The big news in our family is the addition of another child -- this time, a girl! All my boys, including my husband, were pretty excited to meet this new little one. But not everything went as planned on the day of delivery, and our newest little bundle ended up in the NICU, where she would stay for five days. Because of her struggles, I spent a lot of time in the hospital caring for and nursing her while the doctors and nurses tried to determine if she was healthy enough to return home. In the meantime, my husband Craig had full responsibility for our three other kids!
One particular day, I called home to find the following scenario. Our 2-year-old Ben -- having a difficult time adjusting to Mom being gone and being his typical, rather stubborn self -- was in full-blown meltdown mode. I could immediately hear him hollering when I called. I could also hear Craig calmly and sweetly trying to talk him into eating his dinner. Then Luke started choking on a tomato. Our community had rallied around our little family and brought over some delicious dinners. Luke was being a sport and trying the salad when he took too big of a bite and ended up throwing up all over the kitchen.
Of course, during all of this, James’ blood sugar went inexplicably high. Craig was hard-pressed to shoot the breeze on the phone, but as I said goodbye and promised to check in later, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that Craig can handle each and every one of these challenges.
It was such a comfort to know that my 2-year-old was so patiently indulged by my husband, someone who loves him dearly. Ben can be so hardheaded and difficult, but really he’s little more than a baby himself; and I was so grateful that Craig was patient and sweet with him. And as for Luke…only a real man can handle vomit from a kid! Craig had that one in the bag. He took care of Luke promptly and without complaint.
Finally, Craig totally knew how to take care of James, and I’m SO grateful for that. From the very start, Craig refused to let me be the only person who knew and understood how to change an insulin pump infusion site or how to give a correction via insulin. He insisted on being trained on each new form of technology and swapping in on the tasks so that he’d know as well as I did what James needed. I had no worries that Craig would figure out how to get James’ high blood sugar down. I have watched him care for James before, and I knew he would be just fine.
I suppose the lesson I got from this whole thing is how important it is for us to allow other people to take part in the care of our children with diabetes. In the beginning it was difficult to “let” Craig handle aspects of diabetes. I was just such a control freak that I didn’t want to let Craig have a say -- especially if he came up with a different plan than I did.
And sometimes he even made mistakes -- silly mistakes. But in large measure because of HIS perseverance, Craig has been fully trained and is a full partner in James’ care. As a result, we can handle the crazy events life throws at us, including an unanticipated five-day hospital stay! I guess in our case, all the credit needs to go to Craig. I am SO grateful that he too is hardheaded and refused to just sit back and enjoy the ride while I drove.
For our family, having two fully trained people care for James has been really key, and I highly recommend it! I know it isn’t an option for every family, but maybe there is another relative or even a close friend who has a willing heart? While it’s hard to fully train somebody else, in my experience, it’s totally worth it.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our four children. 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 1diabetes. 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.
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