As a working mom of two-year-old triplets, there’s enough going on in our household without type 1 in the mix. Yet when our daughter Isabella was diagnosed, we were determined, not devastated.
This may seem strange or inconsistent with every T1D diagnosis story you’ve ever heard, but for optimists like my husband Greg and I, it was completely true. What we did change was one of the basic tenants of raising multiples. From Isabella’s diagnosis on, we were intent on proving that she was just like her brother and sister… and every other toddler, for that matter.
We still emphasize that all of our children are unique and encourage their individual strengths, but PWDs, and their parents or caretakers, need a sense of belonging. We already had the support of friends and family and knew that families like us must exist elsewhere. After taking to Facebook and Twitter, we both found and created a bit of that community that we were missing immediately after diagnosis. Inspiredbyisabella.com exists to raise awareness and prove to the world that Isa is like any other kid and that her brother and sister are part of the type 1 journey with us. Here’s how we’ve made it work so far.
Diabetes is your new normal. Embrace it.
This year we were lucky enough to attend the Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando. Yes, the convention was held at Disney World and all of our children were excited to go. But more importantly, we told the kids that the trip was a chance to meet more families like ours. It wasn’t a trip just for Isabella. We’re all in this together.
Take to the web.
Even though Isabella is only two, we’re already trying to instill a sense of independence in her. We’re as vigilant as ever, but also try to teach her to recognize when she’s low.
As parents, we can’t live by the same rules. Caring for someone with type 1 practically requires that we seek out others who are in the same position, trade stories and support one another. You may feel alone after your child is first diagnosed, but you can’t do it alone.
Have a sense of urgency.
We’ve explained to Isa and her brother and sister that she won’t wake up one day and be all better – a heartbreaking thing to have to tell children. Through Inspired by Isabella, we’ve shown the world that there’s no need for a bright, engaging child or her siblings to feel different. We’ve donated to the JDRF in years past, and have a team for the Cleveland walk. This year, we’re working with the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance to make sure that walk donations from our friends and family go toward research projects most likely to find a cure for Isa while she’s still young.
Ultimately, that sense of urgency drives everything that we do. We want to raise awareness of type 1 and find a cure now, not years down the road. Our ultimate wish is that a cure is found while Isa is a teenager. We’d love for her and her siblings to remember diabetes as a momentary struggle during their childhood, not a lifelong battle.
By Kristina Dooley