The Blame Game

I’ve finally figured out what’s really different about a pregnancy with type 1 diabetes and many other pregnancies. It’s the sense of blame we put upon ourselves.

I’ve (eventually) realised that virtually all women worry throughout their pregnancy about whether everything will be all right. We all want happy, healthy babies and it’s natural to worry until you have your baby in your arms to confirm that they are just that. For some women the odds of that not happening are higher than most. But for the majority of these women, there is not much they can do to influence their situation. It must be heartbreaking to have the hand of fate deal you an adverse outcome, or the genetic axe fall on the wrong side of the divide. It must be difficult if you have to take medication that may potentially affect the outcome of the pregnancy, but about which you have no reasonable alternative choice because the consequences of not taking it could be worse for both you and the baby.

There’s no guilt in those circumstances, though. It’s sad and unfortunate and a myriad of other adjectives, but ultimately it just is and there is no fault to attach to the woman.

With type 1 diabetes though, we’re facing the fact that the odds of things going wrong is related to our skill at managing our blood sugars. The things we do each day, the choices we make, the time we invest all influence the chance of a successful, healthy outcome.

It’s a recurrent theme for people with diabetes, even outwith pregnancy. There are few, if any, other medical conditions which lay the burden of management, and the responsibility for control, so heavily at the door of the patient themselves. It’s not a case of simply complying wit instructions and a prescribed dose of medication. The variables which affect diabetes are so numerous that no two days can ever be the same, even if they seem as though they should be. When things go wrong it is, of course, the fault of diabetes. Those things would not go wrong at all if diabetes were not in the picture. But at the same time health professionals, and even well meaning friends and family alike can inadvertently appear to be judging us because it’s easy to suppose that we could have done something different to alter the course of a given day. And of course, people with diabetes are often their own biggest critics.

Which is the problem with a pregnancy with type 1 diabetes.

I know that if anything goes wrong through these final weeks of pregnancy, I will blame myself. I will not feel unlucky. I won’t feel cheated, or to be the victim of a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ll feel responsible. And I’m sure that I’ll blame myself until the day I die.

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