Welcome to a piece of our sweet journey of life. This blog is about our family life-- my husband, my type 1 diabetic kindergartner, my spunky pre-schooler, my newborn baby girl, and myself! Enjoy!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Life (so far) as a Gestational Diabetic

Once I found out that I had gestational diabetes, I immediately started making changes to my diet.  I consulted with my mom (a nurse), my dad (someone who lowered his blood sugar through diet and exercise), my aunt (someone who has a form of diabetes), and my sister-in-law (a pharmacist).   Truth be told, I was overwhelmed, nervous, and defeated at first.  I was overwhelmed by the seemingly big changes I would have to make to my diet.  I was nervous as to the effects of gestational diabetes on my little Noah growing inside of me.  And I felt completely defeated.  Though I had heard and read time and again that it's nothing the mother does that causes gestational diabetes, I couldn't let myself believe it!  I was certain that the sweets I had consumed in the recent weeks had somehow led me to the path that I now found myself on.  (And to be honest, part of me still wonders if I could have avoided this whole situation had I been a healthier eater from the start of the pregnancy.)  After attending the gestational diabetes counseling class last week, my fears and concerns were addressed and, for the most part, put to rest. 

In the class, I was given a blood sugar monitor and was taught how to test my blood sugar.  I was given a handy chart to show at what times on which days I'm supposed to check my blood sugar levels.  Fortunately for me, I experienced a blood sugar low which meant that I had to eat a snack and test my levels again 15 minutes later.  During the follow-up testing of my blood sugar, I bent one of the lancet needles, which rendered it useless.  Then I didn't get a big enough blood drop to test with the meter-strip, and finally on my third try, I got it right and my blood sugar showed that it was on the rise (as it should be).  I consider the mistakes I made while trying to test my blood sugar to be a good thing because it allowed me to see different scenarios of what could go wrong, and how to adjust.

During the second half of the class, a nutrionist spoke about food food food.  She informed us as to how many carbs we should have at each meal.  I was instructed to eat three meals and three snacks each day.  I learned about what vegetables were starchy vegetables and had a higher carb count.  I learned about the carbs in fruits and dairy products.  I learned what portion sizes actually should look like-- and for some things it was quite a shock!  I was given a food diary and received instructions to write down everything I ate for the next week.  One week from the date of the class, I would have a follow-up appointment where the nutritionist would check the chart that I would be writing down my blood sugars, and she would compare that to my food diary to see the correlation between my food and my blood sugar.  We were informed that a healthy diet and a healthy amount of exercise can do wonders for blood sugar levels.  I made a couple trips to the grocery store during the week to stock up on healthy food choices.  I also began using my Pregnancy Fitness DVD (the Third Trimester section) every other day. 

I attended my follow-up appointment on Tuesday of this week.  It went very well.  The nutritionist was very pleased with my blood sugar levels and the amount of carbs I was consuming.  It has been extremely helpful for me to know more about food and it's role in blood sugar levels.  Although they say that gestational diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born, I think I will keep up with these healthier eating habits from here on out.  Since I have gestational diabetes, I am more at risk to get Diabetes Type II in the future.  This is something that I'd like to avoid at all costs!

I had an OB appointment right after my nutritionist appointment.  Overall, the doctor was pleased with my blood sugar levels and instructed me to keep checking them daily according to the chart's guidelines.  I will bring the charts with me to each appointment so he can monitor my blood sugar levels.  At the moment, my blood sugar levels are controlled with diet and exercise.  It's possible that I might require medication to help me control my blood sugar levels as the pregnancy progresses and the levels of insulin in my body changes.  It is my goal to be able to continue to control my blood sugar levels with just diet and exercise.  I want to avoid having to take medication to control these levels if I can help it.  We discussed several things related to the effect of gestational diabetes on the baby-- which is my biggest concern.  I want to do everything possible to ensure Noah's safety in the womb and in delivery.  I am deemed a high-risk pregnancy because of the diabetes.  At 38 weeks, I will have an ultrasound to estimate Noah's weight and shoulder width.  If Noah is estimated to be 9 pounds at that time, we will schedule a C-section as our method of delivery.  If Noah is estimated to be less than 9 pounds, then I will be permitted to go into labor on my own and attempt a vaginal delivery with the knowldge that a C-section might become necessary.   During my labor, the doctor will be closely monitoring my progress and searching for any signs of a pause in the labor-- as this would be an indication that a C-section is necessary. 

Talking with my doctor helped me work through some of the issues I've been afraid of relating to the effect of gestational diabetes on Noah.  I won't say that I have rid myself of all the nerves and anxiousness.  I am determined to stick to this diet and exercise program in order to ensure the health of my baby and to be a healthier mommy for my children.  Chasing after Michael as he runs around in true toddler form is a challenge and I can only imagine that two little boys running around together will present an even greater challenge!  It is one that I look forward to greatly, and I want to make sure I am a healthy mommy who can have healthy boys who are able to run around and play. 

