Friday, September 13, 2019

Third Trimester

Alright, let’s take it back to third trimester. The hardest trimester of pregnancy for type 1s and probably for any woman really. You’re officially visibly pregnant whether you carried it all in front or all over (hello, giant butt!) and you’re uncomfortable, so very uncomfortable.  But, for type 1s it also means your blood sugars are creeping up and harder to control.  You throw so much insulin into your body only to have to wait it out and hope it comes down.  My basal rate was literally 3X the rate it was pre pregnancy! 

The doctors appointments become incredibly frequent, in fact the nurses and doctors knew me by name before I spoke and remembered past conversations we had - and they see A LOT of people.  You also are getting impatient because you just want to meet the little one whose keeping you up in the night kicking and forcing you to stop at EVERY SINGLE STORE to pee. 

For me, third trimester was a bit rough, only because my blood pressure began to creep up around 34 weeks ish. It was stressful because while I didn’t have any other symptoms of high blood pressure (besides actually having high BP) I wasn’t sure what this meant for me and my baby. Would this mean I’d be induced early? Was my baby okay? Would I need a c-section? Should I rest more? 

Well, what it meant for me was going to the hospital triage literally every single day (including weekends) to get my blood pressure taken and do a few other tests like a non-stress test, and urine / blood sample.  This is when the staff began to recognize me as I’d stroll in there and literally know exactly what to expect.  Lay on the bed, get hooked up to the NST machine which I called my “seat belt” and then get hooked up to the cuff to check my BP.  Oh and pee in a cup, the number of times I peed in a cup, I couldn’t even count. 

Each time I saw my OB, which was a couple times a week, I never knew what she’d say. If she’d tell me to it was time to have the baby early or if I’d be okay to keep going on. I know she was aiming for 38 weeks, but began to talk about 37 weeks or maybe even sooner. This scared me, but at the same time I didn’t want to wait too long and face the risks. 

On the Monday (36.4 weeks) I went in for my appointment with my OB. We took my BP and urine sample and within a few minutes of my appointment she looked at me and said, “I think it’s time to have baby!” I agreed because I didn’t want to play the game anymore of being scared of high BP. 

Then I was told to head to triage and of course this time my husband didn’t come to my appointment, so I had to get a hold of him to come down because I didn’t really understand what was about to happen.  They decided to induce me then, but then told me to come back when they called me. So we then waited for that call!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

I did it. We did it.

It’s been a few months - and I’m not sure where the time has gone, but healthy baby boy has arrived since my last post in May!

Hoping to have time (Ha!) to blog more about the experience of type 1 diabetes and pregnancy / now as a new mom because I know how valuable lived experience is in the diabetes  community. I googled many diabetes bloggers during my pregnancy for reassurance and guidance and I plan to pay it forward by being “that” blog for someone else.

But, first the most reassuring part that a soon-to-be Mom can come across. I managed my diabetes with all my mental and physical strength to my best ability and delivered the most beautiful baby boy August 1st at 8:33 am via C-Section (More on that in another post!)

The hard work that it took to get where we are today, paid off more than I can imagine and for those other moms out there living with type 1 diabetes, and those that are currently pregnant, we know how much work and energy it takes both before, during and after pregnancy.  I did it. We did it. We are amazing humans!

More posts soon (Or so I plan!)


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Type 1 Diabetes & Pregnancy: The A1C

When I started this blog I often imagined I'd be documenting all the monumental moments of my life.  I imagined I'd write about going to college / university, and I imagined I'd write about living on my own. I also imagined writing about my wedding day and eventually about starting a family.  And while ten years has quickly passed since starting this blog, I can smile here knowing that I did manage to check quite a bit off my list of things to of course blog about, but also to experience.

It's a Boy!  Photo by: Girard Photography
In December 2018, Mike and I got the most exciting gift to date, a positive on our pregnancy test. This was probably one of the most emotional and overwhelming feeling to date.  We are going to be parents!  The first person I called was my endocrinologist, followed by my family doctor.  Having never had a child before, I had no clue who I was supposed to tell first.  I knew that my endocrinologist had said that as soon as we were pregnant to give her a call, so that's what I did.

A year prior I wanted to prove to myself and my diabetes team that I was capable of maintaining an A1C that was safe for conceiving and carrying a baby.  I aimed for the low 6's every couple months that I got my A1C done. My endocrinologist told me that I could get one done every month, which really allowed me to stay motivated and on track.  I bounced between 6.5% and 6.2% which was deemed great. This was done with minimal highs and minimal lows, as I know that sometimes an A1C test is not a great predictor of blood sugar control.

I knew that I was capable of maintaining a good A1C all while still enjoying the food I enjoyed. It really amounted to pre bolusing (taking insulin x amount of time before my meal versus just as I was putting food in my mouth or after)  and paying attention to my blood sugars, rather than guessing and bolusing.

After conceiving, the new step of diabetes management was now in place.  The first trimester meant a lot of lows. This meant that I needed to be checking often and be prepared to drink juice or eat rockets at any moment.  This was an interesting balance of making sure that I wasn't overeating my lows out of fear, and hunger frankly and keeping that balance between the lines of 4.9 and 8 mmol/L where I wanted to be. (Everyone is different, that was just my goal target for myself!) 

