When I Gave My Daughter a Diabetes Kit for Her Dolls


As our kids have gotten older, the joy of Christmas has been amplified. The excitement leading up to Christmas morning takes me back to my 5-year-old self hoping Santa saw my wish list consisting of all things Barbie.

Imagine my joy this year when I stumbled upon a website that sells 3D printed insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors for dolls. I just knew my daughter Isabella would love them. In fact, I was pretty sure they’d be some of her favorite Christmas gifts. I promptly filled my online shopping cart with all of the supplies that would soon make her Barbie “just like her!”

On Christmas Eve, I strategically placed the teeny-tiny wrapped gadgets in her stocking… knowing we’d be saving one of the best gifts for last. I wondered if I should have brought one of her Barbies up from the basement since I was certain she’d want to do a “site change” right away. I didn’t want to delay Barbie’s pesky two-hour calibration window for her new glucose monitor any more than necessary!

Once the wrapping paper dust had settled Christmas morning, the old “Oh, look! He filled your stockings, too!” set off a flurry of renewed excitement. One by one the kids dumped their loot onto the floor. As they pushed aside their reindeer Pez dispensers and packs of gum, they began unwrapping their final bursts of holiday joy.

As Isabella ripped the paper off the miniature Dexcom, I knew I had made a mistake. The expression on her face… I’m still not really sure what it was. Disappointment? Curiosity? Confusion? What I did know was that it wasn’t the one I had envisioned when I clicked “place order now.” It wasn’t excitement, and it certainly wasn’t joy. For a brief second, it almost felt like sadness.

I looked at my husband Greg with a face signaling this wasn’t the way Christmas morning was supposed to end. I watched as Isabella looked between her toy medical devices and her sister’s miniature Lite-Brite and her brother’s Storm Trooper keychain. Her “gift” didn’t feel so much like a gift after all. At that moment it was me who was filled with sadness… and a little bit of shame.

I had once again made it “about diabetes.” I had assumed that Isabella wanted her doll to be just like her. But she didn’t. Actually, I don’t know that she’d ever even considered that her doll could have diabetes. She’s never once asked why her dolls don’t have Type 1 diabetes and she’s never said she wished they did.

This week it was announced that the American Girl empire has developed a Type 1 diabetes accessory kit. Had I heard this news just one week ago I would have been first in line to throw down $24 to make sure Isabella’s doll would have one. I would have driven two hours to the closest store and purchased extras for all of Isabella’s T1D BFFs, just knowing they would be a hit!

But not today.

Today I will let Isabella make that decision. Today I will not assume that for her to feel accepted she must be surrounded with dolls “just like her.” Today, instead of making assumptions about what will make Isabella happy, I will ask her.

Thank you, American Girl, for giving our kids the choice to have their dolls be just like them in so many ways. I love that the brand is embracing the many differences of young children today and feel fortunate that, whatever Isabella chooses, her doll can be just like her…

Or not.

Kristina’s daughter Isabella

Follow this journey on Inspired by Isabella.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness during the holidays. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Diabetes Type 1

To the Loved Ones Curious About My Diabetes This Holiday Season

This holiday season will be much different for me. This year my health spiraled out of control, and along with multiple other life-changing diagnoses, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I now poke my little fingers 10+ times a day, wear a device that constantly monitors my blood glucose and alerts me of highs and [...]

18 Truths People With Type 1 Diabetes Wish Others Understood

Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans and 380 million people worldwide. By 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that number to more than double. Diabetes takes the life of one American every three minutes, and it’s a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes [...]

Why We Dread Halloween as Parents of a Child With Type 1 Diabetes

I have always loved Halloween. I love dressing up, and I love the excitement leading up to it. I start planning our family’s costumes months in advance — and we don’t disappoint! For most kids, though, Halloween is about much more than choosing costumes. It’s about the candy. C-A-N-D-Y. Most people would expect that, as parents of [...]

When a Man Questioned My Son's Need for a Service Dog

In an attempt to escape the witching hour, I had the hair-brained idea to pack up the kids in the car and spoil dinner with a sweet treat. My husband was working late and I was desperate to win some smiles with ice cream. When we arrived at our favorite ice cream joint, I unbuckled [...]