At the counseling class, we were instructed to eat every 2 hours and to incorporate our three meals and three snacks daily.  Because I get up so early, I had to adjust the schedule to fit my lifestyle.  Therefore, I take the carb amount that I am allowed to have at snacktimes and split it in half in order  to eat two small snacks in between breakfast and lunch and two small snacks between lunch and dinner, and one larger snack after dinner.  This way, I'm not eating my lunch at 9:30am, and my supper at 1:30pm!  Here's a typical eating schedule for me:

4:45am-- Wake up
5:30am-- Breakfast (15-30g carbs)
7:30am-- 1st morning snack (10-15g carbs)
9:30am-- 2nd morning snack (10-15g carbs)
11:30am-- Lunch (30-45g carbs)
1:30pm-- 1st afternoon snack (10-15g carbs)
3:30pm-- 2nd afternoon snack (10-15g carbs)
5:30pm-- Dinner (30-45g carbs)
7:30pm--After dinner snack (15-30g carbs)
9:00pm-- Bedtime

This schedule has worked out quite well and the nutritionist was glad to see that I was adjusting their guidelines to fit my own personal schedule. 

I was taught in the class that carbs are the fuel for my body and my baby. So, cutting all carbs out of my diet is not the answer! That's why it's important to have carbs in my meals and my snacks. Our bodies need carbs to function properly-- I just have to be mindful of the amount of carbs needed.
My meals and snacks need to have a balance of carbs and proteins.  Sometimes it is a challenge to think of a good snack that has both carbs and protein.  For the first several days, my snacks consisted of a small apple and peanut butter or a serving of Ritz crackers and peanut butter.  I felt like I was eating peanut butter all day long!  I have been able to organize my meals and grocery shop for a variety of foods that allow me to have carbs and proteins without eating the same things all day long. 

Some of my favorite snacks have been:

  • 1/2c Pumpkin Whip (this is a dessert that tastes like pumpkin pie without the crust.  I altered the ingredients to be low carb.  A serving then equals 15g of carbs).  I pair this with string cheese.
  • Yoplait light yogurt-- in the dessert flavors of course!  (Boston Cream Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Cheesecake, Black Forest Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and Very Vanilla are my top choices).  One container has 16g of carbs and a good amount of protein. 
  • Ritz crackers with either 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter to spread on them, or paired with string cheese.
  • Small Gala apple cut into slices with either 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter to spread on the slices, or paired with string cheese (Colby Jack string cheese is particularly good with apples).
  • Graham crackers (2 full sheets) spread with cream cheese or peanut butter.  I am going to buy some Nutella at the store as an alternative topping.
  • Healthy Choice Fudge Bars.  These only have 9g of carbs per bar, so I am able to throw in another small carb choice to get my carb total to 15 for a snack.  I obviously can't bring this to work, so I indulge in one of these for my evening snack.  I found out yesterday afternoon that Michael really likes to share with me when I eat one of these!
  • Winn Dixie brand Toffee Ice Cream Bars.  These are a bit more of an indulgence.  Each bar contains 21g of carbs.  However, I am allowed to eat between 15g-30g of carbs for my snacks, so I save this for an evening snack.  It is an ice cream bar made with toffee flavored ice cream, and then dipped in chocolate and covered in toffee candy pieces.  It is delicious and Aaron likes them too!
I have learned not to "drink my carbs" as my Dad says.  That means, I've been enjoying water at work throughout the day.  I allow myself to have one can of Diet Dr. Pepper per day.  The nutritionist said that diet colas are perfectly safe during pregnancy.  This was reiterated by my sister-in-law.  I also bought some decaf tea bags and Splenda so that I could make a low-caffeine, sugar-free drink.  Sometimes, I have a cup of decaf coffee in the mornings. 

Although this has been a change for me and has taken some additional preparation to figure out appropriate meals and snacks, I know that it is a change for the better.  I feel very satisfied after eating a small snack or meal.  It really breaks up my work day quite well to know that I can have something to eat every 2 hours!  :)  I don't feel like I fall into the "early afternoon slump" anymore.  I still fall asleep on the couch around 8:30pm, but otherwise, I feel very rested and alert. 

Each day, I get more comfortable checking my own blood sugar and sticking to my low-carb diet.  I can say though that I am counting down the days until Noah's arrival!  After this bump in the road, I just want a healthy baby boy to hold!  :)  Prayers, as always, are much appreciated.  Much love, Reba

*Check back in a couple of days to find a post about the life of a toddler-- including lots of cute pictures of my little mobile boy!  :)

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