In 15 minutes I’ll have pricked my finger with a needle in the attempt to squeeze out some blood to test my blood sugars. I’m counting down the time, as I have to do it within an hour of eating my breakfast.
Yes, I’ve got gestational diabetes.
Possibly the worst diagnosis for a person with a needle phobia.
And also the worst diagnosis for a cake lover.
Pregnancy is fraught with things you can no longer consume. They’ve taken away my wine, all the good cheese, my caffeine and some seafood along with all the other bits you have to be cautious over.
The only thing they couldn’t take away was my delight in demolishing chocolate and cake.
Yesterday I had my first appointment with the diabetes clinic who’ll be monitoring me for the rest of this pregnancy and beyond.
I misheard the lady on the phone when she booked in my appointment (joys of having a chatting toddler the other side of me) and thought I had borderline gestational diabetes.
But looking at my blood test results once in the room my specialist diabetes midwife, she confirmed that it certainly wasn’t pre diabetes. It was full on gestational diabetes and because of the way my readings were it may require me to go onto insulin injections unless I happen to get it under control, which will supposedly be hard because it’s less about what I eat and just the hormone changes affecting my sugar levels overnight. (Once the placenta is out after birth I should return to normal, but the hormones produced by the placenta resist insulin naturally produced by my body).
In fact the results of my gestational diabetes blood tests done a few days ago, showed that my sugar levels were really high after a night of fasting. And in fact my levels came down to a normal level after I’d drunk the sweet orange drink I had to down after my first blood test. It was that first result of high sugar levels when I had no food in me that has caused me to be led down this path.
I can’t undo the original blood tests or not test my blood 4 times a day at home anymore. But I can try my hardest to get my levels to try to stabilise overnight so I can avoid insulin injections. I have to at least try even though I’ve been told it isn’t as easy as food control- but it’s a starting point.
So out with the old diet (which actually wasn’t all that bad) and in with the new. Which is bland, bland, bland. In fact I’ve never sympathised with a diabetic quite so much in my life. What on earth do they eat? And for many this is a lifetime thing.
There is a whole lack of anything tasty that stays within the recommended sugar levels or carbohydrate levels at the supermarket- even foods that are considered healthy really aren’t when you start pouring over labels.
Refined white has been replaced with brown, sweet potatoes and sour dough bread (thank god there’s a white bread that isn’t considered ‘bad’). Breakfast has been replaced with porridge. Snacks have become plain yoghurt and cinnamon powder sprinkled in my decaf coffee. My craving for fruit has to be curbed and eaten without any other food if I really crave it and everything has to be cooked up from scratch so I can monitor what goes in and out of my meals. At least marmite and peanut butter are still allowed!
And I can wave good-bye to a roast dinner unless I’m just eating the meat and vegetables. No potatoes, no yorkshire puddings, no stuffing, no gravy- in fact none of the good stuff.
And don’t get me started on portion control sizes.
I’m not a big girl, and my BMI is 20 so I’m in the healthy range. So the one thing I don’t want to do is lose weight and not eat enough. Especially at this time when the baby is relying on my energy reserves to grow and prepare itself for life outside the womb. But I also don’t want to cause any damage to my unborn child which includes the increased risk of perinatal death (baby dying around the time of birth- obviously worst case scenario) or having neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars post birth). All very much a reality for a person with gestational diabetes. So I feel like I’m having to tread a very fine line.
Being diagnosed now at 25 weeks means that I have at most another 15 weeks of testing my blood sugars four times a day and constant reviews with my diabetes team with some extra growth scans thrown in to keep an eye not he baby. They’ll be assessing my blood readings and making a plan for me to follow and it’s great to know I’ll be monitored closely, but now my pregnancy is classified as high risk.
My birth was always classified as high risk because of my previous caesarean so having another high risk string added to my bow isn’t exactly the greatest.
It does worry me in terms of the birth because I know that if I want a natural birth an induction is probably quite high. If baby gets too big (another possible side effect of gestational diabetes) they’ll want it out before it’s full term. Having endured an induction with my first (a pain that is truly unbearable and led to an emergency caesarean) it’s something I want to stay away from. And the idea of having a nice smooth natural delivery goes out of the window with that. And the other option will be another caesarean section which comes with its own risks.
So I’m doing what I can for these final 15 weeks to get both baby and I to the end safely and within normal limits.
Having just pricked my finger- remind me not to eat tangerines again. Damn.