I don’t even remember how I first stumbled onto Cheryl Alkon’s blog, Managing the Sweetness Within a few years ago. After all, I wasn’t a type 1 diabetic, nor was I undertaking a pregnancy with diabetes. But I know why I kept coming back anyway: her humor, accessible tone, frank candor, and overall pragmatic, down to earth attitude.
I totally dug her style, and since we’ve become friends in real life since I can attest to the fact she’s that funny and refreshing in real life. When she first shared her book proposal with me, I was so excited—I could see her book on managing pregnancy with diabetes unfolding, and I knew it was a necessary resource.
I am proud to see her project come to fruition, not because she published a book (though that is a feat all by itself) but because she published such a good book. Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, which pubs this week, is a comprehensive and essential guide to planning and living through a pregnancy with diabetes.
With the meticulousness of a seasoned professional journalist (she went to Columbia Journalism, after all), Cheryl interviewed dozens (seriously, dozens) of patients with diabetes, as well as physicians and other experts, to offer hands-on advice and information. In addition to anecdotal experience, the book is crammed with well-researched facts and resources. From pre-conception blood sugar control to the intricacies of each trimester to the delivery and beyond, Cheryl covers all the bases.
What’s more, she is diligent about including multiple perspectives. Struggling with infertility in addition to diabetes? She has tons of tips and resources. Contemplating an alternative birth plan or curious if a doula might work for you? She has plenty of information on that, too.
Just need some encouragement that a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby are indeed attainable? That’s where Cheryl’s veteran experience as a type 1 diabetic and the many patients she interviewed prove so valuable. It’s one thing to hear from doctors or disease organizations what is possible, but it’s another altogether to hear from people who’ve actually walked the walk: they’ve dealt with first trimester lows, third trimester complications, and figured out the best way to deal with their insulin pumps during labor and delivery. They’ve juggled breast-feeding and fluctuating insulin needs, and know how (and when) to advocate for themselves.
But what I love is that it isn’t just about the content. Cheryl brings that same accessible, engaging tone she has on her blog to the book, evident from the opening lines of the first chapter:
“As a woman with long-term type 1 diabetes, I know this disease intimately. Reading this with type 1? Hi—you are my people. Type 1 is very-much-insulin-dependent, ain’t-going-away-with-weight-loss-or- after-the-kid-is-born diabetes. Type 1, despite what much of the mass media or well-meaning but clueless people will tell you, is a separate condition from the far more common type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.” (p.3)
But don’t worry-this book isn’t exclusively for T1s. If you have type 2 diabetes , there is plenty of material to meet your needs, and its conversational tone makes even the most serious subject matter in the book seem less daunting.
As a writer who published a book on chronic illness in young adults because I felt there was nothing out there that addressed that audience, I really appreciate a book that fills a true void. For the many readers out there contemplating a pregnancy with diabetes or managing one right now, this is the definitive resource for you.