At 30 weeks pregnant, I was told my initial glucose test was slightly elevated. Due to work related responsibilities (in hind site, not a good excuse) and a planned vacation (again, not a good excuse), I didn’t get the follow-up glucose test until 34 weeks. 34 weeks is late in pregnancy to begin managing gestational diabetes (GD). By that time, my baby bump was already measuring at 36 weeks. Not good. All the sugar surging through my system was creating a bionic baby. My first thoughts went to how my blatant denial of having this condition could cause serious distress to my baby during and after delivery. How could I have been so dismissive?
I have to admit, I’m a bit embarrassed by being diagnosed with GD. I don’t know why, I guess because initially I felt it implied I wasn’t taking care of myself. And in some respects that was exactly what I was doing – not taking care of myself. On the other hand, I’ve exercised throughout my pregnancies, most days I eat well, I don’t smoke, drink or use drugs. My vitals are stellar. I don’t take medications. My doctor and friends told me the condition can be pretty random. I didn’t consider myself a ticking time bomb for GD.
I’ve seen people with serious health problems continue with poor lifestyle choices after their doctor recommended modification of eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, substance use, etc. I’ve always thought, no way would that be me. And here I was, recently back from a vacation where I literally ate about 5,000 calories per day of high carbohydrate/ high fat foods. The perfect metabolic storm for GD. I was so in denial. I blatantly ignored other indicators of gestational diabetes, bloat, extreme tiredness, brain fog, blurry vision, etc. My poor partner didn’t know if he was coming or going due to my significant mood swings. He thought our first pregnancy was a breeze, but this one was rapidly turning into a nightmare. A nightmare that wouldn’t end for several more months.
Speaking to my doctor during my 34 week appointment was exactly what I needed to snap out of my denial. I was scared. Even more scared after he sent me to the maternity unit for a neonatal stress test (NST). He felt the baby’s heart rate was slow. Thankfully, the NST turned out normal. However, my three hours at the hospital that day were enough to help me take accountability for GD. The reality was, even though I did not want this condition, it was happening and I had deal with it.
The first thing my doctor did was set me up with a home glucose testing kit. I would have to prick my finger four times per day and record my blood sugar. A fasting blood sugar first thing is the morning should be less than 90, and two hours after eating a healthy blood sugar should be under 120. On the bright side, pricking my own finger didn’t hurt as much as someone else pricking it.
Modifying my diet wasn’t a hardship for me. I kept my focus on the health of the baby. I immediately cut out all candy, pasta, rice, sodas, bread, cereals, anything high in carbohydrates. I started eating lean meats, healthy oils, such as olive oil and coconut oil, non-starchy vegetables and moderate amounts of cheese. I started drinking my coffee black instead of with creamer and Splenda. My blood sugar immediately fell within normal range. It was amazing to see real scientific evidence from the home glucose testing kit that proved how much my diet really does impact my daily functioning.
Currently, I’m managing my gestational diabetes the best way I know how, one healthy food choice at a time. I’m thankful for a supportive partner and the fact that my case was manageable with simple diet modifications. Pregnancy rarely turns out the way we want it to, but being flexible helps. My next challenge is continuing to incorporate these healthy dietary changes after my delivery.