to have a baby together, well.......
And then came "Joe"!
My pregnancy with him had to have been the most challenging. We knew we were having a little boy and everyday that we made it through another day pregnant was a blessing.
My anxiety would get the best of me and I eventually had to purchase a heart monitor so I could confirm daily, sometimes hourly that this baby was still alive inside of me.
In the last trimester it happened! The Diabetes finally came out! Yep, we had gestational diabetes now.
I was completely insulin dependent and was giving myself about 8 shots of insulin daily. Not to mention that I had a 9 year old and two 6 year olds. Life was very hectic.
I just had to get to the farthest I possible could in this pregnancy. I was determined to have a healthy baby boy!
After months of worry, shots, Dr's appts and many false alarms, our son was born.
Our family felt complete!
We did it!
The diabetes went away for a few years and eventually came back when Joe was 2.
After being misdiagnosed as Type 2 for 3 years, I'm happy to say that the correct diagnosis of Type 1 was made and I have been on an insulin pump now for almost 1 year.
My life has definitely had its ups and downs but what always keeps me going is to think that "it could always be worse"
Life is too short and we need to embrace it every second.
So with all that being said...I have a Love/Hate relationship for the month of November!
I feel blessed but also will NEVER forget!