I Had Gestational Diabetes, Just Like You

I had gestational diabetes with each of my two pregnancies.  I was older when I became pregnant, my first child at the age of 32.  Fairly well established at my job, and not necessarily sure when I wanted to have a child.  Therefore, my husband and I were somewhat surprised to have a baby coming, but very happy about it.

I have a family history of diabetes, with my mother and grandmothers having Type 2 diabetes.  So, when I got tested at 24 weeks for gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, I was aware that there was a strong chance I would have gestational diabetes.

Even though I knew it, at first I was kind of mad that I had gestational diabetes, because I felt that I was working so hard to manage my eating and weight gain because I was already a little overweight.  I even thought to myself that I was somewhat mad at my genes that made it more likely.  I was sure that if I just ate right, gestational diabetes would not happen to me, that I could somehow prevent it.

Gestational Diabetes Made Me Feel Like I Had No Control Sometimes

Then I felt guilty for being mad, and for maybe not ALWAYS eating perfectly.  This is something that I think a lot of us feel about everything we do during pregnancy that could affect the baby – as if I should always be perfect and somehow “one” incident of bad behavior is going to be punished.  After all, I have a huge responsibility to take care of the life inside me, and I am somehow failing miserably by having gestational diabetes.  It doesn’t matter that I knew better than to think it was punishment or something I could change.

I was hungry all the time with my first child, and although I was fortunate to not have morning sickness, I did get a stomach ache if I didn’t eat every 3 hours.  I felt like I would throw up, and all I had to do was have a small snack and it would go away.  So, I never skipped meals or snacks!  I sometimes felt like I was in denial because I just didn’t feel like anything changed.  I had to test my blood sugar 4 or 5 times a day and write it down to track, and I was doing really well with my numbers so I usually felt ok even though I had gestational diabetes.  I was scared for a while that I might do something that would harm the baby or cause him to have a problem.  I thought about everything I had done since the pregnancy started, and tried to figure out what I could have done differently.

But I finally accepted it, and moved on to management.  I was lucky enough to take medication and not have to do insulin shots, although sometimes I wish I had because the medication caused me to have kidney problems.  I did walk more and thought about how much I was eating all the time.  My husband was as worried as I was about the control of my gestational diabetes and how it would affect the baby.  Sometimes we forget that we are not the only ones with concerns about our health and the health of our baby.

I managed to gain only a little weight and did deliver a little early due to the kidney problems, but the baby was fine.  He had jaundice and had to stay in the NICU for a couple of weeks but left with no complications from the gestational diabetes.

My 2nd pregnancy was more complicated and the symptoms came on much sooner.  I got tested a lot earlier and started on the gestational diabetes management process much earlier in the pregnancy.  I did feel a lot of guilt about having gestational diabetes again with this child, but I think I accepted it much more quickly than before.  I did not have the hunger that I did with the first child, and actually lost weight but the baby continued to grow at a healthy rate and develop normally.  I managed my blood sugars more carefully, but did end up delivering much earlier and my premature baby was hospitalized for 9 ½ weeks in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  My problems that I had with the first pregnancy came back in a fierce way with the 2nd pregnancy from the gestational diabetes.

Learning More About How To Manage Gestational Diabetes

Even though I am a dietitian, I had never actually been through the process of taking a blood sugar.  I had no idea where to start.  I had to go and see a diabetes nurse just to learn the process of checking my blood sugar and what to do.  My fingers were poked so much that they hurt, and sometimes it was hard to get blood from my fingers at the end of the pregnancy because I had a lot of swelling.

The thing I did have control over was the food, and how much I ate, and how it affected my blood sugar level which in turn affected the baby.  That is what I always remembered when I would be having a hard time, and trying to figure out what to eat and what to buy at the grocery store to meet my gestational diabetes diet.  The mom or wife or other jobs that I had never stopped, they continued to have the same expectations of me.  I still was the one to go to the grocery store, I still had a job, I still had to manage multiple things (including going to get my MBA at night) to fulfill my obligations.  So planning ahead became a huge part of every week so I would not have to run to the grocery store in the middle of the week or eat what I should not eat at work for my gestational diabetes!

And now, I have young children who are healthy and well despite being born a little (or a lot) early.  While the complications can still happen regardless of the care you take, I know it’s important to manage the eating and blood sugars to have the best possible outcomes.  We can’t control everything, but we can manage things better in a pregnancy complicated with gestational diabetes.

I developed a program for moms in a situation like myself, who need guidance and help getting control of our gestational diabetes.  Understanding that not all of the things that I knew as a dietitian will be something that other women know.  I made a daily pattern, daily options for breakfast and lunch (because we usually eat very similar things for breakfast and lunch so you don’t need a complicated schedule or recipes for that).  And it has recipes for dinner meals that you can feed to the entire family without a problem – no one has to know they are managed for your gestational diabetes.  Click and go to our information page to learn more about our gestational diabetes meal plans and patterns.