Four things I’m looking forward to eating when I’m no longer pregnant and no longer have gestational diabetes. Beautiful soft blue cheese, crappy instant noodles filled with carbs and MSG, carb laden pasta (or more specifically a giant bowl of spaghetti carbonara), and peanut butter Lindt chocolate balls. Just waiting waiting waiting.
Thankfully even having gestational diabetes, I can still eat eggs. I love eggs. I’m annoyed that I can’t (well shouldn’t) eat them raw, so no runny yolks or poached goodness at the moment, but it’s still good. When I was about 5, I used to eat a boiled egg every morning for breakfast, and then sometimes have egg sandwiches for lunch and some form of egg for dinner. I got hives occasionally and the doctor said I should restrict my egg consumption to 2-3 a week (funnily enough diagnosed without a proper allergy test back then so I’m still not convinced it was correct). I was horrified! I was having that amount each day. I was so upset that I cried, but my parents being good parents restricted me, and in a couple of years I grew out of my apparent egg allergy. Now I eat eggs all the time with no problems.
I am missing my nightly milo at the moment. Gestational diabetes sucks. I know some people still have it as a snack, but it doesn’t work for me, so no tasty tasty milo until after this baby comes out. I look at this tin every day as a make my non-caffeinated, sugar free tea and feel so sad, which in itself is a little pathetic. It’s the little things. I used to have milo almost every day as a child, and a very naughty treat was mixing crunchy milo with condensed milk. Definitely not healthy at all!
I’m running out of exciting things to eat on this annoying gestational diabetes diet, so I decided to make some vanilla chia seed pudding with unsweetened almond milk. Hopefully won’t put my numbers up, was super easy to make, and it actually doesn’t taste too bad.
I can’t escape gestational diabetes at the moment. Testing my blood and monitoring what I eat is always on my mind. No matter what time of day, I’m thinking about it. I think about whether I eat something that I’m not sure will put me over, if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep that my readings will be over, if I’ve done enough exercise for the day.
I’m lucky that it’s diet controlled at the moment, but also frustrating not knowing if I’m going to have a bad reading for no apparent reason. It’s also frustrating having to time everything, thinking about what I’m eating and what I’m going to be doing in 2 hours time and remembering to carry my kit around with me. The timing usually works pretty well with my breaks at work, but on occasion I get held up and can’t get away, which then delays my readings and leads to inaccurate readings.
I still feel very bitter about having gestational diabetes with absolutely no risk factors. Everyone new I see (midwives, endocrinologists, dieticians, diabetes educators, doctors, GPs, general people) look me up and down (probably wondering why I’m not horribly obese) and then proceed to ask me if there’s any family history, and when I say absolutely not, they have that surprised look on their faces as if they’re not sure of what to say next. I’m also met with surprise when I’m at dinner or morning tea and I tell people I can’t eat this particular thing. They just think I’m being paranoid, that I’m being a health nut and worried about my pregnancy weight, and that one little tiny piece of cake isn’t going to hurt. The problem is I know that delicious cake, as much as I would love to eat it, will put my readings over. I’m not any of those things people think I am and I don’t like being boxed in like that. I would love to eat cake and chocolate and white bread and creamy pasta and udon noodles, but with some trial and error, I know my body won’t respond well and that I’m putting my little one at risk.
There’s a lot of judgment and misunderstanding around diabetes. Everyone expects you to fit into this cookie cutter idea of what they believe diabetes to be and are surprised when you don’t meet their expectations. I am also guilty of this. I had no idea about it before being diagnosed and I had so many misunderstandings of what it actually is because it just never concerned me.
I’ve come to accept that it’s nothing I’ve done wrong, nothing I’ve done to cause this. Gestational diabetes isn’t a ‘lifestyle disease’ and wasn’t caused by me eating a bit of chocolate during early pregnancy or being inactive. It’s just something that sometimes happens. However, I have quite tired of having to explain that to people, when they’re judging me, when they say that I shouldn’t have eaten this or that or that I should have done this or that. I’m also tired of having to explain and justify what I’m eating or not eating. What I put in my mouth is my business, but apparently when you’re pregnant, everything is up for discussion and unsolicited advice, particularly from people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Some days it really gets me down, especially when I get a high reading and haven’t eaten anything out of the norm. Other days I’m okay with it, that it’s just another part of life, and am hopeful that it’ll just all disappear after giving birth.
