She Says… Needlephobia

Since my gestational diabetes diagnosis I’ve gone through the various stages of grief:

  • Denial. No, I don’t have diabetes. So many of my blood glucose levels were LOW (even crazy low) during testing. Maybe the doctor just didn’t look at my whole medical history. This diagnosis just isn’t right.
  • Anger. I have an incredibly healthy diet and I exercise more than most people I know (even the ones who aren’t pregnant). How can this be possible? Why me? Why now?
  • Bargaining. Here’s what I’ll do — I’ll rock the first week of blood testing and then maybe the endocrinologist will take back the diagnosis when he sees how low my numbers are. If I just follow the doctor’s recommendations, I bet they’ll realize I don’t have diabetes after all.
  • Depression. I’m sad about the diagnosis. I’m sad that I can’t just open up the refrigerator and have a snack without calculating carbohydrates and checking my food log to see what I’ve already eaten today. I’m a huge baby about needles and am SO sad I have to prick my fingers 4 times a day to check my blood glucose. I’m sad I actually HAVE to workout on a schedule instead of choosing to do so.
  • Acceptance. You know what? It’s going to be ok. So many people deal with so much worse. Heck, I’ve dealt with so much worse (hello, infertility, miscarriage and celiac disease!). This is just an opportunity to make sure I stay as healthy as possible for the remainder of my pregnancy, and hey, maybe it will keep my overall weight gain low. Win, win.

I know, I know. I sound totally melodramatic… but I also think my reaction is very normal. Gestational diabetes can be scary, and can make you feel guilty (unnecessarily) and sad about not being able to just… eat like a normal person (particularly at a time when you want to be eating all the food, all the time). It sucks. But, it’s also totally manageable by diet, or a combination of diet and medication, and will be, hopefully, temporary. I keep reminding myself that plenty of people deal with a diabetes diagnosis for their entire lives, so surely I can get over myself for the next three months. Yes? Yes.

I met with a nutritionist yesterday to go over the dietary recommendations for gestational diabetes. To be completely honest, I was sort of annoyed by having to go to the nutritionist in general because I pride myself on being incredibly knowledgeable and proactive about my diet. Especially since Benjamin’s celiac diagnosis, I am hyper-aware of the foods I put in my body and make a Herculean effort to make the healthiest choices for me and my family. In short, I didn’t think I needed no stinkin’ nutritionist. (Bad attitude, I know).

I have been keeping a food log since last Friday and we spent a long time talking about how I generally eat. I was very proud when she said that I was probably the healthiest eater she will council all year. That said, I still had/have a lot to learn about the gestational diabetes diet! It’s not a weight-loss diet, or about eating more veggies or less meat or no bread, or even about reducing processed foods and eating more whole foods (which is the basis of my personal philosophy). It’s just about making sure I’m tracking carbohydrates so I don’t exceed certain levels, and defining the threshold of carbs that spikes my individual blood sugar in an unhealthy way. Thankfully it seems I really don’t have to adjust my diet much at all to adhere to the recommendations. Phew.

But I do have to prick my finger to get a blood sample 4 times a day.

Despite the fact that I have withstood countless blood draws and injections and uncomfortable procedures in the name of getting pregnant, and even pushed a 7+ pound child out of a tiny hole in my body, the thought of sticking myself with a needle makes me weak in the knees.

I am SUCH a baby about needles. (Remember when I had to get over that to try acupuncture?). As a kid (and, ok, a teenager… and a young adult…), I would, without fail, keel over when getting blood drawn at the doctor’s office. I learned to tell them I was a fainter up front so they could lay me back in the reclining chair before they ever got the needle out. Thankfully I’ve outgrown this, but I do still avert my eyes when they pull out the needle. Ew.

So on Tuesday I met with a nurse to learn how to use my glucose meter (aka finger pricker) and have been pricking my fingers 4 times a day since then. Though I’m getting a little bit more comfortable, it still gives me the heebie jeebies. Every time. Yes, the needle is tiny. And yes, it’s just a drop of blood. But OH it makes me cringe. The plan is to check levels for 2 weeks and track them with a detailed food log, and then meet with an endocrinologist to analyze the results at that point.

