I have gestational diabetes – WHAT?!?

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Just when things were plugging along pretty smoothly with the pregnancy, I got the shocking news last week that I have gestational diabetes.  WHAT?!?    You could have knocked me over with a feather.   It has been a roller coaster of a week, but I am finally coming to grips with the situation. I want to share my experience here in case someone else gets the same result.  Sometimes it just helps to feel like you are not alone.  One of my readers emailed me last week after I disclosed I failed the first glucose test.  She has gestational diabetes and shared with me her experiences and I can’t tell you how much it helped me just knowing someone else was going through the same thing.   I emailed her after I got my results and it was just really comforting to hear someone say, “It’s all going to be OK!”

So, I went back for the 3 hour glucose tolerance test on Wednesday.  That test involves 4 blood samples.  You go first thing in the morning (after fasting all night), they draw your blood to get your fasting level, then you drink that glucose drink and they test your blood 1, 2 and 3 hours after drinking it, so you are stuck there in the lab for the entire 3 hours.   Looking on the bright side, I can’t remember the last time I had 3 hours to myself to sit and read and listen to music.   For me, the 1st hour after drinking the glucose drink both tests (during the 1 hour and 3 hour) were horrible.  I felt very anxious, jittery and faint.   It started to subside then in the 2nd and 3rd hours.   It was after the second test that I had a feeling something wasn’t right, as my body seemed to be having a definite adverse reaction in that first hour after the drink.

The next morning I had another “aha!” moment.   In the mornings, the past month I had woken up starving and had my regular breakfast of a bowl of Raisin Bran (to help the, ahem, bowels) and 1/2 a grapefruit.   I had been experiencing the same feelings of anxiety and jittery uneasiness in the mornings after breakfast.  I chalked it up to stress and being a bit short of breath, but then it sort of hit me that something was *off* with my body.  When the nurse called me that AM with the 3 hour results to tell me my glucose levels were abnormal, it all sort of made sense.  Now after learning more about being diabetic, the 4 things I am not allowed for breakfast (because the pregnancy hormones that interfere with insulin are highest in the AM) are milk, fruit, juice or yogurt because of their carbohydrate content.  I was having 3 of the 4 offenders, including a cereal with a very high carb count on top of it.  No wonder!  I had no idea!

Then she tells me I have to call this diabetes program to meet with a dietician and get counseling.  When she said the word, “diabetes” it all sort of hit me. WAIT.  I thought my blood sugar was just a little out of whack, but the fact that I might have diabetes didn’t really occur to me.   I had to ask her,  “Does this mean I have gestational diabetes?”  The answer was “yes.”

OH.  MY.  GOD.  My head was spinning and I immediately blamed myself.   I shouldn’t have had those Girl Scout cookies, I should have been better about my sugar intake, oh my God, I brought this on myself.   However, logically I knew I hadn’t been guzzling milkshakes and finishing off boxes of Girl Scout cookies every day.   Generally, I think of myself to be pretty healthy.  I am active, I have watched my weight, but the blame still flooded over me.   I went online and started reading about it, which can be a blessing and a curse, almost too much info.  How did this happen to me???

Then I thought of my baby.  What had I done to her?  Was I sending her into a carb sugar shock as well?    That was the worse part, the guilt over what I had potentially put my baby through.  That afternoon I just broke down into tears.   I felt so bad, my daughter came over and hugged me and said, “mommy are you sad??”  It broke my heart into a million pieces, but I couldn’t stop the tears.

Then I got scared.  What if I couldn’t eat anything from now on and had to follow a strict diet?  What was I supposed to eat?   It was just ONE more thing to have to add to the list of things to worry about when I already felt I had so much going on.    Luckily I called the diabetes center and was able to get into the first class the very next morning.  It was a God send, because everything I put in my mouth that day I worried about what I was doing to my body.   Could I not eat fruit?  Should I check every label for sugar grams?  Carb grams?  What can I eat now?  How much?

