Vi’s Birth Story

In the Gestational Diabetes support groups I found on Facebook the last 11 weeks of my pregnancy, there was always a lot of talk about going into labor naturally versus induction versus planned cesarean sections.

The general consensus was that it would be best to go into labor naturally if at all possible. It makes sense. C-sections, after all, are surgeries, which often mean more recovery is needed. Contractions resulting from Pitocin, artificial oxytocin used in inductions, are supposed to be more painful and intense. So many women told horror stories about long labors and failed inductions. Many threads popped up about how to urge labor to come on naturally to avoid the other two options.

I’m telling my story because my induction was actually a much more positive experience than my first labor, which came on naturally a few days after a membrane sweep almost five years ago. I want to remember it clearly, but also want others being induced for medical reasons to realize there are positive experiences out there too.

After a pregnancy that kept going wrong with twists and turns at every corner (all positive outcomes thankfully), I welcomed the idea of an induction because it gave me back some sense of control. When I finally got my induction date, about 4 days before delivery, I breathed a sigh of relief. July 5 would be the day.

I was already dilated to a 3 and she had dropped down low. There was a sense that she might come before July 5, but she never did.

My husband took our daughter to see the fireworks with his family on July 3 while I stayed home to rest. On July 4, I took our daughter swimming and to a pool party at my aunt’s house. That night, we sent her to her grandparents for an extended sleepover and we caught a few episodes of Stranger Things Season 3 before bed. We couldn’t sleep, but tried to rest as best as we could. The next day would be a long one.

We went in around 7:15 a.m. Our nurse was Lindsay. You never forget the ones who help you through these things.

She hooked me up for monitoring before starting the pitocin, and away we went. (It was the exact opposite of my last experience, when we went in at midnight and isn’t even know if I was truly in labor or if I was experiencing a false alarm.)

I rested easy knowing my doctor was around and knew to check in on me. (Last time, he was on vacation and I wasn’t sure which on call doc would deliver me – it seemed like none of them wanted the job.)

There was a Seinfeld marathon on TBS so we out that on. David read a lot. I switched between my iPad and phone while charging the other, mostly browsing Facebook. I had set up a FB group to update our families but there was nothing to report for a long time.

The contractions started getting stronger, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The nurse brought in two birthing balls and I was allowed to get up and walk around and use the bathroom. (Last time I was confined to the bed the entire time and given a catheter before my epidural.)

I hadn’t made much progress, if any, after hours of laboring. My contractions continued to get stronger and closer together. Little by little, the nurse backed off the pitocin. I didn’t know it yet, but my body had taken over.

The nurse called my OB to see if he could come by and break my water to get things moving. He was backed up at the office and still hadn’t come by a few hours later. Around 4:30 p.m., I decided to try and nap. I got about a half hour in before I woke up to stronger contractions and the urge to pee.

I called the nurse for help getting to the restroom. As I stood up, I felt my water break and trickle down my leg. I knew it wasn’t pee bc I still needed to go. Just then, the doctor called to say he was coming by, but he wasn’t needed anymore. (It was a weird experience bc last time, I’m not sure when my water broke. I missed that entirely.)

There was blood in the toilet when I peed, and after a check revealed it was for sure my water, the nurse had to put a towel in bed with me to catch some of the fluid.

Things moved fast after that. My contractions got much stronger and more painful. I called for an epidural and it showed up quickly. (Last time since it was overnight it took forever to get relief.) I was a lot more present for its insertion because last time the pain was so awful and I was so scared that I can’t remember it well.

I could still feel pain, particularly on my right side, but it got much more bearable. (Last time I was completely numb and had to be told when I was contracting.)

My doctor came by to do a check, and I had dilated to an 8 in a very short time. He and his med student went to grab food in the cafeteria, and when he returned it would be time to deliver.

At this point, I had a new nurse, Suzanne. She checked me again not long after and I was at a 10 already. Other staff prepped equipment for the delivery and got the incubator out for baby’s arrival. Suzanne and I pushed.

