Roxy Horner: How I’m Navigating Type 1 Diabetes And Pregnancy

Model and mum-to-be Roxy Horner explains how she's managing her first pregnancy alongside the symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Diabetes and pregnancy

by Roxy Horner |
Updated on

When I was diagnosed in May 2021 with Type 1 diabetes there was a part of me that was relieved. I know that sounds odd but hear me out. For months before my diagnosis I had been feeling like something was seriously wrong, and I had begun to sound like a broken record to my family and friends; I felt like the once fun energetic girl was slowly deteriorating, and all I was doing was complaining about how awful I felt, how I had no energy anymore and even my mental state was in a terrible way.

I remember calling my GP crying and begging them to test me for everything, but they told me I was fine. One day I decided I couldn’t take feeling like this anymore and I took myself to A&E. My glucose levels were reading at a high 32.8mmol when I took myself to hospital that day - I didn’t know what that meant at the time but now I can say that’s a worryingly high reading of glucose for your body! A part of me thought the hospital might do a couple of tests on me and send me home – I think because my GP had made me feel like it was all in my head. I thought perhaps the hospital would tell me I was lacking in some vitamins or nutrition, but one thing I’ve learnt from this experience is you should never ignore your symptoms as they could all be connected. For instance I didn’t realise my excessive thirst was linked to the fact I would get exhausted just walking to my local supermarket, I had constant head fog, I was throwing up randomly and my whole body felt heavy. Soon after I arrived at A&E they told me I had Type 1 diabetes and put me straight in a bed, I immediately had a drip in my arm and was getting my finger pricked every hour to test my glucose levels, and jabs in my tummy (which I now know as insulin) as often as I needed it - it was all quite overwhelming but I felt safe and I trusted my hospital. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t run in my family, and before this I was absolutely petrified of needles, but I had to soon get over that; injecting insulin is now part of my daily routine. I count myself lucky that I now have access to a Dexcom real-time Continuous Glucose Monitoring (rt-CGM) system, which monitors my glucose levels and saves me from those constant painful finger pricks - thank goodness for technology like this!

From the day I came out of hospital I was determined to not let diabetes take over my life. I finally knew what was wrong with me so I could start to get back to myself again, of course with the changes required and my new medication. I so badly wanted the girl who I thought I had lost to came back, and she did! I took a few months out to adjust to my new chronic condition, but as soon as I felt better and I had learnt enough, I was back doing the things I love again and I’m on a mission to show people they too can live a normal life with Type 1 diabetes.

I never want to sugar coat diabetes (excuse the pun) because it’s really not easy and I believe everyone who lives with this is a warrior - especially children and my heart goes out to parents with Type 1 children too because there’s no break, morning or night BUT we can do everything someone without Type 1 diabetes can do, it just might be a little more difficult at times.

Having a family was something I’d always wanted to do and I’m now six-months pregnant. Years ago women with Type 1 diabetes were told we couldn’t have children but now with the medication and technology available to us today we absolutely can! I am so excited to become a mum, I come from a big family and we’re all really close so they are all excited too. My mum has already knitted our baby lots of clothes (we’ve not had to buy any baby clothes yet!). Jack will be a great dad too, and I know I can count on him to make our baby laugh!

To help manage my diabetes through pregnancy my hospital team have been amazing and I’m seeing them regularly; they also check in on me via phone calls too. I still wear Dexcom rt-CGM and am currently wearing the Dexcom G7 system. Since having the Dexcom rt-CGM it’s helped me manage my diabetes a lot better in general but especially during pregnancy, as it sends alerts to my phone if my glucose levels go too high (hyper) or too low (hypo) so I can correct my glucose levels with insulin injections if I’m going hyper or quickly have some glucose tablets if I’m having a hypo. My boyfriend and family also have the Dexcom Follow app which allows them to stay in the loop with my glucose levels too  -  my sister Riana who lives nearby often calls me if she sees that I’m going too low to check if I need any help. I’m so grateful for the technology and medication that we have access to these days; it wasn’t that long ago (only 100 years) before the invention of insulin that having Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence! So I really do count myself lucky to be alive in a time where technology and medicine is so advanced and I have high hopes it will improve even more for our future.

Diabetes doesn’t just affect us physically but mentally too. I know this first hand from experience, but a recent study by Dexcom shows 84% of people agree that having diabetes can negatively impact their mental health so it’s important for us to look after our mental wellbeing too. The study shows that the top 3 ways to help improve mental wellbeing of people with diabetes is exercise (55%), diabetes technology like Dexcom (43%) and having a pet (34%)1 - I could probably do with more exercise myself to be honest! But having the Dexcom G7 sure does make my life a little easier, and we adopted our dog Coco the same week I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes - she has put a smile on my face even on days when I’m not feeling my best.

I find that getting out to a park, the woods or a beach really helps me when I’m having days when I’m not feeling my best mentally or physically. I’ve definitely been outdoors and taking in my surroundings a lot more since I’ve been pregnant but I’ve always needed that time for my mental wellbeing, having a dog also forces me to get outside even on days when I don’t feel like it.

Other than managing my diabetes I was unbelievably sick for the first part of my pregnancy, I was throwing up around 8 times a day just wriggling around uncomfortably on the sofa and the nausea was relentless. Jack was away in LA for the first 3 months of my pregnancy too which was the hardest time for me but luckily my mum was over from Australia and able to look after me. I was on medication for the sickness but it didn’t seem to help much - thankfully that has started to slow down now I’ve hit the 6 month mark. The nausea still creeps in some days but nowhere near like the first few months and the last time I threw up was over a week ago so that’s something!

I’ve been quite envious of women who have these amazingly easy pregnancies where they feel great all the time as that’s definitely not been me - I’m still waiting for that pregnancy glow up when I wake up feeling fabulous! I had an older women recently say to me “oh I loved being pregnant, I would do it all over again” and whilst I love those magical moments where I can feel my baby move I’ve not loved throwing up all the time.

What I’m most looking forward to about the arrival of our little one is baby cuddles! But also having another little buddy to come for walks and adventures with us is going to be magic. I have a lot of love in my heart to give so the more people in the family the better!

(1 Dexcom and Censuswide online survey of people living with diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2), conducted in the UK, H1 2023, N=1,000)

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us