The first class was 2 hours.  It started with a video about gestational diabetes, and I kept tearing up the whole time thinking this can’t be happening.   Then we got kits to test our blood, and I found out I have to test my blood 4 times a day by pricking myself and I started tearing up again.  Then I felt guilty because worse things can happen, but I couldn’t help feeling very sorry for myself.     We got a whole binder on the diet we are supposed to follow and food lists and a huge set of measuring cups.  I left and cried again in the car on the way home.   I was so overwhelmed.  It seemed so regimented and time consuming and strict.

I am so grateful for my husband.  He is the yin to my yang; very practical and calm.  He listens to me, lets me vent and emote, and then says, “Ok, let’s look at your food lists and figure this out together.”  I felt like I wasn’t doing this alone.    It is making me cry as I type this, because I am so grateful to be married to a person like him.  From even before we were married, I have always felt like we were a team. Anything life throws our way, I always know we are in it together.  God, I love him.  So that afternoon, we made a shopping list and the 3 of us went to Ralph’s together and stocked up with my new foods.   I was starting to feel more in control.

As I dug into the diet, and started on my new “feeding” plan (I call it a “feeding” plan because I feel like a newborn, having to eat every 2-3 hours!)   I realized THIS ISN’T THAT BAD and things started to turn around.

I can eat, and in fact, you are instructed to eat quite a bit, but the foods I am putting in my body are very healthy and incredibly balanced.   Every meal and snack has a specific ratio and combination of starch, protein, milk, veggies, fruits and fats.     I have never eaten in such a healthy way before in my life, and I have to say, it feels good!   I am also making it a priority to exercise 30 minutes a day, no excuses, because that is one way to naturally lower your blood sugar.    No more “I don’t have time!” or “I’m sooo tired!”  or “I already showered this AM, I don’t want to get a little sweaty.”   There is no choice now for me.

I started the diet on Friday (and I am being STRICT about following it…no excuses…there is a BABY involved here!), I test my blood 4x a day, and my glucose levels were good the last three days.  Then today, even after eating what I was supposed to, I had two high results.   I feel like I am on a roller coaster.   After the high results, I took two walks after lunch and dinner, and it brought my levels down.  I am a little discouraged, but I am going to just keeping doing what I am supposed to and hope for the best.   Ideally, I want to do anything I can to try and control it with diet and exercise.    I go for another follow up class tomorrow.   I am glad because I have a lot of questions.

After the baby is born, there is a 92% chance my diabetes will go away and my blood glucose will return to normal.     Although it is always something I am going to have to keep my eye on.

I think this is going to be life changing for me.  I never really, truly thought about how the foods I put in my body affected me.  I wasn’t a terrible eater, but I wasn’t a consistently balanced eater.  Now when faced with the facts of how foods affect my glucose and my body, I will never eat the same the rest of my life.   In the long run, for the health of both me and my family, I have a feeling this might end up being something I said was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Thank you for reading everyone…and if anyone is going through the same situation, I am here to tell you, “It’s going to be OK!”  Feel free to email me (jennifer@tinyoranges.com) or leave a comment.

{Graphic design from Tiny Prints}

16 Comments

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16
  1. 1
    wifeandmom says:

    I am so sorry but it sounds like you have a wonderful support system and already a good handle on it. Thanks for sharing your story, I will go for my GD test in a few weeks and my 1st pregnancy passed the one hour, 2nd pregnancy failed the one hour but passed the 3 hour but he still wanted me to "watch it" and this time scared I am going to fail both. 🙁 I appreciate you sharing and it makes me feel better knowing it can be done! Good Luck and you are a GREAT Mom!

  2. 2
    Jen says:

    Hi wifeandmom – Try not to worry about it going in (easier said than done) Just know that whatever the outcome, it will be OK! The diet is very managable, not the end of the world. However, really, no one wants to have to deal with this during pregnancy! I will keep good thoughts for you – keep me posted!

  3. 3
    Jolie says:

    Jennifer – you are a survivor, a pioneer, a heroine and a love. Any child being born as your offspring is already the luckiest child in the world, and as apples and trees, the sweetest. No wonder you got GD!

    You will get through this – thank you, as always, for allowing us to share in your journey.

