Dear Isabella…the letter I never wrote you.

c792cfe57f2fa8d6bed8d13b0062dfd5Shortly before our kids were born I decided I would document their life via letters written each year by me.  I think letter-writing is truly a lost art and those who know me well may know that I succumb to new technology kicking and screaming (ok, maybe not kicking and screaming, but definitely whining). I would love if my kids pick up a pen and paper some day and ask for stamp so they can mail a letter to their grandparents or a friend.  I can assure you that no matter what happens between now and their arrival at adulthood, my letters will always be on paper and include full sentences:)

I still haven’t decided when I’ll hand the letters over to them but I know it won’t be until they will really appreciate them…like laugh, cry and hug me kind of appreciation.  If this happens at 18, great.  Or maybe it won’t be until they graduate from college or get married.  What I do know is that, given their apparent inability to keep secrets from one another, the big reveal will probably happen all together.

I started my letter-writing the night before the trio was born.  I laid in bed and thought about what I imagined each of them would be like based on their personalities while holed up in my giant belly.  I don’t remember what I wrote (check back with me in at least 15 years) but I remember trying to picture them reading the letters.  I hoped that these would provide them with memories before theirs had formed and, as they get older, reminders of accomplishments, aspirations, family vacations, and first loves & heart breaks.

Last year I sat in a coffee shop in Mexico City in hopes that my emotions while writing their annual letters would be contained since I was in a public setting. I was wrong.  I wrote to Max about his bout with Scarlet Fever and his newfound love of all-things Toy Story.  I told him he’d become quite the ladies man, even at age 2, charming ladies in both English and Spanish while batting his baby blues.

The tears began to flow as I shared with Mia my fears about her delayed speech and hope that she never lets anyone dampen her amazing spirit. I told her that we are pretty sure she’ll be our hippy child spinning circles shoeless in a field of flowers, and singing a song she’s composed on the spot.

And that’s where my letters from last year stop.  Two letters, three kids.

I know that when Isabella gets her stack of letters she may notice she’s one short compared with her siblings…that one year is missing. The truth is that I tried.  I tried for 12 months to write her letter.  I’ve watched as “Write Isa’s Letter” has slowly moved down my electronic list of “To Do’s” for the past year, occupying the bottom slot for many months.

Today I finally deleted it.

The kids celebrated their 3rd birthday yesterday and, the truth is, I don’t want to write a letter filled with made up memories beginning from what is now almost 2 years ago. My mind is filled with fresh new ones from this past year like making friends from around the world, potty training (I didn’t say they were pretty memories), our move to Ohio, Disney…those are the things I want to write about.  Knowing Isabella I am sure she might be somewhat disappointed that she doesn’t have documented memories of her 2nd year of life like her siblings will, so I decided I would write a summarized version of what I should have written last year:

——–

Dear Isabella,

You are spunky, sweet, and this year you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Don’t ever let this define you. You are not what has happened to you but who you choose to become…and you are off to a pretty amazing start already.

Love,
Mom

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Cheers to changing the world,
Kristina

Sometimes, you just need a good cry…

lemonsIt was bound to happen…it just took a year.  Greg and I finally coordinated our emotional roller coasters to have ourselves a good’ ole cry tonight.  Now, it wasn’t waterworks, by any means.  It was more of a collision of emotions occurring whilst sitting down to dinner after a long weekend.  Either way, we needed it.

I’ve said many times before that  few tears have been shed since Isabella’s diagnosis. I would say that I had expected today to be filled with anxiety and apprehension…today was Pump Day, after all.  We knew Isabella would be a rockstar when it came to the actual pump hook up…and we were right.  No tears. No screams.  Just a simple “Where’s my cookie?” (Yes, I bribed her to sit still for the pump insertion.  Don’t judge me.)

However, 8 hours later we sat at our kitchen table, kids miraculously asleep, tears welling up in our eyes…in silence.  We were coming to the end of a day that felt much like a chart of Isabella’s blood sugar: a mix of high and lows.

My excitement about Pump Day quickly faded this morning as we listened intently to the trainer explain features of the device.

“You should keep the sound turned ‘On’ for now so you’ll hear if there is an error in the pump or a reminder…but when she’s a teenager she’ll probably want it set to ‘vibrate’.”

A teenager?  She’s not even 3!  This simple sentence painted a very real picture for us: Isabella will almost certainly STILL be managing her T1D in 10 years when she becomes a teenager.  For those of you reading this who haven’t been personally affected by this disease, let me share with you the thing we ALL hear shortly after diagnosis: “A CURE will most likely be found within the next 10 years.”  Sound familiar to anyone out there in T1D land? I am positive that I echoed this very phrase to multiple family members and friends just one year ago.  As much as I would love to believe this, my gut tells me we still have quite a bit of progress to make.

Greg and I also spent some time tonight talking about people’s reaction to seeing Isabella’s OmniPod pump. I wish every one of you could have seen her excitement when we arrived home and she jumped out of the car and ran over to Max to say “Look at my pump.  My insulin is in there…and it’s mine, not yours.” It also took all of 5 seconds for her to adorn the pod with Disney stickers featuring Jasmine and Ariel:)

We really hope that people ask, in curious and non-judgmental ways, what this thing is that is attached to her teeny arm.  We want her to wear it with pride and never be embarrassed by it.  I truly hope she always wants to bling it out and play “Pimp My Pump” forever (curse you, Xzibit, and your flashy grills), and that she has the power to take someone’s lack of knowledge about type 1 diabetes and turn it into a teachable moment (my college professors are beaming right now).

In the meantime, we’ll continue our work towards a cure.  After all, we still have 9 years to go 🙂

Cheers to Changing the World,
Kristina

PS-Thank you to all who have contributed to our JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes Team this year!  We have met 66% of our goal and would love to have support from many others.  If you’d like to donate to our team, please click here.