When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That has always been my goal in dealing with difficult situations. But the truth is, it’s not always easy.
Being pregnant with my daughter was a wonderful journey. It was such a special time in my life. I learned so much about my body and gained a whole new respect for how my body works. Pregnancy no doubt takes a toll on you and being aware of how you can better support your body through this time is an important lesson. I was very fortunate to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. However, around this time last year I was faced with a small challenge.
During one of my prenatal visits, my dipstick test came back with a high level of glucose. I was told that this meant I was “spilling sugar” and could possibly have a problem with Gestational Diabetes (GD). This was a scary thing for me to hear. Not only because I was worried for the health of my baby but also because a diagnosis of GD could mean that I was no longer eligible for a home birth because I was no longer considered low risk. After talking to my midwives more about it, they suggested that I become more conservative with my carbohydrate intake and limit foods with sugar. Doing this would help take the stress off of my body, which was obviously having trouble processing the sugar. The hope was that I could regulate my blood sugar before I was scheduled for my 28 week Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).
Unfortunately the timing around all of this was terrible because it was approaching Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. This meant, no potatoes, no pies, no ambrosia salad (my sister is famous for this). But, I was determined to pass myGTT, and my midwives thought I might have a better chance to do so if I altered my diet. So last Thanksgiving I ate green beans, salad, asparagus, turkey and beef tenderloin. Delicious and satisfying but not what I was used to.
When I went in for my GTT test soon after, I was feeling confident that my blood sugar levels had stabilized. I got the phone call from my doctor and I was heartbroken by the results, I had failed the test and was diagnosed with GD. Getting this diagnosis is in no way the end of the world. In fact, my mom had it with both me and my brother and we were both healthy babies. So I was confident that Harper would be fine, but I was disappointed that I would not be able to have a home birth. However, after talking to my midwives further, they explained to me that as long as I was able to keep my blood sugar levels under control then we could still go through with a home birth.
Of coarse, my main goal in all of this was making sure that my baby was healthy and safe. Second to that, I still felt very strongly about birthing my daughter at home. So as long as my baby was healthy and safe, I was going to do every thing I could to control my blood sugar levels. After being diagnosed with GD, my doctor set me up with a diabetes educator. My first meeting with my diabetes educator went wonderfully. She believed that I would be able to control my blood sugar with my diet. This meant that I was allowed 15 grams of carbs for breakfast, 30 grams of carbs for lunch, 30 grams of carbs for dinner and 15 grams of carbs for snacks throughout the day. In order to monitor how my body was processing the carbs I had to test my blood first thing in the morning, and an hour after every meal. It was interesting to see how different foods effected me. I found that I could eat more carbs during the day but had to be careful first thing in the morning.
Things were going pretty well. I was following a very strict diet, and was proud of how I had taken control of what could have been a scary situation. However, the deeper I got into my pregnancy, the more my fasting blood sugar levels were creeping higher. My educator suggested that I take a walk after dinner, as exercise helps to regulate your blood sugar. This seemed to make a big difference but I was still having some trouble. Luckily, I had a friend who also had GD and she had success with taking chia seeds. I spoke to my midwives and educator about it and they said it would be safe and beneficial for me to try and it was amazing how quickly my body responded. The final change in my lifestyle was taking my maternity leave from work. I had a wonderful job that I enjoyed very much but it did put some stress on me, which can have a big effect on blood sugar levels. So it was suggested by my midwives that I take a maternity leave earlier than originally planned. By being diligent with my diet, increasing my exercise, introducing an herbal supplement and creating a more serene environment, I was able to successfully control my blood sugar levels. In fact, at one point, my educator said I was doing such an amazing job that she couldn’t even tell I had GD. That made me feel very good.
It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. Once I knew that my daughter was healthy and safe, I was determined to birth her at home, an environment into which I felt was best to welcome her. In order to accomplish this task I had to work hard to stay on track (and trust me, when your pregnant it is NOT easy to say no to sweets!). But I continued to keep my eye on the prize. And was fortunate enough to attempt a home birth and deliver a healthy baby.
So again, just a reminder, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Just make sure its sugar-free!