  4. 4

    You are an amazing woman and mom!! . Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I think this is an amazing post and you will be able to help others that might be in the same situation.

  5. 5
    Amanda says:

    It’s amazing the things we go through when we are pregnant. It was always something or another for me. But you can do this and you will be okay. Good luck!

  6. 6
    JennyH says:

    Thanks for your honest and candid post. I had a really strange reaction to my 1-hour glucose test and was surprised that I passed. I’ve struggled with blood sugar issues since childhood and have changed my way of eating to feel better on a daily basis. It will become a habit after awhile, and you are so right on that in the long run it will actually benefit the eating habits of your entire family. I have some great snack suggestions from local stores that I would love to share with you!

  7. 7
    Michele says:

    Ooooh, Jen. Roller coaster ride is right. I’m so sorry you are going through all this. Pregnancy is such a wild experience. It’s that horrible feeling of being out of control – but it sounds like you have a plan and it’s helping. You are doing an excellent job of taking care of yourself and your baby. Keep it up and we’ll be cheering you on.

  8. 8
    Annika Chase says:

    Oh my goodness. My thoughts are with you and your family. I know everything will be OK. Thank you for sharing your story! Hang in there!!!

  9. 9
    Jen says:

    Thank you everyone for your sweet comments…I appreciate it more than you know!!!! XOXO

  10. 10
    Noelle says:

    Oh Jen! I am so sorry you are having to take on this challenge – but you’ll get through this with flying colors – you’ve got all the tools!

    Thank you for sharing everything you are learning. You are helping so many!

  11. 11
    Sheila says:

    I know how hard and devastating it is to get the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I was diagnosed with GD the same day that I went into pre-term labor. Thankfully I have a supportive husband and family that helped me through the bedrest and diet restrictions. I wanted to warn you to be careful not to avoid fat. As I was watching my carbs and protein it seemed that the fat was excluded too. My sugars were always great, but when I went in for the growth scan at 32 weeks they found that my baby had not added on a lot of weight and was considered in the 10%. Instead of having this large baby that they warn you with GD my baby hadn’t been adding on fat to her tummy area. A lot of the low carb options out there have very little fat, which seems okay at first but not great when you are pregnant. Eat lots of avocado…almonds…healthy fats. After we found out that the baby was too little I went crazy eating healthy fatty foods…peanut butter, avodados and almonds became a non-stop diet for me. Even though our daughter was born at 37 weeks she was only 5.5 lbs, but has caught up just fine. I wish the dietician had warned me more about the need to eat the fat that they allow per meal. Good luck and thanks for all the great info in your blog!

  12. 12
    Jen says:

    That is really, really great information…I can’t imagine getting the GD diagnosis and then going into pre-term labor the same day. Just getting GD has been an emotional roller coaster for me. I have cried more in the last week than I have in the last 5 years. Thank you for the tip on the healthy fat. I have been having lots of avocado, almonds and peanut butter, as well as a little margarine. They told me I get a certain number of fats at some meals/snacks, so I have been trying to follow that.

    The first 3 days I lost 4 lbs on the diet, even though I was eating 2000 calories a day. They said this is common to lose weight, but a part of me worries about the baby getting enough.

    I am going to continue to watch it. They said it should stabilize then slowly start going up. I had the same concern – not the huge GD baby they warn you about – but an underweight baby. Hopefully they monitor me as my pregnancy progresses.

    I am so happy to hear your daughter is doing great! Thank you for taking the time to write. If you think of any other tips/advice, please comment or drop me an email.

    XOXO
    Jen

  13. 13
    Angela says:

    I have been looking for someone to relate with and your blog is about the only one I could find…I got the GD news on Wednesday but it sounds like you got a lot more helpful info than I did. In a nutshell all my dietian told me was how many carbs to stay under at each meal and snack. I feel like I am starving all day…I think that part is mental. Any helpful tips to eating and staying full?

  14. 14
    Stephanie says:

    Thank u so much for sharing ur story. It was like I was writing it myself. I just found out I have gestational diabetes and I’m truly lost. Waiting to see the dietician soon! Thanks again.

  15. 15
    Rosella says:

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  16. 16

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