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This was pregnancy number 2 for me. I currently have a healthy perfect, most days, 3 year old. I assumed as not having gestational diabetes for my first pregnancy, I would not this pregnancy either. I mean, I am constantly chasing after a toddler who eats most of my food - when I do get to eat, how am I not getting constant exercise and limiting portion control? WRONG. Second pregnancy had been normal until my 1 hour glucose tolerance test, which we waited until 28 weeks to complete as my work schedule was hectic and as like I said was negative for diabetes my first pregnancy. I am a nurse practitioner and should know better, but of course even with my husband telling me it was a poor choice, I ate a yogurt prior to my 1 hour glucose test, as I was hungry. In fact, I ate my son’s yogurt which has 40 grams of sugar literally 2 minutes before walking out the door for my OB appointment. So I failed this test – I assumed it had to be because of eating this yogurt. I had another appointment in 2 weeks and had my 3 hour glucose test which you CANNOT eat before.
I did as I was told and did not eat prior to my appointment, actually 8 pm the night prior. I tried to eat healthy the night before and did 10 minutes of uninterrupted yoga, along with the never ending chasing of a toddler. I was scared as I hate getting my blood drawn and it would be 4 times along with NO EATING. In my mind not much could be worse, but doctor’s orders so I obliged. I did not hear anything from my OB for 2 weeks, so I assumed everything was ok.
When I arrived for my 32 week appointment, he walked into the room and said I had Gestational diabetes – the diagnosis that made me want to vomit my recently eaten Cinnamon Toast Crunch, as cereal is my FAVORITE meal. I passed my fasting and one hour glucose check but failed the 2 hour and 3 hour test. Instantly, all my knowledge went out the window. I have no problem discussing diabetes with my patients – but for me, what does this mean. All I could think about was no carbs which is pretty much all I eat. I am not a fan of protein or veggies if I am forced to eat them. Most importantly I thought what did this mean about cereal and cupcakes?
After what seemed to be forever lecturing and sheer panic – I had to get it together, it is for my baby – I kept telling myself. I had to start by checking my blood sugars 4 times a day with weekly appointments – fasting, then one or two hours (he let me choose) after eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My husband and I went to the store and I tried to bring myself to buy sugar free stuff – some things I could, others I just pouted. I mean I am carrying a baby AND NOW I have to watch the one thing I enjoy – food.
The first week was the hardest as I learned what I could eat and what I couldn’t along with the fear of poking myself 4 times a day. Remember, I hate getting my blood drawn, well I hate poking my finger too. For me, it was ALL experimental. My doctor said no cereal pretty much - period. To me, that means multigrain cheerios and skim milk are ok, right? WRONG. My blood sugar one hour after my breakfast was 185, which needed to be 120 or lower. This was my waking up point. My diet has not been great (full of cereal) and I was not really working out – chasing a toddler does not count I guess. It was time to make a change. I started doing Prenatal Pilates at least 5 nights a week and to be honest made a huge difference with my left sciatica pain – I should have been doing this from the beginning. I started following a diabetic diet with carb counting as much as I could and when I couldn’t fathom to eat protein or veggies instead of carbs – I drank water. My sugars started to even out and it became a competition with myself to keep my sugars in a normal range. Poking my finger became less and less scary every time as I was anticipating what my sugar would be. Now it rarely bothers me – but it definitely took some getting used to.
I went to my doctor’s visit the following week and he was impressed with my sugars – however, not with my 6 pound weight loss. I was normal weight starting my pregnancy and then at this point (32 weeks) had gained 17 pounds and now am down to 11 pound weight gain at 33 weeks. He wasn’t panicked but definitely didn’t want me losing more weight. I continued to exercise and follow my diet – at my 34 week appointment, I had lost another pound. Reflecting back – if I couldn’t eat something I wanted, I just wouldn’t eat. It is a constant battle and I am forcing myself to eat more eggs and veggies than I have imagined. I am eating properly now with 3 meals a day and 3 snacks.
I cheat, I will not lie - I LOVE cereal and cupcakes. I have found I am able to do without the cereal but I still have to have cupcakes. Every diabetic cheats and if it is done in moderation it is ok.To be honest I have cake once a week – I don’t lie to my doctor either, he is aware. I am lucky, as my sugars are pretty well controlled and he would be much stricter if they weren’t – at 34 weeks pregnant I am able to check my sugars randomly twice a day instead of 4 (and per my OB not after eating a cupcake). I did go through a period between 32-35 weeks of pregnancy of being extremely emotional – my poor husband. The doctor stated this was normal as I had a HUGE change in diet and my hormones. Sometimes I still get frustrated and do not understand why this had to happen to me. I see pregnant women all the time eating everything I wish I could have this second. But then, I think about this precious little boy who will be here before I know it who needs proper nutrition. AND gestational diabetes is only a short term diagnosis – thank goodness – I remind myself when days are bad that soon I can have as many cupcakes and as much cereal as I want.
Brittany Patrick, nurse practitioner, Decatur Memorial Hospital & Nurse Advocate for the American Diabetes Association
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