My Experiences With Gestational Diabetes
At 28 weeks pregnant, I had my glucose test. A few days went by, and I had no doubt that the test had been routine, and I could continue on my merry way through what had been a relatively uncomplicated first pregnancy.
Until that Friday morning (it’s always Friday, isn’t it?!?) when the results came. I had failed.
A nurse called and told me quite bluntly that I would need to check my blood sugar four times a day. That sounded a bit extreme. A quick end-of-the-day phone message from my provider comforted me, but I now had the whole weekend to dwell on the fact that I had gestational diabetes, or what I call GD. All of my good reports and positive pregnancy experiences went out the window. I had lost control of my pregnancy.
I’m now at week 37, and although I’m not a GD expert, I do want to share some tips for other mamas who might be encountering GD for the first time.
Lancet means needle. When a nurse introduced me to lancets, I retorted, “You mean needles.” That’s what they are. Little needles that prick your finger. So whereas you might never get over the idea that you have to prick your finger with a needle, at least you can sound cooler by picking up a prescription for lancets.
It is not easy to prick your finger four times a day — at least not at first. I’m not going to lie. Pricking my finger took some getting used to. At first, I was nervous to push the button that would send the needle — I mean lancet — into my finger. I felt like Will Ferrell in "Elf" when he tests the jack-in-the-boxes. And even when I would press the button, no blood would come out. This was even more frustrating. I had to learn to "milk" my finger and use gravity to help me get the right amount of blood on the strip. I’m to the point now where it doesn’t really bother me, but do remember to use the right setting. A 7 setting is not the same as a 5!
You have to reorganize your daily schedule. I have to take my blood sugar in the morning and after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even with a flexible work schedule (for which I am grateful), I found this extremely difficult to adjust to. Ultimately, however, you have to put your health first and find a way to take your readings.
You might feel like you’re starving yourself. One of the problems I faced while trying to get my numbers to be consistently low so that I could avoid going on medication (and therefore have a required induction) was actually not gaining any weight. This was difficult because I felt that I was not providing enough calories for my growing baby. I did not know what to eat. But with a little research and a diabetes education course (which cost over $140 for 2 hours, by the way), I figured it out. Eventually, I reached a balance. I learned that bananas, for example, do not work for me in the morning. But an enormous amount of almonds each day does. You will figure out what works for you and your body. Keeping a food journal helps.
It's OK to cheat — a little. I love pizza. And I love ice cream. And though I did not have any cravings during my pregnancy before, I did start to want these foods once I was diagnosed with GD. And I did sneak in a few bites of my cousin’s delicious cupcakes at my baby shower. So what I’m saying is you can cheat sometimes. My healthcare provider permitted me to eat what I wanted on two nights: the night my husband and I celebrated Valentine’s Day and my birthday dinner. I also found a wonderful ice cream chain that offered low-carb flavors. It was nice to build in little rewards for working hard 99 percent of the time. Always check with your provider first, though.
Keep up the exercise. Early on in my pregnancy my husband worried I was working out too much. And whereas I have cut out the extremely high-intensity elliptical workouts I used to do, I do exercise a few times a week. I do a few miles on the elliptical, attend barre classes or take walks. Not only is this helpful physically for my pregnancy, but it helps my GD.
And, finally, it’s temporary. The fact that I only had to deal with GD for a few months and a cute little baby boy or girl is waiting for me on other side is what gets me through.And it will be what gets you through, too.
Kathryn Caprino is a freelance writer, literacy professor, and book blogger for parents and teachers at katiereviewsbooks.wordpress.com.