This week’s hit list is quite extensive, but really the top three would be…
1) Gestational diabetes. Every time I think I have it figured out I realise that I haven’t, and I just really want to eat some chocolate. I swing between being okay with it, and being frustrated with it and those annoying little numbers. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it.
2) The random that somehow got a hold of my credit card details and tried to steal $13,000 from me. Too bad my limit is much much less than that, but I still have to go through the annoying process of disputing almost $1000 worth of transactions that got through. The bank gets a special mention because I had to call them up when I noticed there were some transactions on my credit card, only to be transferred 3 times and the call centre guy telling me “Oh, it’s a good thing you’re on top of this. There has been some fraudulent activity on your card. I’m surprised you didn’t get a phone call already”. Fills me with confidence!
3) Australia Post. I missed a packaged delivery and got a notice to pick it up 2 suburbs away (not the usual post office they send it to). On the card there were extended hours pick up (outside of the very inconvenient hours of 9am to 6pm). So I went after work one day, got there are 6:10pm, which was fine because the latest pick up time was listed as 7pm. Everything was closed so I knocked on the door. An employee came out and after telling me off for not being able to read (pick up times between 9am and 6pm) and me showing her the card that said otherwise, she said she couldn’t do anything because she already locked up and that the cards should have been reprinted as those extended hours no longer applied. So helpful.
Special mentions go to the jerk who threw his cigarette butt out of his car on a total fire ban day, and anyone who is too stupid, lazy, incompetent or arrogant to indicate when driving. It’s really not that difficult!
Things could be worse, but I also feel like they could be better too.
C is for carbohydrates, which I have to be very careful with at the moment due to my annoying gestational diabetes. I still have to eat them for energy, but can’t have too many or push my blood glucose too high. I’ve been experimenting with different types to what I normally eat (I’m normally a whole meal bread and white rice kind of girl) in different quantities. Tonight it’s a small portion of buckwheat soba noodles.
A few weeks ago I failed my glucose challenge test. Not a big deal, the midwife said. Quite a lot of people get a higher result on the one hour challenge test and go on to have normal results. I unfortunately am not one of them. I lived on the false hope that it would all be fine, that it was just an anomaly, that I didn’t fit into any of the risk categories apart from being of Asian descent. No family history, no previous personal history, not overweight, generally eating healthily, probably could do more exercise but hard in this heat. There was a little part of me that was worried, but a bigger part that was confident that I’d be fine.
I did my glucose tolerance test earlier this week, one of the most boring tests ever and not easy to just sit for 2 and a half hours. I got a missed call and a voicemail on my phone and they told me that I had gestational diabetes. I have to attend an education session and see a dietician. Janice the very lovely diabetes educator told me not to worry about it over the weekend and that we’ll sort it out on Tuesday (as I worry about everything). I got off the phone feeling not too bad about it. I told my charge, organised some time off work to go to the information sessions and everyone was really supportive about it. I felt like I was going to be okay, especially surrounded by people I have to be professional around. Until someone asked me if I was really okay, and then I realised that I was actually feeling really upset and angry.
