Managing Gestational Diabetes: Day One

Those of you who know me or who can decipher my cryptic Tweets already know this, but to catch up the rest of you: I failed my three-hour glucose tolerance test.

This actually wasn't a surprise. My mom and at least two (of her six) sisters are diabetic. After my well-woman exam a year or so ago, I was told when my blood work came back that I was pre-diabetic. Non-pregnant pre-diabetic numbers pretty much mirror pregnant diabetic numbers.

I think I was lulled into a false sense of security when my early one-hour glucose test (at 12 weeks) came back hypoglycemic. This time, however, the results were not. My blood sugar was 166. Their threshold is 135. I was convinced I had just miscalculated my breakfast — after all, a Jack-in-the-Box taco seemed like a good idea to outsmart the test at the time. But how much sugar is in that salsa, anyway? And was it really smart to eat in the parking garage before walking into my appointment?

So shortly before my three-hour glucose trust, I decided to start monitoring my blood sugar in the morning. The results were not good. The day before the test, my fasting blood sugar was 110. The morning of, it was 98. The number to pass is 95.

Defeated, I walked into my midwives' office — 12 hours starved and dehydrated — on a mission. I already knew I had GD. So I just had to show them my glucose monitor, go meet with some counselors, and then I could eat, right? Wrong.

First, I ended up stuck in the waiting room for over an hour. By hour 13 of no food or drink, I became a hormonal, depressed, sobbing mess. By the time the nurse called me back, my eyes were already blood shot and puffy, and I was sob-heaving like Pop Culture Toddler. I told her that my fasting that morning was over their threshold for GD, that I was hungry, dehydrated and dizzy, and that I just wanted them to declare me GD so I could go meet with a counselor and get something to eat and drink. The nurse went to talk with the midwives and left me in my waiting room.

Some time later, one of my midwives, Debbie, came in to talk to me. We talked for over an hour [14 hours, no food or drink]. The end result of all this hysterical (on my part) chatter was that even with the numbers from my trusty glucose monitor, they had to run official tests or (1) the counselors wouldn't talk to me, and (2) my insurance company would likely not reimburse a thing. Debbie was pretty sure based on my home test that I was going to fail, but it had to be done. The end result was that Debbie would allow me to stay in the exam room for my full test, and a woman from the lab would come to do my blood draws. It was a good thing they let me stay in the room, too. An hour or so [15 hours sans food or real drink] after I drank the torture device glucose drink, I threw up a little. Two hours in, standing or sitting up made me dizzy. In fact, when I walked out, I saw another poor preggo in the lobby who was taking her three-hour glucose test. She was passed out on the floor, and the staff was trying to get her into a wheel chair. Someone explain to me why they haven't invented a better way to test for Gestational Diabetes?

The day continued to get worse, but I'll spare you those details. I'll leave it at the fact that I felt pretty defeated (as well as dizzy, hungry and just generally discombobulated) for days after the test. Then Tuesday I got the dreaded call from Debbie: "Well.... You were right. You failed. Sorry." I was led to believe I had greatly flunked the test. Now I just had to wait for the diabetic counselors to call me.

Being the nerd I am, I immediately started searching Amazon for the highest rated gestational diabetes books available on Kindle. I downloaded a cookbook and another general book.

Today was my first meeting with my diabetic counselors. I was terrified. Turns out I didn't need to be.

But, first, let's discuss breakfast. The diabetic cookbook I downloaded contained a recipe for "buttermilk pancakes." Unlike any pancakes I'm used to, these included no eggs. Honestly, I have no reason why, since eggs aren't exactly full of sugar or carbs. I made them anyway. The only modification I made was to substitute 1/4 cup of the cup of flour required with wheat flour to make it a bit healthier. The result sort of looked like pancakes, but it tasted like fluffy matzo. Luckily, I actually like matzo crackers, so this wasn't a big deal -- just really surprising. I made a fruit compote with stevia sweetener and served it with egg whites scrambled with zucchini, spinach and squash. Here's the final result:

Fortunately, it tasted better than it looked.

Loaded up (but still kind of starving) on my healthy, diabetes-approved breakfast, I headed to meet with my counselors. Most interesting part of the morning? The receptionist at intake trying to pump me for free legal advice. Seriously?! Does she do that to everyone who walks in who has "attorney" listed as occupation, or do I just have one of those faces??

After that weirdness was behind me, I met first with the dietitian, Rita. We went through my typical, not-at-all-diabetes-approved diet and figured out what things should be cut, modified, and kept. Surprisingly, there weren't too many drastic changes. True, my glazed donut + kolache + milk breakfast has been 100% eliminated, and I have to stop drinking lemonade 24/7, but my favorite red beans & rice lunch gets to stay. Next I met with the the nurse, Angela. She actually gave me various ways to save some of my current cravings with a little foreign (to me) thing called portion control. Get to the point where I just have to have the taste of a glazed donut? Get a couple of donut holes. Want some ice cream, and not of the chock-full-o-splenda variety? Eat 1/4 cup of Blue Bell Homestyle Vanilla (yum!). But the best news I received from Angela today? My pal Brittney (aka BostonsMama) doesn't have to change a thing about the snacks she is planning for my baby shower; I am free to indulge that one day!

All in all, the appointment went really well. I found out that I hadn't failed the glucose test as badly as I was led to believe. In fact, I had passed the fasting and one-hour portion of the test. It was the rest of it that I failed miserably. The pointers I was given were very helpful and tailored to my lifestyle and preferences. I actually feel like I can do this!

I realize this journey will be hard. No one likes pricking their finger 10 times a day. No one wants to count carbs or forgo their favorite foods. But you know what else no one wants? To give birth to a 16-pound baby.
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