It's a really weird feeling to purposely interrupt a good feeding of a nursing newborn. It seems like there would be few occasions important enough to interfere with such a good thing, such a crucial and urgent activity! Yet I found myself throughout Luke's infancy having to put the tiny, helpless baby into his crib, or to let him softly cry for a few minutes while I attended to the needs of my older son, James.
Diabetes, I feel, is in some ways even more critical than the needs of a newborn! If I suspected that James was low, all of a sudden his needs became more pressing. Low blood sugar was a bigger emergency than a mewling infant. This was only the beginning of Luke's young life, all of which has been shaped by the dynamics of family, and, in this way, by type 1 diabetes.
I remember bringing Luke to the co-op preschool as a 2-month-old baby. We had a terrible time finding a preschool for James that we felt comfortable with due to his diabetes. So we enrolled in a program where I could be there in a capacity as his "teacher" and most certainly his nurse! This required Luke to attend with me. We were fortunate beyond reason that Luke proved to be a portable infant who mostly cooed contently in his stroller while I maintained a watchful eye on James' still volatile blood sugars.
Fast forward to the present. Diabetes has always been a part of Luke's life, but I've learned that this is not an entirely negative thing! I recently had an experience that illustrates how entirely not resentful he is toward his brother and all that James' condition brings.
I had been worrying about the disproportionate amount of time and energy that we spend on James compared to Luke. When an opportunity arose for Luke and I to have a whole day alone together, I was ecstatic! I figured that this was just what he needed—a whole day with mommy all to himself! So we planned for our marvelous day. We went to a birthday party for one of Luke's friends, we got him his own library card, we went for walks, we bought treats, just Luke and Mommy. I have to say, I had a great time! At the end of the day, I whispered to him, "I have so much fun with you!" To which he replied simply, "I have fun with James."
Here I was worrying so much about not meeting his needs for attention and care, and yet when he gets the opportunity to have that one-on-one time with his mother, he feels the void of James' absence. James has always been there, and while his type 1 diabetes takes a lot of time and energy to manage, Luke seems to feel that his ebullient personality and sweet nature more than make up for the effort that he demands! And isn't that the way it is in families?
Luke seems to recognize, where I didn't, that although James requires an unequal portion of our time, we possess equal love for both of our boys, love that is shared between us all.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.