I Failed My Test

In my defense, it wasn’t the kind of test I could have studied for.  I’m usually very good at taking tests.  But, as it turns out, I wasn’t so good with the gestational glucose test.  My results weren’t terrible — 2 of the 4 test results were too high.  So, I was referred to an endocrinologist.  I went to see him and I was given a diet to follow and a blood testing meter, like a real diabetic person.  I have to stick my finger and check my blood with a glucose meter.  Although I still wince every time I push the trigger to make the needle stick my finger, I have to say, it’s not nearly as bad as I feared.  It’s not a big deal.  The conclusion I’ve come to is this: if someone had told me prior to pregnancy that this was going to happen to me, I would have gotten pregnant anyway.  It would not have even made me consider making another decision.  In the scale of what I’m experiencing, it’s nearly irrelevant.  It’s one of the smaller sacrifices I will make for my child.  Of course, it would have been better if I had passed my test.

I’ve been testing my blood sugar 4 times a day.  For each time I’m supposed to test my blood sugar, I have a goal.  The vast majority of the time, my results seem to be ok, except sometimes first thing in the morning, and when I eat stuff I know I shouldn’t really be eating.

So far, I’ve determined I can’t eat Belgian waffles with cherries and whipped cream.  Shocking.

I have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow, where we’re going to follow up on my results for this past week.  I hope it goes ok.  I honestly have no idea what to expect.  My sugar results have been high from time to time.  At this point, I don’t even know if a little high is a problem, or if the results have to be very high to be concerning.  The first few days were very good, but then, as I got braver, and wanted to see how certain things would effect me, the results got a bit more uneven.  But nothing surprising.  The better I eat, the better the results.

Except for first thing in the morning.  My results have been high at my pre-breakfast test almost every day.  I’m a bit frustrated by this, because I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do about it.  With all of my post-meal readings, there seems to be a pretty direct correlation between what I eat and what my readings are.  But I’m not sure how to improve my test before breakfast.  A friend of mine who has been through this suggested I eat extra carbohydrates before bed at night to improve my morning results.  Huh?  More carbohydrates to improve my blood sugar numbers?  How does that work?

Well, apparently, it does work.  If you don’t eat enough food (I’m not sure it is related just to carbs, or to all calories) then your body starts to break down stored fat.  This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but pretty bad if you’re a woman with gestational diabetes.  When your body starts to break down this stored fat, it is converted into sugar, but for whatever reason, this sugar is harder for your body to react to than the ingested sugar.  Therefore, by the time you wake up in the morning, you have a lot of sugar in your bloodstream (well, more than you’re supposed to).  If you had eaten enough food the day before, you’d have broken down the ingested sugar by the time morning comes around, and not gotten into the stored fat issue.

I have to say — it’s a little hard to do.  I have to eat enough food while not eating too many carbs.  Carbohydrates are in everything, it seems.  Over the past week, as I’ve worked on this, I feel like I’m getting a better feel for it.  But I’m still not 100%.  I don’t think I’ve had a single day yet with all good results.  I hope it’s good enough to avoid injected insulin.  I really don’t want to have to do that.  It scares me.  As of right now, I only have to worry about having too much sugar.  If I were to start with insulin injections, I’d have to worry about having either too much sugar or too much insulin (besides, I’d have to give myself a shot, which wouldn’t really be that bad).  Tomorrow, we’ll see where we are.

I have, however, learned a little bit about how this all works.  (I’m not a doctor, but I play one on the web.  In all seriousness, this is just what I’ve picked up in the past week, and not actual medical information.)  When a woman becomes pregnant, the placenta gives off a hormone that limits her insulin response to sugar.  This is to prevent an overabundance of insulin in the body, which can be harmful to the baby.  In some women, however, this response is a little too strong, and it over suppresses the body’s normal insulin response.  This leads to women who can’t properly handle high doses of sugar in their blood — like me.  That’s what it means to have gestational diabetes.  If the gestational diabetes is not addressed, the extra sugar in the mother’s blood can get to the baby.  Extra sugar equals extra nutrition, and baby can get bigger than normal.  This can cause more difficulties at birth (I’m still thinking of the model of the 6 lb. baby vs. the model of the 9 lb. baby from my birthing class) or it can cause the baby to be born early because the big, heavy baby can put pressure on the cervix and cause labor to begin early.  The problem is that the baby is big, but it’s not any more developed, so it’s still too immature to be born.  Also, baby can have blood sugar problems when he’s born.  Since he’s been given an overdose of sugar, then he’s used to this sugar level and can suffer from low blood sugar problems shortly after birth.

It’s conceivable, then, that a woman who has gestational diabetes might never ingest enough sugars (or carbs) to get to a dangerous level.  For the rest of us, the purpose of the blood testing is to let us know when we’re getting to the danger zone.  The idea is to keep the blood sugar fairly level (or at least fairly low) as much as possible.  If the blood sugar doesn’t get too high, baby doesn’t get too much sugar, and there’s no problem.

Hopefully, I’ve done well enough this week.  Or at least, my results let the doctor know that my issue isn’t serious enough to warrant insulin.  But even if that’s what I need, then it is what it is.  I stand by my statement from before: if someone had told me prior to pregnancy that this was going to happen to me, I would have gotten pregnant anyway.  He’s totally worth it.

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