Jennifer Didio: Starting a Family, Pregnancy, and Type 1 Diabetes

 

Today we are talking with Jennifer Didio about starting a family while living with T1 Diabetes and managing day to day life with a young family.  In this interview, Jennifer shares her journey, her initial concerns,  and her experiences with two pregnancies, while living with T1 Diabetes.  There is a great real-world perspective and thoughts here. 

How do you start and raise a family when you have Type-1 diabetes? With all the cravings that comes with pregnancy, the eating habits during breastfeeding, and all the many lifestyle changes that’s needed before, during and after pregnancy, how can a woman handle all these challenges?

In this podcast, I speak with Jennifer Didio, a hairdresser and mother of two.

Jennifer was in college in 2003 when she was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. At that time, she didn’t have much of understanding of diabetes, so when the classic signs and symptoms of Type-1 diabetes started to rear their ugly heads, Jennifer was advised to go to the hospital.

Jennifer says she had seen the symptoms of Type-1 diabetes during her first year of college, but that the signs were subtle. She was about going back for her Sophomore year when her mother advised her to go and see a doctor for help. Jennifer spent her 19th birthday in the hospital, learning firsthand about what Type-1 diabetes is and how to live a healthy lifestyle.

When Jennifer was told she had Type-1 diabetes, she had a billion and one questions: would she be able to have a family? Would she have friends? Would she be able to finish college? Would people like her?

These questions were answered one day at a time by her endocrinologist who was present during her wedding.

One of the hardest parts of being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes for Jennifer were the lifestyle changes she had to make. She completed thorough research on Type-1 diabetes and how to deal with it. She became very disciplined with her food and exercise. Her fears about pregnancy and childbirth were allayed by her doctors who assured her that she would be fine.

During her pregnancies, Jennifer was given special attention, going for ultra-scans every month to confirm that her child was doing well.

With pregnancy, insulin secretion is important, especially in the first eight to ten weeks when the child is still in its earliest stage of formation. Jennifer says she was in constant contact with her endocrinologist during her pregnancies, speaking with her daily to make sure that everything was alright.

Talking about how she managed her health when her girls were babies, Jennifer said that she was always careful with her health, regularly checking her insulin levels. She also had families who lived nearby that helped to support her.

Jennifer says she’s grateful for the massive impact that technology has in how she manages her health. Her phone is her closest companion, and she has taught her two daughters – who are seven and five years old – how to use the phone to call for help should there be any emergency.

Jennifer wished Type-1 diabetics got better health insurance, and that the cost of CGMs and other support technologies were cheaper.