mental health · military family · sewing · Type 1 diabetes

Let me reintroduce myself.

Where do I even begin?? This past year has taken a toll on my mental health for several reasons. Around February we heard that my husband may have a job opportunity in New York. Being a military wife, I’m used to moving frequently. This time just hit me different, we hadn’t been in Vegas even 2 years yet and it is the closest to home I’ve felt. We finally built our dream home, we love the warm weather, and for me overall I just couldn’t imagine leaving it all behind. Staying however, was affecting my husband’s happiness. It felt like he was at work more than he was home and this new job would give him more flexibility to help out when needed and be present for every parent meeting and important event in our children’s lives. I put my own feelings and fears aside and said we could give it a try. I should note I don’t adapt well to change, again I’m a military spouse so I should be used to this so don’t come after me. It’s just who I am.

My husband and I at our Las Vegas home

Several months passed (it felt like an eternity), and we finally found out in June that he got the job in New York, his report no later than was the end of August. Anxiety took over me, we had such a short time frame to list and sell our home and we all know how the market turned last year so quickly. Fast forward another month, our home is listed but something else happens. We start to notice a change in our 5-year-old daughter, Ellie. She isn’t her usual happy go lucky self. She’s very cranky, seems thinner, is constantly thirsty and was having frequent accidents. We couldn’t figure out where all of this was coming from, was she feeding off the stress of all the change that was happening? A couple weeks pass with no change and my anxious self is starting to really worry so I start thinking in more depth about what could be causing this. Then it hit me one night while brushing my teeth, diabetes. My heart sank and I started doing all kinds of late-night research on symptoms of diabetes in children. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning, I express my thought to my husband and called my daughters pediatrician. Thankfully her pediatrician took my concerns very seriously and was able to get us in fairly quickly.

The day of her appointment comes, and they call asking us to arrive early so she can give a urine sample. We oblige, now my daughter and I are face to face with her pediatrician. He makes small talk and asks about Ellie’s symptoms being so nonchalant. In my mind I’m thinking he’s going to tell me I’m overreacting, and my daughter is perfectly fine. Wrong, a quick change in tone has him telling me that my daughter has large amounts of ketones in her urine, and she most likely has type 1 diabetes, and we need to leave right now to take her to the emergency room. My heart immediately sinks, and my eyes feel with tears. The Dr. reassures me that everything will be okay and if he had to pick a lifelong illness for his child, diabetes would be the one.

My daughter is completely oblivious as to what is going on. I’m trying to explain to her the best way I can that she is really sick, so we need to go to the ER to have her checked out more. I call my husband to relay the information, he leaves work, picks up our son from aba and meets us at the hospital. The ped called the hospital to let them know we were in route, so when we arrived, they were already expecting us. The nurse takes my daughters vitals and gives her a finger stick to check her blood sugar, it reads 527. Now for anyone that knows nothing about blood sugar (I didn’t) average range for a non-diabetic person is between 90-140. So, for her blood sugar to be 527 that’s far from good.

They immediately take us back to a room and let us know that they need to put an iv in our daughter’s hand to give her fluids and help flush out all the ketones. What happens next is a memory that will forever stick with me and hurt me. First, I should mention again that my daughter is a very happy go lucky child. This child had to get stitches in the back of her head at the age of 3 and she sat still for the Dr. no screaming whatsoever and just so chill. (Crazy right) So, if my child was feeling well and fully healthy, she wouldn’t mind an iv in her hand if you explain to her why we need to do it. Ellie was crying to the nurse to please not poke her. She was begging, sobbing. It was awful. When the nurse stuck the iv into my daughter’s hand my daughter threw her hand back and the iv came straight out. All the while my 9-year-old son is in the doorway watching his younger sister in a complete panic, screaming. This has him terrified for his sister. We are trying to now soothe both of our children. In all of the panic my daughter has peed her pants and I don’t realize until I pick her up and hold her against my stomach. Now we’re both wet and she still needs her iv. One of the nurses bring Ellie a hospital gown to change into and I just deal with the urine on the front of me because, well it’s the least of my worries in the moment.

