So this past Tuesday, I got a call from my midwife wanting to discuss the results of my Glucose Screen to test for gestational diabetes. I sighed, because I knew exactly what that meant. When you’re pregnant, no call = good, phone calls = bad. She confirmed that my levels were higher than normal, and then my world came crassshhhhing down around me. All I could think about was insulin- big baby – induced – c-section – birth plan out the window. My results didn’t come in from the lab right away which is why I waited for so long, and also thought that I was in the clear. (I still recommend fasting before the 50gram Glucose screen, to rule out false positives to begin with!)
She gave me a brief recap on what gestational diabetes is, and what can happen if it goes untreated. Basically (the easy to understand version), when you eat things like carbs, it turns into sugar if it isn’t burned right away. This sugar needs insulin (created by the pancreas) to be ”escorted” through the blood safely. During pregnancy with gestational diabetes, the insulin can’t get to all the sugar because of the way the pregnancy hormones are interacting with our cells. So all this ”unescorted” sugar crosses the placenta, and gets to baby where in turn their teeny-tiny pancreas needs to work extra hard to produce its own insulin. Now, this is a risk to baby because it becomes used to getting so much sugar that it doesn’t need, and in turn stores it as fat. This puts them at risk of being bigger at birth (think… 10 lb baby?). Another risk to baby is that if mom goes into labour with high blood sugar levels, baby is born with low blood sugar levels because he’s looking for all that extra sugar he’s used to getting.
After a bit of crying, I got a call from the Diabetes Clinic at the hospital to book my appointment for a class on how to manage GD. That was on Tuesday, and the class was on Thursday. I’m supposed to log everything I eat from now on. Ok cool. Soooo… what can I eat? I did a bit of Google searching, and I found that so much information was inconsistent!! Eat bread, don’t eat bread. Kashi good, Kashi no good. I went to Costco with my sister-in-law and although I had some kind of idea of what I should buy… I really didn’t. I ended up getting some salmon, multigrain crackers, baby spinach, hummus, sweet potatoes, greek yogurt, and scrapped the idea of getting ANY type of cereal until I knew better.
Not gonna lie, that night’s dinner was actually really tasty! I baked the salmon fillet and had it on a bed of baby spinach, as well as 1/3 of a baked sweet potato. Not that I knew if it was good for me or not.
The next day was my appointment at the Diabetes Clinic. I was expecting a class of maybe 6 or 7 people, but the dietician called me in by myself and let me know that there would only be 2 of us in the class today. She went through some of my history, and then asked for my log of what I’ve been eating. I was really embarrassed of logging the Reese’s ”Cluster” that I had on D-Day an hour before I got the call.
I was sent back into the waiting room while she interviewed the other woman who would be in the class with me. As I was waiting, the nature channel that was playing showed a really graphic clip of an alligator killing and devouring some kind of goose/duck… it was horrifying. I wanted to go home. I also leafed through some of the documents that the dietician gave me… diet charts, pamphlets on GD, food logs… it was all so confusing. Why am I going through this?!? I eat well….ish! I’m not overweight… what is happening to me!! I closed the folder and caught up on my mommy group instead. This sucks. Finally, the dietician called me in again.
I’m so glad the other woman was there, because she had a lot of questions that I didn’t even think or know about. She was also a pharmacist, so it made sense that she had more medical related questions. But sitting there on the table in front of us was the meter… the blood glucose meters that we would have to use for the remainder of our pregnancies. Oy.
A nurse was working with the dietician and gave us a full overview of GD which I understood at the time, but now completely forget. And then, the meters. She gave us each a package and I sarcastically said “oooh, presents.” This is the coal in your stocking at Christmas. Hey, you were a crappy eater and didn’t exercise, so now you’re gonna have to pay.
In the box was a little black pouch with a digital meter, a stabby pen, a little container with test strips, and like an 800 page book on how to use the thing. She explained each piece, and then asked us to try it. “Oh, right now?” I asked. We loaded up the stabby pen with the lancet and put a strip into the meter. I was a bit nervous, thinking that the pain would be equivalent to the blood draws I had just a few days ago. After a few seconds, I manned up and pressed the button.
“That’s it?” I asked. It didn’t hurt at all. Felt like I touched the pointy end of a piece of jewelry wire. I held the drop of blood up to the test strip as it sucked it up into its receptors. 5…4…3…2…1… aaaand – 5.8 mmol/L. I scrambled to find my chart to see whether that was good or not. “Oooh! I’m good, right? The limit is 6.7!!” Sure it’s good, but I also haven’t eaten in 3 hours. And that was that. 4 times a day for the rest of the pregnancy. See ya.
Now came the good stuff. The make or break for this whole shenanigan. THE FOOD.
The dietician came in and brought with her a giant tupperware bin full of plastic prop food. We opened our Canada’s Food Guide charts and looked at tiny graphics of every type of food they could come up with. Do you know what was in the “try to eat less of this because it will screw up your baby” category? EVERYTHING I LOVE. Potatoes, bread, cake, pastries, donuts, fries, pasta, tacos, and juice, to name a few. JUICE?!?! I love juice! What do I drink after breakfast!?! Up until now, that has been a morning routine. Have breakfast, and chase it with a huge glass of Tropicana and a prenatal vitamin.
Fortunately, the rest of the diet wasn’t so bad. Meat, veggies, cheese and eggs have zero carbohydrates, which means I can eat as much as I want. The kicker is, I can’t cut out carbs completely and just have steak and salads for the next three months. Baby needs carbs to grow. OF COURSE it does. They wouldn’t have made this that easy.
The other girl who was with me seemed a bit resistant to ideas of the portion sizing, and substituting foods high in the glycemic index for ones that were lower, yet she kept crying that she didn’t want to be on insulin. Just do it, girl!! I was like “yeah! Bring on the brussel sprouts!!” I’d do anything for this little bub inside of me, especially when it comes to her health.
Armed with our new knowledge of what closely resembles the Atkins Diet, I went home and the way I looked at food changed my life. As in: almost everything that is made on the Food Network that looks scrumptious, I can’t have. It’s gonna be a lonnnnng three months.