Friday, June 10, 2011

Gestational Diabetes

When I was pregnant with Teagan I developed gestational diabetes.  This is the kind of diabetes that comes on when you get pregnant and for the most part goes away when the baby becomes an "outside baby".  The two culprits that probably helped it along for me was my dad's side of the family seems to have it chronically and I gained WAY TOO MUCH weight during my pregnancy with Teagan.  You don't have to be overweight, before or during, or have a history of diabetes to develop it but those things do not work in your favor.

This go 'round we did an early gestational diabetes test at 18 weeks.  For those of you who don't know how the test is done it's basically done like this: you go in and drink this sickenly sweet nothing but sugar orange or red drink and they take your blood.  It's pretty simple but waiting on the results is mind numbing.  Especially if you've heard that "we need you to come in for a second test" before.  Waiting on the results made my mind numb but thinking of all the hard work I did the last time and wondering if I could do that and care for a toddler if the test came back positive made it even worse. 

The test came back negative.  So far. We will do another test at the normal testing range.  Around 28 weeks.  I have a 50/50 chance of getting it again.  I am hoping for the happy 50% and not the here we go again 50%. 

I researched the hound out of gestational diabetes when I was diagnosed with it.  When I first got the diagnosis I beat myself up mentally and emotionally.  I thought, why did I eat that? why didn't I exercise more? why didn't I do this? why did I do that? Eventually I realized that I probably couldn't have done anything to prevent it and I just needed to take care of myself and "Sprout" from there on out.  So, I did. (It was only this time that Dr. Wicker told me if I got it it wasn't my fault and not to beat myself up about it if I developed it again. As much as I love my doctors' I told this one that they needed to tell women that before they take the test every time because it's hard not to blame yourself.  Dr. Wicker agreed completely and apologized.)  I worked my butt off to keep off insulin and to keep my numbers in a normal range.  I became a gestational diabetes crazy woman. 

After my diagnosis they sent me to a diabetes clinic at the hospital where we would deliver.  There was only one lady there who I liked.  She was the only one who didn't push insulin.  I only got to see her twice and it was unfortunate.  Now, I have a sour taste in my mouth for the place and will do whatever I can not to go back.  The minute I met with the next lady she asked if I wanted to learn how to give myself the insulin shot.  My numbers were steady and I was controlling the diabetes, of course I didn't want to learn the shot.  I didn't want insulin as long as I could manage it.  Yet, she pushed and pushed.  I never gave in though and I never had to take the insulin.  It just broke my heart the number of women (and men) she must have pushed into doing something they might not have done if she had pushed a little hard work or supported their decision. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Absolutely.  Would I have taken the insulin shot had it become necessary and I couldn't manage it anymore? Yes, I would have. 

The point of this post was to share gestational diabetes with those who have never heard of it or never think they can get it.  To offer support to those who receive this diagnosis and think they can't do it.  To share a few things that I learned during my struggle with it. 

I learned that eating eggs in the morning was AMAZING for my blood sugar. Protein = good. Eggs are a rockin' protein for a pregnant mom and her baby.  Needless to say, after 3 mths I was SICK of eggs and never wanted to see another one was worth it though.
I learned that the reason I couldn't wear my contacts 5 months in was because of the diabetes.  It wasn't just because I was retaining fluid.
I learned that eating full fat ice cream and drinking a glass of milk were good for me at night because the full fat kept my sugar level during the night so I didn't crash in the morning. So, I got my ice cream in!
I learned that cold fingers get blood easier but it hurts your fingers more.
I learned that you should switch fingers even if it's easier on two. Because eventually, those two will get tired and start to hurt. 
Exercise helps. A lot. Not only is it good for any pregnant woman.  It is especially important for those who develop gestational diabetes.  It's as simple as taking a 30-45 min walk every day and on days you can take a walk within 30 minutes of eating a "major" meal. 

I also learned some thing about myself.  I've always been a great "starter".  I start strong and then lose steam about halfway through whatever I'm doing.  I have great ideas but I'm not so great at the follow through.  When things start getting hard for me then I have a tendency to run.  Having gestational diabetes made me a stronger person. It made me follow completely through and work my butt off the entire time.  Honestly, I don't know that I ever slipped up because I was so "on" the entire time.  All I had in mind was the health of "Sprout" (Teagan) and I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that.  So, was it hard? Very.  Do I hope I don't develop it this time? Yes.  But at least I know I can do it. And I can fight it. And that makes me a stronger person. 

If you would like more information on gestational diabetes here are some websites I found helpful or if you want to ask me something about my struggle with it, just ask!
Also when researching heed this warning.  Some of the information you will read about gestational diabetes is SCARY. Remember they have to put all the information out there.  Talk to your doctor about how to better manage it.  They have to put every possible scenario on these websites, in the books and pamphlets, etc but every situation is different.  Don't let it strike fear in you.  Let it strike determination.

American Diabetes Association
Baby Center Info on Gestational Diabetes
Mayo Clinic