Here is a picture of my girls. Lily is the youngest. She turned 2 years old this month and is the apple of everyone’s eye. One comment we consistently hear from family and friends is, “Wow, your little girls all seem to be made from the same mold.” They are referring to the fact that all three of our girls look very alike. Of course, that’s fairly common among sisters, but if you were to pull out baby pictures and stack them side by side, you’d see that my girls look remarkably similar.
The real shocker comes when you compare Lily’s picture with Kaitlyn’s. I’m their mom, and I can hardly tell who’s who. Every time I hear these comparisons I’m tickled, but a part of me deep inside tinges with worry. Lily is only a year away from the age Kaitlyn (on the right in the photo above) was when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I can’t believe how young she was — just a baby, in my mind. There’s no scientific basis for this fear, but I secretly wonder what would happen if Lily were to not only look more and more like Kaitlyn, but also develop diabetes like Kaitlyn.
As a mom of a kid with type 1, I am constantly paranoid about my other kids developing it. My ears prick up when I hear “I’m thirsty” or “I have to go to the bathroom” over and over. I often joke with my sister-in-law and other fellow diabetes moms that diabetes has turned us into crazy people. We are constantly on the lookout for other children, especially our own, who might be showing the signs of type 1. So far, every time I’ve had the worry, it turns out that my kids are just being kids … thirsty or tired or irritable. Being a mom who has experienced it once, I now view the world through a very different lens, and it can be overwhelming sometimes.
So I ask myself, what would I do if Lily was diagnosed with type 1? Obviously I would be sad, overwhelmed, and everything in between, but I have to believe that hope would carry me through. Part of what made it easier for us when Kaitlyn was diagnosed was the fact that we had already witnessed a type 1 diagnosis with my nephew James. In many ways this was a huge blessing, and we were able to avoid a seemingly overwhelming learning curve by watching James’ family navigate their way.
Of course, I would never want my other kids to have to face type 1, but if they did, it would be under the most favorable circumstances. Our family knows the ins and outs of the routines, we have a makeshift diabetes pharmacy in our kitchen cabinets, and we would be able to jump right in with both feet. Kaitlyn is a trooper and such an amazing and brave little girl. If anyone else were to receive the diagnosis, I’m sure she would be at the front of the line ready to help in any way she could.
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.