Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I do not like to fail tests...

... but I failed a big one last week.

The one-hour gestational diabetes test.

For those of you who don't know, it's standard practice to test women between 24-28 weeks pregnant for gestational diabetes, a particular kind of diabetes found in pregnant women.  There's a one-hour test that requires drinking a very sugary drink, waiting an hour, and having a blood draw.  There are also two- and three-hour tests for if you fail the one-hour test.  These longer tests determine if you've really got gestational diabetes.

That is, unless you fail the one-hour test so badly that they won't give you the longer ones.  The normal range, according to my midwife, is 65-130.  I scored a 212.

I was shocked.  I worry about plenty of things, but this wasn't on my radar because I am active, I eat well, and before pregnancy I wasn't 20% overweight. (I wasn't overweight at all, actually).  Women suffering from gestational diabetes often gain weight quickly, and they often have high blood pressure.  Me?  I've gained 15 pounds in 28 weeks, and my blood pressure at my check-up on Thursday was 100/58.

Even though some women have a greater likelihood of having gestational diabetes, and some women show symptoms of it before the test, other women (like me) simply do not fit the profile.  Some women (like me) do not show symptoms.

I will learn more at the nutritionist's office next week, but here's what I know so far:

  • I will probably have to check my blood sugar levels many times a day (in the morning and two hours after meals) with a glucose meter.
  • During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones.  Sometimes, these hormones interfere with the body's ability to process glucose.  This interference increases as the pregnancy advances, and it can result in gestational diabetes.
  • The most likely reason that I haven't had any symptoms is because I've been controlling this with my normal diet and my normal exercise routine.  Aside from occasional (okay, more than occasional, but still not frequent) sweets, I eat pretty well.  We eat lots of vegetables, only whole wheat bread and pasta, and I do not drink sugary drinks.  Diet and exercise are often enough to control gestational diabetes, and that may well be what I've been doing.
  • If gestational diabetes goes untreated, you can end up with a really big baby.  I do not want a really big baby, since I'm one of those natural-childbirth-no-drugs-please-granola mamas.  
I found this out on Thursday.  Worrier that I am, I was very strict this weekend with my diet, probably stricter than I should be.  I haven't skimped on calories, but I didn't allow myself any refined sugar and had relatively few carbs.  Next week, the diabetic nutritionist should give me guidelines and a meal plan.  I tried to look this up online, but most were based on the idea that the mom-to-be was gaining too much weight, which I'm not.  I couldn't fit in the appointment this week, and the next one isn't until next Wednesday, giving me lots of time to freak out, so I bought a blood glucose meter yesterday to start checking myself.  Lo and behold, two hours after dinner last night my blood sugar was too low.  Today I'm trying to eat the way I did before I found out and simply check my levels.  We'll see how that goes.

So, there it is.  I have gestational diabetes, and it will affect the next 3.5 months.  But I'm also pregnant, and that will change my life permanently.  I want Alfie to get the best start possible, and if that means that I prick my finger multiple times a day and only get a teeny tiny slice of carrot cake for Jenn's birthday, so be it.  3 months just doesn't sound like much in the face of the rest of my life.

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