Always Learning

It is crazy to think that over 6 months have gone by since Nora’s T1D diagnosis – some days it feels like we have been her pancreas for years while other days we feel like we are just taking the first steps of this lifelong journey. Here are a few things we have learned along the way and feel compelled to share with the world:
  • Managing T1D for a child that cannot talk is like trying to hit a moving target while blindfolded. Some days we got it (YES!) and other days we are WAY off.
  • If she is having a temper tantrum we check her blood sugars. Big swings in blood sugars can lead to BIG feelings.
  • Just because her blood sugars are low doesn’t mean she is going to sit still or stop playing – find a phone or iPad STAT.
  • You can NEVER overpack snacks – they will always get eaten. Anyone with young kids can understand this one, now multiply it by 10.
  • Technology is a blessing, until it’s not. It helps you sleep better some nights and keeps you up other nights. It gives you comfort, but you’ll be on your phone more often then not checking her numbers and texting her care givers.
  • Always pack extra supplies, and then pack an extra set. Kids are accident prone.
  • Just because you dosed her insulin right at lunch one day, doesn’t mean it will be right the next for the exact same lunch. We have hormones to thank for that!
  • You will become a nighttime ninja by sneaking into her room to check her blood or give her insulin at all hours of the night.
  • Your heart will break with every high, every low, every site change, every CGM change, and every finger prick, but it will grow back stronger after each break.
  • She will grow up to be a patient, determined, grateful, flexible, kind, supportive, healthy, problem solver. I know this because I have lived with and managed my own T1D for over 20 years.

Knowledge or Blissful Ignorance?

For those readers that are new to Type 1 Diabetes, it is a disease where the body attacks itself and can no longer make its own insulin. Insulin is a necessary hormone whose main job is to convert food into usable energy. People with T1D rely on getting this hormone in their body from an outside source through an injection or shot. It’s a fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) disease that requires the daily micro-management of food, exercise, and insulin. Even more fascinating is that there is a blood test that screens for T1D. This test looks at a persons blood for the autoantibodies that are associated with T1D. Positive results for these autoantibodies indicate that said person is at a high risk for developing T1D.

I first learned about this screening when Nora was diagnosed last month. Before then, I had no idea it existed. While in the hospital, her endocrinologist and diabetes educator asked me if we would like to have our other two daughters tested. “Thank you, but no thank you” was my immediate response.

Later that night when Nora had finally fallen asleep, I put more thought into why I said no and more importantly why I said it so quickly. I mean, our family tree is scattered with T1D. Besides myself, and now Nora, I have a cousin and an uncle who both have T1D. How is it that the youngest person in our respective core families came to be persons with T1D? Well, the exact cause of T1D is unknown and generally thought to be brought on by a combination of factors including environment and genetics. So if the cause of T1D is multifaceted, what is there to gain by knowing if my big girls have these autoantibodies? First and foremost – research towards the goal of finding a cure. But for us, with Nora’s diagnosis still being so very raw, there would be a lot of unnecessary worrying and second guessing of everything.

Would you want to know if you kiddo was at high risk of developing a disease knowing there was nothing you could do to stop it? Or would you rather soak in the moments of blissful ignorance? There’s no right or wrong answer, but for my family – we choose blissful ignorance…for now.

Why is Third Time a Charm?

A couple of people have reached out and asked me why I’ve decided to reboot my blog for a third time 😳. “Third times a charm”, I say with a big smile hiding the fact that I really didn’t know the answer to that question. But that’s the beauty of following your heart – sometimes it takes a while for your head to catch up.

Driving home from this mornings preschool drop off, I had been talking with one of my best girls about building my social media presence and she told me to tell my story the rest will fall into place. My story, huh? What is my story? I thought about this question during my entire short (and cold!) run. As I was cooling off, my head finally caught up to my heart.

When Nora was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on December 17th, 2018 I sat in the hospital room that first night unable to sleep. My head was spinning, my heart was grieving. At 3:00 am, I finally gave up on sleep. I texted a couple of my best friends to let them know about Nora’s diagnosis which ended up being a big step of acceptance for me. After that, I googled everything I could related to young children with Type 1 Diabetes. I was looking for someone, anyone, who could share in my current situation and in their own words tell me that everything is going to be ok. Much to my dismay, all I found was clinical and factual information related to kids and Type 1 Diabetes. I know these types of websites are exceptionally helpful for families who haven’t had any experience with Type 1 Diabetes, but I’m different – I’ve been managing my own Type 1 Diabetes for over 25 years. But even with this significant experience, I was still looking for a connection to someone who might have had the same feelings I was while sitting in a dark and lonely hospital room, someone who might have some tips or tricks in managing this disease in a person as young as Nora. I hope that I can be the person I was looking for, and never found, when I was most vulnerable.

