Monday, September 6, 2010

Gestational Diabetes & Me

Gestational Diabetes: That is a term I didn't think I'd ever have to worry about. I'm expecting my fourth baby soon and I've never had any problems with the yucky glucose test they make you do when you're between 24-28 weeks pregnant.

But this time I failed! I told my husband it's the only test I've ever failed in my life.
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes scared me to death. Yes, I was a bawling basketcase and yes, I can blame it all on the pregnancy hormones.

I really can blame in on that because the pregnancy hormones are what causes the problems that develop into gestational diabetes. Here's a link to more info, but in a nutshell, this is how it works: you eat food, the food turns into glucose in your bloodstream, your pancreas produces insulin which unlocks your cells and opens the doors so they can gobble up all that glucose. But the pregnancy hormones go and shut the doors to your cells so they can't get the glucose/energy they need. Your pancreas produces more insulin to try to make up for this problem, but if it just can't keep up then you develop what is called gestational diabetes.

Your blood is full of excess glucose which the baby can use because his cells aren't blocked by any nasty pregnancy hormones and so he can keep eating and eating and grow too large among other problems.
The big eye-opener for me is that EVERY woman who is pregnant experiences some difficulty with this process which causes their pancreas to work harder. This explains a lot of the fatigue in the third trimester. But only about 10% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.

 So I was freaked out about all the potential problems that could occur. I was spitting mad because I do not even have ONE can of soda in my whole house. We don't drink soda, we don't eat lots of junk, I make homemade whole-wheat bread, we try to eat healthy. I just couldn't understand how this could happen to ME! The only common criteria for gestational diabetes that I fell under was---over age 25.

But now I'm okay.

I understand that it doesn't matter how healthy you are, you can still develop gestational diabetes. It's not your fault if you develop it, but you can do a lot to control it after you're diagnosed.

My husband and I went to a three-hour class where we learned all about gestational diabetes, the risks, and what happens to your body. We learned about the proper foods to eat and I was given a specific diet plan to follow. I was also given a diabetes blood tester--which was another source of my freak-out.

I've always been a wimp about needles and blood. You're looking at the girl who used to pass out every time she had to have her blood drawn. I'm much better now--I think having three kids does that to you--but I still did NOT want to poke myself and squeeze out blood for the tester. But I did it anyway and the instructor showed us how if we poked the side of our finger instead of the tip, it didn't hurt quite as bad.

So I have been a good girl, testing my blood sugar level six times a day and following a strict diet. My levels have been very good so now I only have to test every other day, four times a day. I'm very aware of carbohydrates and protein. I'm hungry and sometimes cranky because I can't think of what to eat that will fit in my diet, but I'm getting better at it. I'm going to post another segment which will tell you exactly what my diet is and why I'm grateful for what I've learned because it's something I'm going to try to follow for the rest of my life. It's important! I feel much better, I've lost weight which scared me, but the doctor said it's okay as long as the baby is growing. Today I feel like I can handle this right now.

Of course that feeling could change at any time and I WILL blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but I'll keep you posted!

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