Johnny is a bit lucky this year as far as celebrations go. Both his parents have birthdays within the 2 weeks prior to his, so since he was born we have had a "family" birthday party and Johnny's own birthday party. This year we had the family birthday BBQ on a Sunday, the next Friday was Johnny's actual 3rd birthday so of course we celebrated then, then 8 days later we had a shared official birthday party with a good friend who was born 5 days after Johnny. Technically he had 3 weekends of birthday celebrations! I don't think we will be doing this again next year, lol. (Personally, I hadn't gained any weight this pregnancy until the "celebrating" began... and as of today, 3 weeks later have gained 10 pounds!)
When Johnny was first diagnosed, Birthdays were one of the first things to go through my mind. Would he ever be allowed to eat his own birthday cake? Would we have to make some sugar free joke of a cake instead? Would birthday cake come with guilt if he did eat it? Am I a bad parent if I let him eat it? A few days into our education during our hospital stay I learned that Johnny doesn't have any foods off limits. He should eat the same foods other toddlers would eat, INCLUDING birthday cake. (And by the way, you wouldn't feed your non T1D toddler sugar free chocolate or other candies so I don't feed mine it either. Its is gross and does a number on the digestive system.) Okay, so now that I knew that I had new questions. Does he have to eat a tiny piece? Does he have to eat low carb like a salad that day to make up for the carbs in the cake? Again, I soon learned that "no, he can eat cake just like any toddler." The difference between the cake he eats and any other 3 year old eats is just in that MOM has to KNOW how much cake he ate and how many carbs are in the amount of cake he ate, and estimating can be dangerous. Well, I am a numbers person. I have a complete handle on calculating carbs in recipes and dividing up by the serving size, then dividing again by how much of the serving size Johnny actually ate. So really, each weekend I felt that the cake wasn't a big deal as far as managing the diabetes.
Here is what was a big deal for me:
Family Birthday BBQ- Nothing fancy, just John's sister's family, his parents, and his grandma over for a BBQ. John handled most of the food, I just prepped 1 side and cleaned the house a little. BBQ started at 12. Johnny has been so hungry all the time, he always wants to eat, but he is not allowed to eat until 2 hours after his last snack or meal. Therefore we made sure his breakfast was at 8:15am, snack at 10:15 so we could do lunch at 12:30. However, there was some confusion about the start time and everyone was late to arrive (or called and expected to be). So before we were living with T1D, I couldn't have cared less. Its not a big deal, its not a formal party, its just family and BBQ. I could let Johnny have a little something if he was hungry at any time, with out caring how much he ate when the BBQ was ready. Now however, it is not a simple thing. You see for him to be able to eat his Birthday cake, he MUST eat it with his lunch so that all the carbs for the meal and the cake are included in the insulin shot he will get. So if I know he is going to be hungry at 12:15, but guest wont arrive until 1 pm... I don't have many options. I could let him be hungry for 45 minutes, not a huge deal before T1D, but now it is. This BBQ was only 2 weeks after diagnosis and to be honest we were even then way more on a schedule than we are now. He was also experiencing extreme hunger and high blood sugar at all times. High blood sugars mean that his body isn't absorbing all the energy from the foods he is eating. So even if he ate 2 hours prior, he truly feels HUNGER. Like I've mentioned in past posts, as a mom I can not handle my kid telling me he is hungry and not doing anything about it. So letting him be hungry for 45 minutes wasn't going to happen. That means that I was going to feed him at 12:30 even if no one was here. So that means I would let him have cake then too. Which meant no one would be there to sing to him except mom and dad (which kinda was the whole point of a family birthday party.) If he eats his cake at 12:30 and then everyone else eats at 1:30 and he sees them eating cake he will want more but he CAN'T have cake unless it is with Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. So do I be a good hostess and serve everyone cake and just let Johnny get upset that he can't eat more of it with all his cousins or do I be a good mom and just not serve anyone cake so I don't feel like I am punishing him at his own B-day party? So you know what happened in the end? Everyone showed up before Johnny even mentioned that he was hungry, and none of that internal struggle mattered. Good! (By the way, I was not upset with anyone for being late or thinking they were going to be late... I am late a lot!) I was so relieved that I didn't have to do anything different than planned that when we finally had food ready to go we just served everything and ate it. You must be thinking "So?" Well, I forgot to test Johnny's BG before lunch. He had been playing with cousins outside, and excited about the party... so I guess he could have been low and would have required more fast acting carbs; or he could have been high like he was always running those days and would have needed extra insulin in his shot... but now, 15 minutes into eating his meal, I wouldn't know even if I did test him. Mistakes happen, it would be great to be that perfect care-giver, but I am not. I do my best, and a pretty darn good job, but mistakes still happen and we have to keep moving forward. I decided to assume he wasn't high or low and keep a close eye on him for low BG signs. The final stress was when it was time for cake. I carefully calculated the carbs in my homemade pineapple cake and frosting, cut small pieces that I knew were about 40 carbs, and hoped that he would be happy with 1 piece. (I know he can have more, but it is still hard to "give" him a ton of carbs when I know he will need that much more insulin. I think this might be one of the things that I get over in the next few months.) So I put down this 2 inch slice of cake and inside am hoping he doesn't eat it in one bite and ask for more. But guess what??? He didn't even finish it! Geesh... pretty much every worry I had for the day never materialized into reality, and the one thing I thought I had down was what I messed up. But that is pretty much the story of all moms, at least the moms I know.