The doctor came back just in the nick of time with his student. I pushed 3-5 times more. The pressure/pain was fairly intense, but it felt better to push. I didn’t love feeling the pain, but I liked being more present and being able to do something to help myself. After 20 minutes of pushing, Violet came out with her little hand on her face and was placed on my chest. It was just before 7:30 p.m. – almost 12 hours since we checked in.

I required only one stitch. The doctor worked on delivering the placenta and fixing me up while my husband and I spent time with our girl.

While she was being bathed, my husband went to grab both sets of grandparents and our daughter, a new big sister, to come and meet the newest member of our family.

My first daughter was proud to meet and hold her new baby sister, but I’ll always remember how concerned she was for mommy in a hospital bed. I had gotten to change back into my tank top, but I think she sensed the pain I’d gone through. My sweet girl sat with me on the bed and cried when it was time to leave – I’ll always remember that. She didn’t want to leave mommy. We were moved to the recovery rooms after that and all was well.

A Rough Pregnancy

I know I promised a birth story and it’s still coming (albeit a month+ later than promised). But first – some details about my complicated pregnancy I wasn’t comfortable sharing until she got here safe and sound...

Because, sometimes, even when everything seems to go wrong, it turns out alright.

It all started when I found out I was pregnant Nov. 2, two days after my favorite day of the year. We’d been trying for awhile and never meant to wait so long between children, but finally, after many negatives, the test turned positive. And then another. And another.

Baby’s due date was July 12.

As with our first pregnancy, we decided to keep the news to ourselves until we were in safer territory, terrified of a miscarriage. I was just about to turn 35 after all – “of advanced maternal age.”

We got a little more comfortable over the next week or so and decided we would tell our families a little earlier than planned, on Thanksgiving. Turned out my body had other plans, though.

I started spotting that day, Nov. 22, and feared the worst. It was the longest weekend (to that point) of our lives. I took our 4-year-old to a Christmas festival and tried to have fun and not think about it. The secret was killing me. Monday, I got an appointment to see my OB later that month. I had a few more incidents of light spotting after that, but we held on to whatever hope we could find.

Early labs showed that my progesterone was low, so my OB started me on supplements to try and support a healthy pregnancy. I also got the RhoGam shot since there was bleeding and I’m RH-. We were scheduled for an early ultrasound to determine if my pregnancy was viable.

We had the scan at a different hospital because they could get us in sooner. Time was of the utmost importance. The experience was foreign and scary, but the techs were nice and showed us the heartbeat, just as I feared there wouldn’t be one. We left with our first picture of the new baby.

Our relief was short lived. A day or so later, my OB’s office called and said the radiologist who reviewed my ultrasound recommended a follow up scan right away to rule out a possible cornual ectopic pregnancy.

I knew ectopic was bad and not all that uncommon, but this one was new to me so I Googled. Mistake. It’s a rare form of ectopic pregnancy in which the embryo implants in the uterus, but too close to the Fallopian tube to be viable. With a cornual ectopic, a rupture can be even deadlier for mom, occurring near a major artery in the uterus.

Suddenly we feared that we might not have a baby after all, and worse, that our older daughter could end up without a mommy. Reluctantly, we told our families (or let our daughter tell them) and asked for prayers. We tried to celebrate any time we had with a new baby.

Thankfully, the nightmare only lasted a week. On Dec. 14 we had an ultrasound at my OB’s office and the tech, who’d seen only one cornual ectopic before, gave us reassurance that this likely was not one. I did have an ovarian cyst and a uterine fibroid, but nothing to worry about. Baby looked fine. At Christmas, we made it FB official, although I still wouldn’t give myself permission to get too excited.

At my January appointment, I had low Vitamin D and was started on more supplements. I also tested positive for Anti-D antibodies. I hoped they were from my earlier RhoGam shot, but the lab was unable to confirm that, so I feared for our baby once again – this time bc of RH disease.

At the end of February, we had made it to the 20-week anatomy screen. Baby looked good, and we found out she was a girl, but they were unable to see her cardiac outflow tracts and I was diagnosed with placenta previa. More scans needed.

