Welcome to a piece of our sweet journey of life. This blog is about our family life-- my husband, my type 1 diabetic kindergartner, my spunky pre-schooler, my newborn baby girl, and myself! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Haunting

To get Type 1 Diabetes, you must be pre-disposed. Your body must already be programmed to have this auto-immune disorder. It's not contagious; it's self-involved. The body's immune system stands at the ready to attack and destroy the beta-cells (the insulin-producing) cells in the pancreas. Usually this attack is triggered by some event: a sickness, a virus, etc. It sets off this chain of events to attack the beta-cells and, overtime, lead to failure to produce insulin and cause blood sugar levels to rise dangerously high.

To a parent of a Type 1 child, I find myself haunted by this fact-- that some life event triggered my son's beta-cells to be attacked. I find myself rummaging through my brain trying to remember each and every time Michael was sick-- to see if I could put my finger on when his beta-cells stopped working.

Overall, Michael was a healthy child. A fun-loving energetic, happy, inquisitive little boy. He hardly ever had any colds. In fact, I NEVER had to take him to the doctor's office for a sick visit, only for his well-child visits.

The only thing I can think of was in the spring when I got a bad cold. This cold brought a runny nose, a cough, sore throat, migraines etc. I ended up taking a day off of work because of this cold. And since my boys are young and still dependent on their mommy and daddy for care, it wasn't like I could keep away from them. I hated the thought of sharing a sickness with them and I knew it was inevitable that they would both get it. And they did. They got over it rather quickly, but it haunts me to this day to think that I caused this in my son.

If I could have just stayed away, not been in such close contact, would my son have diabetes right now or would we have been able to put it off for a few years?

But that might have made his life harder if that was so. Getting Type 1 Diabetes at nearly 2 years old is a life-changer, no doubt. But maybe it's better that he got this at such a young age. He won't remember life pre-diabetes. This will be all he knows. And although that's a blessing in disguise, it's still hard on the heart to think that a two-year old knows what insulin injections are and has to get them multiple times a day.

Just this past weekend, while playing outside with my boys, I realized that Michael was giving me pretend insulin injections with sticks. He would poke my thigh with a stick and say "1, 2, 3, all better!" Or "1, 2, 3, all clean!" My heart hurt. Insulin injections were so much a part of his life that he incorporated them into his playtime.

It haunts me to think about the exact moment in time when he got diabetes. I even had a hard time sorting through the pictures on my phone to find the last few pictures taken before he was diagnosed. I wanted to see if I could see it. Could I see the signs of diabetes on his face? I found out that the answer was yes. Yes I could. He was so thin, so tired. But at the time, I didn't know what to look for. Now I see it as clear as day.

When Michael was in the car with us on our way to the Children's Hospital ER, we received the call that the lab work showed his blood sugar was 823. As a mom, I'll never forget that number. I'll also never forget the date of diagnosis: August 11, 2014. After learning what DKA is and how utterly serious it is, I was overwhelmed. I still am when I think about how narrowly Michael escaped a coma or death. Children with blood sugars in the 600's and 700's are life-flighted to hospitals. Some children end up in a coma first. Some die. The odds of being diagnosed before the second birthday is one in 3 million. The odds of being diagnosed without first being in a coma or having a seizure is even more rare. It haunts me to wonder how close Michael was to dying.

These are real fears and questions floating around in my mind as the parent of a Type 1 child. I know it's unnecessary to wonder about the "what ifs" of life. But it's not futile. Doing so helps me process our situation and it also helps me look at what the negatives in a "what if" situation could be. The "what if" world isn't perfect. Just because we might wish that something in our lives would have happened differently, it doesn't mean that the alternate scenario would be without problems. This helps me accept our situation the way that it happened and to realize that this was God's perfect plan for us. He chose August 11th for us.

On August 11, 2012, Aaron & I attended a pregnancy & labor class just seventeen days before Michael made his arrival. On August 11, 2013, we went to church and spoke with church friends about what their guesses to our second baby's gender would be since we'd be finding out a couple days later. We were also ready for our first family flying trip to visit Aaron's family. Michael would be having two different "first" birthday parties on our trip. We were excited to embark on that journey. We didn't know that the time bomb was ticking. On August 11, 2014, Michael was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and our lives changed again forever.

I know that Diabetes is a part of Michael's story and a part of his testimony. When I view it like that, I realize that we have not been abandoned by God in any of this. I'm reminded that He will remain by our sides through all of this because it's His perfect plan for Michael.