Johnny's school celebrated his birthday with him the day before too!
Johnny's Actual Birthday- My mom was in town, YAY. Johnny loves his Mimi. We actually had an early appointment in Dallas with his new Endocrinologist. Other than a finger poke (which I did) they didn't touch him, however he remembered... and was scared to death of them. It was a tad stressful. Beyond just feeling bad when he was so upset, I physically have a hard time holding him while being 6 months pregnant. I wanted to talk to the doctors, but my mind had a hard time focusing on the conversation and instead was mostly concerned with calming Johnny down. But eventually, it was over and we got on with our day. After a quick trip to the toy store, we came home and made rainbow cake to have with dinner when Daddy was home from work. Johnny was so excited about his rainbow cake, he talked about it the rest of the day. We had a play date with a good friend and then we toured a house I fell in love with online. But, by dinner I was so tired. I hadn't prepared dinner, and I didn't have anything in the house to make. We decided to just have an easy dinner at Chili's. Chili's is a good "go-to" for us. We all know what we like and order fast, food is fast, and not expensive. How could it be that we didn't think about the cake until we were mid-meal? Unlike before T1D, we can't eat dinner then go home and have cake. He needs to have cake RIGHT after dinner, and just the drive home was too long to spread it out... grrrr. Okay, so we move on. We decide it is is birthday, we are not going to skip cake entirely and ask the chili's staff to sing and bring out a scoop of ice cream. It was a hit. Thanks to my calorie king app on my iPhone, I could calculate Johnny's dinner out and ice cream very easily. Whew...
Johnny & Jett's Official Party- This was the least stressful of the events. In fact my stress decreases with each event under my belt, like anything in life... the fear of the unknown is my biggest issue. The party was held at this wonderful indoor facility in town, with a massive play structure. I think we ended up with 30 kids including a few babies there, plus their parent(s) and a few grandparents (including Johnny's Grandma.) This stress was more focused on the fact that Johnny was playing so hard that in 10 minutes he had those curls of his plastered to his head in sweat, a red face, and clothes sticking to him.
So what? Well, T1D kids' bodies don't regulate their blood sugar like non T1D kids. When they are extremely excited and active they burn through the glucose in their blood and run the risk of having a hypoglycemic episode. With how hard he is playing this could happen very fast. I start to wonder if it could happen so fast that he can't come down from this 3 story high play structure on his own. I am not the mom the hovers over her kid (well... I hovered over him as a baby but much less this last year), but now, I feel the need to have an eye on him at all times. It's really hard to talk to guests/friends that I REALLY want to talk to when I am staring/searching for my kid 2-3 stories up. My husband was there and thankfully he and his mom took on this task mostly. I was in fact able to relax and socialize.
After about 80 minutes of playtime, the pizzas arrived and we were able to quickly get 25ish toddlers seated and eating. Because of Johnny, we had to serve the cupcakes right after pizza.
I don't think it was any different than many parties I've been to, except for the "MUST" feeling behind getting the cupcakes served. I actually doubt any parents noticed it as different. Again... Johnny didn't eat all his pizza or his cupcake. He was so tired by the end of cupcakes. He was ready to go home, even though there was still time to play left. The rest of the day was not stressful, but I was aware of how likely a delayed "low" was. I tested him a little more often than usual. He was a little more fussy than normal but that was due to being a 3 year old after a busy party and eating cupcakes. By the evening, we were great... coloring Easter eggs (next day was Easter) and setting up our new camping tent in the back yard.
No we are not the weird family that camps for Easter; John got a new tent for his birthday and wanted to "practice." (When I was a young adult we were the family that went camping EVERY Thanksgiving, so I guess I shouldn't call the Easter campers weird... sorry.)
So... Johnny turned 3. Type 1 Diabetes didn't stop that. We celebrated, we ate, we partied, and we had a wonderful time! Happy Birthday to my little man! Mommy loves you more than you will ever know.