I feel upset and betrayed by my normally reasonably healthy body, that this was happening to me when there were no signs. This is the sort of thing that happens to other people. I feel guilty that I am not able to support my daughter during this crucial time, and in fact I could be putting her health at risk. I worry that I will be predisposed to getting diabetes later in life, that I am potentially increasing the risk that she will get diabetes. I worry that I’ll go into early labour, she will be hypoglycaemic when she’s born, that she’ll have seizures, that I’m putting her health at risk because my body can’t do it’s job and regulate sugar like it’s supposed to. I feel like it’s my fault, that I could have eaten better, that I shouldn’t have given in to my carb cravings in the first trimester when I was so nauseated, that even milk that I thought would be okay turns out not to be. That milo I drank in the first trimester when I couldn’t keep water down. That piece of chocolate I had at work could have been my downfall. All the fruit I’ve been eating probably wasn’t such a good idea. All those breakfasts I skipped because I didn’t feel like I could stomach anything in the morning. I could have exercised more and been healthier before and during my pregnancy. I’m irritated that the symptoms of gestational diabetes that I’ve probably been experiencing are the same as what could be part of a normal pregnancy; thirst, increased urination, tiredness, blurred vision. How could I have known the difference? I also don’t want to have to test my blood glucose several times a day. I’m going to run out of fingers to prick.
I’m annoyed that I’ve never really had to worry about what I eat. I’ve never worried so much about what I was putting in my mouth until getting pregnant, and even then it was just following the guidelines because I didn’t want to be judged for being a bad pregnant woman, for eating forbidden foods and putting my unborn child at risk. It was more external than internal, which is probably not a great thing as the way I’ve framed it, I feel like it’s imposed on me and I should be able to eat whatever the hell I want. I’ve been mostly good though and kept away from things I shouldn’t be eating. Now I have to add a whole lot of other things to that list, with my husband constantly watching me like a hawk in case I eat just that little bit too much white rice or whatever else I can’t eat now. For someone who lives to eat, it’s a hard transition. It’s hard to get my head around not being able to eat what I want to eat. It makes me anxious.
There are so many things that keep swirling around in my head, and I can’t help but feel that it’s my fault. People kept asking me if I was okay. I was like sure, what’s there not to be okay about? It’s manageable and I trust the health care team. I’ll be fine. And then when I got home and saw my husband, I suddenly wasn’t fine about it. All those thoughts came rushing into my head and I started crying (although probably not that unusual since getting pregnant I cry over everything. I cried when I heard a song I liked on the radio, I cried when I saw a picture of a really cute puppy, I get really teary every time I feel her moving, and I even cried at the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother. Who cries watching a comedy??). I felt out of control. Suddenly waiting until Tuesday was too far away and I wanted to have all the information right now, this instant.
The last 24 hours I’ve swung between being fine and feeling like it’s going to be okay, to feeling like just crying in a ball. I have to force myself to be cheery around other people and for a moment I actually feel good, until I’m left alone with my irrational thoughts again. I’m really just doing this to myself, driving myself crazy.
In my search for more information, I came across this post by Elise Blaha Cripe. She says:
“But I am also writing it in the hopes that six months from now, a stressed out pregnant woman will perform a google search for GD meal recommendations and wind up here and read this :
“It’s okay. You’ll be fine.””
I am now that stressed out woman, and I’m trying to tell myself that I’ll be fine. My husband keeps telling me that I’ll be fine. Sometimes I’ll probably believe it too, but for now I’m just upset. I know he’s finding it really hard to deal with me at the moment, but I can’t help but feel really teary when I think about it.
I know things could be a lot worse, that I’ve mostly had a good uncomplicated pregnancy. I know that I’m going to be okay, that with a modified diet and increased exercise I most likely won’t have to take insulin and that it’ll all be fine. My daughter will be fine. I will be fine. It’s just hard to see through all the haze at the moment. It’s just hard not to feel lost and alone.
The husband says that it could probably be a blessing in disguise. It’ll force me to be more careful of what I’ve been eating and potentially eat better. The increase exercise could help me to feel less whale-like and stabilise my mood. Maybe I won’t hormonally cry so much at anything and everything. In the scheme of things it could be a lot worse. I should be able to take steps to controlling it and change my lifestyle for the better. I’m just scared of screwing everything up, or more accurately that I’ve already screwed everything up.
When I feel her moving around and kicking me, she reminds me that she’s still there and it makes me remember that all this is for her. It’s all just temporary and I have to keep believing when people tell me that I’m going to be okay, because it’s no longer just about me. It’s about her and it’s about my family. I have to trust that she’ll be okay.