So, Diabetes, I accept you. You are now part of what makes up my oldest son. You are here to stay and I must be okay with that. I pledge to try my hardest every single day to keep you in check so that your effect on my son is minimal. Although I accept you in his life, I will not let him or us be ruled by you.

Dearest Michael,
I love you immensely and I think you are simply the bravest boy. I'm proud of you and how you are handling your new routines in life. You are stellar! I am proud to be your mom.
I love you forever,
Love, Mommy

Until next time,

Much love, Reba

Friday, November 14, 2014

World Diabetes Day

Today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day!

We are clad in our blue today in support of Michael and in support of others living with the different types of diabetes.  Type 1 Day was November 1st, but today is a day set aside to support those who deal with all types of diabetes. 

Blue fingernails and the pre-breakfast blood sugar reading:

Mommy and Noah wearing blue!

Mr. Michael sporting his blue shirt, blue pants, blue socks, and blue Medical Alert bracelet.

Crazy hair don't care  :)  

So, for all of the heartache and worry that Type 1 Diabetes causes, it is nice to have a month set aside where people can band together to show support for one another.  And it may only be this one day that some people think about diabetes, but it makes a difference to all who are affected by this disease.  Just knowing that I can wear blue and show support for my son outwardly to a degree where someone might ask me why I'm monochromatic today, makes a difference to this momma whose oldest son otherwise deals with an invisible disease.  Today, it is visible.  It is blue.  It is making people think about what this disease is and what it does.  And that makes the invisible days worth it. 

Michael's entire daycare is dressed in blue today to show support and he's only been in daycare for three weeks!  Aren't those people the best?  We are blessed.

Until next time,

Much love, Reba

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No End in Sight

When we were in the hospital, the diabetes educators let us in on a little secret: we didn't have to buy one of those special "bio-hazard" disposable containers for all of the "sharps" Michael will use for his diabetes management. In fact, they said, if we used one of the "bio-hazard" containers, we must make sure to dispose of it by following the directions on the box and mailing it away to a designated location. Otherwise, if sanitation personnel saw one of these containers in our trash can, we could be given a fine. A fine is not something we needed-- not with the expense that accompanies diabetes management anyway.

The educators told us to choose something we already had-- something with opaque sides (clear plastic is thinner and more susceptible to having a needle poke through it), and something that can be closed when not in use. They suggested empty laundry detergent bottles or empty bleach containers. My "mommy-of-a-newly-diagnosed-type-1-child" mind was racing--fumbling through the compartments in my brain trying to think if I had an empty laundry detergent bottle. It's one of those moments where I was certain I had just thrown one out the week prior. I couldn't kick myself for that because we didn't know. We didn't know an event would happen in our lives that would make empty laundry detergent bottles something to hang onto. I buy my laundry detergent in a bulk size, so if I had just opened one, it would not be empty for quite some time. The educator suggested an empty bleach bottle. Bleach?!? Who keeps that around with a toddler and a baby? I had no bleach container. What would I use?

Someone suggested formula containers. Formula! I have a baby that drinks formula! And formula containers are usually empty within a week. They are opaque. They can be closed. This will work! And so it began. We began saving every formula container. Now I keep spares on top of my fridge along with the current one we're disposing sharps into. One is also kept in my car for anytime we are out and about and have to change a lancet drum (the tiny needles to do blood sugar checks) or an insulin pen-needle. One is kept at my mom's house and one is kept at my mother-in-law's house. One is also kept in Michael's daycare classroom. Lots and lots of formula containers that will hold more pen-needles and lancet drums than we want to count.

And I've thought about this multiple times. Each time I'm washing out an empty formula container, each time I'm writing "sharps disposal" on a container, each time I'm wrapping a full container with duct tape and writing "do not recycle" on it. I think about how this is now part of our life. Noah will eventually stop drinking formula and we'll have to start collecting empty laundry detergent bottles or coffee canisters. The container itself isn't what I think about so much as what goes inside it. Pricks and pokes that my little boy has to do every day. I thought about how many empty formula containers we have on top of our fridge just waiting to be filled with lancet drums and pen-needles. It brought tears to my eyes. Because I knew one day there wouldn't be formula containers up there because Noah would grow out of needing formula, but Michael won't grow out of needing blood-sugar checks and insulin injections. Although there's an end in sight for using formula containers, there's no end in sight for the pricks, pokes, and blood. Each of those containers will be filled one day with countless needles. And this broke my heart.

