Where to Begin
Once you've made the decision to have your child try pumping, the process can be intimidating. Your medical team and pump company are both ready to walk you through the entire process. You can make it happen smoothly.
Choosing a Pump
Parents worry about this aspect of beginning pumping almost more than any other part. The irony is there really is no need for stress. Pumps are like automobiles: They all work pretty well and pretty much the same. It's up to your child and you, based on the style and options you like, to choose a pump.
Don't agonize too much about what's on the horizon in pump options either. There is always going to be a new model down the line, and there will never (at this point anyway) be a time that the best model for all time is here. Choose one you and your child like, and get going.
You'll need to set a start-up date with your medical team and look to make that happen. Some teams are booked solid getting kids going on pumps, and it may be a little time before your team can schedule you. Don't be disappointed if you have to wait. You can use that time to read up and learn all you can on pumping.
The bible of pump therapy is Pumping Insulin by John Walsh. If you're considering or beginning pumping, you should have this book on your bookshelf.
Expect your Certified Diabetes Educator to be your main point person on the start-up. Your endocrinologist will be in on things as well, but usually the CDE is in charge.
Is it better to start at a certain time of year? Some families prefer to do it in the summer, when they have their child with them at all times. Others like the school year because of the set schedule. It's a personal decision, and one you should think through. It's not a good idea to start pumping just days before you're heading away on vacation. Nor is it a good idea to start during a time in your lives that is disrupted for other reasons, such as a recent divorce or another illness in the family. Make sure you can clear your schedule for what some like to call “ pumpternity leave.” This time will be like having a new baby; only it will just be a few days before you have that baby sleeping through the night.
Your medical team will most likely ask you to check your child every couple of hours all night long for the first few nights to get a feel for any adjustments that need to be made in the basal rates or in the bolus ratio. The team will help you look at all the numbers and information and get things just right. It will happen, just give it time.
Do I need to take time off work to help my child with a pump start-up?
It's not essential, but it's a good idea to take a few days off for this. The start-up appointment will take almost a full day, and you'll also be up nights for at least a few days. This disruption in daily life is often more than some people want to deal with after working all day long, and so they take days off to deal with the start-up.
Many parents report a certain familiar stress at new pump time. The changes, learning curve, and panic can bring them back to original diagnosis time. But don't fret, this should—and will, in most cases—pass quickly. When you see your child thrive on this new technology, you'll realize this was not a trauma like the diagnosis but rather a giant leap forward.