Thinking about posting in an honest, authentic way has been difficult for me lately, and I think it’s best if I just dive right in and tell you what’s up.
I have Gestational Diabetes (GD).
Here is a bit of information about GD. This part was particularly interesting to me:
“Your body digests the food you eat to produce sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas — a large gland behind your stomach — produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.
During pregnancy, the placenta that connects your growing baby to your blood supply produces high levels of various other hormones. Almost all of them impair the action of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. Modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.
As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-blocking hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to a level that can affect the growth and welfare of your baby.”
Before that, they say that researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes it, but I think it’s interesting that it may have something to do with the placenta.
So, backing up a bit, the pregnancy has been an intense, sometimes awful experience for me. I spent the first and most of the second trimesters vomiting and often unable to eat. I was put on Zofran, and it helped stop me from actually throwing up. I still felt nauseated most of the time, but I was able to keep some food down and drink water.
Then, I was tested a little earlier than usual for GD, because I have PCOS (which is associated with insulin resistance) and a strong family history of Diabetes.
About the test: They had me drink a super-sugary solution, then tested my blood sugar one hour later to see how I fared. My sugar level remained higher than they wanted (I have no idea what the values were – everything was kind of a whirlwind), so I had to come back a few days later to take a three-hour test. Again, a super-sugary drink – mine was orange and tasted kind of like Hi-C Orange, but less fun – and they checked my blood sugar after one hour, after two hours, and after three hours. My first level was within normal range, but the last two were elevated.
If you’re interested in more detail about what the testing is like, this gives a good personal account with lots of information.
At first, I found my blood sugar pretty easy to manage. They had me testing my levels four times a day – once fasting in the morning, and then two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not taking insulin or other medications, just managing with diet and exercise changes. I did have to attend the high-risk clinic for a while, and have been attending appointments every two weeks to monitor my sugar (usually, people only go about once a month until later on in the pregnancy). I no longer need to go to high-risk, because my levels are usually pretty good, and they let me check three times a day instead of four. At the health system I’m attending, it’s standard procedure for women with GD to have weekly non-stress tests starting at 28 weeks, so I’ve been doing that as well. I’m at 34 weeks and change now.
As the pregnancy has progressed, it’s become a little more difficult to keep my blood sugar under control. It’s never wildly high, but it’s definitely been higher in the third trimester than it had been. It seems to go in spurts… My theory is that it coincides with periods of more growth in the baby, but no one really knows. The days when it’s harder to control are tough for me. I try to stay calm about it, and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes I cry.
I worry that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m hurting the baby, that I’m hurting myself somehow. Making it more likely that I’ll have problems later. Making it more likely that my child will have problems later. It’s terrifying.
Another, less important piece is that I’m pretty committed to having a birth attended by a midwife and without meds. I also want to add that I’ve never done this before and am flexible about using meds. I don’t know what will happen at the time! I’ve been seeing this wonderful group of midwives at the hospital where I’ll deliver. One of them told me that if I end up needing insulin or something else, then they would have to transfer my care to one of the OB/GYNs, and I would no longer be able to have one of the midwives at the birth. Makes sense – midwives usually attend “normal” pregnancies and births (though of course, anything can happen), and mine would be considered higher risk if I needed medication.
So, that’s always in the back of my mind too.
But mostly, guys?
I feel so sad that my body isn’t doing what it’s “supposed” to do. And it hasn’t for as far back as I can remember. I so badly want to be a person who can trust her body to just take care of things and do what it’s “meant” to do. What it “should” do. But my body and I have a long and complicated history, and it’s hard for me to let go and trust.
There are things I can do to heal. Things I can do to help prevent the likelihood of GD in the future, improve my PCOS symptoms, and help with insulin resistance. It’s just that I can’t do any of these things while pregnant, other than manage my blood sugar as best as I can.
I’ve been so hesitant to write about this because I fear that people will think I resent the baby or am upset with the baby or something. But the baby is the one awesome part of all of this. When I get to hear the baby’s heartbeat or feel him/her moving around, it’s incredible. Actually, as I type, the baby has the hiccups and is making my belly jump around all over the place. That’s the stuff that makes me smile. That’s the stuff I’m loving. And I’m very lucky to have a supportive, calm, understanding, and very caring husband in Craig. He has been there to comfort me when I’m freaking out, and always has something reassuring to say.
He also sings to the baby at night before bed, which is, like, the sweetest thing ever. (Baby kicks around in response!)
So that’s what’s been going on around here. Thanks for this space to write about this kind of stuff – if you weren’t as fantastic as you are, it wouldn’t be possible :-)
A couple of pictures: