When I became pregnant with my second child, I had this false sense that since it was my second pregnancy, it would go so much smoother. I knew to expect each pregnancy would be different. Yet, I hoped my first pregnancy would help me feel more prepared, stronger, and calmer. I was okay until I got a phone call with a horrible sentence I never expected to hear.
“You have failed your glucose tolerance test; you have gestational diabetes.”
What is Gestational Diabetes?
For those of you who may not know, gestational diabetes is caused by hormones in your body during pregnancy. Those hormones block the use of insulin in your cells, making your glucose (aka sugar) levels rise. This rise in sugar is in your blood stream, but also in your baby’s through the placenta. It does tend to resolve itself once baby is born.
I sat there holding the phone, half dazed. I had just been asleep in preparation for working an overnight shift. After asking the doctor to repeat what she said, I found out I failed my glucose tolerance test by a few points. From there I proceeded to feel a mix of emotions. First off, I was scared– scared of the unknown as with any pregnancy. Even though I am a nurse, this was a shocking diagnosis that I had no control over, and of which I had only a slight understanding. What did this mean for my body? How could I have gestational diabetes? I’m fairly healthy! (Trust me, there was some slight denial that occurred over the next few months).
Then came the guilt. What did this mean for my baby? Would she be okay? The worst thought that crossed my mind was, did I do this to her? Am I harming my baby? The answer was no, as I continued to learn.This was not my fault, and although gestational diabetes can cause some serious complications, it was something I could monitor and control.
Living with Gestational Diabetes
One of the biggest things I had to accept with gestational diabetes was that I had no control over having gestational diabetes. The only things I could do were monitor my blood sugars and watch what I ate. Then, I needed to keep in contact with my OB to keep my baby as safe and healthy as possible. This meant no more binge eating my favorite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, or eating as much chips and queso as I wanted on date night. Luckily for my pregnancy, I was able to control my blood sugar with diet. After meeting with a diabetes educator, I started reading all of our labels for carbohydrates, writing down my blood sugars and what I ate. At first, I dreaded counting my carbs and having to make sure I portioned out a specific amount of pasta, changing our meal plans for my family. But it did force me to take that jump into trying new meals for our family.
This diagnosis helped teach my family to eat smaller meals/snacks throughout the day, instead of eating larger meals. It forced me to look harder at our labels and see how much sugar is in everything we eat. It helped me to find other snacks that would help with my cravings. (I highly recommend Chobani flip yogurts. They were the perfect carb snack amount for me). I finally chose to reach out for help to other moms for advice and support, which ended up helping me make a great friendship with another mom going through the same thing. Now we laugh about how glad we are to eat pancakes, cookies, and donuts with our little girls.
Even with this unsuspected diagnosis, I was incredibly blessed with the birth of my beautiful, healthy daughter. We did have a few bumps along the road that we completely expected with GD, such as an early birth, but that is all a blur in the past now. I still remember all the overwhelming feelings of fear and guilt when finding out I had gestational diabetes. However, once provided with the proper resources from my OB and diabetes educator, my pregnancy went fairly smoothly. Now my little girl is about to turn one!
Have you had gestational diabetes? What words of support can you offer to moms facing the same challenge?