Every pregnant girl knows that if they fail the 1-hour glucose tolerance test that they will have to take the follow-up 3-hour test. But, I’d bet most girls don’t know what happens if they fail both tests. Well, let me explain… first you’ll get the official diagnosis of “gestational diabetes” then you’ll leave the doctor’s office with all of this crap:
That black case holds my blood glucose meter along with the test strips and lancets (needles). It’s small enough to carry in my purse so I’ll have it available whenever I need to test my blood. To properly dispose of my used needles, I also had to pick up a “sharps container” (that big red tub) which safely stores medical type waste until it’s time to be thrown away.
Here’s the story… and I’ll try to keep it as short as I can.
My doctor called last Monday and said “I’m calling with your 3-hour glucose test results, and you’re not going to like it…” I took a deep breath, said ok, and started asking questions. She first explained that the risks to baby are very minor and then told me I needed to meet with a dietitian at the hospital who specializes in treating patients with gestational diabetes (we can call it “GD” for short).
I called my husband right away so I could tell him the news and let him know what we needed to do. I was cool, calm and collected for the first half of the conversation… but the tears eventually had to make an appearance. I was worried, upset and mad. How could this possibly happen to me and baby??? I eat healthier than anyone I know and there’s no way that I’m close to overweight even considering the weight I’ve gained so far with this pregnancy!
We met with the dietitian on Wednesday and she quickly explained that GD is not necessarily caused by unhealthy eating habits, but instead it’s my pancreas that’s to blame. Evidently, a pregnant woman’s pancreas needs to produce 3 times the amount of insulin that a normal woman’s pancreas produces when not pregnant. So, my pancreas just isn’t handling the pregnancy as well as it should and therefore isn’t producing enough insulin.
The diet for GD is surprisingly much more strict than I ever imagined it could be. It consists of 3 small meals and 3 large snacks for each day. Each meal and snack must have at least 1 ounce of protein (1 oz = 1 egg) and the amount of carbohydrates allowed ranges from only 30-40 grams per serving (30 grams = 1/2 bagel). Sugar is totally out… absolutely no candy, no cake, no ice cream, no yogurt, etc. Luckily, small amounts of fruit are allowed, but only after lunch time and it must be consumed along with a protein (like cheese, that goes well with fruit).
I have to test my blood sugar 4 times each day. Once when I wake up (my fasting glucose) then three more tests are done 2 hours after each meal. Believe it or not, this part I actually enjoy. I look forward to when it’s time to test my blood and get excited to see what the number is based on what I did or didn’t have to eat for my last meal. I blame this on that nerdy scientist in me!
Today is day #3 on my new GD diet and for testing my blood sugar. So far, I have 10 readings that are well below my target blood glucose level and only 1 reading that was actually higher than normal/average levels. My one bad blood test happened 2 hours after eating Subway! I was in a rush yesterday and starving… so in a pinch I thought Subway was my best option. I had a veggie sandwich (avocado, spinach, tomato & cheese) on flat-bread with Sun Chips. I must have completely blown my limit of 40 grams of carbs because my blood sugar level was 135 when I tested 2 hours after eating. That’s an entire 15 mg/dl above the maximum blood sugar level of 120 that I’m supposed to be under. Dang!
So, I obviously need to really watch what I’m eating and make sure I’m sticking to this new diet for GD. In most cases, women who develop GD during pregnancy will be completely free from any issues with maintaining blood sugar levels once the baby is born. I’ve already been told by my doctor and dietitian that I can stop testing my blood and go off my diet after delivery! Woohoo! I already can’t wait to have just the tiniest bit of dessert when this is all over… and until then, I’ll definitely be dreaming of cake and ice cream and all things full of sugar and carbs! 🙂