By 28 weeks in April, my placenta had moved away from my cervix, but at 1.5cm away, it was not clear of danger. We were told it might still move, but that we might want to get used to the idea of a C-section. As much as I didn’t want surgery, I didn’t hate the idea. A planned birth would give me back some of the control I had lost throughout this pregnancy.

Only a few days later, I found out I failed the one-hour glucose screen massively with a 214. Since anything over 140 is a fail, I was told to take the three hour screen – but upon researching gestational diabetes, I learned it was unlikely I would pass the three hour (like I did in my first pregnancy, but I barely failed the one).

I was immediately diagnosed with GD and told to start following the 2,000 calorie American Diabetes Association diet until I could see the diabetic counselor. I was to test my fasting in the morning and once after all three meals.

I found some solace in two GD support groups on Facebook and learned some tricks to manage my diabetes. Eventually I couldn’t do it with diet alone and was prescribed Merformin in the morning at breakfast. Before my pregnancy was over I’d be taking it at dinner too. Depression hit me hard, dealing with the new diet. I learned to vent in the groups and on this blog and found a support system in my mom. Over time I got healthier and actually lost weight, so there actually was an upside. In total, I gained 5 pounds versus 35 with DD#1. I never did get all my numbers under control, but my average was good and my doctor was happy. Baby was estimated to be fairly big, but not overly so to cause any concern. Still, I learned I would be induced at 39 weeks if she didn’t come on her own before then.

In May, at another ultrasound, my placenta previa had resolved itself but my fluid appeared low, at an 8, so I was diagnosed with borderline oligohydraminos. It meant another ultrasound. Over the next week, I chugged water, hoping I was only slightly dehydrated, and it worked! That diagnosis was resolved only 5 days later, with my level at a 10.2.

In June, my blood pressure began to creep. I had read that GD puts you more at risk for preeclampsia (or at least gestational hypertension) and my sister in law had delivered early bc of it, so I worried, although my doc wasn’t concerned quite yet. I borrowed my dad’s BP cuff and monitored at home, where it seemed fine.

It wasn’t until June 28 that I was admitted to the hospital for testing. My BP at that point was 164/82. Thankfully, baby looked good on the NST and my blood pressure fell as I laid in observation, and I was sent home. It wasn’t baby time yet.

My BP would give us a scare twice more before finalizing an induction date, but it was never bad enough to push that date sooner than 39 weeks. I was put on leave July 1, and my induction was set for July 5.

One of my last pregnancy pics ever

To be continued…

39 Weeks… She’s Here!

So it looks like I missed a few weeks of blogging near the end of my pregnancy, and maybe in time I’ll come back to them in some form or another. In the meantime, I want to introduce the newest member of our family.

Violet Quinn Inlow
Born 7:26 p.m., Friday, July 5, 2019
8lbs, 1oz
20 inches

Birth story coming shortly. 🙂

35 Weeks, 5 Days

A few days ago, I talked my husband into an impromptu maternity photo shoot. When you’re 35 weeks pregnant and feeling cute, you take advantage bc it may never happen again ;). I’m the photographer in the family, but he held his own and got me a few good shots to remember my last pregnancy by.

Amelia is super pumped to be a big sister. I’m excited for her, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t pile onto my anxiety. God forbid, if something should go wrong, it’s not only my husband and I who will suffer. 😦 *BUT ENOUGH OF THAT FOR NOW* I don’t have enough energy to entertain negative thinking at the moment.

Saturday, baby girl passed her non-stress test quickly for the second week in a row – I, on the other hand, experienced some regular, mild contractions while on the monitor. The nurse mentioned that they could keep me and hook me up to IVs – as is pre-term labor protocol – but because I live only 5 minutes from the hospital, she told me to go home, take it easy and hydrate, with orders to come back in if the contractions became painful.

I spent the rest of the day relaxing with my girl, in bed, binging “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” It was nice, and eventually, they went away.

This week, I’ve had some stressful night meetings, and today the contractions were back with a vengeance. I feel like I still can’t tell the difference between real contractions and Braxton Hicks. What I felt came from the top and not the sides, and the pain, though slight, was accompanied by pressure and pushing down low. From what I have read and remember from my first labor, they definitely seem real.