One night as I lay in bed, tears just started falling. My heart was too heavy and it needed to overflow. I told Aaron how broken it made me feel to see all of those containers and to know that they are all going to be used. And after they are used up, then we'll be filling bulk-sized laundry detergent bottles and coffee canisters. Container after container will be filled throughout the years, and the thought of it made me cry. Diabetes isn't going away.

It pains me when I have to tell people that Michael won't grow out this. It pains me when I have to correct people when they say "well, surely he doesn't have to have shots, does he?" And I have to say "Yes. Multiple times a day." There's pain when people ask "So he just has to take some medicine and he'll be all right, right?" And I have to say "He has to take multiple insulin injections. Insulin is a hormone. There's no medicine that he can take and be better." And then they respond with "But he doesn't have to do the sugar checks does he?" And I reply "Yes. He does." They conclude with "That's a lot for a little guy." I nod and go on about my day. I know it's a lot for a little guy. It's a lot for someone of any age. Michael will be master of his diabetes, but it'll still be a lot each day to calculate, check, inject, etc.

There's no end in sight. And that's what makes me overwhelmed.

Until next time,

Much love, Reba

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Noah: 10 Months

My dearest Little Noah,

You are 10 months old and just the sweetest baby around!  I love you to pieces!   Your personality is starting to really show itself and I think there's lots of fun to be had in your life!  If fun isn't around, I have a strong feeling that you'll create it for yourself!

You are quite the comedian.  And this is so needed!  Your daddy is hilarious and you take after him!  You're also managing to pick up his dance skills. You'll bob your whole little body to the beat of the tunes of your brother's toy phones and your toy piano. 

I can already tell that you've made it your mission to get people to smile and I think it's great! The other day, I watched you crawl in front of your brother and then head butt yourself into his knees. You'd then sit back, stare up at him and yell "uhhh!" while clenching your fists. Later that same day, you crawled under the dining room table as your brother was eating lunch. You parked yourself right underneath his sock feet so that he could rub your hair! Later still, you crawled up to him as his feet hung off the edge of the couch and you proceeded to bite his sock! You are such a hoot. I hope you will always be such a jokester and search for ways to be funny.

You are a lightning speed crawler these days.  Watch out!  Noah's coming through!  You will look up to see which direction we are headed in, and then you will put your head down (to reduce drag, of course) and go on your merry way!

You are a good eater. You drink 4 to 5 formula bottles a day. You also eat baby food (homemade and store bought) at lunchtime and at dinner time.  You have an afternoon snack of Puffs and this is also your dinnertime appetizer.  :)  You can drink water from a sippy cup, but you mostly like to shake it in the air and make it rain. :)

You have the funniest expressions and we smile and laugh at them every single day.

You and your brother are already friends and are really taking notice of each other these days.  I am loving this!  You will play side by side and you are feverishly working on teaching each other to share.

You take one nap a day at daycare, but on the weekends, you take 3 shorter naps. 

You love to be outside, and some evenings I will park your exersaucer on the screened-porch and I'll blow bubbles for you and your brother.  You love to sit/stand in your exersaucer and watch your brother and your puppy race around the back yard.

You wear 9-month clothes comfortably.  You can wear 12-month onesies, but 12-month pants are a little too long.  Size 6-month pants end up looking like capri-pants and that just won't do in this colder weather. 

You bob (dance) along in your carseat when we play Christian radio on the way to school.  This blesses my heart as I see you in the baby mirror grooving to the beat of God's word. 

You are also very chatty, both at home and in the car.  You're not afraid to show off your two bottom teeth.  Your smile lights up a room and creates memories for days. 

We see this face at least once a day:

We see this face about 1,345,564,453,675,894 times a day.  Sweet, slightly mischievous, and kind.

I took this picture on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  You were so cuddly!

Who can hold their own bottle??? Noah can!

Excuse me!  Where did you learn to pull up to look out the window?

Sweet boy.

Happy Halloween!

A cuter pumpkin the world has never known.

Reading your very first Halloween card! You were so excited to have your own card!

Big Brother giggling with you and feeding you your bottle.

Mommy & Noah picture!

Mommy and her sweet boys!

Sitting under the table getting your hair rubbed by Michael's socks.

On your way out from under the table.  You certainly caused your brother to laugh hard!

Crawling up to your brother to bite his socks.  Such a silly boy.

This is typically the look you give to your brother.  A look of awe and friendship.  How blessed we are that God gave us you!

