Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 31: Gestational Diabetes

Greetings, my blogosphere friends!

I am officially in the single digit countdown of my pregnancy (week-wise anyway), and with each passing day, stronger kick, and growing bump, I am more and more excited to meet my little mischka. Prince Charming is so excited, too; it makes my heart skip a beat every time he rubs my belly or lays his head next to it to speak softly to the baby. I feel incredibly happy, blessed, and good; which made one of my big events of this part of my pregnancy all the more difficult.

Week 31 brought with it my first pregnancy challenge. A few weeks ago, I had my first, one-hour glucose test. I didn't pass. The doctor didn't seem too concerned and told me the three-hour test would probably clear it without much problem. Needless to say, I found out this past Thursday that I didn't pass that test either; I have officially been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I couldn't help but start to cry as the doctor spoke to me about the condition, assuring me it was nothing I had done wrong but was a genetic predisposition (thank you, heritage of type 2 diabetes on my mom's side) and that both baby and I would most likely be fine. The greatest risk involved is that the baby could be born at a high birth weight due to the excess insulin it produces for my blood-sugar level. This could lead to complications during vaginal delivery or a necessary C-section. There are certainly worse pieces of news an expecting mom can hear, but at that moment, I felt overwhelmed and like a failure. Don't get me wrong; I realize this isn't my fault; but it didn't make it any easier to digest all of the information in that moment. Treatment is quite simple: maintain a strict diet, exercise, and have another round of blood work to determine if there is a need for medicinal intervention. Even that task seemed daunting. I typically try to eat a pretty healthy diet in my daily life, but now every morsel of food I take in has to be meticulously examined and documented for the sake of me and the baby inside my womb. It felt like an incredible amount of pressure to make sure I didn't mess up, and it is a responsibility I took to heart. I was so emotionally distraught when I was leaving, I couldn't remember when I made my follow up appointment for!

Since then, however, I have had time to think, research, and do A LOT of praying, and I am feeling much better about the situation. I mean, I have had an amazing pregnancy: perfect blood pressure (even now), no swelling, and feeling energized and elated most of the time. I really cannot complain, and I know that no matter what, God is sovereign and in control, and He will work out His perfect will for my good and the good of my baby. I have many amazing family and friends and church members praying for all of us daily, and that has been the greatest comfort of all. It has given me a peace, comfort, and strength I couldn't muster on my own, and I am so thankful for my support system! Prince Charming has even adopted my diet with me, so I won't ever have to feel like I am missing anything. (How lucky am I?)

Speaking of this new diet, it has been quite an adjustment. My doctor told me to look up the ADA's guide to diabetic eating and apply those principles to my diet for the foreseeable future. I came home that night from the doctor and immediately got online. The research portion of this realization has inspired me to do a series of posts: each week, I will post the menus I have eaten with links to recipes when applicable.  As a disclaimer: I am no dietician or doctor and cannot say my diet is the perfect solution for me or any mom-to-be who is experiencing gestational diabetes! I have built my entire food system off of the American Diabetes Association ( website's food tips and recommendations per my doctor's instructions. I would encourage anyone to discuss their specific needs with their doctor and/or nutritionist before diving into any plan. My hope in sharing this information is that it will give someone a tangible starting point for foods they can prepare and eat as they deal with this condition. It can be very hard online to find any super specific food plans, and I think having access to several weekly menu ideas could be helpful for anyone looking for a starting point for their own plan. Here are several general tips I have picked up: (again: I am NOT a dietician or doctor and this post is not meant to replace having a conversation with your doctor and/or dietician about what is right for you and your baby.)

  1. Having the right kind of carbs is important! The point of eating a diabetic menu isn't to cut out carbs altogether. Carbohydrates are important for you and baby! Instead, you should try to eat the good, complex carbs that are found in items like whole wheat bread (I like Ezekial 9 bread - found in the freezer section), beans, and whole grain foods. Steer clear of the simple sugars found in white bread/pastas, whole milk products, and the obvious sugary sweets! The first thing I did when I got home was bag up my rice cereal treats, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, and sweetened cereals for Prince Charming to take them away. Out of sight, out of mind! (almost)
  2. Eat 6 small meals (or the way I interpret it - three small meals with three snacks) per day instead of three big meals. By spreading out your food intake every 2 1/2-3 hours helps stabilize your blood sugar so that you aren't experiencing big dips and highs as the day goes by.
  3. Schedule your meals to be about the same time EVERY day! This is another trick to help your blood sugar stabilize. I allow myself about a half hour "leniency" for my eating times, but here is my general schedule: Breakfast (7:30 a.m.), Mid-morning snack (9:45 a.m.), Lunch (12:00 p.m.), Afternoon snack (3:00 p.m.), Dinner (6:00 p.m.), and Before-bed snack (9:00 p.m.).
  4. Plan and prep your daily menus ahead of time, especially if you work. One of the keys to making this diet work is portioning out your food so that you get a pretty close to accurate calculation of your carb intake for each meal. I bought whole fruits and vegetables and spent about a half hour after coming home cutting, portioning, and storing everything in easy to access packs. This is helpful when I need to make a quick decision about what I will be having for a snack or meal.
  5. Get a food tracking app! I use My Fitness Pal. It is free, and it calculates food values quite easily. You can even scan the bar codes of foods instead of looking up each item by name. I have also input recipes into the app for quick daily additions to my menus. You can keep a written food diary as well, but an app makes things so quick and easy for on-the-go documentation.
  6. Breakfast and Before-bed snacks are critical! I am not a huge breakfast eater, but having gestational diabetes makes it absolutely necessary to have a high-protein, low-carb breakfast at the start of each day. Everything I have read so far says that the insulin levels are lowest first thing in the morning, so it is important to make this meal one of your "lowest carb" meals of the day. I try to keep this one between 15-30 grams of carbs. On other meals, I allow myself somewhere between 30-60 (according to the ADA guidelines). The Before-bed snack is my highest carb snack. I allow myself around 30 carbs for this snack because from what I have read the stretch from bedtime to waking in the morning needs an extra little kick of carbs to make sure your sugars stay relatively stable throughout the night. Again, I am NO EXPERT, but this is my best interpretation of a few reliable website suggestions, and it seems to be working for me.
So far, this is what I have figured out for myself. I haven't felt really deprived so far, and I will definitely be sharing my menus with you from week to week as I can. I will try to link to any useful recipes along the way as well.

While my diagnosis has certainly turned into the primary focus of week 31, it is certainly not all of the babydom I have experienced! I have also been able to sew my baby's nursery blanket from my Carousel Designs fabric, gotten all of the big furniture for the nursery in the room, and am getting geared up for my first baby shower next weekend! I cannot wait to post all of those happy things for you to see as well. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I hope that my working through this on my blog will help someone out there as they work through some of the same things. As always...

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?


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