I had to go into the OB’s office to redo my Group B Strep swab anyway, so I asked about them and told the NP that last time the contractions felt like this – no big deal – until they were 1.5 minutes apart and suddenly terribly painful. We decided it was best to do a quick exam, just to see where things stand. Everything for the moment is high and shut down tight, which is good. She can stay that way for another couple of weeks, but then it’s time to work on coming out to meet us!

Her movements are delightful bc they tell me she’s OK in between our weekly NSTs, but they’ve also become painful, and cramped. I wake up feeling sore, like someone has beaten me in the night. I wake every 1-2 hours to pee. I’m so ready to be done.

My glucose numbers have evened out a bit. Last week I thought they were getting crazy again, but I feel more confident now that perhaps I can finish this thing through on two 500mg Metformin tabs per day, sans insulin. I’ll come back in a few days and post all my numbers, just bc I think they will be neat to see all in one place.

I hope that I can continue limiting carbs after this baby is born. Definitely not as strict as I have been doing, but it might be a good idea to try and avoid getting Type 2 when all is said and done. After all, my mother’s five brothers have Type 2 diabetes, and my father is pre-diabetic, and I started this pregnancy quite a bit overweight. All of those odds are stacked against me.

I feel the nesting bug hardcore, and there’s so much to do, both at home and at work before this baby comes! Wish me luck 🙂

35 Weeks

Well, since it’s 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep, I guess it’s really 35w,1d at this point.

My legs are restless. I’m sitting in my third bath of the night hoping to remedy that, although it hasn’t worked thus far so I’m less than hopeful. My only shot is that I become so exhausted here shortly that my body passes out in bed before I have to pee again or before that creeping feeling comes back to my legs.

Had my OB appointment today, and my sugars are looking much better. Only three spikes last week, mostly at dinner. I think the lower numbers are due to increased Metformin. I’m now taking 2/day, 500mg each. My diet hasn’t been so great. I’m not eating horribly, but I’ve found a bunch of protein snacks that I’ve been filling my days with unintentionally instead of more balanced veggies and fruit. It’s just what’s easiest – but next week I’ve got to do better.

I miss regular food. During the day I’m not as desperate and I joke about eating a cake the moment I deliver, but at night when I can’t sleep and I’m hungry is when the cravings hit the worst. I’ve been indulging in 2 Chips Ahoy cookies when they come on. They’re small and hopefully don’t spike me too bad – they should be under my carb allowance. Plus, my fastings have been good so I’m not putting too much thought into it.

Measuring 36 weeks, so a week ahead. Doc estimates baby’s weight at 5.5-6lbs, and boy, am I feeling it. My stomach is tight and hurts. She’s balled up on my right side and there is no comfortable way to lie down, even with a body pillow.

A recent ultrasound for my low fluid came back improved, so he’s not worried about that anymore. Overall, he seemed pleased with the checkup. Baby’s heart rate was 134 today, which is holding pretty steady from previous appointments. Trace protein in urine, but beautiful blood pressure, so no sign of preeclampsia. (Tonight, I retook it at home and it’s even lower!)

I still don’t know a lot about induction, or how that will work. Like almost anyone, I’d prefer to go into labor naturally, preferably between 38-39 weeks like last time. But all I know is he likes to induce by 39 weeks for moms who are being treated with medicine for GD. I’ll be 37 weeks at my next appointment, at which point I start going in weekly – so if it’s not automatically covered, I’ll be mentioning it.

Weekly non-stress tests (NSTs) started last week. She passed with flying colors. I need to go in tomorrow to get one, but I’ve been advised that a lot of women went into labor today and that I might want to call and make sure they’re not totally swamped before I go and get stuck there forever. The tests give me decent peace of mind that she’s doing well, and that if she’s not, it can be caught and dealt with in a timely manner.

