Disclaimer: It’s been nearly six years since this sweet babe was born, so some of the details have gone a bit fuzzy, but what follows is my best recollection of my first experience with Gestational Diabetes.
Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes during my second pregnancy wasn’t a huge surprise for me. I don’t know why exactly, but I just had a feeling I would fail the glucose tolerance test. Perhaps it was that I have a family history of diabetes, I was overweight, and I had some spells of feeling “puny” between pop-sickles, which were my #1 craving that round. Perhaps I’m a tad on the hypochondriac side and, for the first time ever, I just happened to actually have the thing I was worrying about.
Either way, my first reaction was feeling totally overwhelmed. I felt like my body had betrayed me. In fact it was I who had betrayed my body, by not getting enough exercise, enough sleep, or enough of the right foods. I had been indulging my junk food cravings, living on caffeine and had been yo-yo-ing between 10 and 20 pounds heavier than I had been prior to the first baby (for which I was already overweight).
I had a general idea how I needed to adjust my diet, since my mom is diabetic, and I had glanced through a few diabetic recipe books. Basically what I thought in the early days was “Carbs are bad. I’m only going to eat the bare minimum of carbs, and I’m going to exercise every time I eat.”
It almost worked. My post meal blood glucose readings were mostly in the middle of the target range. Unfortunately I was still having some slightly high fasting readings, and I started losing weight pretty rapidly. The weight loss would have been wonderful if I hadn’t been pregnant. My midwife wasn’t crazy about the amount of weight I was losing and my fasting numbers weren’t crazy high, so I saw a nutritionist and started trying to push my post meal reading toward the upper end of in-range. I wasn’t terribly good at it. Once you have the “carbs are bad” mind set it is really hard to eat a grain without feeling the need to do some sort of exercise. Also, I had a hard time finding the right balance between “more of the right carbs” and “too many carbs in general” I was able to bump my numbers up a little, and by adding a snack at night I was able to get my fasting numbers down a little, but the weight loss continued.
My midwife started having me come in for weekly weight checks and eventually consulted with an OB about my weight loss. The OB wasn’t worried about the weight loss given that I had extra weight to lose, but she wanted to make sure I wasn’t spilling ketones. I was.
We gave it a couple weeks of trying to keep my numbers in the upper range, and trying to get rid of the ketones. But after I lost even more weight (around ten pounds by this time), we decided I’d probably need medication and that my care should be transferred to an OB.
Under the care of the OB I ended up going on a low dose (10 units) of NPH insulin at bedtime. I still had to eat carefully, but my fasting readings stabilized and the ketones went away almost immediately. By this time I only had another 6 weeks or so to go, and for the first time in my pregnancy I started gaining weight.
I only ended up seeing the OB twice. She was going out of town and scheduled me with another doctor for what would have been my third visit with her.
Around nine o’clock the morning of my third appointment I was pretty certain I was in labor, so I called my husband at work and asked him to meet me at my 11:00 appointment. I figured if it turned out I wasn’t in labor, I’d rather find out at a regular appointment than go to the trouble of booking into the hospital and then waiting around to be discharged.
I was meeting the OB who was filling in for mine for the first time, and when I told him I felt like I was in labor, he was kind, but gave me the look you give a four year old who tells you he is really Superman.
“MMm hmm, well you could be, but your due date is still two and a half weeks away, so we’ll just check”
“Mrs. Clark you’re only dilated to about 3, but you’re completely effaced, and you’re contracting regularly. You’d better head to the hospital”.
“You mean like right this minute”?
“Yes. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Go directly to the hospital”
Two hours later and just minutes after my water broke, we were holding our sweet baby Montana.
She was 6 lbs 15oz, which surprised me since the ultrasound “estimate” was eight pounds a couple weeks prior, and you always hear about women with Gestational Diabetes having huge babies.
At that point I wasn’t sure we would try to have any more babies. It had been exhausting to pretty much have my life revolve around food and think and calculate and worry every time I took a bite.
As time passed, so did the exhaustion, and eventually I started having spells of baby fever. My husband did not. He was absolutely ready to be done having babies, and when Montana turned five years old, I started to realize how nice it is to sleep all night and only wipe my own bum.
My husband planned to have a vasectomy but never got around to it, and I temporarily went off the pill, to try and figure out if that was what was causing some terrible headaches I was having this winter. When I went off the pill, the headaches mostly went away. I still didn’t know if that was a coincidence, and had planned to see my midwife about a different brand or different dose. But by the time I got around to calling her I had a different reason.
Turns out half backward glances at the calendar and judging whether you’re ovulating by how you “feel” isn’t such a great method of birth control, especially the longer you go past age 30.
I realized in early April that we are expecting another sweet baby mid December.
Because of my history my midwife wanted to test me early for GD, and we found out I do have it again. So far my blood sugar has been great and actually even a little low at times. But more about that later.
Come back in July for a pregnancy update, a baby bump pic (finally starting to get one) and part two of my GD story. It’ll be shorter since It’s only been a few weeks. ;-)