My Experience Having Gestational Diabetes


Gestational Diabetes | Central Mass MomUp until I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my pregnancy was pretty unremarkable. I went to all the standard appointments and everything always looked “good”, “normal”, or however the clinicians wanted things to be.

I remember going down to the lab to take the glucose tolerance test after one of my regular appointments. As I sat in the waiting room, I sent a friend a Snapchat of myself chugging that awful orange drink with an expression on my face that implied this is nothing more than a formality. There wasn’t a thought in my mind that I might actually have gestational diabetes.

The results were released electronically within a couple of hours of the blood draw. My result appeared to be out of the desired range, but my doctor had warned me that this sometimes happens and it only meant I needed to return for a second, longer, fasting version of the orange drink test.

The second test entailed four blood draws; one fasting and then three at the end of each hour for three hours. My doctor had explained prior to the test that three of the four readings needed to be in the desired range to pass the test. Once again, the results were available within a few hours, and once again, I failed. But this time, it meant I really failed.

I had gestational diabetes.

Thoughts raced through my head. What do I do now? What can I eat? What can’t I eat? Did all those hot fudge sundaes I ate this summer cause this or harm my baby?

The results came through on a Friday afternoon, so I spent the weekend anxiously googling what my new diet should look like, without ever feeling very confident I had found accurate information. I guessed, incorrectly, that fruits would be good, and ate a whole lot of berries that weekend. 

Monday morning, a nurse called to explain that I would need to attend a nutrition class where I would learn how to eat for the duration of my pregnancy. I would also meet with an endocrinologist, who would teach me how to test my blood sugar and monitor my numbers to see if I would need insulin. I knew at this point that finger sticks were in my future. As someone who needed an escort to my annual flu shot, I was doing my best to be brave with this new information.

The nurse also explained the risks. She told me about how uncontrolled gestational diabetes can lead to the baby growing too large, as one of several possible problems. Because of this risk, I would need to be induced at 39 weeks, unless I went into labor sooner on my own. Okay, I thought, pregnant for one less week, that’s not terrible.

I left the nutrition and endocrinology appointments feeling like I finally had the tools I needed to succeed. All I had to do was follow the formula provided and everything would be fine. That feeling quickly faded when I ate exactly what the nutritionist recommended and my numbers didn’t follow suit. It was stressful to think my high readings could be harmful to my baby. It was frustrating to think I was following the prescribed formula and not getting the results I expected.

After I submitted my first set of readings to my care team, they recommended I come in to discuss. The nutritionist ran through the list of typical problem sources, to no avail. Ultimately, she sent me to the endocrinologist to get an insulin prescription. Great, more needles.

With the support of my husband, I got through the first several weeks of nightly injections. Each week I would send my readings to my care team and they would increase my insulin amounts accordingly. I continued to struggle with high readings and was frustrated that I was doing exactly what I was told without the expected results.

While crying in my OB’s office, she explained to me that as the pregnancy continues, the hormones that interfere get stronger, which is why the insulin amount that worked last week wasn’t enough this week. It helped a little to know at least there wasn’t anything I should be doing differently.

Over time, I got more comfortable with the injections. I never looked forward to them, but by the end of my pregnancy, it just became part of my nightly routine and I no longer spent the afternoon hours dreading what was to come.

It feels petty saying this now, but it was also really hard not to be able to go out to eat. I had to be so precise in what I was eating, I couldn’t risk guessing what was in a restaurant dish. It wasn’t just the dinners out with friends that had to go. As someone who grabbed a lot of quick meals from the building cafe, this was a major habit shift for me. Meal planning was not optional.

I ended up delivering at 37 weeks and was thrilled to have a happy and healthy baby. Although I will remind her from time to time how much trouble I went through for her, I promise, she was worth every stick.


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