As I’ve written before, this pregnancy (my third) has been quite an experience. I’m thankful that nothing that seriously impacts my baby’s health or mine has arisen, but there have been plenty of minor medical annoyances along the way. One of those was I failed my glucose test and being declared a gestational diabetic.
Pregnancy = Loss of Control
I have a few friends who absolutely love being pregnant. They love the way the process takes over their bodies and creates something beautiful. I’ve never been able to get behind that mentality. Though I’ve been excited all three times (eventually) to meet my future child, the actual pregnancy process is difficult for me. As a woman with former body image issues, and some that persist today, the idea that something is happening to my body that there is nothing I can do about is a tough pill to swallow.
My emotions have ranged from frustration to depression at different points during each pregnancy — perhaps the most in this one, an unexpected pregnancy that left me questioning a lot of things about my own life in the first few months. I quickly gave up on running — one of the things that keeps me sane in my busy life as a working mom, stepmom and wife — and stopped caring or paying attention to what I ate. My body was out of control anyway, so why not just let it do its thing?
Now I Failed My Glucose Test…
After I failed my glucose test, it was a wakeup call. I had passed my others with no problems. With my three-hour follow-up scheduled within a week, I made some major changes. I talked to my doctor about the right balance of proteins versus carbs, what foods to completely avoid and how even small walks every day could make a difference in how my blood sugar was regulating. I cut out processed foods completely (no more grabbing that granola bar on the run to pick up the kids from school). I started planning my meals and snacks, and those of my kids, more carefully.
The first few days were hard. I experienced a few headaches and felt lethargic. But the day before my three-hour test, something interesting happened. I woke up feeling great, and energized, and better than I had felt in months. I went in for my three-hour test and learned a few days later that I had failed my glucose test again. I needed to see an endocrinologist for a follow up, but my official OB chart would list me as a gestational diabetic for this pregnancy.
I was upset with myself when I heard that news. How could I let my despondence to this pregnancy put myself and my baby in such a health predicament? I went online (highly recommended you avoid doing this) and read about all the complications that can arise in mom and baby when gestational diabetes occurs: problems with the baby’s pancreas, an increased chance of obesity in baby later in life, an increased chance of diabetes in mom later in life, and of course the more immediate threat — a ginormous baby at delivery.
I stayed upset for about half of a day. Then I resolved that the only thing I could really do now was take care of myself and my baby the best I could from that moment until she was born. I had about 11 weeks until my due date, 8 weeks until she would be considered full term. I had the power to live out a healthy rest of my pregnancy and to regain control of my body.
Feeling Better Now
It’s been about 10 weeks since my gestational diabetes diagnosis, and I’ve felt more amazing in this quarter of my pregnancy than any other time frame in any of my pregnancies. Physically, my weight gain has plateaued and I’ve not experienced any of the late-term swelling that often accompanies pregnancy. Mentally, I feel more in control of the experience and that I really do have a say in how my body feels during this amazing, empowering and simultaneously frightening journey to being a mom to my third biological, and fifth, child.
I saw an endocrinologist for that follow up about two weeks ago and was basically told that all my blood sugar levels are normal and that any signs of gestational diabetes have faded. Based on the changes in my diet, I was never prescribed insulin (side note: even with diet changes, some moms still need insulin and it is often not their fault at all — pregnancy is wacky). I had an ultrasound at 36 weeks that showed a small-to-average size baby with regular fluid levels (babies whose mothers have uncontrolled gestational diabetes often have high fluid levels). My tummy is measuring a little bit under the normal range for this part of a pregnancy.
I’m still following a pretty strict gestational diabetes diet and plan to carry over most of those eating habits into my post-pregnancy days. My baby and I will still face some extra testing after delivery and I will have to vigilant about our health in this regard in the future. I’m happy that I failed my glucose test though (both of them) because it has made my pregnancy a better experience, boosting my empathy for other pregnancy moms and strengthening my own body confidence in the process.
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Tags: body image