Sibylla Nash is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles and author of the novel Bumped . You can visit her at sibyllanash.com.
Even now, ten years after the fact I can call up aspects of my pregnancy just like it was yesterday. I can remember so clearly the day I found out I was having a girl. I was so impatient to find out who was residing in my tummy. I wanted to know what to buy, blue booties? Pink dresses? I also remember the fear and uncertainty that squeezed my heart when I got the call from my doctor about having to come back in and do another gestational diabetes test.
Up to that point, about 26 weeks, I was having a pretty easy pregnancy. No morning sickness. Development was on track. The possibility of having gestational diabetes threw me for a loop. I didn’t know you could acquire it during your pregnancy and how serious it could be. I went back in for the second test where I had to drink an overly sweet concoction at different intervals. For over an hour, I hoped it was a mistake, that the new test would come back negative. It didn’t. I went from easy street to high-risk road overnight.
My days of eating for two were whittled down to a skeleton diet bereft of anything sweet. Gone were my Hungry Man breakfasts and it was hello jailhouse gourmet. I had to draw blood after every meal to track my sugar levels. Ouch. No orange juice, no jelly on my toast, sugar in my oatmeal. And still, my sugar levels could not be corralled. I was put on insulin and had to give myself a shot before each meal. It was scary and frustrating because I felt as though I had zero control over the situation. Diet and exercise weren’t helping no matter how hard I tried, wished and prayed. Going on insulin felt like a personal failure, coming from a mindset of one who had never dealt with a disease before. I’d never had my body go left when I was yelling and pleading with it to go right.
The last trimester of my pregnancy was marked by visits to my ob/gyn and the diabetes counselor and then somehow I had to come in every week to have my daughter’s heart rate monitored. I think it started off as some innocuous test until her heart rate was discovered to be low. So they asked me to come back in the following week to test her. It was always the same time, just before lunch when she was resting from her night of high-flying kicks and jabs. By the third or fourth week, I got smart and ate an orange and her heart was normal for the test.
Because mothers who develop gestational diabetes tend to have larger babies – which can be problematic for both mother and baby, they monitor the baby’s growth in utero and in my case, the doctor wanted to induce me on my due date because she was getting pretty big. At the hospital, doctors and nurses fussed over me, checking my sugar levels, heart rate, etc through out the day. By 5 p.m., my contractions had stalled and I was only two centimeters dilated and begging for an epidural.
The epidural caused my daughter’s heart rate to slow down and I had to have an emergency C-section. She weighed in at 9 lbs 9 oz. and was healthy. The minute she was delivered, they stopped checking my blood sugar level or even mentioned diabetes. They dropped me like a full diaper. A couple of weeks later, I had my blood levels checked and was told I was no longer a diabetic but that I should continue to exercise and watch my diet because I have a higher percentage of getting it later in life.
I’m fortunate that it hasn’t come back yet but it’s always in the back of my mind. I wish I had the type of feel-good story about me overcoming it but I don’t. Diabetes kicked my butt like it was a big bully. If we were to have a rematch, I can only hope that I will be able to control it better.
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