So it turns out I have gestational diabetes. I was surprised when I “failed” my first one hour glucose test, but I heard that it was very common to “fail” the first one and do fine on the second one. Friends asked me a lot of questions like “Did you have coffee that morning? Eat a lot of sugar in the days before?” Yes and yes, there seemed to be a ton of anecdotal explanations as to my high glucose count.
So I ate carefully the days before my three-hour glucose test; even though I was really craving a Mexican coke and the blueberry poppy-seed cake from The Village bakery. I fasted for the recommended 12 hours before I went to the lab. If you have never been subjected to a three-hour glucose test… it doesn’t really sound that bad, but trust me it’s not fun.
After fasting for 12 hours I went to a lab where they drew my blood, no big deal. Then they gave me a bottle of fruit punch flavored “drink” and five minutes to chug it. The drink taste more like a syrup concentrate that you would use to make fruit punch, but again, no big deal. Then they draw your blood every hour… for three hours. The lady next to me at the lab told me that she failed her first test too and that she walked around a lot during her three-hour and passed, so I decided to try that. Here’s where I knew something was wrong; about halfway out the door of the lab I started to get dizzy. By the time I was outside, I was unable to walk around the block. I had to stop and crouch down, then lay down on a bench for a minute before I was able to make it back to the lab. One hour after you finish the drink, they draw your blood again… I told the lab nurse how I was feeling when she made the draw. “That’s not good,” she said, “have you been eating a lot of sugar?”
The next hour was even more painful. I wanted to throw up but the nurse warned me that I may have to do the test again if that happened so I held it in and went back to lay down on the bench. Normally, sleeping on park benches like a transient isn’t really on my list of acceptable behavior but I was too dizzy to sit up; but you gotta do what you gotta do… After the next blood draw the lab nurses had me lay down on a cot. Luckily, I fell asleep so the next hour went quickly.
Over the next few days my friends reassured me that I had nothing to worry about… my weight gain has been minimal in this pregnancy and I didn’t have gestational diabetes with Leo. But they were wrong, and I was wrong.
It turns out that how much you exercise, sugar you eat, and weight you gain really have nothing to do with it. You can’t “cheat” the test by eating healthy the week before or going for a walk after you drink your glucose fruit punch. In my case, gestational diabetes is caused by the genetic make-up of my placenta. The good news is that I have a mild case, and there is something I can do about it; I can control it with diet and exercise. So even though I was diagnosed well over a month ago I am still learning how to manage my glucose levels, and figure out what I can and can’t eat. A few bites of cheesecake after a low-carb meal seems to be OK while a handful of trail mix can send my glucose readings into a frenzy… When I was pregnant with Leo, I was a total glutton; eating giant sandwiches for lunch every day and chocolate malts every night. Now I have to limit things that I would normally consider healthy like whole wheat toast and strawberries.
With this baby, I know I need to be more careful. Especially since I am attempting a VBAC (more on that later), size really does matter. So I work out almost every day, I watch what I eat and I prick my finger and wait with trepidation at each reading of my glucose meter and hope that I am making good decisions for my baby.
(written while Leo naps)