Gestational Diabetes

Filed under: doctor — by Lauren on January 26th, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

About 3 weeks ago, I got the results from my 3 hour glucose tolerance test, and they were not good. Two of my numbers were very high, and having two over the expected limit is the criteria for gestational diabetes. I got the call from one of the midwives at the practice, one who I had never met, and she gave me some basic information, including how to set up an appointment with a gestational diabetes counselor at the hospital, where I would learn about the diet I would now need to follow and receive a glucometer so I could test my blood sugar 4 times a day.

This did not make me happy.

No pregnant woman wants to be told she has to start watching what she eats, especially not one with a sweet tooth as strong as mine, but that part I can deal with. The weekend before I met with the GD counselor was tough because I didn’t have any idea what I could eat, but after she went over how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels and how to balance carbs with proteins, it didn’t seem too difficult. There’s even room for minimal amounts of treats. The only thing I find very difficult is going out to eat, particularly because I don’t eat meat at non-kosher restaurants and I have to limit my fish intake because of the pregnancy anyway. It makes it hard to find high protein, low carb meals at most restaurants.

The part that has been the most upsetting for me is the need to prick my finger 4 times a day to check my sugar levels. It’s been 16 days since I received the glucometer, and even though I know on a rational level it doesn’t really hurt – there are times when I’m not even sure that I did it successfully until I see the blood – I still have an enormous amount of anxiety when it comes time to push that button. It takes me a long time to work up the nerve to do it, my palms drip with sweat, my heart races… It’s not good. I had hoped it would get easier by now, but it’s not, and knowing that I can still have 5 1/2 weeks or more of this is not helping my anxiety. I don’t know how to calm myself down and make this easier for myself.

There are other things, too. Overall, though I have an occasional off number, I’ve been doing a great job keeping my sugar levels low – I am really careful about what I eat and I started trying to walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes after every meal, since exercise helps your muscles use glucose more efficiently – but I’m finding avoiding the urge to snack between meals and regular snack times tougher as the days pass. I’m hungry, even though I feel full after a meal. I’m afraid to eat anything extra for fear of messing up my levels. The risks that uncontrolled GD poses to the baby are a little scary, especially his risk of having very low blood sugar at birth and the likelihood that he will be larger than usual (like I need any help with that). I also stopped gaining any weight – I haven’t gained anything in almost 3 weeks. This still puts me at a gain of about 25 lbs for the pregnancy, which is fine, and the midwife I saw at my last appointment was not concerned about the lack of weight gain since my measurements still went up and the baby’s heartbeat was nice and strong. Because my numbers are staying under control, she got me permission from one of the doctors to reduce the number of daily tests to 3 instead of 4, which is great, though it still hasn’t lessened the anxiety for the times that I do have to test.

This just sucks. I’m trying to be positive about it, but it’s hard. I know it could be worse – I could need daily insulin injections on top of the sugar checks, I could be having a hard time controlling it (which would not be good for the baby), I could have a thousand other much worse pregnancy complications – but that doesn’t make the situation as is pleasant, and I hate the petty jealousy I feel when my pregnant friends pass their tests. I had almost no risk factors for GD, other than being over 25 years of age (the very kind midwife even said upon meeting me that I didn’t look anything like her typical GD patient), and though I wasn’t 100% surprised that the test came back positive since I had been SO thirsty, it still felt like a shock. I think I could handle it better if I didn’t have to check my sugar levels like I do, and I know that the way that I’m eating now plus the increased exercise is actually great for the baby, which is the one silver lining for me, but I’m in the last trimester of what I intend to be my last pregnancy. I want a big bowl of pasta. I want pizza. I want to have an occasional piece, not bite, of chocolate cake. I want a bagel from the bagel store (50-60 grams of carbs, ridiculous!). Oh, how I want a full glass of orange juice, especially today, since I have a bad cold.

I’m told that I’m now at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, but the GD counselor also said that given my low pre-pregnancy weight and the lack of family history of diabetes, I’m not really at a high risk. Once the baby is born, I can resume eating whatever I want. She even said that while I’m having the baby, I can drink and eat anything and not worry about it. Five and half weeks, 37 days, to go, hopefully fewer if this baby shows up around the time his sisters did. Please, please, please, don’t let this be the one that goes past his due date.

One Response to “Gestational Diabetes”

  1. Heather Says:

    Oh no, Lauren! I’m so sorry to hear this. What a tough way to end this pregnancy 🙁 I’m hoping he arrives on time (or maybe a bit early) for you!