Madeline Edwards, a senior voice student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is in her 34th week of a high-risk pregnancy. As a type one diabetic, Edwards invests time in caring for both herself and her unborn child, Atlas Ryan. "Being pregnant is challenging in general, but adding a chronic illness into the mix makes it ten times harder. It was dangerous for me to go through with an unplanned pregnancy in my condition. From the moment I took that test, I had to completely change my lifestyle. It has required constant, diligent monitoring, weekly trips to the perinatal consultants and the endocrinologist, and a lot of trial and error. Hormones from pregnancy make your blood sugars nearly impossible to control sometimes, and at the same time their controlled consistency is essential for a healthy baby. Being diabetic has made my pregnancy a greater challenge, but all the more rewarding as well," Edwards said.
Edwards still maintains a relatively normal college life: going to classes, performing her senior voice recital last weekend and spending time with friends, but her general outlook on life has changed. "Becoming a mother has changed the way I look at everything. My outlook on life is far more realistic. I think things through rather than acting impulsively, because I have to think of the future and every aspect of every situation. I am a lot more patient and understanding of people, and I am a lot more protective of the people I care about. Being a mother unleashes a lioness within you, and it permeates the way you see the world." said Edwards.
Edwards makes sure to prioritize self-care, as her health directly impacts the health of her child. "Before getting pregnant I didn't practice the best of self care. I didn't always focus on my needs and what was best for me. Becoming pregnant has made me realize how important it is to take care of myself, because my health and wellbeing directly impact my baby. I have better control of my type 1 diabetes now and I am proactive when it comes to any sort of physical, emotional, or mental health need." said Edwards.
Because of her high-risk pregnancy, Edwards must get ultrasounds three times each week in the last four weeks of her pregnancy to ensure Atlas's health. "Because Atlas is inside of me, he is directly tied to me. He is a part of me. So everything I do affects him. I take care of him by taking care of myself. Right now that's the only way I can take care of him, but once he is born I have to continue taking care of myself for him as well. He depends on me, and I have to protect the both of us." said Edwards.
Edwards has received much support from family and friends throughout her pregnancy, saying "My friends and family have been an incredible support system for me over the last 9 months. They have helped pick up the pieces of a broken situation and shown me the greatest love when I was at rock bottom. Without them I don't think I would be where I am now, and I know for a fact that I couldn't have gone through this journey without them. When people say "It takes a village..." they aren't kidding!"
Edwards is determined to make a great life for both herself and her son, saying, "Atlas has changed my life in general. I am stronger and fiercer, yet softened and grateful for the smallest of things. He has taught me to fight for what is important and right, and he has made me realize the strength that lies within me. There are days where I want to give up--being a young, single, unemployed mother in college full time is not an ideal situation--but I know that I have to persevere. Never have I loved someone more, and never have I been more determined to give someone the world."