Oh, Noah, I love you to pieces.

I pray the verse Joshua 1:9 over you and your brother.  I pray you seek the Lord earnestly and always.  I'm excited to see what God has planned for your life.  He chose you specifically for a grand purpose.

I love you, sweet boy. 

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This Verse I Claim for My Sons

I have heard of other parents finding meaningful Bible verses and praying those verses over their children, and claiming those verses as beacons for the lives of their children.

While I read the word of God, my heart has been open to hopefully finding a verse that "fits" my kids.  This past week, I found it.

And although I could choose a verse for each kid, and maybe I will still do so, I find that this verse is so powerful that I want to claim it for both of my sons.

On October 28th, this was the "Verse of the Day" on my daily verse flip-calendar at my desk:

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

How appropriate for our lives.  God's got us in His hands.  He knew what He predestined for us before any of it came to be.  He knew Michael would have Type One Diabetes.  He knew.  And, Noah may face trials and tribulations in his own life, and we don't know what those things are right now, but God does. 

To a mother, the fact that God loves my sons more than I do is so overwhelmingly peaceful.  I love them to pieces and want nothing but joy in their lives.  But I understand that this is a broken world we live in, and it's a scary place to be.  But God is bigger and He is greater!  Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world!  And this is why I pray that my sons seek Him earnestly and always and that they ask Him to be Lord of their lives at an early age so that they don't have to walk through this scary world alone.  After a while, the shields held by the father and the mother can no longer protect the child, and that child has to grow up and go out on his or her own.  It's that moment that I fear.  I hate the thought of leaving my children in this world when I pass away.  But this verse reminds me that God has a plan.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.

So while we are still learning the "new normal" for our lives now that Diabetes has made itself a member for life, we choose to trust.  And while we are training these boys up in the way they should go so that they don't depart from it, we choose to trust.  As we mold and shape their lives through the teaching God has given us, and as we find that our own lives are shaped in the process, we choose to trust. 

God is with us, wherever we go.  Wherever we go. 

It's a lot to ask of a mom to not be discouraged when one child is diagnosed with a disease for which there is no cure.  But God wouldn't give Michael this disease if He wasn't going to see us through.

So I'll be as strong and as courageous as I can be.  I'll put on the Armor of God one piece at a time, and I'll forge onward through the mess that is called this world.  And I'll trust.  Because He's going to be with us.  And He's going to be with my sons.  Wherever we go.  Whatever we go through.  He's here. 

Isn't that worth smiling about?  He's here!

Until next time,

Much love, Reba

Monday, November 3, 2014

Living on a Prayer and a Small Budget

Hello there, Daycare World!  My my, how my wallet is thinner!  

One in daycare at a time can be pricey.  Two at once?!?! Whoa, money, come back here!
(And for all of you with more than two in daycare, what are your secrets???)

Due to some life circumstances (hey, they come up all along and we try to go with the flow) the boys are now in daycare.  As we're adjusting to our new schedule, our budget is also adjusting.

Gone are the days of multiple grocery store trips each week full of nonchalantly tossing items in the cart which may or may not get eaten before the expiration date.  Now, we have a strict list that is compiled from looking at a couple different grocery store ads.  We add in the everyday items we need (ie, eggs, chocolate milk (part of Michael's bedtime snack), cracker packs (the second part of Michael's bedtime snack), etc) and we stick to this list!  We make one grocery store trip each week based on which store had the best overall sales (unless a certain sale is too good to pass up, in which case we leave room in the grocery budget for that, then we'll make a trip to that grocery store during the week just for that particular sale item.)

Gone are the random shopping trips to Target & Hobby Lobby where cute, but unnecessary items were gathered.  My house is decorated with a construction paper-chain garland on my mantle-- not cutesy pumpkin & gourd garland from Hobby Lobby, and not with a cute harvest table-runner from Target. 

Gone are the days of saying "Oh sure!" when invited to eat at a restaurant.  Also gone are the days of saying "Oh sure!" when Aaron and I discuss if we should have people over for dinner.  So, please, if you invite us to a restaurant and we decline, or if you are wondering why we haven't had you over for dinner, please know: we still love you!  We just can't afford these "extra" things right now.  We plan our meals very carefully and we budget for those meals.  Adding in a few extra people can tip the scales and we just don't have the funds right now.

And we know it's a season.  We won't be like this forever. 