Someone posted in one of the GD Support groups on Facebook this week about her daughter, who was stillborn back in March – which she said was the result of under-treated GD. I read her story, which was heartbreaking. She was a woman of color, living in a new city with a new OB that didn’t take her history with GD seriously. They ignored her pleas and communications from her previous medical practice, and they did not respond appropriately when this poor momma asked for meds, based on her previous experience. Sadly, women of color experience higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, an unforgivable result of systematic racism, if you ask me. When I’m not on my phone, I’ll try to come back and cite that source, which escapes the top of my head.

Anyway, as godawful as I feel for this woman and her baby, my mind selfishly goes to a place of fear for myself and my baby. I’m pregnant and can’t help it, even though I’m not being ignored, and feel like I’m in good hands with my medical team. It’s only that stillbirth can happen to anyone, even when there’s no discernible reason, and it terrifies me to the core of my being. I think this fear has been underlying for awhile, especially with everything that has gone wrong, which is why it’s hard to let myself imagine what like with two kids will look like in about a month.

I love Baby Baby Violet already, but I always thought this anxiety would lessen with a second pregnancy. With my first, motherhood was at stake. If I lost her, I don’t know that I could have tried again, or survived a second pregnancy, so the threat of being a forever childless mother loomed large in my mind. This time, I tried to tell myself, at least I have my first, the love of my life. But as I’ve watched her get more and more excited about being a big sister, counting down the days, I realize the stakes are even higher this time. Should something happen, through fault of my own or otherwise, I would not only have to console myself and figure out how to go on, but my beautiful 4-year-old as well, who has only a basic grasp of death and mortality at this point. She can’t even watch the episodes of My Little Pony that feature “bad guys” – even if she knows the outcome is positive. She’s too sweet and delicate for that kind of tragedy.

We are so close to the end, yet not quite close enough. I greet the painful movements and jabs into my right side that remind me she’s OK in there, knowing that could change at any time – yet I also need sleep for my body to keep on going, so I also welcome her naps.

More than anything, I’m just ready to meet her face to face, and to move past this anxiety (on to the next one). I want to see my sweet Amelia in the role of proud big sister and to see my husband cradle a sweet baby in his arms again. I want to hold her tight and smell her newborn baby-ness.

And I want to sleep on my stomach again.

The countdown is on. 4 more weeks to go. Fingers crossed they are good ones.

33 Weeks, 2 Days

Had my 33-week ultrasound Friday, and got some good news! My placenta previa seems to have resolved itself and baby Violet is head down in go position. It looks like we’ve overcome one hurdle.

Unfortunately, we’ve found a new one.

My fluid levels are only at an 8, which is just below low normal range. I’ve been tentatively diagnosed with oligohydraminos. I shouldn’t have Googled it because there are some scary consequences, and some scary reasons it might be happening, which I won’t go into here.

For now, I’m concentrating on three things.

  1. My doctor didn’t seem too overly worried, so perhaps my anxiety is premature.
  2. I’m being closely monitored in case anything goes wrong – I have another ultrasound this Wednesday, plus I start weekly non-stress tests next Saturday.
  3. Plenty of women in my gestational diabetes support groups on FB have experienced this. Some resolved themselves, and some warranted early delivery, but most of them turned out OK.

These things give me hope.

Thank goodness for the long weekend. We are cleaning, relaxing, getting sleep and hydrating. (Sonic ice is sooooo good. I’m chomping on some right now.)

There’s some evidence that maternal dehydration could be at play, and I will be the first to admit I am often a bit dehydrated. Hopefully Wednesday it’s back up, or at least hasn’t gotten worse.

Little girl is moving and seems healthy, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I did learn that my OB will typically induce at 39 weeks, sometimes 38 with GD, so my countdown is officially 5-6 weeks to go instead of 7+. Of course, any major setbacks at any one of my scans, appointments or NSTs might warrant her coming even earlier – so I’m trying to prepare for anything.

I’m so ready to meet her, but first and foremost I want her to be happy and healthy.

32 weeks, 5 days

All I want to do is go to sleep – but I can’t.

Restless legs. Tiny body parts trying to push out of my right side. A bladder that can’t hold more than a tablespoon of liquid without having to be voided.

