Here’s to New Beginnings
My best friend Jean is eight and a half months pregnant with her first child. I’ve known Jean for almost two decades, since her first week at college when she walked into the office of the student newspaper of which I was editor and said she wanted to be a reporter. Our friendship has ebbed and flowed with life over the years, as some of the best friendships do, but I know I can always count on her and her on me.
So it was with nothing but excitement that my daughter, Noelle, and I attended her baby shower last weekend. Thrown by her mother and sister-in-law, it was a pretty extravagant affair, and Jean was showered with onesies and hooded towels galore. Noelle was having fun running around with Jean’s cousin’s daughter, a year younger than Noelle, a girl with whom she has played many times before at Jean’s family parties. The atmosphere was festive and happy and hopeful.
But I couldn’t help but think back to my last month of pregnancy with Noelle…
Despite a strange medical concern that popped up a few weeks before Noelle was born, my pregnancy was filled will all the hopes and dreams any new mom-to-be feels. What will my baby look like? How will she eat and sleep? Will I be a good mother?
Then, after she was born, for the next few years, I suffered from the same compulsion that afflicts many new moms: watching anxiously for every milestone – turning over, crawling, walking, talking, potty-training, etc. – and comparing her against other kids to make sure she was “normal.”
That was all thrown on its head on Oct. 1, 2010, when Noelle was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We were forced to adjust to our new normal.
I never could have imagined, when I was eight and a half months pregnant, what life would throw at me five years later. As I sat there at Jean’s baby shower, surrounded by loving friends and family, some of whom were pregnant themselves or tending to or talking about their own infants and toddlers, I couldn’t help but let a sliver of darkness into my thoughts.
It’s not fair, I thought as I rushed off to the bathroom with Noelle to re-insert her insulin pump site after it came out for the fourth time in three days, wiping away the blood staining her stomach and drying her tears. The darkness grew as my mother, who attended the shower with us, said to me, unbidden, “I wonder if any of those woman talking about their kids have any idea what you go through every day.”
No, it’s not fair. Nothing about type 1 diabetes is fair. Nothing about what Noelle’s life is now like is fair.
But as I watched her hug Jean goodbye, holding her hand on Jean’s swollen belly in the hopes of feeling the baby kick, I pushed the darkness away and focused on what matters most: that Jean’s baby is born healthy into a web of family and friends who will instantly love her and care for her.
That’s really all we can ask for. The rest … well, the rest happens as it happens, and we deal with it and life goes on.
I can’t wait to meet Jean’s daughter, to hold her, to embrace the innocence of a blank slate and to pray that her life will be blessed with health and happiness. Congratulations, Jean!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pittsfield native Rebecca Dravis is a former journalist who lives in north Berkshire County with her husband and daughter in Williamstown, MA. In Just My Type Rebecca shares her experiences as a parent raising a child with type one diabetes. – Check out Just My Type on the third Monday of every month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Ani-Bee]