After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes almost two weeks ago I have been on an emotional roller coaster. The first few days after I found out, I was up and down, going back and forth between optimistic and depressed. After I had let all of the information sink in, for the most part, I was okay. There were days last week that were really difficult though where I was really frustrated with the whole situation. Honestly, the hardest part was the week and a half between being diagnosed and actually getting to consult with the doctor and dietitian at the hospital. Those ten days seemed like f o r e v e r. I knew I needed to be eating according to a specific diet, but I didn’t yet know what that diet was. I knew I needed to be keeping my blood glucose levels under a certain level, but I had no way of monitoring where my levels were. I knew that if I wasn’t doing these things, my baby and his health could be negatively impacted, but I could only guess and hope I was doing things well enough to get us by.
Finally when Monday rolled around I had my 29 week, 2 day OBGYN appointment where I found out that even though I had abnormal readings on two of my four glucose levels in the glucose tolerance test–enough for me to fail–they were just barely outside the range of where I needed to be. My doctor told me she was fully confident that this was something I was going to be able to control with only diet and exercise, and there should be no negative impacts on our baby as long as I was managing my diet accordingly. She also told me that as long as everything was being kept under control and I didn’t have to go on the medication or insulin, they would continue to monitor my pregnancy as usual and nothing would really change. So, the good news boils down to: I’m not high risk, they will not have to induce me due to the diabetes, and I can still aim for the natural birth I want. I was so thrilled to hear that! We also got to hear baby’s heartbeat again, which was beautiful and strong, and I am measuring exactly where I need to be for this point in the pregnancy. It was all music to my ears!
Later that afternoon I had my consultation at the hospital with the main doctor in charge of the Sweeter Choice program, which is a program specifically designed to educate and cater to women with gestational diabetes. We talked at length about what exactly GD is, my health history, and how this could effect baby. She then gave me a short physical exam as well, and for the most part, reiterated what my OB had said that morning. I then went for one more blood draw (I’m gonna be a blood giving pro by the time this pregnancy is over!) called a hemoglobin A1C and EAG, which basically measures the amount of glucose in my blood for the past 3 months or so. I later found out that those levels were completely normal, which made me feel much better, because it indicates that the diabetes really seems to be due to the pregnancy and wasn’t something that was affecting my body prior to just a few weeks ago. Awesome!
A day and a half later we were back at the hospital for the four hour class to learn about GD in depth and to meet with the dietitian for my specific meal plan, carbohydrate goals, and to learn how to use my new blood glucose meter. While I was really looking forward to the first part, I was definitely not looking forward to having to zap myself with a needle. I’m not a big fan of needles! It was really more of a mental block though, because actually doing the finger stick wasn’t as bad as I had been building it up to be. Phew! My fingers are a little tender, but having done it for a few days now I definitely didn’t need to feel as apprehensive as I did going into it. Meeting with the dietitian was so helpful and really put me at ease as well. I realized I could still have way more carbs than I thought I would be able to! The most important thing is just making sure I am aware of what kind of carbs I am taking in (for example, whole wheat and high fiber is way better than refined white flour or high sugar items) and I need to make sure that I am spreading out my carb intake throughout the day. No saving all my carbs until the end of the day and then downing a huge bowl of pasta or a sugary dessert! I didn’t assume it worked that way anyway, but apparently enough people think so that it was reiterated several times during the class.
For any of you who are super interested or who have perhaps stumbled across my blog because you have also been diagnosed with GD and are looking for more information, here are my personal carbohydrate goals:
Right now, I need to monitor my blood glucose levels four times per day: a fasting level in the morning (aiming for a level below 90), and then a reading 1.5 to 2.5 hours after the start of each meal, but before my snack (aiming for a level below 120). I have to log my results, and then once a week call or email my record to the nurse at the hospital so they can monitor my progress and make sure everything continues to look good. Totally manageable, right? I’m feeling so much more encouraged and positive about this whole experience! Of course, I wish I could still indulge in all of the starchy pregnancy cravings I have been having (seriously…why are potatoes so amazing???), but this is definitely not as overwhelming as it sounded at first. I’m realizing every day that this is the perfect opportunity for me to make healthy lifestyle choices and be an example to my family and those around me as well.
If any of you have questions about GD, or would like examples of specific meal plans or snack ideas, make sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you, and even though I am definitely not a health expert, I would love to share my personal experience with you.
Also, now that I know better what kind of meals I should be eating, I’ll be posting a lot of my meal recipes or meal plans for all of you to check out. I may have to minimize carbs, but I am in no way going to compromise flavor, so keep checking back to see what yummy recipes I’m coming up with that are both healthy and delicious!