‘The Breakfast Club’ is the story of diabetes in pregnancy in Ireland. In a weekly, serialized, online graphic novelette, you will follow the lives of real women who have gone through the pregnancy journey with diabetes. They will share their experiences, from doing the Glucose tolerance test, to meeting other women in the Breakfast Club, to figuring out how to use a glucometer, to trials and tribulations with diet and exercise, to taking part in a research study. You will get to know the whole experience, from the trivial to the serious, with their apprehensions, their hopes, their frustrations and joy.
RANAE PART 2 – Sugar highs, sugar lows, scabbed fingers and weight fluctuations. Diabetes and pregnancy was a roller-coaster of challenges for @ranaevonmeding during her first pregnancy. Finding it difficult to stick to a ‘one size fits all’ regime, Ranae found she had to advocate for herself, which made her second pregnancy a whole lot easier. With the aid of an insulin pump and a Continuous Glucose Monitor (which monitors glucose levels 24 hours per day via a patch on the body), Ranae and her wife had 2 beautiful girls. She encourages women with diabetes to speak up during pregnancy and ask questions.
RANAE PART 1 – @ranaevonmeding had only been diabetic for 3 years before her first pregnancy. Despite a traumatic start, she spent a year learning everything she needed to know about diabetes, insulin, carbs, anything related to her new diagnosis, before embarking on her IVF journey. Going through IVF and managing your type 1 diabetes can be really hard, but IVF had been successful: Ranae was pregnant!
ORLA PART 2 – Five years later, Orla was expecting baby Meabh. At 17 weeks, a scan showed that Meabh’s heart had defects, and that she would have needed surgery after delivery. Despite all the obstacles, everything went well. Aoife and Meabh are two wonderful daughters but Orla can’t help thinking: “Is this because I’m diabetic?” “These kind of thoughts are in your head all the time, but in the end you realise that sometimes there isn’t a definitive reason, these things can just happen… it is not necessarily about diabetes”
ORLA PART 1– Orla has been a type 1 diabetic since she was 21. After she got married, she got pregnant pretty quickly, but her pregnancy journey was tough. This first part of her story focuses on Oisín and Aoife, their first two children. This story speaks for itself, and is an emotional journey for Orla and her family.
CARMEL – Carmel was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17. She felt well looked after during both her pregnancies. While pregnant with her second child, she participated in a Clinical Trial to test two different types of insulin. It wasn’t difficult, she says, and she received extra care. She had an overwhelmingly positive experience participating in a clinical trial, making her pregnancy journey more special knowing she was helping others!
CAITRIONA – Caitriona has been a type 1 diabetic for 20 years. While it can be challenging, Caitriona recommends taking diabetes in its stride: “Diabetes is part of my life, [but] you shouldn’t be scared. You can do everything with moderation. Yes, it is a lifetime illness, but if you look after yourself, it’s manageable. Take the support that is out there, ask for advice, and take your time. It’s a learning process”.
SARAH – Sarah began her journey already familiar with diabetes, as her sister has been a diabetic for over 20 years. She managed to have a healthy pregnancy with her first baby, but early on in her second pregnancy her luck had changed. Sarah got through her second pregnancy on metformin, advice from her sister and through a facebook group of mums-to-be dealing with gestational diabetes. Now a mother to two healthy children, Sarah says that her third child will only be furry and four-legged.
HELEN –Despite successfully managing gestational diabetes during her 1st pregnancy with diet and exercise, Helen quickly discovered that she would require insulin for her 2nd pregnancy 9 months later. She found it challenging explaining the experience of having a hypo to her healthcare professionals when asking that her insulin dosage be adjusted. Helen advises that planning and organisation makes the journey a lot easier.
NICOLA – Nicola was the first woman with MODY we interviewed. She commented saying “it’s not a surprise, the only person I know with MODY is my mother!”. There is so much talking in the media about type 2, that people end up having a distorted vision of diabetes: “you don’t really look like a diabetic!” they tell Nicola. At first, a bit annoyed, she answers back “well, what do they look like?!” but then, she takes it as a chance to educate people about MODY.
