The gestational diabetes diagnosis has been pretty disappointing.
And it’s not just limiting the amount of ice cream I indulge in, either. I have to follow a strict diet of counting carbs to make sure I don’t overload my system and space them out throughout the day. As I’ve mentioned before, I already eat a very healthy whole foods diet, but previously it included a lot of fruit, which ranks pretty high on the carb scale. Since Benjamin and Owen are gluten free, most of my meals don’t revolve around bread-y carbs, but I certainly love a gigantic bowl of cereal in the morning (ahem, with milk, and fruit…) which I had to stop immediately. Even super “healthy” granola bars, which used to be my Go To snack, are relatively carb-heavy.
My diabetes-approved meals are high in protein and vegetables (as they were before), and now I also rely heavily on low-carb wraps as my “bread”. Breakfast is often a wrap with eggs, or a wrap with nut butter, plus a side of protein like cottage cheese or yogurt. Not having fruit in the morning has been hard, but I’m learning to readjust my palate. Snacks are nuts, more cheese or something dipped in hummus. Lunches are usually salads with protein (meat, a small serving of beans or more cheese) and usually an avocado. I previously ate about 2 avocados a week, now it’s more like 6 or 7 avocados a week. With a spoon and a pinch of salt. Yum. Dinners are protein (usually meat or tofu), veggies and maybe a grain or another wrap with hummus on the side.
It’s all very healthy, but feels VERY monotonous. Most sauces and even marinades increase my blood sugars, so they are out, and even things like craisins on top of my salad make a difference. I’ve gotten some high blood sugar levels over the last few weeks that have proved to me that there really is no room for “cheating”, and, perhaps more importantly, even some super healthy meals just aren’t healthy for me right now. The highest level I’ve gotten was after a dinner of tofu and vegetable stir fry with brown rice. It’s not like I’m sitting here drinking soda and gobbling white bread! And I’m sure that everyone out there who has been pregnant can imagine what all of that cheese + normal pregnancy poop issues means. Ugh.
The finger sticking (and remembering to prick my fingers one hour after every meal and first thing in the morning) also still feels like quite a burden. I know many people have to deal with much worse, and still others have to deal with this their whole lives, so I really shouldn’t be complaining. But still, if I’m being honest, it’s added quite a bit of challenge to an already challenging time.
Currently I am managing the diabetes through diet alone, so I haven’t had to take insulin (more shots!) or other drugs. My doctor recently explained that if I do end up having to take insulin in the remaining weeks of my pregnancy, or if my diabetes is not able to be controlled by diet any more, it could result in some serious complications for the little guy currently taking up residence in my tummy. Logistically it would mean seeing the doctor TWICE a week instead of once, and doing a non-stress test every single time, which lasts at least an hour. (HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE TIME FOR THAT KIND OF MONITORING?!) In addition, there are other concerns of preeclampsia/high blood pressure for me and out of whack sugar levels for the baby once he is born.
Another thing that can happen is the baby can be very small (undernourished), or very large (overnourished), which can impact how the baby is delivered (aka a higher likelihood of a c section if it’s the latter). One way my doctor likes to monitor this is to do one or more extra “growth ultrasounds” to get an estimate of the baby’s size.
So! Finally! The bright side of gestational diabetes amidst my whiny post!
Yesterday we went in for our first (and maybe only?) growth ultrasound to see how the wee babe is growing.
I’ve never seen an ultrasound past 20 weeks, so he looked HUGE on the screen. So big you couldn’t even see more than 1/4 of his body at once. You could see individual fingers as he put them up to his mouth, and we watched his lips purse together as he practiced swallowing. His profile looks like a perfect little person. Probably exactly like it will when he is born. The details were astonishing. He stayed nice and still for the measurement part of the appointment, and then we had to wiggle my belly around to wake him up (since they want to see movement). It was CRAZY to watch him move on the screen and feel the movement inside my body simultaneously.
He’s measuring a perfect 34 weeks, and the tech estimated he weighs 5lbs 8oz so far. I know these estimates are just estimates and could be really far off, but it’s still pretty cool to think that he’s very, VERY close to being ready to come out and say hi. I have a friend who just delivered a full term baby who weighed one oz less than that!
The other bright side is that this strict diet has definitely impacted my weight gain. With Owen I gained 40 pounds in 38 weeks. I’m not proud of that fact, as it’s more than was recommended by my doctor, but I was very healthy and exercised a ton during that time, so I think it was just the way my body needed to adjust to grow Owen. That amount of weight all came off by the time Owen was 5 or 6 months, and I even lost a few pounds after that. When I got pregnant this time I weighed exactly the same as I did when I got pregnant with Owen. Except this time I’m almost 35 weeks along and have only gained 22 pounds. Given what I’m “allowed” to eat these days, I’m actually having trouble gaining the pound-a-week I’m supposed to gain in these final weeks. Believe me, those are words I never thought I’d say, as gaining weight has never been a problem for me before!
So, for all the downsides of gestational diabetes, I’m also trying to be thankful for the bright sides!