living with gestational diabetes
My oh my. Just when I thought I was a pretty darn healthy lady - where exercise and greens were a part of my (almost) daily regime - turns out the baby growing inside of me is reeking havoc on my pancreas.
(insert emoticons for a pity cry, frustrated face and the middle finger salute!)
I've always had a sweet tooth. Like, its-ok-if-I-eat-this-cream-cheese-icing-with-a-spoon-standing-in-my-kitchen kind of sweet tooth. Yes, I have done that on several occasions so hold your judgment. A woman has needs and a pregnant woman most certainly does, so just stand aside and watch out! When the day came when I was scheduled for my GDM glucose test at 26 weeks, I was slightly worried that my sweet tooth would get me in (and the baby) in trouble, but I knew I was healthy enough to not be at risk.
Turns out I was both right and wrong. I failed the first part of the testing (1 hour test), so I had to go back for the 2 hour test. And this is where my body started to feel the pinch. I failed the 2nd test just a smidgen, so here we are. 31 weeks and living with something I never imagined.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GESTATIONAL DIABETES (GDM)?
First off it's FAR more common for pregnant women to be diagnosed with this condition. And here's the kicker....it doesn't matter how healthy or active you are. It really is the luck of the draw. Or short end of the stick in my case. However which way you look at it, GDM can affect the healthiest of women with no family history (ME!). We are prone to having larger babies at birth (I will be induced at 39 weeks regardless to avoid a complicated birth), there is always the risk that our baby may eventually be diagnosed with diabetes and a 60% likelihood that I will get GDM the second time around if we have another baby.
GDM is when a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy resulting in glucose intolerance. With GDM, hormones produced during pregnancy can interfere with insulin and make it hard to use glucose. If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the effects of the hormones, the blood sugar will rise. The glucose in my system doesn't break down the way it should and stays in my blood stream, rather than enter my cells to be burned off as energy.
I may or may not have had previously undiagnosed diabetes, but we will know if this doesn't go away after I deliver our child. Fingers crossed, but that remains to be seen. The scariest thing for me is the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes postpartum, which is always a possibility. And the shi**iest thing is that no matter how much I get my diet and exercise under control, it could just be my pancreas not functioning the way it should be. Brutal!! That was the hardest part to hear - my organ may be failing me regardless?! Nooooooo..................
WHAT'S INVOLVED WHEN YOU HAVE GDM?
There's A LOT involved and I thank my lucky stars that I work from home and have a flexible schedule! Just when YOU thought you had a lot of doctors appointments during pregnancy, for me it's like double the work load.
Because I am now 31 weeks along, this is basically my new reality:
- GDM Clinic visits with a specialist every couple weeks for follow ups
- Ultrasounds every 2 weeks to keep an eye on the baby's size and growth
- Regular OB/GYN visits every couple weeks; weekly as I get closer to my due date
- Dietician appointments to help me plan and organize my diet
- GDM specialist appointments with an Internist to monitor my insulin levels/progress
- Testing my blood 3x/day to measure my glucose levels including a pee test every morning to measure my ketone levels to ensure there's no excess glucose in my urine.
- Keeping a diary of EVERYTHING I EAT so I can review with my doctor
HOW I KEEP MY GDM UNDER CONTROL
This is the tricky part. I was already a healthy eater and I LOVE cooking (in case you hadn't noticed from my blog) so I always make sure I get enough protein, starches, carbs and veggies into most meals. But with GDM, you need to learn how to count carbs which isn't the easiest and is very frustrating because its constantly being monitored and you have to measure everything. If I'm not getting enough carbs and my glucose levels are within range, that could mean that I need insulin to help.
Now I am monitoring my diet like a hawk as best I can. I've rediscovered a love for sprouted bread and Adam's peanut butter with banana. Berries and melons are my best friends (high in carbs but low in sugars) and I am amping up on more iron than Arnold Schwarzenegger during his body building days. Here's just a glimpse of some of the meals I've made to help me stay within my limits (while still indulging a bit).
So there you have it. My new existence for now whether I like it or not. It certainly doesn't make pregnancy fun and there are often loads of road blocks along the way, but it could be worse. All I care about at this point is monitoring things the best I can until his baby is born so that they are healthy.
What happens after that will remain to be seen.