It’s a LOT of work (remembering to take my level first thing in the morning while I’m getting Owen up and ready for school, and then remembering to set the 1 hour timer on my phone after every meal, and then remembering to log everything I eat and when I ate it and how I felt?!). But it’s all for a good cause. Healthy baby, healthy mama.

And I haven’t passed out yet.


10 responses to “She Says… Needlephobia

  1. I don’t mind needles in the slightest but it would drive me nuts to have to be so organised about my eating, remembering to check my levels, write it all down. I would go batty but, clearly, if I had to, I would.

    I am also celiac and that is enough of an annoyance. I would rather just be oblivious to what and when I eat but alas, canna do that!

    Good luck. You’ll be fine, I’m sure, as will baby.

  2. Joke Vermanen

    I totally get your reactions. And it’s good to be honest about it. Because it’s so HUMAN!
    I also would be totally messed up if I needed to chart my meals and time everything! But you know what, you will learn it, it will become a habit and than it will be fine 🙂

  3. Caroline (Calcurly)


    Reading this reminded me of every emotion I felt with gestational diabetes. My daughter is 18 months now. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things (phone alarm included!)


  4. I’m sorry you have to go through this. As if you didn’t already have enough on your plate.

    You can do it! 🙂

  5. Needles don’t bother me much, but there’s something about having to do it to yourself that creeps me out! And the thought of you seeing a nutritionist made me laugh– you’re the healthiest eater I know. Hang in there, friend!

  6. @Olivia, I agree. It takes a lot of time and does bring on a bit of guilt when I’m hungry when I’m not “supposed” to be, etc. Feels weird to be doing it while pregnant, too, as I’ve only ever associated detailed food logs with calorie counting and trying to LOSE weight. I’ll be glad when I can just eat again! Also, being celiac is WAY harder. So you have enough to worry about.

    @joke, It’s true. I am sure it will become second nature. For now it feels very clumsy and like I’m always forgetting something.

    @Cal and @Julie, Thank you!

    @Stef, Yes. Totally. It’s like trying to tickle yourself — it’s just not the same. Still, every day is better! I just had to do it in the office for the first time this morning and it wasn’t nearly as weird as I thought it might be. It’s really fast. And, regarding my diet, strangely enough I’ve gained MORE weight since my diagnosis because I’m being so conscious of counting carbs that I actually think I’m eating more than I used to. And reaching for nuts and cheese when I used to have a piece of fruit. Which is weird. Not unhealthy, but not the weight stabilizer I was hoping for (yet).

  7. Are you able to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible? Lean proteins? Maybe if you juiced in between meals you wouldn’t feel so hungry. I know nothing about gestational diabetes or how to combat it so maybe my suggestion is way off, but if you have to count carbs it makes sense to fill up with a ton of produce. Farmer’s markets are an amazing place to get cheap veggies!
    And pricking your finger several times a day…eugh. I feel for you. My last (super invasive) OB did an iron check every time I went in, and that was bad enough. Sorry!

  8. @onesosmall, I wish. Unfortunately fruit is the main thing I have to cut back on. I’m not supposed to have any fruit before noon, and after noon I have to count carbs, which essentially amounts to one piece of fruit a day, as a snack, combined with protein. I used to reach for fruit multiple times a day and have some with breakfast, so I’m learning to adjust. No juice at all — even homemade. Too many carbs, apparently. I have been continuing to have my fruit and veggie protein smoothies that we used to make a LOT, but I can only have 1/2-3/4 cup at a time and they must be part of lunch or dinner.

    Veggies, yes. All veggies aside from the very starchy ones (peas, potatoes, corn) are “free” and allowed all day. I generally have a big salad with protein for lunch and 2 veggies with dinner, though, so snacking on veggies in between feels boring/unnecessary. I’m trying out different things though! Thanks for the suggestions.

  9. It sounds like you’re rocking it so far! But I’m sorry you’re going through it. One of my best friends was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with her 2nd babe and she did great and her baby boy was perfect! I have no doubt you will do the same! Ugh, but no fruit?? It’s my number one pregnancy anytime snack. I don’t know what I’d do! (And now I’m all nervous about my glucose test in a few weeks.) 🙂

  10. I had GD in my last pregnancy and I was told that malt loaf (I don’t know if you have this in America – I’m British) takes so long to digest it doesn’t mess with your blood sugars.

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