Theresa Roberts was waiting, nervously, in her doctor’s office. Six months into her pregnancy, she was planning to pose that doctor a very important question.
When endocrinologist Dace Trence, M.D., entered the room, Roberts gathered up her courage and asked, “How would you feel if I named my baby after you?”
“I was a bit shocked,” admits Trence, but she accepted immediately. “It’s an amazing honor,” she says.
There is, of course, a story behind this request. Roberts was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5, and by the time she and her husband moved to Washington, she had managed her disease for decades. Truth be told, she was anxious about starting all over again with a new endocrinologist. But, Roberts says, she and Trence clicked from the first time they met.
“She’s got this sweet, warm personality, and she makes this big, scary disease seem doable,” says Roberts. As doctor and patient got to know each other, Roberts confided that she’d always wanted kids, but knew that her condition made it impossible.
What came next was a total surprise: Trence told Roberts that she probably could have a child. First, Roberts was stable and managing her condition well. Second, Trence noted that the Maternal and Infant Care Clinic at UW Medical Center, a high-risk maternity center, was just downstairs from her office.
“I think she recognized a lot of the fear that I was feeling, and her counseling was so encouraging,” says Roberts.
Roberts’ pregnancy — carefully monitored at the maternity clinic — went smoothly, and when she gave birth, Trence was there to greet her namesake. “She came in after Dace was born and got to hold him, and she’s been there ever since,” says Roberts.
Today, Dace Roberts is a sophomore in high school, an international baccalaureate student and a member of the track team. He and Trence email about books, travel and college plans. “He’s smart, quick, curious, just a wonderful human being,” says Trence.
Roberts continues to manage her diabetes — including a case of diabetic retinopathy — with the help of the UW Medicine Eye Institute and the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute. And now, 16 years after Dace’s birth, Roberts and Trence have a new baby: a literary one.
Roberts is working on a memoir on how diabetes has affected her roles as a woman, wife and mother. Trence will lend a clinical perspective, adding her thoughts and medical insights to Roberts’ lived experience. It’s a collaboration that wouldn’t be possible without their longtime relationship.
One thing seems certain: They’ll have no trouble coming up with the perfect name.