Gestational diabetes was not something on my radar. I knew that at my 27 week appointment I would drink the orange drink and they would take my blood, and I figured that would be that. I have maybe half a risk factor for the disease, so I never really considered that I might actually have it. When I left my doctor’s after the one hour test, she told me, “I’ll give you a call tomorrow only if something comes up abnormal and we need to do further testing.” I smiled and was on my way, not even considering that I might be hearing from her. When I checked my messages after work the next day and saw two missed calls from her office, my heart sunk. It’s an awful feeling to know that the only reason your doctor is calling is because something is wrong. It’s an even worse feeling when you know it effects not only you, but your baby too.
I made the follow up appointment for two days later. Brinton was a sweetheart and not only gave me a priesthood blessing, but sat with me in the office the entire three hours just to keep me company. The three hour glucose test consists of fasting the night before, having an initial “fasting” blood level drawn, drinking another orange drink and then having blood drawn every hour on the hour to determine blood sugar levels. We left the test (I was sooo starving at this point), got lunch, I dropped Brinton off at work, and then I tried to go about the rest of my day without thinking about it. I was told that if I didn’t hear from them by 10AM the following morning I could call to find out results.
The next day when I called, the nurse started with, “oh, Maria my dear…” I barely heard her as she told me I had failed the test and started listing all of the appointments I would need to make and things I needed to do. I was just crying and crying, not understanding how this was all happening when in general I am a really healthy person. Now, I just want to say, I know that this isn’t a terminal illness and that in the grand scheme of sickness or disease it isn’t even that severe, but in a moment when you are diagnosed with something, it can really seem like the worst thing in the world. It felt like this even more so, like I said before, because this has a direct impact on my baby boy. I instantly felt as if I had failed him already, not even able to take care of him even while he is still inside me, safe from the outside world. All I kept asking myself was why my body had suddenly failed to know what to do. I spent most of the first day depressed at home, crying about every 20 minutes, thinking of all of the problems that this could mean for baby and thinking about all of the foods I suddenly couldn’t eat.
When my wonderful husband got home from work that day, we figured out a healthy dinner, packed it all up picnic style, and he took me down to Waikiki to go and sit on the beach and watch the Friday night fireworks. I was really glad that we went, because somehow it snapped me out of my pity party a little and gave me a few moments of clarity and perspective. Not to mention, he got some awesome pictures of the fireworks. Let’s pause for a moment and enjoy them:
Over the next few days I pulled myself together and realized that though modifying my diet and daily routine would be somewhat challenging, absolutely anything I need to do to make sure my little boy is healthy is more than 100% worth it. After a lot of research, I also realized that as long as I am keeping my gestational diabetes under control, there really shouldn’t be any negative effects on baby, either long term or short term. If I allow it to get out of control, then yes, the risk factors like macrosomia (excessive birth weight), jaundice, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar for baby), and respiratory distress increase, but otherwise baby should be perfectly healthy when he is born. Learning to live with gestational diabetes for the last trimester of my pregnancy will also help me to learn more about healthy eating habits that I can incorporate into my family’s every day life, which in the long run will also lower my chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future, which is my greatest risk factor.
Right now the thing I am still apprehensive about is whether or not I will be able to have a natural birth. I want so, so badly to have a natural, unmedicated birth if at all possible, but I know that sometimes due to the risk of macrosomia the doctor may not allow the pregnancy to go to full term. I am praying that I wont have to be induced and my little guy will decide that he wants to come into the world on his own, and I’m hoping that the labor goes smoothly so that I wont have to rely on a C-section. When it comes down to it I will do whatever I need to to make sure he arrives here safely–even if it means an induction and/or C-section–but I am really hoping I can have the natural experience I have been striving for. When I visit my doctor next week this is one of the things I have to discuss with her so I can know what my options are. (Note: I know that some of you reading this have probably had induced labors or C-sections, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I am not against having a baby this way, nor am I against an epidural. Unmedicated birth is just something that I have been planning on, and at only three months away I am hoping I don’t have to mentally prepare myself for something completely different. A baby coming into the world is a beautiful and amazing thing, no matter how delivery happens!)
My appointments with the genetic counselor and dietitian, as well as my education class about living with gestational diabetes are next week on Monday and Wednesday. As I learn more I will continue to update and share what I am learning and my experiences. I’m especially looking forward to sharing meal and snack ideas, because I know that for me that is what I am having the most trouble coming up with right now. Also, thank you so much to everyone who has reached out to me in the last few days. I really appreciate all of you and your kind thoughts and words!
Are any of you living with gestational diabetes or have you had it in the past? What has helped you get through it? What were/are some of your favorite meals or snacks? Let me know in the comments!