Type 1 Diabetes is not a death sentence – I’m living proof of this, but it is still a difficult and overwhelming disease to manage no matter if you’re 36 or under 2. Here’s to building a community, sharing in experiences diabetes related or not, and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

2 years in 200 words

To get all y’all up to speed here’s what has happened over the last 2 years in 200 words and no particular order:

-Got certified as a group fitness instructor and taught BootCamp style classes 2x’s per week

-Put our travel pants on and went to the Ozarks (with kids), Austin (no kids), and London (no kids).  

-Became a runner (what the what?!). 

-Ran my first half marathon and did not die

-Had a third baby girl (yes – we chose to have a third child who ended up being a girl). 

-Got my zen on by becoming a member of a local yoga studio

-Did at least 500+ loads of laundry (that should be a Guinness world record right?!)

-Celebrated 12 years of marriage to the same person, whom I have also known for 18 years!

-Aquired the status of Aunt for the second time 

-Changed a semi-truck worth of diapers (another Guinness record?!)

-Watched the Cubs play in the World Series 

-Helped (very loose term) my parents move 15 minutes away

Beyond that, my goal continues to be keeping my 4 year old, 2 year old, and now 4 month old alive.  Easy, peasy right?!  Some days are tougher than others! 😳

Parenting Style #436

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you know that the NFL and it’s respective teams have come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny for how they have handled the personal choices of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and other players within the league. I am not here to agree or disagree with the actions taken by the NFL or the teams impacted, but these two stories impacted me more than I’d like to outwardly admit so I thought why not write about it in my blog!

After my initial head-shaking-in-disgust reaction, I started to think about these stories from a parenting perspective because that’s what I do now. For Ray Rice, how did he ever come to think it was an appropriate action to hit a woman so hard she was knocked her off her feet and rendered unconscious? He had to see or learn it from somewhere or someone… For Adrian Peterson, why would you inflict upon your son a questionable punishment your parents took against you? Isn’t one of the “benefits” of parenting the opportunity to do it better, or at least different, than your parents did?

As I was asking myself (and continue to ask myself) these and other rhetorical questions, I started to think about my parenting style. I remember seeing on FaceBook some sort of parenting style quiz and it made me chuckle, because I don’t have just one style of parenting, I have what is called a 2-year old. Therefore, my parenting style evolves day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute. What drives these evolutions? For starters, trying to find my way in the sea of thousands of parenting styles, tips, and techniques found on the internet. However, more often then not, my style evolves because it’s what Little Miss needs from me, and more recently my style evolves because I am preparing Little Miss for being a Big Sister.

Here’s a perfect example of said evolution – the use of the timeout. Timeouts used to work great when Little Miss decided she was going to hit, kick, and/or head butt me. Within a week of using them multiple times a day, and even multiple times an hour, I came to realize that she was hitting, kicking, and/or head butting JUST to be in a timeout. It was her way of “asking” to remove herself from a situation that she was not happy with, wether it be nap time, getting dressed for the day, or walking our puppy in the morning, among other things. So instead of positively reinforcing her inappropriate actions with a timeout, I started to tell her no, hold her arms down, and move my head out of striking distance. When she is calm, I acknowledge her feelings of being upset and/or frustrated and tell her that hitting anyone or anything with any part of her body is not how we act. I have to tell you, when I first read about that approach on the internet, I laughed and thought, she is not even 2…how can “talking” about her feelings stop the behavior? I have been using this approach for 2-3 weeks now and she is hitting less often, so clearly something is working and I am going to keep riding that train until it doesn’t run anymore.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again expecting a different result – this has never been more true then under the umbrella of parenting. There is no doubt that I hate the reality of there being “Ray Rice” and “Adrian Peterson” stories occurring out in the world on a daily basis, but if there ever is a silver lining, it’s my take-away from those stories – the simple act of questioning my parenting style is what makes me a better parent. It’s certainly not fun to question myself time and time again, but because I am, I can be more confident that I am doing everything possible to raise 2 girls who are strong, independent, positive contributors to society.

These are a few of my “Grateful” things!

Last week, my mom tagged me in one of those Facebook “trends” of providing 3 things I am grateful for over the course of 5 days. Clearly, she thinks that as a SAHM, I have all the time in the world 🙂 (love you Mom!). Since I haven’t even starting my posting of 3 things, let alone keeping it up for 5 days, I decided that I was going to approach this trend my way – through my blog!

There is no doubt that I am forever grateful for things and people like family, a fabulous husband who is my best friend, a roof over my head, friends near and far, etc. I have yet to meet a person who isn’t grateful for those things. As a result, I am going to focus my 15 grateful things on the topic of parenting. Why parenting you ask? Because as I sit here typing “Little Miss” is pounding her feet on the wall instead of napping and I am trying to remind myself that I am grateful she is not screaming and pitching a fit.