So instead, I’m sitting in a shallow tub of warm water to soothe my leg muscles as I type this, and thinking back over the day.

I have been feeling better these past few weeks, but today hit me like a truck. It wasn’t particularly busy, or stressful. If anything, it was slow.

My biggest craving this pregnancy has been mint. In particular – Eclipse spearmint gum. In a way, I’m lucky, since I can still have sugar free gum, but because it’s the only craving I can really give into, I’ve been chewing so many pieces a day – 3 at a single time, often back to back to back – that it’s been causing tension headaches. Also today, I’m pretty sure I tasted blood while I was chewing, so there’s the damage I’m doing to my gums I’m sure.

Around lunch, I just didn’t feel right. It could have been the gum. In hindsight, I should have checked my blood pressure to be sure, but it occurred to me I might also just be exhausted.

I headed to my parents’ to visit my 4-year-old and eat lunch. I packed Cheerios and berries – my grand experiment of the day – sure it was going to spike me. Either I underestimated my body, or it was all the almonds I ate to offset the carbs, cuz I inexplicably tested well at 107 an hour after.

But the after lunch crash was brutal. Around 2:30/3 p.m., I just couldn’t anymore. This happens to me rarely, but my usual remedy – a walk to the bookstore to grab something chocolate to jolt me to life for the remainder of the day – is now a no-no with gestational diabetes.

Left with few other options, I took a walk – a very painful walk, as they often are these days – to the campus library and perused the books.

The quiet, soothing atmosphere of the library and thumbing through the titles was a calming distraction for awhile, until it was time to head back to the office. I worried I wouldn’t make it. I felt awful. Kind of dizzy, out of it, unable to concentrate. And the walking hurt even more.

By the time I got to my parents’ to pick up my daughter and have dinner, I didn’t feel like eating, but I forced down chili with a small handful of crackers anyway. An hour later I felt a little bit better (and tested well again), though I never figured out what ailed me.

I know getting some sleep tonight would help me avoid the same tomorrow, but here I am.

I love the child growing inside me, and I know that after 7 or fewer weeks, I’ll never know what it is to be pregnant ever again. But I can’t wait for her to be on the outside. Healthy, but on the outside. My body has just not handled pregnancy well this time around.

The same way people tell you not to complain in the summer that it’s hot because it’ll soon be winter and you’ll be complaining about the cold – they also say you’ll miss being pregnant when you are no longer. But I’m telling you right now – I’m the person in 0-degree weather proclaiming that at least I’d rather be cold than hot, and I’m also the person who remembers the sleepless nights as a new mom and will always prefer them to the discomforts of being pregnant.

At least after the baby is born, you CAN physically sleep. And the reason you can’t is infinitely cuter than a protruding belly and stabbing pains in your hips and pelvis.

Friday is our 33-week ultrasound to check on the movement of my placenta, and to try and capture Baby Violet’s cardiac outflow tracts, which haven’t been captured at either of our other two scans. The doc said he doesn’t HAVE to see them, but that it would be nice. Of course, I made the mistake of Googling, and instantly freaked myself out with worry that our girl could have an undiagnosed congenital heart defect, even though the four chambers of her heart appear perfectly normal. I can’t think about that anymore.

I have enough anxiety in general.

Hopefully we will have some time to ask the questions about GD that we haven’t had the chance to ask since our diagnosis. The husband is coming along to ensure that some get asked. Sometimes I blank on my own.

Like –

  • How is my glucose management going so far?
  • When/how high/how often should blood sugar spikes concern me?
  • When will we have to start getting the non-stress tests the nurse mentioned via email?
  • Will this mean I will need to be induced?
  • How likely is a C-section at this point?

See, I’m already blanking.

I should probably get to bed and come back to my list of questions when I’m less exhausted.

Check in again in a few days!

31 Weeks

Friday, we hit 31 weeks into this pregnancy, and a little more than 2 weeks into my gestational diabetes diagnosis. It seems like it’s been an eternity, with 9 or so weeks to go.

