A few weeks back, I flunked my 27 week glucose test, used to diagnose gestational diabetes. I’ve always been an overachiever, even in failure, and my blood sugar level for the 1 hour test was no exception: they were looking for a number between 100 – 140; I scored a 220.
When the nurse called to give me the results, I was polite but dubious because I feel fine and despite adding on a few extra pounds the past year, I still think of myself as pretty solid, health-wise. There’s no history of diabetes in my family. So honestly, my first hypothesis was: “they must have given me the wrong dosage.” I went back in for the longer, three hour test to confirm, which I failed again (just barely, this time).
And that is how I found myself on a diet and exercise regime in my third trimester, which is not a nice thing to do to a pregnant person btw. The good news — and this was surprising to me — is that no foods are completely off-limits. The goal instead is to spread out the consumption of carbs/sugars and eat them with foods containing protein and fat for balance.
Me: “So what I’m hearing is that I can still eat ice cream.”
Nutritionist: “Yes, but look at the portion size.”
Witness the gestational diabetes eating plan, in all its comic sans glory:
No one can agree on how to spell placemat, apparently.
Each bullet item in the yellow bucket is approximately 15 carbs. You get 150 to eat throughout the day: 30 for breakfast, 30-45 each for lunch and dinner, and 15 for each of 3 snacks. (They say the food items on the right side have “little to no carbs” a serving but that is a LIE because every damn thing has carbs added.)
I spent the week after seeing a nutritionist following the plan and testing my blood sugar four times a day, and was feeling pretty good about the results — no spikes after meals, no numbers over 140 ever (I still think that 220 was a fluke). My morning fasting blood sugar was a tiny bit higher than where it was supposed to be, but overall I went back for my follow-up appointment feeling v. pleased with myself and also a little “anytime y’all want to admit that this was a mistake, I will accept an apology graciously.”
Instead, she tells me, “Actually, that fasting blood sugar is the one we really care about…”
“We can try experimenting with the nighttime snack, but I’m probably going to recommend medicine to try to help lower the morning numbers.”
Medicine? Por moi? But… but… I’m rocking this thing! Which isn’t even real!
“And now, let’s talk about how you’re going to incorporate diet and exercise into your postpartum life because it is really very important to lose the baby weight within 6 months since you’re now at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.”
Is it impolite to walk out of the nutritionist’s office midway through an appointment? Because I did not, but I did shoot the poor woman eye daggers for the remainder of our time together. (It’s not her fault, she was just doing her job.)
A few weeks later, on meds, I’m still struggling to get my morning blood sugar fasting numbers consistently below 95, and finally willing to admit “ok, perhaps this is A Thing after all.” It’s been tough to find any pattern between the high numbers and the low. Some days I think it’s affected by quality of sleep, some days by whether I met my walking goals (aiming for both of these can’t be a bad thing). The concern for baby’s health is that any excess sugars in my blood that can’t get absorbed into cells due to the heightened insulin resistance can travel freely across the placenta into baby, meaning baby gets BIGGER, more monitoring is required, and this potentially impacts our birthing options.
I’m trying not to stress about it, but that’s what’s going on at the moment. (I had ice cream twice yesterday and low numbers this morning, so perhaps more ice cream is in order.) Solidarity to any of you who may be in the same boat, and thanks for sticking around for anyone else who’s just here for the code.