A local mother says being a mother with type 1 diabetes has come with challenges, but she is trying to use her experiences to help other families that have parents struggling with chronic illnesses.
Kim Baillieul, 35, who lives in the Worthington Schools district near Sutter Park Preschool, 1850 Sutter Parkway in Columbus, is the mother of Zach, 5, and Nick, 2.
She said she first realized how few resources exist to help explain diabetes, a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, to children when she was at a park with Zach about three years ago.
"When Zach was about 2 ... I was out somewhere with him, somewhere public, and my sugar dropped, so I got out my juice box," she said.
She said she had never introduced juice to him because she didn't want him to ask for it, though a grandparent already had done so.
"I went to have it and he's like, 'I want your juice box,' and I couldn't give it to him," she said. "I was trying to figure out a way to explain to him why, that I wasn't being mean, that I actually can't give this to you. I (needed) it. ... I got some just crazy glares from people because here's this 2-year-old begging an adult for a juice box – like how do you even explain that?"
Baillieul said she started looking for age-appropriate resources about her diabetes, but she couldn't find any.
"That was my easy answer – 'Oh well, I'll just order a book and I'll read it to him' – but there's no book to order," she said.
She said she also saw others asking for a book on an online forum for mothers with type 1 diabetes.
That's when she got the idea to write her own book to provide perspective for children who live or interact with a type 1 diabetic.
She said it took her about two years to write a self-published children's book, "Mommy Beeps," which has sold about 800 copies. She said she has been overwhelmed by the positive response to her attempt to help other families living with type 1 diabetes.
"I would have been happy to sell 50 copies," she said.
Baillieul said she paid for everything out of pocket and was able to find her illustrator, Elisena Bonadio, through a global freelancing platform. She said she and Bonadio are starting their own book-publishing label to write more books about chronic illness and geared toward children.
"Mommy Beeps" is available for purchase on amazon.com.
Ben Baillieul, Kim's 38-year-old husband, said his wife is a fantastic mother to their two children despite the challenges type 1 diabetes can present.
"She's super dedicated to them," he said.
He said sometimes her diabetes makes it challenging for her to be alone or in public with her sons.
"It can knock her down for half an hour, two hours," Ben Baillieul said.
He said after he met Kim in 2008, he realized the importance of proper care and having good insurance, and he was able to learn more about diabetes.
"I never expected to be as knowledgeable as insurance as I am," he said. "With any step that you and I take, it takes a little more effort for her."
Kim Baillieul said she found out she had type 1 diabetes during a cheerleading physical in 1998 when she was 12 years old.
"We knew something was wrong," she said.
She said having diabetes was a challenge while she was pregnant with her sons, but she was surprised at the lack of resources after she had her children.
"There's so much ramp-up for the pregnancy and having the kid, and then once you have the kid, it's like the Wild West," she said.
Ben Baillieul said pregnancy is difficult for someone with type 1 diabetes. Sometimes, he said, his wife would wake at 2 a.m. with incredibly low blood sugar.
"It's interesting to help deal with from the outside," he said.