With the lows in mind, but also knowing that I felt my lows, I was watching for them and I was prepared, I managed to have A1C's in the high 4 and low 5's since.  I am now in my second trimester and I am having less lows, but still attempting to keep within my personal goal target.    This is not to say that I do not ever go above 8 mmol/L, in fact more recently it has proven to be more difficult, and require a tremendous amount of brain power to try and prevent spikes. There are for sure moments that I go above and to be honest, panic a little.  My doctor reassured me that a random high was not going to be detrimental, which eased my worry.

A1C has always been a daunting phrase within the diabetes community because it holds so much power over how we personally view our diabetes management and also how health care providers gather an idea of our management, while I look forward to having some brain space for other things and not diabetes, for now, I will do anything for that little guy in my belly!


Note: The A1C test is a blood test that provides information about your average levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, over the past 3 months. (

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cheers to Ten Years

June 2009
March 13th 2009, I was told that I have type 1 diabetes.  Now, March 13th 2019, ten years later, I sit here and marvel at the journey that my diabetes has taken me on.   Little did I know what living with type 1 diabetes meant at the time of diagnosis.

While ten years is quite the span in time, I can still picture my eighteen (almost nineteen year old self) in the waiting room. Waiting without any idea what was going on, crying as the doctor told me I had diabetes and then walked away and closed the door.  I remember trying to get a cell phone signal in the room so that I could text someone, anyone.   I recall the quick drive home after they told me get a bag together because I'd be staying at the hospital for a couple nights, something I'd never done before.  I remember the look of panic on my mom's face as she gathered my things together and then drove me to the Brantford General Hospital.

I remember a question I asked the first doctor I saw at the hospital.  I asked, "Will I still be able to have a family?"   it wasn't something that I was actively planning at the time, having to still complete College and University, but it was an important question for me to ask.  I remember him smiling and telling me, "of course." Probably wondering why out of all the things to ask during time of diagnosis, I decided to ask that.

Ten years later, and I am smiling thinking, 'of course' as my husband and I get ready to add a beautiful baby to our family in August.

Baby O'Connell Arrives in August! 
I remember sitting in the hospital bed, as the patient beside me went on about all that Popeye's Chicken had on their menu, laughing at how excited they sounded, "they've got spicy chicken, spicy wings, even spicy fries..."   I remember that wonderful nurse who let me use the computers to look up a group called Connected in Motion, which I believe full heartedly immediately paved a beautiful, growing, supportive path for my journey.

After that, I remember the doctor, the same one who answered my question about having a family, asking me why I kept smiling, as if I should be in sorrow, or mourning my forever broken pancreas. I remember shrugging my shoulders and not really knowing, but now looking back realize that when in doubt, smiling can take some of the pain away.

The fear I recall was when I was taken up to a room, them not letting me get out of the bed as they pushed me through the hallways and up the elevator.  Myself thinking, I can still walk, you know? 

I was nervous to be left alone as they asked the visitors give me time to rest, even though I felt that I would be much more restless without them.  I was most nervous to not know who laid behind the curtain of my shared room, as I saw some individuals in the waiting room that I imagined were beside me.  I wasn't scared about my diabetes, or what life with diabetes meant, which seems to be the way I have combatted my diabetes, without fear, just courage.

Mount Kilimanjaro 2013 
That day, although ten years ago now, still stays crisp in my mind, like it happened yesterday. But, remembering all that came in between reminds me just how long ago it was.  I have been incredibly privileged and lucky in my journey thus far. I have met so many incredible friends from around the world, and have been granted opportunities that I would have never imagined myself doing.  While diabetes has come with tears, anger and frustration along the way, knowing all that this journey has given me, it's hard to imagine without it.

I want to thank all of the amazing supportive people in my life, some that may have come and gone, but most definitely played an important part along the way.  My diabetes journey has been made successful because of all of your understanding and support.   Thank you for the people that have read this blog for nearly ten years and have continued to follow along with my journey.

I love you all.

Cheers to Ten Years,


Thursday, November 1, 2018


A unicorn frappuccino, a Halloween candy haul, or a decadent chocolate cake is not #diabetes.

#diabetes is finger pokes interrupting your normal routine, delaying your errands, intercepting your plans.

#diabetes is the crushed juice boxes on the bedside table, glucose tab dust on your fingertips and disrupted sleep patterns.

#diabetes is the 2, 3, 4, 5 a.m washroom visits, as your body tries to flush the sugar and the countless refills of your water jug as you urgently wait to see a lower number flash on the screen.

#diabetes is hard.

#diabetes is never knowing if you're going to be okay. Never knowing when diabetes will take you over, rather than you taking control of it.

#diabetes is a life sentence, given to you with no parole.

#diabetes is facing the repercussions for every single bite that goes into your hungry mouth, constantly paying up for the temporary enjoyment of being 'normal'.

#diabetes is injecting needles into your flesh, like a pin cushion with no relent. Repeatedly giving insulin or drawing blood.

