I really hesitated about whether or not to blog about this. On one hand, it's personal, I'm sensitive, embarrassed (although I know I should not be), and upset about it. On the other hand, it's part of this pregnancy and I always appreciate when other people write about the tough stuff along with the fun stuff. In an effort to keep it real and to remember the good and the bad during this crazy time, I'm going to do my best to tell the whole story.
What do this guy and I have in common?
That would be the diabeetus. (Although I have a feeling his is not the gestational version.)
The week before last I had my one-hour glucose tolerance test. I drank my nasty orange flavored over-sugared beverage and waited. I pretty much immediately knew something was wrong, because I felt SO sick from the drink. The lab tech assured me that that was perfectly normal, but I continued to feel crappy all day and had a sinking feeling that my body wasn't doing what it was supposed to with the overload of sugar. Then last Monday I met with my midwife and got the results. Can you say FAIL? FAIL with such flying colors that I do not even get to take the next step of the three hour test. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist one million times before you give birth, and here's a handy blood sugar testing kit as a parting gift.
My midwife was really supportive. She said she was really surprised, given that neither I nor the baby were too big, and she reassured me multiple times that there was nothing I did to cause this and nothing I could have done to prevent it. She read me a list of risk factors (of which I have zero) and a list of possible complications (which all freaked me the EFF out). She gave me a ton of information, referred me to a nutritional counselor for a diet plan and to a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist for an ultrasound. The big concern at this point is that gestational diabetes often causes babies to become way too big, making birth dangerous for both baby and momma.
The rest of the appointment went great. I had gained only a couple of pounds since my last visit, baby's heartbeat sounded wonderful, and I asked a few questions about birthing at the hospital versus the birth center (amazingly still a possibility for me if I can keep things under control, although I'm leaning towards the hospital option).
Then I left the office, got into my car, and burst into tears.
I know this isn't the end of the world, and I know there are a lot of pregnant women out there dealing with much bigger issues that would love to have this as their biggest concern. I am really trying to feel grateful for that. This just marks the first time in this pregnancy where I feel like things aren't going exactly the way they're supposed to, and that takes a little bit of getting used to. Even though everyone keeps telling me that gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones that the placenta makes and not the food that the mom eats, the solution to it is to change my diet, and so I can't help but think if I had been healthier all along this may not have happened. And the complications are scary. My baby now has a bigger chance of being overweight as a child, and of developing diabetes himself. That absolutely breaks my heart. I'm sitting here crying as I type this, thinking that I haven't given my baby the absolute best chance that I could have. That I've somehow messed him up before he's even here. I know I will screw up many times during motherhood, and so I might as well get used to it now. But it's not easy.
Last week I followed the diet plan in the information packet that my midwife gave me. What's strange is that it's not really that far off from the way I normally eat, minus some ice cream or other goodies here and there. (And despite how much I talk about how much chocolate and cookies I'm eating, I can assure you I haven't really been that bad.) Reading most of the sample meal plans leaves me thinking, holy crap who has time to eat all of that for lunch? A bigger change for me has been keeping my sugar stable throughout the day by making sure I plan for snacks every couple of hours, and making sure each carb I eat is combined with some sort of protein (ie. adding peanut butter to my banana).
My first visit to the specialist was this week, and it was a two-hour ordeal. Thank goodness my husband accompanied me. First stop was the nutritional counselor, who was wonderful. She talked to us about the diagnosis, assured me once again that I didn't make this happen (apparently I need to hear that a lot), showed me how to use the blood sugar monitor, and we talked a lot about diet. I told her what I'd been doing for the past week and she thought it sounded great which was very reassuring. Then she looked me in the eye and said, "one thing though, you must absolutely eat cake at your baby shower, and when you and your husband go out to special dinners before this baby comes, you must order dessert." I think I could have hugged her. She said no foods were off limits, and that was really just a matter of balancing everything out. We measured my blood sugar just to practice with the machine, and I told her I was nervous because I had a glass of orange juice (sugar central) with my breakfast. She said it could be high but it was no big deal, it was just for practice. It was 67, which is actually way lower than it should be after a meal. Apparently my body cannot make up it's mind. She said if my numbers stay that low for a week, we'd reassess, and then I'd do a trial of eating normally for a week and testing that way. I don't want to get my hopes up, but she made me feel like this was a good sign.
We had the ultrasound next, and it is always thrilling to see our baby. Everything I've read says that estimating the baby's weight from an ultrasound is far from an exact science, but I have to have it done every four weeks now (two more times) anyways. Baby O' is in the 76th percentile according to the scan, which is perfectly fine according to the specialist. The doctor I saw was wonderful as well and said that he would do everything he could to make sure I still get to deliver with the midwives the way that I want to. He did mention that he hesitates to diagnose me officially given that I never did the three-hour glucose test. I don't really know what that means, because he set me up for one million more appointments anyways. Once you've been entered into this system, I don't think you really get out.
Testing with the meter is a four-times-a-day total pain in the butt, and I manage to waste about three strips and lancets for every measurement that I get. But so far I've had only low readings (actually a bit lower than maybe they should be) and I am cautiously optimistic that I'm going to be able to deal with this.
I'm still so upset about this whole thing, and pissed off that it's taken some of the joy out of pregnancy for me. I look in the mirror at my huge belly and worry my baby's getting too big instead of just being in awe of how cool it is that my body can do this. And come on, no one wants to give up the free pass to all the ice cream you can eat during pregnancy. But I gave mine up and I'd eat just spinach from now until March if it meant everything was going to be okay. I'm amazed if anyone made it this far, but if you did, thank you for reading.