Each morning when I walk outside, I shake my fist at my vehicle (inwardly, of course.  I don't want the neighbors to think I'm crazy.)  I hate hate double hate car payments.  And, (slap your hand against your forehead if you must), I have two of them.  And I hate it. 

What I hate even more is the feeling I had while preparing my budget.  I was scared to death that I couldn't afford daycare.  What would I do with my kids?  Would my husband or I have to quit a job?  Would we have to sell a car?  What would we do?!?!? 

I used Dave Ramsey's Excel budget form.  I LOVE this form.  I painstakingly poured over bank statements to see each and every bill that we pay, and where we spend our extra money after bills were paid.  What I hated to see was that we could afford daycare.  Daycare for two (in the region of the country where we live) is around $1,000 a month.  And we could afford it.  The reason I thought we couldn't afford it was because we were not being careful with our money.  A thousand dollars was slipping away from us each month and going to who knows where.  (The answer to that is Target, Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports, restaurants, multiple grocery store trips, etc).  If I had completed this budget form months ago, I would have seen what we could have been saving each month.  A thousand dollars?!?!  I could have had one car paid off within a couple months!  Then I could have rapidly been beefing up our savings account to pay off the other car.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I cannot even tell you how many times I slapped my own hand against my forehead when I saw how wasteful we had been.  I cried. 

So, now, we are tight.  In fact, we haven't been this tight since we were new new newly-weds.  We lived in a crumbling apartment  (it had a tiny chandelier in the dining room, so I thought it was cute), and we paid reasonable rent.  Of course, looking back now, we realize it was reasonable because we were living in the 'hood 'hood.  I used to lay all the bills out on the table and look at our bank balance and I would stagger bills to make sure they could all get paid.  Of course, we were on one income.  I didn't have a job (aside from a two week stint at a daycare, but we won't go into that.  I was so very naive).   I remember allotting ourselves $35.00 per week for groceries, and going to the store with my calculator and envelope of money.  I'd put into the cart what I could afford, and sometimes I'd slowly walk around the store and put things back that were not needed that week (like hand soap when I had a couple squirts left in the bottle at home). 

We are basically at that point in our lives again.  Except now we have two boys to feed.  Fortunately, they are little and don't eat too much. 

Unfortunately, Noah is still on formula and good gracious-- that stuff is expensive.  Fortunately, my dad is so incredibly helpful and can go to Sam's Club to get us the formula we need which they don't carry at Costco.  He can get it for us at Sam's in a container that sports 55% more formula than we can get in the regular grocery store-sized containers.  The Sam's Club containers cost only $2.00 more than the smaller container at the regular grocery stores!  This blows my mind and I am SO grateful to my dad for getting formula for us at Sam's.  I'm also trying to remind myself that formula-usage is a season.  Noah will be turning one soon and will be able to drink whole milk, which is MUCH cheaper than formula. 

Unfortunately, both boys are in diapers/Pull-Ups.  Fortunately, Michael's daycare class is busy potty-training.  In fact, most of the kids in his class are potty-trained, and I'm hoping that Michael learns through watching them.  Once he is potty-trained that will save us some money on diapers. 

Unfortunately, Michael and I have real prescriptions that we must fill.  Most of Michael's come in 90-day supplies.  That takes careful planning to budget for all of his medical supplies that are needed for management of Type 1 Diabetes.  Thank goodness for discount cards for testing-strips, and thank goodness for Diabetes Social Workers and nice pharmacists and friendly insurance reps who work together to make sure we can get the best deal possible for his supplies.  The "best deal possible" is still utterly expensive, no doubt.  But every penny saved, helps.

I have decided to make baby food for Noah in an effort to save some money on that front.  So far, it's going well!  I've read and re-read the blog posts on homemade baby food that my sister-in-law wrote.  I've texted her to ask for suggestions and advice as I embark on this journey.  I've read the baby-food "cookbooks" she gave me.  So far, I've made a variety of fruits and veggies for Noah to eat.  I got the confirmation from the daycare that bringing homemade baby food for Noah's lunch is okay.

I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job now about working with what we've been given.  After seeing how selfish we had been with our money, I am so incredibly focused these days on being good stewards of the money we've been allotted.  Every dollar is now accounted for and has a home. 

I wrote this post mainly to get out my feelings on the subject of budgeting.  This is in no way a pity post.  I'm kind of writing this because, oddly, I'm okay with it.

This was my verse of the day on my desk "Verse of the Day" flip calendar:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  Philippians 4:12 (NIV).

And that's life.  And it's okay.

Until Next Time,

Much love, Reba