My Diabetic Journey, Part I

I often stick my foot in my mouth.
Did I mention I do it, often? Stick my foot in my mouth?
Yea, well, I do.
Sometimes it comes back to bite me. So I just shut up as often as I can now.

2003 was a year of great change. Chad and I had been married a little under two years. We had just bought our first home, and I was struggling to find the balance between being a young, married, post-college girl and a career-oriented wife with a home and real responsibilities.
In April of that year, I discovered we were expecting our first child. Having a baby on the way kind of lit a fire under my butt to move a little quicker than I’d planned on the career front. When I was 13 weeks pregnant, I switched jobs.  None of my friends were in the baby-making business yet, so I felt a little alone in the adventure. Excited, but alone.

At my new job, there was another preggo, Sue. She was a few weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, and was in great shape. It calmed me down to have a fellow first-timer around; we commiserated about swollen ankles, late-night bathroom breaks, extreme hunger, increasing belly sizes and the little feet that seemed to be perpetually lodged beneath our respective rib cages. We compared doctor’s visits and talked excitedly (and a bit nervously) about the tiny diapers, bibs, pacifiers and thing-a-ma-bobs that were starting to take over our spare-bedrooms-turned-nurserys.

Around the 24-week mark, Sue had the dreaded glucose tolerance test I’d read about in the What to Expect book. She came back a bit upset, and told me that she had to stay away from sugar and eat a low carb diet. She didn’t have gestational diabetes, but she was borderline. She was playing it safe.
I think I replied by stuffing the rest of a Krispy Kreme crueller in my face.
A few weeks later, we were at an office birthday fiesta in the break room. There was a beautiful, glorious cake. And I couldn’t wait to have some. I planned my day of sales calls around the 3pm cake call, actually.
And poor, poor Sue. She didn’t have any. I felt a bid bad for her. But I also felt a bit bad that people might think I was feeding a starving Ethiopian village under my shirt with extra slices of cake.
Here’s where I stuck my big fat foot in my mouth…I flippantly said, “No cake? That sucks. I hope I don’t have to deal with that.” What a stupid, insensitive thing to say. I immediately regretted it, but it was already out there. Stoopid.
I can still taste the faint bitterness of red toe nail polish…and none of the cake.

A few weeks after I finished cleaning the foot-funk from my mouth, I had my very own dreaded glucose tolerance test. The test itself wasn’t bad. I had to drink a bit of sweet orange fluid, much like flat Sunkist orange soda. SO many people had told me how terrible it was, and that I would need crackers or something afterward to help me from getting sick form the high amount of sugar.
Nah. I didn’t need any of that. I tolerated it well.
The results weren’t great and I had to complete a 3-hour test the following week.
The results of that test were also high.
I cried when I got the results. I was scared to death I was going to unintentionally hurt my growing baby.
I was sent to a nutritionist, who taught me more than I ever cared to know about carbohydrate counting. I felt confident I could make some small changes and make a big difference with my glucose levels.
With a controlled diet and strict glucose monitoring, I was able to keep my blood sugar at normal levels.
I delivered a beautiful 8 pound, 7 ounce baby girl a few days before my scheduled induction.
She was perfectly healthy. And I was perfectly thankful.
Immediately after delivery, my blood sugar returned to normal. I was given permission to resume a normal diet.
I was warned that I would be at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes later in my life, and should be careful of what I eat and keep my weight in check. I joined Weight Watchers and after a lot of effort and frustration, got my weight down to a normal number.

pregwcailynThen I got pregnant with Cailyn in late 2005.
Almost immediately, I began to feel strange. Shaky if I didn’t eat at certain times, nervous and jittery if I ate to much.
I was nervous when I went in for my first prenatal visit. I told the OB I was feeling strange, and I thought it was blood-sugar related. She didn’t seem concerned and told me I’d be checked a little earlier in my pregnancy, since I had a history of gestational diabetes.
During a routine obstetric visit, a nurse tested my urine and blood. They found a large amount of glucose in both.
I was immediately given the 3-hour glucose tolerance test, and the results stunk. I was around 13 weeks pregnant.
I was sent to an endocrinologist and started insulin. Immediately. There was no “let’s try a diet restriction” approach, it was straight to medication. I was devastated. I felt that I had failed myself, and was failing my baby.
I was on a mission to be as healthy as possible and make sure the baby’s health was not compromised.
I checked my glucose religiously. I took insulin injections at least four times a day.
And I cried.
A lot.
I threw myself a pity party almost every day the first few months.
And I fervently hoped that I wouldn’t have to continue the nightmare after Cailyn was born.

I continued to be strict with my regimen, hoping to keep Cailyn growing safely in my body.
I went to the OB two times a week for a fetal stress test, to make sure Cai wasn’t under any strain from my bout with gestational diabetes.

In June of 2006, she was born, two weeks early, at a whopping 9 pounds, 11 ounces.
She was perfectly healthy. And again, I was perfectly thankful — especially that she came early. Can you imagine what she would have weighed had she stayed on my sugar-fueled diet for two more weeks? Yikes!

My glucose levels seemed to return to normal immediately following delivery. I was thrilled to be back to “normal”. I ditched the insulin syringes and said “Adios!” to my endocrinologist. My OB told me that the best cure for gestational diabetes was delivery, and that’s all I needed to hear. I was so done with being a pin cushion with routine finger pricks and insulin injections.

Yet, it was not over.
It was just beginning.

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One Response to My Diabetic Journey, Part I

  1. Aunt Donna says:

    I now know why you’ve been sooooo sweet your whole life. I love this picture of you and Chad. You write so well. I love you.

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