It takes myself and three nurses to hold my daughter down while they stick her with an iv. Only now, they want to put an iv in both of her hands out of fear she may be suffering from ketoacidosis. Now both iv’s are in, we wait for lab work to come back and wait to be admitted. When the Dr comes in with results, she is surprised that Ellie in fact does not have ketoacidosis. This means that she doesn’t need to be admitted to the ICU but does still need to be admitted to flush out the ketones and for us to learn how to manage her diabetes. While only one parent was allowed to stay with our daughter through the night, we both still needed to be very present to learn everything in such a short period of time. The hospital is no fun for anyone, so if we could prevent our son from spending a lot of time there we would. Almost as soon as I asked my mom for her help, her and my stepdad were in the car headed down from Utah.

Ellie while she was in the hospital.

My daughter spent the next five days in the hospital. There were so many finger sticks, labs and insulin shots every single day. My daughter had some PTSD from the ER still, so she didn’t do well with any of it. I mean who can blame her? All of a sudden, my 5-year-old had to get a shot after each meal, which she quickly caught onto by the way. She would cry, she would run, she would beg and plead. She would do anything to avoid it. I know I’m not alone in this feeling when I say if I could take it all away from my daughter and give it to myself I would.

By the time our daughter was discharged and okay to come home we were one week out from the movers coming to our home to pack up and take all of our things. I couldn’t process the thought of having to drive across the country with a newly diagnosed diabetic daughter. My husband and I were driving separate cars. How was I supposed to drive, feed my daughter, count her carbs and give her insulin. To add to it we had no idea where we were going to live. I just couldn’t leave; it was too soon and too much. By the grace of God my husband was able to extend his report no later out another month so we could try to get a handle on this new lifestyle.

Now here we are in New York. My daughter has a Dexcom to track her blood sugar 24/7 (no more finger sticks, Yay!) She should also get an insulin pump soon so that means no more shots. Both kids are back in public school and thriving. (For those of you that didn’t know I home schooled my son while we lived in Vegas). My daughters school nurse is incredible and takes wonderful care in managing Ellie’s diabetes while she’s at school. She even got us in touch with another type 1 family. The boy is only one year older than Ellie and it’s so heartwarming to see both kids really feel a connection with someone who understands exactly what they’re going through. They are also a military family and don’t plan to be here much longer which is a bummer, but we will enjoy the time we do have left with them.

New York is the complete opposite of Las Vegas, (but I don’t need to tell you that) which has been an adjustment for all of us. However, overall, I think everyone is pretty happy. With the kids in school full time, I have more time for myself. I also feel like I’ve lost so much of myself and who I was. At the start of 2022 I had high hopes and dreams for this blog and my sewing. In the same sense I feel like 2022 burned all those dreams to the ground. I’ve been so out of the loop in the sewing world. But at the end of the day family comes first and is the most important. While I know this entire post has nothing to do with sewing, I wanted to share where I’ve been and maybe also spread awareness about diabetes, I’m shocked about how little diabetes is talked about and what to look out for. I never once had my children’s pediatrician talk about diabetes or see a flyer, nothing. Had it not been for mothers’ intuition, who knows how ill Ellie would have become before we finally took her in to be checked.

Anyway, I started this blog to share what I love, which is SEWING. It’s an outlet for me, a form of stress relief (sewing and writing this up, gosh do I feel good sharing this with whoever wants to listen to me). Every day brings new opportunities so I’m trying to look forward and not dwell. I hope to sew through my stash of fabric this year (okay maybe not through all of it because that’s A LOT), sew up patterns I’ve purchased but not yet given a chance. That is what I hope to bring to my blog this year. Show that we don’t need to collect fabric, it doesn’t give me anything by just sitting there. Okay, it does give me one thing, anxiety on where to put it all (again, I have a lot. I’ve run out of places to put said fabric) and it taunts me when I don’t have the time to sew, but I think I’m speaking for all seamstresses when I say that. Fabric is for creating, not collecting. The only exception I will make for myself is allowing myself to buy holiday fabrics for my kiddos. Okay, and maybe swim if they can’t fit into last years. But that’s it, I hope I mean it! I know this was quite long, so I give my sincere thanks to those who stuck around to the end. I hope to be back with more soon (with more sewing that is!) Always be true and always be you.

