For those that have experienced relatively normal pregnancies, you understand the monthly appointments always tend to be somewhat anti-climatic. Usually any question results in the answer, “That’s normal… yes, even THAT”. Being on my second pregnancy I went for the 1 hour glucose test without much thought. It was an old hat to me, I’d grimace and chug down the flat lemon-lime glucola, have my blood drawn and life would go on. That was, until I got a call from the nurse.
“Your blood test results were high, you need to come back in for the 3 hour test.”
What were my results exactly? 130. The deciding line for a retest was that my blood sugar needed to be under 130. So I shrugged it off. It was probably because the cereal I ate for breakfast was too sugary, a lot of women fail the 1 hour test to go on and past the 3 hour. It would just be a small annoyance that I’d need to take the time off work to sit in the clinic lobby fighting slight nausea as the ridiculous amount of glucose was processed by my body.
Until I failed the 3 hour test.
Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, but I was devastated. I bawled all day wondering what I had done wrong. My body had betrayed me (to be specific my placenta). My pregnancy and now birth was going to be out of my control. My distrust for the medical establishment grew, how could they tell me what I needed to do based on a drink so sugary that I could never consume something so high in sugar normally? My results were barely off. The excuses I told myself went on, and I’ll admit, a few of them were slightly irrational. But there was nothing to be done, I was now diagnosed and nothing could change that, so I pushed them all aside.
After the initial shock wore off, I tried to focus on what I need to do to take back control of my health. Yes, the doctors are there to help, but at the end of the day you are your best advocate. So I started researching online and adjusted my diet immediately. Because whether or not the diagnosis was correct, a healthy low sugar diet was better for me and baby regardless. I went to my appointment with the nutritionist and didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, so I knew I was headed in the right direction. The worst of it was the frequent blood testing in which I had to prick my finger 4 times a day, once after waking up and 3 times two hours after the first bite of every meal.
One of the first things I noticed is that I stopped gaining weight, I plateaued for a while before slowly gaining a few pounds before my due date. It was nice however that my weight at 40 weeks was about the same as it was during my first pregnancy. I only gained about 10-15 pounds overall compared to 45 pounds the first time around. I also noticed that my blood sugars were in fact too high after eating my regular 3rd trimester diet of donuts and other sugary treats. Dangerously high? Maybe not, but I admitted defeat in that maybe they were right on this one.
Since I was promised that I could test less often if my numbers were always under 95 fasting and 120 after meals I made that my new goal. I dutifully ate the recommended amount of carbs (15 at breakfast, 30 at lunch, 60 at dinner) and walked every evening. It was a pain to never eat bread or basically anything a pregnant person craves, especially ice cream, but I got through it day by day. Sometimes my sugars inched close to 120 but never above, which was the most important, so finally after 4-6 weeks of testing I was able to go down to twice a day.
I was lucky. I realize that I most likely had a mild case that was easily managed by diet change. It was also reassuring to know that with the diet and monitoring I was at a lower risk for all the scary side effects. My birth went as according to plan as a birth can go. I didn’t have an abnormally large baby (although I do make 90th percentile babes :)) or need a c-section. And the only additional check was that Persephone had her sugars checked right after birth and then twice more to make sure she was in a normal range. My worst fears did not come true.
I think that I learned a lot. I learned that the good outweighs the bad. I found a fantastic way to diet where I can eat as much as I want and learned to truly eat well with the support of my husband. I’m thankful that my gestational diabetes only lasted 12 weeks (although I do have a higher chance of having the illness later in life). I learned about the struggles that those with diabetes have everyday.
So it wasn’t all bad, even if I didn’t get to eat that donut I was craving.