Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gestational Diabetes: My Story

I think I've probably written this post a thousand times in my head before I even had the ability to sit down and type it out. I didn't want it to be something that is self-serving or trying to evoke any type of sympathy from those who read it, but that is unavoidable when you blog publicly about your life. I feel very vulnerable talking about this situation in my life, but it is one that I feel I need to let go of and "exercise the demons", so to say.

My story begins a lot sooner than most when people talk about being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, or GD for short. I was at my normal check up with the Midwifery clinic when we went over my blood draw results from my intake appointment a month earlier. Everything looked good and normal, however my blood glucose level was on the borderline of the pre-diabetes threshold. The Midwife knew that both my mother and father were Type-2 diabetic, so she ordered the two hour glucose test for me, just to make sure that everything was going alright. If I passed they wouldn't test me again until my 3rd trimester.

Alright...sweet, awesome. Yeah, I was not looking forward to this.

My glucose levels have always been pretty good, even when I was at my heaviest, but I've been eating better and I was in the thick of training for my next half marathon. So I was confident that I wouldn't have any issues with this test and went into it knowing everything would be just fine.

I went in, had my blood drawn, drank the nasty lemon-lime sugary crap (seriously tasted like Sprite without the carbonated water, only syrup, eck!) and waited an hour for my next blood draw, then one more hour after that for my last blood draw. After that, I was on my way home. I was feeling good, a bit jittery, but overall I felt like I had done really well and didn't give it another thought. Two days later my Midwife called and gave me the results of my test...I'd failed. Not just one, but two of the blood draws. 

It was official, they diagnosed me, I had Gestational Diabetes.

I was in shock. Complete and utter disbelief. I got off the phone, went into the empty stairwell (because of course I was at work when I got the news) and cried. Cried my eyes out until I felt like if I cried anymore I wouldn't be able to see because my eyes would be swollen shut. I was probably in that stairwell for a good 30+ minutes. After I collected myself, I started texting, messaging and calling people. I told my hubby first off, this would mean a change in our daily routine and possible changes to my care for the rest of the pregnancy. Next I texted my mom and sister and started messaging with my best friends about how sucky this all is and how am I going to get through this? Luckily, one of my best friends is also my doula, so I felt confident about talking to her about this and getting her professional opinion and friendly advice. 

I had my appointment with the nutritionist and nurse the next week to talk about what I had to do and how my treatment would go for the next 6 months of the pregnancy. I went to the appointment and I was already in a foul mood, I was completely stand off-ish and I didn't want to be there at all. I sat through the hour and a half appointments just being utterly pissed about this whole situation. The food charts they gave me, telling me how I should eat, how much I should eat and how often I should eat was more than I could stand. The food guide had me eating more carbs than I normally would eat, how is this going to help me control my sugars? They gave me my blood glucose monitor and dropped the hammer on me. I would have to test my blood glucose FIVE times a day. 

What the hell? Five times? Is that really necessary? Apparently so, because I was being told I had to test when I woke up, after every meal and before I went to bed. I couldn't believe it. What an inconvenience and pain in the...fingers this was going to be! Not only did I have to prick my fingers 5 times a day, but I had to keep a food log of everything I ingested, everyday for the next 6 months. WTF!?!? Are you kidding me? I left the appointment completely defeated and not very optimistic about the future 6 months, I was pretty pissy.

It took me a while to "get right" with my new way of life and routine for the next 6 months. I felt like there was this spotlight on me now. I couldn't have this or had to restrict that because it could mess with my sugars. I watched everything I consumed with a fervor that was unmatched by anything I had done before. I would not allow my sugars to breach or go above the prescribed thresholds. I would try different foods to see how my body reacted to them so I knew what I could and couldn't have to keep my sugars in check. I was determined to keep my sugars under control via good diet and exercise. I was training for a half marathon at this point so I was getting plenty of exercise and I ate healthy to keep my training going well and now, to stave off high BG numbers.

Another reason why I was so determined to keep my sugars under control with diet and exercise is because otherwise if I didn't, I would be medicated. Medication meant that my birth plan as I knew it would be over. Midwives could not see patients that are on medication for diabetes control and I would have to transfer to an OB, leaving the lovely care and warm home of the Midwifery Clinic. That was my ultimate goal, to stay where I was at and to whip this condition into shape.

Well it was about a month and a half into my diagnosis and work on dealing with my condition when I got another and disheartening blow. My fasting sugars were no longer staying below the prescribed threshold, no matter what I did for diet and exercise, I couldn't get these numbers to go down or regulate. The dreaded word was uttered and I was crushed immediately. 


Again, I cried. I got to my car and sobbed like a baby, total uncontrollable, ugly crying. Why? Why was this happening? Why was my body rebelling against every good thing I was doing and making me go through this? What did I do to have my body fail me in this way? I couldn't understand it and I couldn't take it. I was being ripped away from something I wanted and what was comfortable to me and bring thrust into this new situation where I was being told what I had to do by a physician that I didn't even get to pick out. I became another number, another cog in the wheel of this OB's office, another nameless face who came in for quick check ups and ushered out on my way just as quickly. 

The medication I was put on, Glyburide, was the lowest dose they could possibly give. That is what I have been on for over a month now and it seems to be working well, until recently when my fasting numbers started creeping up again. Damn it...another change in the medication, probably have to go up to the next level. And that's where I am, at 28 weeks and already a medicated diabetic and apparently the insulin resistance is just now going to get worse. This is apparently when the placenta really messes with you and your insulin and when there is typically a rise in BG numbers and ultimately, in your medication strength.