I finally heard back from my OB, who was reviewing my food log and numbers, and he has decided to put me on Metformin once a day (at breakfast) in an attempt to lower my numbers. They just hadn’t improved as much as he would have liked, but he assured me it’s likely nothing I’m doing wrong. *Sigh of relief*

Sometimes, your body just needs help.

I did some reading, and learned that Metformin tablets work to lower the amount of sugar in the blood by lowering the amount of sugar produced in the liver. They also increase the sensitivity of muscle cells to a patient’s natural insulin. There’s other good news too –

There seems to be adequate evidence of efficacy and short-term safety of metformin in relation to maternal and neonatal outcomes in GDM, with possible benefits related to lower maternal weight gain and lower risk of neonatal hypoglycemia and macrosomia (large infant size at birth). Additionally, metformin offers the advantages of oral administration, convenience, less cost and greater acceptability.

-National Institutes of Health 

Today, I’m two – almost three – days into that treatment, and it seems like it might be working. Still haven’t had a perfect day yet – that’s the goal. I hope this is the week, even though there’s an awful lot going on at work to be stressed about.

My diabetes counselor reached out today and suggested more protein in the mornings, which is something I know I struggle with, since I don’t enjoy meat (or eggs all that much). She offered to get me in with a dietician, but I’m going to see how the Metformin treats me this week and see what insurance will cover before I take on what could be another added expense. She also reminded me that sometimes there will be unexplainable glucose spikes – after all, a pregnancy hormones are hard at work.

OB also called me today about an ultrasound I had back at 28 weeks, on Good Friday. Somehow they lost track of it (I’m wondering if it was because of the holiday), but I followed up like a good little patient and asked about it. The scan was to see if my partial placenta previa from 20 weeks had moved – and it had – but not far enough. He said it’s difficult to tell, but the placenta was either 2cm or 1.5 away from the cervix at 28 weeks. By now, it could be in the clear, but he wants to do a transvaginal ultrasound between 33-35 weeks to see where we stand on that. She was also breech at the time, although she has plenty of time to move, and weighing in a week ahead, at about 3 pounds.

I have to get bloodwork this week to see how my crappy thyroid is hanging in there. And the nurse told me I’ll start NSTs near the end of my pregnancy to monitor the baby’s wellbeing, though she didn’t estimate what week. When asked about the risk for early delivery or a need for induction, she indicated that will depend on a number of factors, which the doctor will speak to me about at my 33 week appointment at the end of this month. So I guess we’ll see.

The diet is getting monotonous, and a lot of the new foods I have been trying tend to cause spikes. My mood has been better overall, and my body has been more comfortable, until today at least. Today I feel huge. And tired.

Check in at 32 weeks 🙂

I Have Gestational Diabetes

In the midst of what was already a difficult pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD) on April 25, 2019, around 29 weeks. The news wasn’t exactly surprising, but the lifestyle change has been very difficult.

Although I’m new to this journey, I’ve found some solidarity and support on multiple Gestational Diabetes Support groups on Facebook, and I thought blogging about my experience here might be cathartic as well. Plus, so much education is needed on this subject. Bear with me as I continue to learn more.

The important thing to know is we’re not alone, even though it can often feel like we are.

“Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Last pregnancy, I flunked my one-hour glucose test, but just barely, and went on to pass the three-hour like a champ. This time, my score of 214 was bad enough to serve as a diagnostic without the three hour.

By April 27, I was testing my blood sugar and watching my carbs. Until I could see a diabetic counselor, my OB nurse advised me to follow the American Diabetes Association 2,000-calorie diet, pending further education.

In the days that followed, my mood suffered drastically as I adjusted my lifestyle and felt increasingly alone. I wrote in my digital journal on Journey:

I am absolutely miserable. I know I should just be thankful for this pregnancy, and I am – but it’s hard to see at this point how I am going to make it another 11 weeks. 😦

And I wasn’t being overdramatic. My precious, growing baby had set up camp low in my pelvis, in breech position next to a still low-lying placenta, making the pressure on my lower belly and hips intense. Belly button pain and pressure made my clothes – even underwear – painful to wear. Restless legs and an increased need to pee all night long did their part to make sure I wasn’t getting any sleep. It hurt to walk. And depression was hitting me hard.