Until next time,

Afton

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A little bit about me.

Hello, everyone! I thought I’d do my first post just to introduce myself a bit. My name is Afton, I am a stay-at-home mom in my 30’s. I have been married to my husband for 12 years now and we have two beautiful children. Our oldest is 8 and our daughter is 4.5. My husband and I are high school sweethearts and have since become a military family when he joined the Air force in 2010.

Shortly after covid started I decided to take my son out of public school and home school him. My son was diagnosed with autism at age 4, when everything switched to online learning, he didn’t adjust well with the change. Since starting home schooling his learning has been back on track and he enjoys it as much as any 8-year-old does. While I never imagined becoming a home school mom and am not sure if this will be a permanent thing, it has helped in balancing out my son’s busy schedule between school and all of his therapies.

My two children in their swimsuits I made last summer

In the 2014 my husband went on his first deployment. Our son was 5 months old at the time, so we made the decision that I move back with my parents in Utah during that time, so I wasn’t all alone. Shortly after my husband left, when I wasn’t tending to my son and his needs, I found it hard to find things to do to help pass the time. My mom told me that I needed to find a hobby, so next thing I know I’m standing in Walmart picking out my first sewing machine.

I had no idea how to sew and neither did anyone in my family. With the help of my instruction manual and YouTube I quickly caught onto all the basics. I started out by making blankets my son, myself and family members. Looking back now I ask myself why I started with such a difficult fabric to work with… minky! It is so soft and cuddly, but it is so slick and messy (hello trail of fuzzy plush) to work with.

After I ran out of people to make blankets for, I moved to making accessories for Tula baby carriers. Anyone that had a baby around this time may remember all the craze with Tula. Moving to the baby carrier accessories really opened up a creative outlet for me and I loved it! I actually ran a business through Facebook selling these to other parents for a short period before I decided to take a step back and focus on my family as it was consuming a lot of my time.

Some of the Tula accessories I made.

My love for sewing moved to the back burner for a few years as we moved to a new state and expanded our family. Fast forward to early 2019, my daughter was about to be 2 and was obsessed with baby shark. I searched high and low for baby shark apparel for her to wear for her birthday and just couldn’t. I decided that I would try to make her a dress myself. I went to Joann to try to find some fabrics that would fit the baby shark theme (I wasn’t aware of all the amazing online shops yet)

My daughter has been in love with the color pink for as long as I can remember, I found a pink cotton fabric with a cute, scalloped design on it that I picked for the skirt portion of her dress then went with a solid white knit for the bodice portion. With the help of one of her RTW (ready to wear) tops, I self-drafted her dress. With the help of my Cricut Maker I added a cute shark design with the saying “baby shark is two two two”. It was far from perfect, and it took me a day or two to make because of lots and trial and error but I was excited when I completed it and my daughter loved it, which in the end is all that really matters. Looking back at this I often ask myself how I managed to make a dress having no idea what I was doing and just winging it. It reminds me now that I often get stuck doing is overthinking it. If you really put your mind to something that you want and don’t let yourself stand in your way you can do anything.

After completing my daughters dress, I knew that my true passion with sewing is clothing. Since that moment I’ve never looked back. I discovered the Facebook sewing community and all the pdf patterns available. I’ve learned so much along the way and have loved every minute. I now mostly work with knit fabrics but have made it my goal for this year to become more comfortable working with woven fabrics again. I look forward to sharing all of my future creations and hacks with you on here.

Until next time,

Afton