I was diagnosed with diabetes three years before my first pregnancy. Since my doctors already knew what the outcome would be, I was able to bypass the glucose screening test during pregnancy. Although I didn’t have to down the syrupy trash water, I still remember going through the emotional roller coaster of being diagnosed.
- Am I going to die early?
- Will my legs, arms or toes, have to be amputated?
- What if I go blind? I already can’t see too well.
- Did I eat one too many crispy creams?
- Dear God why me?
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Those were just some of the questions that raced through my mind back then. Diabetes had become a part of my life and I felt sad, confused, angry and helpless. Some of you may have felt some of the same emotions that I did when you were diagnosed and left to wonder how gestational diabetes impact your unborn child.
I want to share how I went from being defeated and depressed to informed and in control of my diabetes. And I hope that my story inspires you to do the same during your pregnancy.
You Are Not Alone
There are over 285 million people living with diabetes in the world and I have several in my family, still, I felt extremely isolated when I was diagnosed. Family dinners got weird as people asked, “Is that all you’re going to eat? What’s the matter, are you sick?”
The new dietary restrictions, medicines, meal planning and sticking my finger with a needle 3 times a day were all overwhelming. I didn’t see how I could fit these adjustments into my already hectic life. I thought, “Nobody has time to do all this!”
But I did. One day at a time I made lifestyle changes, committed to exercising 3 times a week, and planned my meals and snacks ahead of time. I continued those regiments plus more throughout three pregnancies. And so do millions of others who deal with the emotions and decisions of managing their diabetes while pregnant.
Yes, it’s a struggle and sometimes I don’t feel like working out. Sometimes I don’t feel like packing my lunch. And sometimes I just want warm bread budding or peach cobbler covered in ice cream. You may too, but just remember that you are not alone. I struggled through the adjustments and so will you.
My best friend, Mia, learned that she had gestational diabetes when her doctor called her at work. Mia flopped down in her chair, covered her face with her hands, and began to bawl uncontrollably. One of Mia’s co-workers rushed in to check on her. “What was wrong?” “I have gestational diabetes”, Mia told her tearfully. “What is that?” Mia frantically replied, “I DON’T KNOW!”
Like Mia, I did not know what diabetes was when I was first diagnosed. In fact, it was still called “The Sugar” in my family. Fortunately, one of the first things my doctor did was enrolled me in diabetes and nutrition education classes. Those classes are one of the reasons that I was able to get my blood sugar numbers under control.
I learned about what diabetes actually means for my body and how the medicines I was taking were supposed to work. Most importantly, I learned about portion control and label reading.
I made several lifestyle changes like switching from white rice and white bread to whole wheat or whole grain bread and brown rice. I also implemented portion control and a meal plan that consist of eating 5 meals a day.
These changes along with exercise helped me go from a 9.6 to a 6.5 A1C prior to my first pregnancy. During pregnancy my diet became even stricter as my team encouraged me to get keep my A1C under 6.5. It was hard so I gave myself cheat days. Now, I have three healthy children ages 4, 6, and 11.
Remember, you are not alone in your battle with gestational diabetes. 7 out of every 100 pregnant women in the Unites States develops gestational diabetes. In addition, there are many women like me who are already diagnosed before they get pregnant. We are all here to help prop you up through this struggle.
Take control today. Work with your doctor, educate yourself, get active and get support. There are also numerous online forums like the Gestational Diabetes Support Group on Facebook groups, that will allow you to connect, share stories, recipes and tips.
Moms, this is a good opportunity to learn to care for yourself, which so many of us have to continuously be reminded to do. In order to take control of your gestational diabetes, you have to support and get educated about how food and exercise affects your body as well as the little one growing inside you.