AILBHE PART 2– If Ailbhe had to describe her diabetic journey with a sentence, it would be “a lot to deal with”. Everything was such a rush at the end of the pregnancy, she didn’t realize how intense that period was while she was going through all of this. Then, after the planned c-section, everything was gone, without the chance to process it, or to speak about it. So the Breakfast Club felt like therapy for her!
AILBHE PART 1– Ailbhe got her diagnosis of Gestational diabetes after she had suffered from chronic fatigue when she was pregnant with her second child. She was relieved to have a reason for the way she felt. On the other hand, she felt terrified because the journey of creating a family had never been a simple one for her and her husband…
Follow us for the next part of Ailbhe’s story next week!
SADIYA – Another common topic that kept coming up over and over during the interviews is the emotional side of diabetes, which is often forgotten. Guilt is a big emotion that almost every mom we spoke with mentioned. We believe that the emotional challenge of diabetes is just as important as the physical challenges that women face on their diabetic journey. Sadiya is a combination of all of our women’s stories, and we think that her experience with guilt during pregnancy and diabetes will resonate with your own journey.
SARAH – Sarah’s story focuses on how diabetes & pregnancy affected her work. During her first pregnancy, Sarah used to work as a nurse in an emergency department, too chaotic and unstructured for a type-1 Diabetic, not knowing when you’ll be able to take a break! She had to transfer to a desk job in the hospital, which made her life easier. She learned a lot from her first pregnancy, and the second went much smoother, knowing what was ahead!
“I wasn’t perfect. People are seeking perfection and it’s hard. Just do your best and it’s all you can do”
KELLY – 8 years after her heartbreaking pregnancy with her son Ryan, Kelly finally felt ready to have another baby. She was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes while she was pregnant with her daughter, Ava. Kelly had great support from the breakfast club, doctors and midwives: “they just really, really, really put me at ease”, she says. Kelly was then unexpectedly diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. Her experience of being pregnant and having type 1 diabetes was trying, but all is well now, with her two little girls!
EFUA – Efua has an hereditary form of diabetes, called MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young). Aside from passing her driving test, the proudest moment of Efua’s life was when her obstetrician said: “Your baby is the healthiest baby of a diabetic mum we have seen in years!”. Her advice to diabetic women is “do YOUR best and try NOT to be perfect”.
FATIMA – When interviewing all our Breakfast Club mums, some common themes and topics came up over and over again. We don’t have space to illustrate a full story for each of them, so we’ve created a composite story using elements of a number of their interviews. This is “Fatima’s” story, about learning how to deal with food, diet and insulin. We’re sure most of our readers will be able to relate!
LAOISE – From her diagnosis to adopting a new lifestyle and everything in between, Laoise faced a lot of challenges being a teenager with Type-1 diabetes. She was induced at 37 weeks, and is now is proud mother to Ben.
MARY -Mary was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes with her second pregnancy. Ten years later, she developed Type-2 Diabetes. “Don’t stick your head in the sand” she advises, “accept the fact that you have it and you can make it.” Mary favorably remembers her time with diabetes midwife Michelle, and most importantly the day her son was born… so she could eat chocolate cake again!
VANESSA – Vanessa was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes 3 years before her pregnancy, and managed diabetes in pregnancy with insulin. Her son, Logan, who was born at 29 weeks, spent 9 weeks in the NICU. Vanessa refers to NICU staff as “angels on earth.” She has always wanted to be a mother, and five-year old Logan, has just started going to school.
JANE – Following a particularly uncomfortable warm-up exercise before a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class, Jane discovered that she was pregnant. Her diagnosis of gestational diabetes came soon after. Although first finding diabetes daunting and confusing, Jane happily reports that her journey was not as hard as it initially appeared. Jane did not return to jiu-jitsu during her pregnancy.
JOANNE– Joanne is a mother to 2 children, Brid Aine and Cassy. Diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her first and second pregnancies, Joanne managed through diet and exercise, citing rich tea biscuits as her best friend. While attending the Diabetic Clinic at the Rotunda Hospital, Joanne was often offered striking glimpses into the lives of parents, parents-to-be, and staff.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
If you are a mum who experienced diabetes during pregnancy and would like to share your story with us, or if you want to know more about this project, email us!