My closest family has been so supportive, and their actions – like making diet changes with me, or being patient with me when I’m in a terrible mood – have been what has really mattered. Actions speak louder than words.

It’s words, in particular, that hurt me. Perfectly well-meaning comments about how 11 weeks isn’t a very long time, and how GD is common, how it commonly results in a positive outcome when controlled (like I have a choice if I end up needing insulin), and/or that I somehow caused this to happen to myself land on me as dismissive and callous.

There are scary complications connected to GD, for both mother and baby! I have plenty of reasons to be stressed.

Complications that may affect your baby

If you have gestational diabetes, your baby may be at increased risk of:

  • Excessive birth weight.
  • Early (preterm) birth and respiratory distress syndrome.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • Type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • **Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a baby’s death either before or shortly after birth.

Complications that may affect you

Gestational diabetes may also increase the mother’s risk of:

  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia.
  • Future Type 2 diabetes.

Mayo Clinic

Sure, good control and careful monitoring by my doctor can mitigate a lot of that, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Not only that, but making drastic lifestyle changes is tough! Especially a few days after Easter, with Easter candy spread all over my house!

Although some women can control GD with their diet, that’s not true for all. Some just don’t have enough insulin to work with, as insulin needs in pregnancy continue to rise between 24-36 weeks.

Related image
Source

I finally saw the diabetic counselor on May 1, who explained this to me and said my food logs looked great. Then she proceeded to adjust my diet slightly based on higher morning glucose readings. She recommended:

Blood Sugar Targets

  • Fasting (first thing in the morning) – 65-95
  • 1 hour after Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner – <130

Food Recommendations
*Balanced meals with plenty of fruits and veggies, protein at every meal/snack, emphasis on carb targets
**Try to add 30 minutes of exercise a day (not all at once, it adds up)

  • Breakfast – 30g carbs with protein, no fruit
  • Morning Snack – 30g carbs
  • Lunch – 30-60g carbs
  • Afternoon Snack – 0-30g carbs
  • Dinner – 30-60g carbs
  • Evening/Nighttime Snack – 0-30g carbs

That’s what I’m going on now.

The food choices are monotonous when you’re picky like me. You have to eat a lot of things you might not like (I’ve convinced myself when this is the case that the food is just medicine.) And you have to eat A LOT (which is hard, especially when you’d really rather not eat). It really cuts into one’s schedule. Every moment of every day is about food when you’ve got GD.

At my OB appointment Friday, they made copies of my log, and said my numbers look to be improving, but that my morning number needs to get better or I’m looking at insulin injections at night. I’m supposed to send my numbers in after today for a re-evaluation. As time goes by, I’ll need to be re-evaluated again and again to make sure my body is handing things well and that baby Violet is doing well also.

I swapped my regular nighttime snack of crackers and cheese with a glass of Fairlife chocolate milk (13g carbs, 13g protein – one of the few joys I’ve found during this process) and gave up both fruit and milk for breakfast (pre-10:30 a.m.), which seems to be helping. But my numbers are still on the high end, so one slip and I’m over.

(UPDATE: Now my evening numbers are spiking, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. 😦 Skipping a snack (which I try to avoid) appears to affect me negatively, and more protein probably can’t hurt, but otherwise, I’m at a loss.)

I’m still figuring it out. My mood is improving as I’ve found women in similar situations online to commiserate with, but the struggle continues, with 9-10 weeks to go.

Celestial Narratives is Out of This World

Amelia3yo 8H0B2439
Amelia and I stopped into the “Celestial Narratives” exhibit while on campus taking her 3-year portraits in the Monticello Sculpture Gardens.

There’s an art exhibit at Lewis and Clark Community College that you don’t want to miss.

“Celestial Narratives” by Artist Michiko Itatani is open now through Sept. 22, 2017 at the Hatheway Cultural Center Gallery on L&C’s Godfrey Campus, 5800 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, Illinois. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday.

www.lc.edu/michikoitatani