Hmph. This post is quite a bit overdue. Honestly it's been about a month now that I've spent wrapping my mind around this unexpected pregnancy complication: Gestational Diabetes. It's required quite a monumental shift in my lifestyle that I guess I haven't really been ready to talk about until now. The timing is a bit weird as this is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week and I really should be devoting my blog to more posts about CHDs, but at the same time I like to use my blog as a journal of sorts so I can look back on this 2 years from now and remember the details of things long forgotten. So without further ado, here's my lil' rant.
I have a family history of diabetes. Of course this means I have an increased likelihood of getting diabetes myself later in life, but it wasn't something I ever focused on. I'm more of a "here and now" kind of girl versus a "what if-er."
About a year ago, my primary physician decided to put me on a medication called Metformin, an antidiabetic drug of sorts that was prescribed almost as if it was going to prevent me developing diabetes. My doctor never asked me to monitor my blood sugar; I was just taking this medication daily as if it was my "cure" to diabetes. So I have no clue what range my blood sugar was in before I started the medication nor while I was taking the medication.
During our first OB appointment back in October 2012, I mentioned I was taking this drug and was told to continue it throughout the pregnancy. About 19 weeks in, I questioned taking this medication again and was told by one of the OBs that they usually have patients discontinue taking it at 14 weeks. SERIOUSLY?! You can only imagine how much I DISLIKE taking prescription medications while pregnant since we have NO indication of what caused Chase's congenital heart defect. Unhappy was putting it lightly when I was told this.
At my next appointment, Dr. B decided he wanted me to discontinue the Metformin and start monitoring my blood sugar four times per day, then he would review the numbers at my next appointment 3 weeks later. I didn't love the idea of taking a med while pregnant but I also didn't love the idea of stopping one, either. Ultimately I decided to follow his orders and discontinued the Metformin on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. I then monitored my blood sugar 4x/day.
The first few days, I decided I didn't want to change my diet at all because I wanted to see if the Metformin was truly doing anything to help my blood sugar or not. So I continued to eat all the junk food and bad stuff I've essentially been eating my whole life. I made an effort to eat "better" while pregnant, but I totally sucked at it. The first few days off Metformin, my numbers were still within the range the doctor provided. WOOT! However, after about 3 or 4 days, I started seeing numbers that made me quite nervous. They were getting to be way higher than the safe range.
After about a week off the medication, I called my OB and he told me that, based on the numbers, he wanted to put me on a diabetic medication safe for use during pregnancy to treat Type 2 diabetes called Glyburide. I was completely and fully adamant that I would NOT take another prescription drug during my pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. Luckily, I had the option to try to control my blood sugar with diet.
It wasn't my favorite solution, but as far as I was concerned, it was the ONLY solution. So I immediately, like as in ONE DAY, completely modified my diet. I would safely say I had been eating at least 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day (Can you imagine?! Hello, American obesity epidemic!). I immediately slashed that to 2,000 (or sometimes a bit less, depending). I learned which foods would keep my blood sugar within range, and which foods (almost ALL of them) would cause huge spikes that weren't safe for the baby. It was insane how drastic my diet changed overnight.
But it would all be worth it if it kept my baby safe. Obviously! And I knew that after 3 weeks of monitoring, I would take the standard glucose tolerance test given to all pregnant women around 28 weeks with the hope that somehow I would pass the test and could discontinue all the finger poking and massive diet changes. It was my glimmer of hope.
Fast-forward 3 weeks into all of these changes, the DAY BEFORE my scheduled glucose tolerance test. I get a call from my OB's office informing me that they are NOT going to give me the glucose test, but that I do need to have some blood drawn before my 9:30 AM appointment.
I couldn't believe it.
It was my one shot!
It was my glimmer of hope that the major lifestyle changes wouldn't be forced to continue!
Basically the thought process was that they had already seen my blood sugar spikes since discontinuing the Metformin and it didn't make sense to them to give me a bunch of sugar when they were already pretty sure how my body would respond.
I was devastated. That doesn't even begin to describe it. I felt like I had lost the game without ever leaving the bench. I wasn't even given a chance. My body had failed me yet again and there was nothing in my power to fix it.
It was like when LO was a baby and I couldn't keep up my milk supply to provide for her and had to supplement with formula WAY earlier than I had hoped and anticipated.
It was like when we found out about Chase's heart diagnosis when I felt like my body had let me and my son down in a major way.
And now it's my body failing yet another child by causing this complication.
I'm a failure.
As a person. And as a mother.
No one understood what I was feeling. Most people were "excited" for me because I wouldn't have to drink that nasty orange-flavored drink. It was as if no one realized just how critical that test was... how it was supposed to be my saving grace that prevented me from having to keep up this radical change in lifestyle.
I had a dark few days where I felt so totally alone... even poor hubs couldn't figure out the "right" thing to say to help me feel better. He didn't quite "get it" either.
What all this meant was that I didn't get a chance to pass that glucose tolerance test. Instead, I get to continue checking my blood sugar 4x/day for the next 3 months. I get to continue eating about 1,800 calories a day for the next 3 months. I get to continue avoiding ALL of my favorite foods for the next 3 months.
Don't get me wrong: keeping my little guy safe and healthy is Priority #1 for me and I'll do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in my power to be sure he has the best environment possible in which to grow and develop. But I can't hardly put into words the PRESSURE this has put on me. Each and every decision about every meal and every snack... everything has to be carefully and methodically selected to ensure I'm not going to harm my baby.
This is a BIG deal. At least it is to me.
So there you have it. My Gestational Diabetes rant. I fully realize this probably just sounded like a lot of complaining to most people, and I'll admit -- there were a lot of "woe is me" undertones in this post. But when it comes to being pregnant and doing the best for my children, EVERYTHING IS A BIG DEAL.