Every woman enters motherhood differently. Each mama has an interesting story of how they envisioned motherhood, followed by the realization that like most things in life, it doesn’t go as planned. Anyone who knew me prior to becoming a mom likely remembers me saying that kids weren’t for me. I had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like and having a child wasn't part of the plan. Don’t get me wrong, I liked kids, but the thought of being responsible for a life is next level pressure. That changed once Paul and I moved to Chicago. Being in a new city, thousands of miles from our families made me realize how much I wanted to have a family of my own. Minutes after becoming a mother, I remember experiencing every feeling possible. Holding my Luna for the first time was surreal. I remember making eye contact and feeling a rush of emotions. It was like finally meeting someone you stalked online for the first time. (I realize how insane that sounds). I knew everything about her, she was literally part of me for nine months, and now I was finally meeting her. The first thing I said to her was, “Hello Luna, I’m your mama.” And so it was.
Motherhood did not come naturally to me. In the nine months I was pregnant, I did everything I could to prepare. I read books, bought all the recommended baby supplies and took a few suggestions. Looking back, I realize all these steps only provided a false sense of preparedness. Once Luna was home, reality set in and it was difficult for me to adjust. I’ve never been keen on going with the flow and it never occurred to me that this child would have preferences of her own. Big mistake! Anyone who knows Luna will attest to her very vocal, opinionated ways. On top of everything else, Luna had terrible colic and was an awful sleeper. The kid would literally never sleep! She never fell asleep nursing or taking a bottle, not once! To this day I have no idea how babies are supposed to fall asleep. We did everything we could to get her to sleep! We even hired a baby sleep specialist to come to our home; Luna almost broke her too! So there I was, a literal zombie in charge of a very strong willed, high-need baby and things were not looking good. I was a total mess most days. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and consumed with anxiety day-in and day-out. I spent so many days crying and feeling guilty about not being a good enough mom to Luna. To make matters worse, I was lonely. Living in a city without friends and family made everything harder. I was totally falling apart when it finally dawned on me that aside from being sleep deprived, I had post-partum depression. Luna was probably around five months when I realized I was feeling bad, but I didn’t seek help until many months later. I kept telling myself that I would start to feel better once we all started sleeping, but that wasn’t the case. In the midst of all the craziness, we also moved back to Sugar Land, Texas. Much to my chagrin, Paul's contract was over, bringing our time in Chicago to an end. Once back in Texas I started to feel better, as we were closer to family, but I still struggled to find my rhythm as a mom.
I would spend countless hours researching ways to become a better mother; all that research resulted in me feeling inadequate. Finally, Luna’s first birthday rolled around and I decided to make her birthday cake. This would be the first time she had cake, so I wanted to be sure that mine would be her first. I remember her little chubby fist squeezing the cake, before shoving it in her mouth. She immediately looked up and we locked eyes as a tiny tear fell down her cheek and she shrieked MAMA! Then and there I knew that despite everything I thought I was doing wrong, she didn’t care. She loved cake and she loved her mama.
We only lived in Texas for another couple of months before moving back to Chicago, this time permanently. By now, Luna was finally sleeping for longer periods of time and I was feeling better. A lot of things happened in between those years, some of which I’ll admit are not my proudest moments, but I learned a ton and we grew together.
Super-fast-forward to now; I find myself struggling again. There hasn’t been a single day since Luna’s diagnosis that I haven’t felt totally anxious and teary. I made it a rule early on that I would never let her see me fall apart, and so far I’ve kept my promise. (Although admittedly, some days I have to do quick run to the bathroom after an injection). Once safely behind the door, I give myself a moment to breathe and remind myself that I'm doing the best I can. I tell myself that the number on the blood glucose meter is not a measure of my mothering abilities, but I’d be lying if I said that those numbers didn't affect my mood. I feel like the first two-and-a-half months I was running on fumes, trying to learn and make sense of it all. Now, five months later I feel like I’ve hit a wall, and I feel guilty. Most of my guilt stems from feeling like I can’t save her, nor take her place. I feel guilty for having a perfectly functioning pancreas, and for my inability to be a strong person. I feel guilty for having to wake her at night to correct a bad low, or for poking her at night to correct a high. I wake up 2-3 times a night to check on her, and some nights I feel like I might break-down just looking at her. I also feel stagnant. I have so many plans, of which I have very little desire to get off the ground, and I've become very forgetful. I struggle to remember anything that isn't related to diabetes care. The worst is that I feel that I've let people down, but I can't seem to pull away from this routine. Being a full time pancreas is no easy task.
In addition to my personal struggles, Luna has been asking some pretty tough questions and saying some heartbreaking things. Shortly after diagnosis she told me she wanted to go to heaven because she would be free. I asked her what she meant and she said, "That in heaven she wouldn’t have diabetes and be free." Totally soul crushing! Freedom is very important to Luna! From a very young age, we knew two things about our girl: 1. she is extremely strong-willed and 2. She’s a free spirit. Unlike Paul and me, Luna is wildly expressive. She doesn’t have a shy bone in her body and is happiest near a large body of water. She is next-level creative and is the life of any party. I mean she truly lives her life at full volume; making all of this massively frustrating for her. Side note: As I type this Luna, in full costume, is using a dry erase marker to add freckles to her cheeks as she prepares to perform her own rendition of “Hard-knock Life" from the musical Annie.
So this is life, currently. It’s a giant ball of emotions, frustrations, defeats and victories. A day after diagnosis my friend and fellow T1D mama Zeida told me that even after all these years she still feels those raw emotions, especially when her little girl reaches a big milestone. Luna graduated from Kindergarten this week; change is on the horizon and I feel very anxious about it. For now, I have to cling on to the notion that things should be taken one step at a time. I need to give myself a break and focus on the positive. And some days are better than others, nights are the worst. Yet every morning I greet my girl with a brave face and take on the worries, so that she can continue doing what she’s best at: living her life to the fullest and giving diabetes a run for its money.