The other part of this story is that other than my fasting sugars not cooperating with me, I have been able to control my other numbers with diet and exercise, something I'm very proud of. The baby, for all intensive purposes, is doing well despite my diagnosis. He is growing right on target for his gestational age, not too big or small, he's kicking and moving up a storm in my belly and making it uncomfortable for me each day. But that is to be expected...for a normal, unmedicated pregnancy, I guess that is why it's so hard for me to deal with the fact that I'm having this type of issue with my pregnancy. Also why I felt it was necessary for me to share my story. 

Sometimes it doesn't make sense, you do everything right and make all the adjustments in the world that you can do and it just isn't enough. It's frustrating, irritating, crushing and spirit trampling. But one thing I know is true about this whole experience is that I would rather I go through this issue for 6 months of the pregnancy, than not do anything and something happen to the baby. 

It's true, there are some women who refuse to take the doctors advice/recommendations and continue their pregnancy without monitoring of their diabetes and  have adverse reactions to the situation. I could choose to not take my medication and see how things go with my sugars not being controlled at night while I sleep. I could choose to make poor decisions with food and not make the concerted effort to control my sugars myself without the help of medication. There are lots of ways that this can all spiral out of control and be WAY bigger than it is, and you may think I am blowing this situation out of proportion because there are women that have bigger, more serious issues than I do. However that will be true with every situation you encounter in life, someone in the world will likely have it worse off than you, but does that diminish your struggle? Hell no! It is your journey, your story that has shaped the tale of how that little being you are growing inside you came to be. 

This pregnancy hasn't gone to plan at all in the way I'd hoped. I've had speed bump after speed bump with my health during the whole time. It hasn't been easy, I've had to work for it every single day and make the best decisions for myself and the lil pumpkin. But that's my story and my struggle and it has brought me closer to my baby in a way that I couldn't have imagined. In the end, I can't wait to hold this little guy that has been taking up space in my belly, keeping me up at night with his "Sweating to the Oldies" routines and has caused calluses to form on my finger tips from the constant pricking they endure. This will all be worth it in the end, this may be a tough journey, but that just makes the destination all that much sweeter.


  1. How frustrating Lena! I'm so sorry, I know how hard it is to deal with unexpected physical stuff during pregnancy. I would have cried and been pissed as well! No idea why they would have someone with a blood sugar problem eating more carbs either, so I would have felt the same way. I know it's hard for you to share this stuff, but in the end, you are rocking this more than you realize. Someone may read this and they will find strength in your words and your struggle. You are so strong and even though it's not the easy journey, it's going to fly and I am so excited for you to hold your sweet boy in your arms and know you made it though this rough time! Ack, sorry if I sound like I'm overly mushy or sentimental! It's harder to type this stuff out and it never sounds quite right!

    1. No not overly mushy or sentimental at all! I know you care and it's so wonderful to read your words of encouragement. I appreciate it more than you know. It is a tough journey, but one that will be worth it in the end. It just makes you think that you can do everything right and things still not go the way you'd hoped or planned. It's important to keep an open mind.

  2. I'm new here (I saw your blog linked from The Cult of Perfect Motherhood on facebook), but I wanted to let you know I went through this with both of my kids. It sucks. But you get through it. With my daughter (my first pregnancy), I was able to control everything with diet and exercise. I was diagnosed in my first trimester with my son (second pregnancy). And I just assumed I'd control it with diet and exercise like I did with my daughter. But that didn't work. At all. And I was so upset when I needed to start taking insulin - I felt like such a failure. But through both pregnancies, I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep my babies safe, and I was a bit anal when it came to documenting everything and not spiking my sugar levels. It was hell, and unless someone else has it, they never truly understand the additional work and stress it causes on top of being a hormonal pregnant woman. So I just wanted to let you know that I've been there, I completely understand your pain and frustration, and I wish you the best through it all. That baby is very lucky to have such a loving mommy! (Oh, and my gestational diabetes was gone by the day after delivery, so I hope yours is, too!)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, I really do appreciate them. Also knowing that everything went back to normal after delivery is encouraging to hear as well. Thank you for sharing about your experience a bit, it's tough when you feel like the only one going through it and people don't quite understand.

    2. I also forgot to mention that you can be an incredibly healthy & fit person and still get GD. My best friend (who is a state track champion and state cross country champion) is amazingly healthy and fit and she was diagnosed with it for 2 of her 3 pregnancies. So, while it's frustrating to be diagnosed with it when you feel like you've been working so hard to be healthy, know that sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. In the end, I actually looked at it as a blessing, because I never developed the "I'm pregnant so I can eat whatever I want" attitude which kept me and baby healthier during my pregnancies.

      Also, I've become a new follower of your blog. I've been trying to start running, so I'm hoping you'll be an inspiration to me. :) Good luck with everything!

    3. I've heard that too, I have a co-worker whose wife is very healthy and fit and she had to have insulin during both pregnancies. I also have a co-worker who had GD during her first pregnancy and did not have GD on her second. So there is no telling what can happen. But I agree, it keeps me more healthy food minded instead of "I'm pregnant, I can eat all the foods!".

      Oh yay! I'm glad to hear that you're following along! Let me know if you have any questions, running has seriously saved my sanity the past couple of years and I know it will help me out when the baby comes too! Thanks so much!

  3. I've never been pregnant, so I can't quite relate, but what I do know is that you are such a strong woman, Lena. You are doing so much to ensure the safety and health of your baby, it's just a glimpse into what a great mom you'll be!

    1. Thank you Kim! I appreciate the kind words more than you know!

  4. Love you! I'm just about to type up my bumpdate, and talk about my phone call from the Doctor. Thinking of you often.

    1. Thanks sweetie. I've been anxiously waiting to hear how it all went. I've been thinking of you too and hoping you are well.

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