In no particular order, the 15 things I am grateful for in relation to parenting:
15. The Internet. With the help of the internet, I have diagnosed (for better or for worse) Little Miss’ mysterious aliments, regularly connected her with her grandparents who live miles away, and made some Mom friends along the way.
14. Libraries. After reading the same 3 or 4 books at least 10 times a day, you will understand why the library is my best friend.
13. My Baby BootCamp class. Without it, I know I would be an out of shape and unhappy, 32 week prego momma. Not only am I forming new friendships in a new city, but watching Little Miss do burpees or bicep curls at home makes me one proud momma.
12. Today’s medicine/doctors. There is so much out there about what is and is not healthy while you are pregnant, especially if you are considered high-risk like me. I am proud to say that I have been able to carry 2 little girls with minimal complications thanks to the great team of doctors on my side.
11. Coffee. Without it, we would all be acting like it’s the 6th month of winter in Chicago.
10. Strollers. They may be big and bulky, but they sure do make carting around Little Miss a lot easier.
9. Disposable Diapers. I am not and never will be the type of momma who wants to wash poop from a cloth diaper over and over again.
8. Wipes. LOVE them! A clean-freaks best friend. Not just great for bottoms, but also on the face, hands, bathroom counter, the art table full of washable marker scribbles, the floor, highchair. I could go on and on….
7. The playdate. Sometimes, all your kiddos need is something or someone different to play with.
6. Nap Time. One word – GLORIOUS!
5. Chick-Filet-A Wednesday. I love living in a city where there is a Chick-Filet-A close-by for a quick and easy lunch.
4. Indoor Playgrounds. Being pregnant in Dallas during the summer – no further explanation needed.
3. PBS kids app on the AppleTV. Giving this momma 30 or so minutes of veg out/free time each day while Little Miss is learning about shapes, numbers, the alphabet, etc.
2. Pinterest. Because, let’s face it, I am not all that creative when it comes to rainy day activities, decorating the girls rooms, birthday party planning, etc.
1. The opportunity to stay at home with Little Miss (and Little Sister in the near future). The SAHM community is not kidding when they say that this is the hardest job they have experienced, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have learned so much from Little Miss in such a short amount of time and know that I will learn even more when Little Sister comes to play. I cannot wait to experience and observe my girls growing up together as sisters.

I Choose Technology!

Whew! What a hectic and exciting couple of weeks we have had here in the McCarthy household. Here’s a quick run down of all the recent happenings to bring you up to speed! I took on another hobby. That’s right, I am the ever joiner and now am attending Baby BootCamp (a workout class) weekday mornings. I generally can’t walk during or after class, but LOVE that I am finally working out again and Little Miss sees me working out (three cheers for being a good role model!). As an added bonus, the other moms there are super nice and we get together play dates after class. Yay for new friends! We also had a big 4th of July weekend with my family visiting – so much fun between projects (check out my new DIY postings due up in the next week), swimming, general hanging out, and going to the aquarium. Finally, we announced Little Sister’s expected arrival in November and as such I have been planning non-stop to get everything organized.

Last week, when I had a few minutes between my to do lists, errands, entertaining Little Miss, and ensuring my house was in reasonable order, I briefly jumped on my phone to check my email, FB account, etc. After I was done, I started thinking about how technology has changed the way we parent – for better or for worse. I then thought “What a GREAT blog post topic!” As I started writing it, I was bored so I knew y’all would be – so Hubby suggested changing my point of view. So here we go, in true Kirsten fashion (a.k.a. a list), the Top Ten Reasons Why Little Miss and Little Sister will Benefit from Technology:

10. They will NEVER receive a paper cut because they had to read and/or review 12
different books to complete their research paper.
9. They will have learned the basics of typing before they go to Elementary school (but sadly they will miss out on playing Oregon Trail during Computer Class).
8. Their friends will not just be from their school, neighborhood, and/or after-school activities, but also from different towns, states, and/or countries.
7. They will be EXCITED to learn because technology will allow them to learn in a way that ensures their overall success.
6. Four words – Successful Family Road Trips.
5. More opportunities for them to figure out and learn about their passions.
4. They will need to learn, constantly adapt, and apply their social skills to ensure that the art of conversation is not lost.
3. They will have access to multiple points of view on any topic/issue and thus be forced to think through and decide on their own point of view.
2. They will always be just a Skype or Face Time call away from their grandparents, daddy (when he travels), or any other family member.
1. They will have career, community, societal, and family opportunities that their momma and daddy never had.

Now of course, the above list provides Hubby and I with exciting parenting challenges, but isn’t that what parenting is all about – overcoming challenges no matter their origin in order to provide your children with the best possible foundation to be successful in life.