What's Her Secret?: 'Don't be afraid to ask for help'

abredeson@islandpacket.comMay 11, 2014 

Emily Bierman is photographed on April 1 with children Ali, 10, and Jake, 13.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE

    The moms featured in this column are not bragging about themselves. They often have no idea they are even being selected for the weekly feature until they get a phone call. Most are recommended by readers. Please send your suggestions of Lowcountry moms to features writer Amy Bredeson at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Name: Emily Bierman

Husband: Tim

Town: Bluffton

Children: Jake, 13; Ali, 10

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, school volunteer, School Improvement Council member at Okatie Elementary School and Bluffton Middle School

Favorite mommy moment: Every kiss, every hug, every belly laugh, and when I walk into my children's schools and have so many teachers and staff members tell me how highly they think of Jake or Ali.

Most challenging moment: Jake was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two weeks after his 10th birthday. We thought it was the flu until his breathing was off. It was late at night on Ali's birthday when we paged Jake's doctor and let him listen to Jake's breathing over the phone. He sent us immediately to the hospital. We were barely in the door when they scooped him up and quickly diagnosed him as diabetic. His blood sugar was over 800. The average person's blood sugar is anywhere from 80 to 150. Once the doctors were able to lower his sugar, they airlifted him to the Medical University of South Carolina without us. That was the scariest and longest drive of our lives, not being able to hold Jake's hand and tell him everything would be OK. Tim broke a few speeding laws to get us to Charleston.

Favorite book: Asking a book lover her favorite book is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. So here are a few: "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss because it was the first book I ever read to both kids. We could recite it without even opening it. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen for the hopeless romantic in me. "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown because it makes me want to learn more about art, religion, history and geography. The Harry Potter series because it's brilliant in so many ways; and any young adult book I can share with Jake and Ali and fight over who gets to read it first. If it's one we haven't read, whoever has it first better not put it down or they risk the chance of not getting it back.

Funniest thing your kids ever said? One of the funniest things that happened recently revolved around a "free hug coupon." Ali isn't much of a hugger unless it's on her terms. Jake would hug you all day. Last year, Ali thought up the best gift for Jake: a "free hug coupon" that doesn't expire. Unfortunately, Jake has abused the power of the coupon. So now it's him chasing Ali around the house, waving the coupon in the air, trying to get more hugs. And she's not easy to catch.

The moment your kids met each other: Jake was the proudest big brother when he first laid eyes on Ali. He had just turned 3 two weeks prior to Ali's birth. The "Gram" brought him to the hospital to meet his baby sister. The awe and excitement on his face was so priceless. They've been best friends from the very first moment. We have the pictures to prove it, in case they ever deny it.

How do you stick to routines in your house? How strict are you? Weekends are for jammies and chilling out. During the week, it's school, after-school activities, then relax, dinner, homework and bedtime. I'm strict when it comes to behavior. But we set the boundaries when the kids were little. Respect for others and "please" and "thank you." And we've always stressed the importance of school and doing your best. Because both Jake and Ali are so well-behaved and earn good grades, we give them a lot of latitude to do things they want.

I want to pull out my hair when: Kids whine. Whining drives me crazy.

How did you react to your son's diagnosis? We were shocked and scared to death that we were going to lose our child. The signs were all there. We just didn't know them. The constant drinking of water, frequently going to the bathroom, being tired. We thought it was normal because it was the end of the summer and really hot, and then school began and he was tired. We don't have anyone else in the family who has Type 1 diabetes.

How has life changed since then? I'm still scared every day. On school days, when I go wake him up, it's the scariest minute, and I hold my breath because what if he doesn't wake up? His blood sugar could drop in the middle of the night so low that he won't wake up.

What have you learned from this experience? The outpouring of love, support and guidance from friends, family and people we had never met before but who also have someone they love who's diabetic has been incredible. We are very active in fundraising for a cure. Last year Tim began participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ride to Cure Diabetes, riding his bike in different races across the country to raise money for diabetes.

Advice for other moms: Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Take time for yourself, whether it's a movie or a long weekend with friends. I think you have to recharge your own batteries in order to be a good parent. Every parent needs a break because if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And be a partner with your child's teacher. I always ask them, "What can I do to help you teach my child effectively?"

Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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