On Friday I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and wow the last few days have left me in a complete spin. Between crying non stop and wondering if I'm failing my baby, it's been a fraught time, obviously enhanced wonderfully by the hormones already in my system.
I'm aware that most people aren't pregnant so don't have a clue what I'm talking about so for those of you who aren't in the know here's a definition:
Gestational Diabetes (GD) is caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. The amount of glucose in the blood is controlled by a hormone called 'insulin'. During pregnancy, the body produces a number of hormones, such as oestrogen, progesterone and human placental lactogen (HPL). These hormones make the body insulin resistant, which means the cells respond less well to insulin and the level of glucose in the blood remains high. To cope with the increased amount of glucose in the blood, the body should produce more insulin. However, some women either cannot produce enough insulin in pregnancy to transport the glucose into the cells, or their body cells are more resistant to insulin. This is known as 'gestational diabetes mellitus'.
I've been tested for GD because I'm high risk due to my BMI. I went in to have my test last week, I had to fast the night before and then have my blood taken when I arrived at the hospital. I was then given a glucose drink which I had to down and then wait for two hours before they took my blood again. Whilst I was waiting I also went and had a scan (as I'm high risk I get more) and I was told then that baby was measuring about a pound smaller than it should be. I got incredibly upset at this news, ending up in triage in floods of tears thinking that my baby wasn't getting enough food from me, that I was putting it at risk and that it wouldn't be developing properly. The midwife I spoke to was amazing and calmed me down, saying that she didn't think it was going to be a problem and I still had 11 weeks to fatten he/she up.
After my meltdown I had my second blood test and the hospital told me they would call that afternoon should there be any problems so I took myself home. The afternoon went by with no call so I assumed myself in the all clear, that is until I got a call at about 6pm to inform me that my blood sugar levels were at 8.2 and the cut off was 7.5. 'Could I please come to the hospital in the morning to discuss my options and a diet plan?'
Unsure what to expect I went along the next morning thinking that maybe they would need to retest me but I was instead told that, 'no, there was no need to retest, yes you do have GD, oh and by the way we now need you to test your blood sugar four times a day for the rest of your pregnancy.'
The midwife got me a little kit and started showing me how to take blood. I have a little needle which pricks the end of my finger - I'm a modern day sleeping beauty - and then there's a little strip that sucks the blood up and gives me a blood sugar reading. The aim is to be under 6.4 (so far I've only gone over once). I have to test in the morning before I eat, and then 2 hours after breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tried to take all this in, but it was hard when the word steroid was also being thrown around, and I was being told I could only drink water from now on (I have squash in every drink). She drew me a plate and sectioned it out, protein, small amount of carbs and lots of green veg - the typical diet plate.
I got home and spent the rest of the day in floods of tears as I tried to come to terms with the fact that my body was essentially a hostile environment for the baby to live in. When Leigh got home I sobbed to him that I wanted him to take the baby for a little bit because at least it would be safer. I was just inconsolable and couldn't see a way that I was going to be able to help baby fatten up if I couldn't eat several of the food groups.
I put a plea out on Facebook for help coming to terms with it all and an old school friend added me to a GD facebook group which has been an absolute lifeline. It's so reassuring to talk to women who are going through exactly the same thing. If you have also been diagnosed and are looking for support and help check out their website here, it also has links to their fb page. Everyone is so helpful and you don't feel stupid asking any questions.
So here's what I have learnt so far:
It's not just sweets that are off the table - carbs also struggle to convert the sugars so bye bye big bowls of white pasta, it's wholemeal only.
Everything is better for you if you cover it in cream, butter and cheese - the fat helps break down the sugars.
All I know about dieting has been thrown out the window, I'm now on a low carb, high fat diet.
I miss squash more than I miss cider.
I did a spike test on Leigh and he didn't bleed....I'm thinking I may have married a vampire?!
In all seriousness though it is a huge life change, and also a huge pregnancy change. I really have to think about what I'm putting into my body because there could be serious effects to the baby's health if I don't. I'm no longer just enjoying being pregnant, there's a constant worry. There is also a very high chance that I will have to be induced early. If the baby doesn't get much bigger they will want to intervene. The likelihood of me making it to week 40 is quite slim, it seems like most women who have GD are induced between 36- 38 weeks. Of course this means that I will get to meet our baby sooner but it also means that it's likely to be a lot smaller - one midwife has guessed about 6lb 7.
All I can do now is try to stay positive and focused, do my hour's exercise that the Midwife has recommended and stay away from the sweet stuff - not the easiest when cravings are all sugar but necessary for the baby's health.
I've waited a couple of days to write this post because if I'd written it over the weekend I don't think I could have got through it without crying again and I'm glad I did. I am able to look at the situation with a clearer mind and think about the ways I can make this a positive experience. This could be the lifestyle change I needed to be my most healthy me. Plus the biggest positive of all - any health plan which involves lots of cheese is ok with me.