Baby Bump: Week 32

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Week 32! A few weeks ago I started going through the nesting phase of pregnancy and was super gung-ho about cleaning and organizing everything in my house…sometimes until the wee hours of the morning when I definitely should have been sleeping instead. The crazy organizer in me was subdued for the past few weeks, but the fire was rekindled this past weekend when I realized how soon baby was going to be here. We finally (mostly) finished putting together our online registry–amazon makes everything so easy!–and when I realized all of the things we don’t have yet compared to how much space our tiny apartment has to offer, I knew we had to do some serious sorting, cleaning, and downsizing to make it all work. So, like I said in my last post, this weekend we began to tackle one project at a time, starting with our closet. Today after blogging but before work I am going to sort through all of the baby clothes people have generously been giving us, and then tomorrow I am going to take all of our clothes and the unusable baby clothes to be donated. Sidenote: I cleaned out my closet probably about 10 months ago and have had 2 bags of clothing sitting and waiting to be donated…why are they still in my house? I don’t know. We live like six blocks from a goodwill and go to church every week. You would think I’d have taken care of it by now…but nope. It’s shameful, I know.

Anyway…pregnancy update: My back is killing me. It’s always in the same spot, and it’s up a lot higher than I would have expected it. I have almost no lower back pain, but the right side of my back kind of in the middle (almost bra strap level) aches like crazy. We just got one of those roller ball massage things, which helps a little, but not as much as I would like it to. I tried one of those maternity belts I mentioned a few weeks back to see if maybe that would help, but the two days I wore it my sciatic pain came back full force. I don’t know about you, but I would take an aching muscle over sciatic pain any day. So, off the belt came, and back to the store it will go. I’m sure they work wonders for some people…but this one at least did not work at all for me. This week too baby’s movements have become a bit more…forceful, might I say? Sometimes when he moves I’ll get a sharp, quick pain, and sometimes when he decides it is soccer time his movements will kind of stop me in my tracks. My OB says it’s completely normal though as he starts to drop and orient himself as he needs to. Other than that, my belly just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Brinton and I look at each other sometimes and wonder how much bigger I am really going to be able to stretch with 8 weeks left to go! I guess we will see…

Diabetes update: Since I have started testing my blood sugar my results have been fantastic. I have to email my weekly results every Sunday night to the nurse with the Sweeter Choice Program who monitors the GD patients, and each week she has said that my numbers look perfect, which is really encouraging. The nurse even told me that I am doing so well that I don’t have to do the testing as often if I prefer not to. I was having to test 4 times per day, every day, but now I only have to test 2 times per day Monday through Thursday, and the regular 4 times per day Friday through Sunday. I still need to take my fasting levels every morning, and then I just need one other after meal test sometime during the day. Over the last few weeks I have started to learn what kinds of foods (and how much of them) will make my blood sugar spike and what meals will work just fine for me, so it’s nice that I don’t have to prick my finger each and every time when I know my levels are within range. I’ve even figured out how to indulge in some of my pregnancy cravings (burgers and fries are pretty much guaranteed to make me happy), I’ve just had to change the portion size and be aware of what I’m eating. For example, Brinton and I decided to treat ourselves to Wendy’s this weekend, and this is what our tray looked like:

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We laughed pretty hard, because it really looked like someone had shrunken his meal down a few sizes for me…like a daddy burger and a baby burger! Portion control isn’t ever something I’ve been mindful of before; I never really needed to be. Plus, I’m Italian…the entire culture revolves around eating, and eating, and eating…and then eating some more. I’m grateful that I’m required to be aware of it now because in the long run I think it will come in quite handy as I try to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight postpartum, and it will help me establish a healthier lifestyle for my kids. My only struggles this week have been trying to find meals that are filling enough. I haven’t done the best job menu planning…I plan out my carbs, but then sometimes I max out on what I can have then struggle to find “free foods”–protein, cheese, veggies–to finish filling me up. I have a few more recipes I have stumbled upon which have been really good though, so I’ll be sure to post them over the next few weeks.

And there you have it folks! 32 weeks pregnant and still loving every minute of it, aches, pains, and kicks included.

Gestational Diabetes: Consultations, Dietitians, and Glucose Meters

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:Gestational Diabetes Carb Chart

Keep in mind that your personal goals may be different than mine are based on your weight, height, other health factors, etc., but this should at least give you an idea about how many carbs you should be consuming. I know I found information like this helpful before I had the chance to meet with my dietitian, so I hope you do too! 

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!

Gestational Diabetes: Finding Out

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:

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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!

Baby Bump: Week 28

Baby Bump Week 28

Week 28! I am officially in my third trimester, which means that in 12 weeks (or possibly less!) we will be able to welcome our little man into our family. It is an extremely exciting, overwhelming, fantastic, nerve-wracking, extraordinary feeling. Baby J has be so active over the last few days that I swear he is swimming laps in there…complete with the flip turns from side to side. People ask me all the time now when I am due, and when I say that I’m due at the end of August, they always respond with, “You’re so small!” I don’t feel small though. I feel like someone placed a basketball in my belly. Haha. Bending over is increasingly difficult these days…

This past week we also found out that unfortunately, I have developed gestational diabetes. I’ve been researching as much as I can about it in the last few days, and from what I have read it looks like it effects about 18% of women during pregnancy. The day I found out, I was really, really, really upset. Now that I have had a few days to pull myself together and wrap my head around it, I’ve realized that everything is going to be okay, and this is something that I will be able to control and overcome. I’m going to blog specifically about my experience (I know the first thing I did when I got home was tried to find other women’s blogs who had GD as well), so you can follow along with me for the last trimester of my pregnancy. If any of you reading this have experience with gestational diabetes, please feel free to comment or email me! I would love to hear about your experiences, as well as learn any tips or tricks for meals and how to stay healthy. My first consultation at the hospital isn’t until next week, so until then, all I really know is that I need to be watching my carbs and sugars, and maintaining an exercise routine.

Other than that, everything is going really well with the pregnancy. Baby and I are healthy and happy, and Brinton is enjoying  talking to him and watching him squirm around.

Later this week I’ll write about my initial reaction to finding out I have GD, and I’ll give a brief explanation regarding what gestational diabetes is and what it means for me and baby. So stay tuned!