#diabetes is a lot of things. A lot of things that many of us know all to well, but diabetes it now what is on your plate, cup, or bowl.

This November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and with that comes an opportunity to educate and spread awareness about Type 1 Diabetes which is a disease that affects more than 300,000 Canadians.   

Monday, September 24, 2018

He's Type 1

"He's type 1" 

Those words echo through my mind.  Last week I received the text that one of my best friend's child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Never in a millions years would I imagine myself bantering back and forth with them about the words and topics that have become so normal to me, and now to them. 

 Bolus, Basal, Insulin, Blood Sugars, a1C.   

I felt my heart sink as the text came in telling me what the results of the blood test said.  While they told me his symptoms, I couldn't be sure that diabetes was going to be the diagnosis. I hoped that it wouldn't be. I hoped that it was something temporary, a cold, the flu, not type 1 diabetes - please not this time.  But, as my phone vibrated, and I read the text aloud, tears fell down my cheeks as I thought to myself, "Damn You Diabetes..." 

It has been almost ten years since my diagnosis. Ten years of blood sugar checks, insulin doses, a1C counts and juice boxes.  Diabetes has become second nature for me, while never quite running smoothly in the background, it is what my life has been made up around.   When they told me the news, that they were now entering that world, my mind quickly flashed through all the journeys diabetes was going to take them on. All the obstacles that they will now have to face and the heartache and frustrations that comes with managing a disease that never quite sits quietly in the background. 

While I know many, many children, teens and adults alike living with type 1 diabetes, anytime I hear of a new diagnosis the same feeling of anger ignites in me.  Why? Why them? Remembering the last time I saw my friend's full-of-energy son, bouncing around on a trampoline as us adults enjoyed a BBQ and laughter.  Helping him with his dinner, scooping potatoes until he said 'stop' and filling him a glass of water.  Remembering all of these moments that seemed so normal, but meanwhile diabetes was slowly working its way into his body, causing the excessive thirst, bathroom visits and belly aches.  

While I'd do anything to take the disease and burden of diabetes away, instead I have to know that there is hope in technology and support.  In the exact ways that I found strength and courage, I only hope he can find those too.

Gift I made for their son.
Gift that I made for their son.

Monday, August 27, 2018

I Bolused & Carried On

Okay, so it's been three months since we said I Do, but I was awaiting an important photo for this very blog, because like any other time, diabetes tags along for all of the best moments in your life - no matter what you do to try and keep it on the back burner.

On May 22nd, we got married in Mexico with our close family and friends in the sand right in front of the ocean. It was a beautiful day, seriously, we lucked out because as we were getting ready, it was a torrential downpour. However, the sun parted just before we were set to marry and the rest of the night was perfect.

I had issues with my dress leading up to departure, as the seamstress was not so great. I had planned on sorting out where my insulin pump was going to go on my dress (not being a hard thing to do since it was a giant ball gown dress) but I simply ran out of time and mind space to even think about it.  It wasn't until the day before that I thought, "Oh my gosh I need some kind of strap for this thing!"  I wanted to wear my pump because I didn't want to have to deal with injections or high blood sugars.  Thankfully, my medtronic rep lives close by and he gave me ALL of the straps, belts, bags, you name it, to try with my dress.

Our wedding was near the end of our trip, so it let all our nervousness float away through the week as we spent a wonderful amount of time in the pool with our friends and family.  Let me tell you, having a waterproof pump at a resort is fantastic!  My blood sugars were decent throughout the trip because I always could keep my pump on, even if my entire day was spent at the swim up bar.

Now to the wedding day!  I woke up in the morning, not feeling nervous at all. I felt very calm and was trying very hard to soak up every second of that day.  I realized my pump was almost out of insulin and not wanting to have to worry about it, I decided to do a quick site change before the day began.  I've changed my pump site thousands of times, not a big deal.

But, there was a big deal, because within all the excitement I missed a simple step.

Let's fast forward to getting ready - oh it was so fun!  It felt like a rush as we did our makeup, hair, rushed around, took photos, and prayed the rain would stop.  Our coordinator came knocking on our door that it was time go, and my mom reminded me, "shouldn't you check your blood sugar before we go?" 

Oh yes!  Not only am I getting married in 10 minutes, I also STILL have diabetes.

K.S Photography

I scanned, I pricked, and to my surprise my blood sugar was insane.  INSANE.  How could this be?  I know adrenaline does some damage, but this bad?  But, it was time to go, so I grabbed my remote meter, and dialed up insulin.   But, it wouldn't connect.

Now I was getting frustrated.  This is truly when you realize diabetes isn't on your side.   I was going to have to get my insulin pump, which was lost in tulle. But, there was no way I could go without correcting.  So, there I was fishing for my insulin pump to correct my blood sugars just before walking down the isle.  What did I realize when I finally found my pump?  I had forgot to finish priming it.  The pump wasn't even giving me insulin all morning and afternoon.

While of course everyone was in shock about this, I knew it was just one of those moments I had to roll with.  I felt good (probably adrenaline) and I wasn't going to let it ruin the day.  I bolused and carried on to begin my next chapter (which unfortunately still included diabetes!)