All pregnant women have been through it. That dreaded glucose test. You’re starving, the drink is not what you’d rather be chugging, and you spend the entire hour Googling the best lunch spots near you—bonus points if you can order ahead. For most women, any thought of that test ends there, because they pass it and move on with their pregnancy. But, how many women actually think about what would happen if they don’t pass it?
With my first pregnancy, I didn’t even know why the glucose test had to be taken in the first place. I remember asking my best friend a few days before the test, “Hey, what’s this glucose test thing check for again?” Gestational Diabetes. The mention of those words nearly choked me when my doctor reviewed my results. I was staring at a number highlighted in red with the word “HIGH” in all caps shouting at me what I didn’t know how to interpret. I couldn’t say the phrase without being brought to tears. Me? This can’t be. Questions, worries, embarrassment, anger, and fear swirled through my mind.
I dealt with that flood of emotions for many weeks. I thought I had done something wrong. I thought my baby was in danger because of me. I thought people would judge me for being super unhealthy and not caring about my health or my child. WRONG. Sometimes a Mama’s placenta, hormones, and pancreas just can’t work together to make insulin and break down sugar properly. It totally stinks, but IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
After much prayer, I began reading about it, doing my research, and seeing a specialist to remain completely diet controlled and deliver a healthy baby boy. That sounds like it was a simple fix but it was not. Hello, we live in South Louisiana. A classic dish at most Cajun restaurants/homes includes carbs, smothered in carbs, with a side of carbs…and more carbs for dessert. The hardest part is that I am a true foodie. I love to cook and I love all of my Cajun foods, but the Cajun eating lifestyle goes mostly out the window once you’re labeled GD. Here’s what a typical day in the life of a GD Mama looks like: Eating a meat and veggie diet. Pricking your blistered fingers to check sugar 4+ times a day. Eating on schedule with meals and snacks perfectly timed out. NOT eating most of the food at your baby shower. Swallowing down many a failed Pinterest recipes that just don’t taste great no matter how you much you smile through them. And always hoping that the choices you are making will lead you and your baby to a healthy meeting. It’s mentally, physically, emotionally, and sugarlessly exhausting.
People would unknowingly offer me extra helpings of things I couldn’t dare touch with the words, “Here, you’re eating for two!” Eating for two—Little did they know how true those words were. I was sacrificing what I’d love to eat to keep this precious baby healthy because he was relying on me to make the right choices for both of us. It was hard. Having to diet when you’re pregnant seems so unfair and goes against everything that you envision about pregnancy. I mean, aren’t you supposed to eat whatever you want when pregnant and get away with it BECAUSE you’re pregnant? It seemed impossible, but l did it. I found food that worked for me and we all got through it…And you better believe I had a plate lunch waiting for me after delivery…and Cane’s…and Meche’s.
For my second pregnancy, I was ready from day one to ask my doctor when I should be worried about GD. We waited until the 24-week mark to go ahead with a 3-hour glucose test. I actually passed the test but whipped out my glucose monitor in the weeks to follow… just in case. Sure enough, I found myself in the specialist’s office yet again, “Your fluid levels are elevated and baby’s belly circumference is above average probably from getting a bit too much sugar. Both signs point to Gestational Diabetes. Back on the diet–sorry.” The guilt welled up in my eyes and the flood of emotions hit me again, this time with a ripple of loneliness.
When I told people that I had GD again, they were so encouraging and supportive.
“You did it before, you can do it again!”
“You got this, you were so strong last time!”
And other positive thoughts were sent my way. I was thankful that people believed in me, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was still the only person who had to walk this path again. No one else was affected by it but me and my baby, so they could encourage me all day, but they didn’t have to endure it. I was frustrated in feeling like I was so alone, but after moping for about a day, I realized that I felt so alone because I had the wrong perspective. Sure, people didn’t know what it was like, but what if I let them come along the journey with me? What if I didn’t hide behind my finger pricks and shamelessly educated people about my situation?
So I did just that. I put my big girl (maternity) pants on and asked God to help me fight this battle again. I started talking openly about my diagnosis. I shared recipes with other people living a low carb lifestyle (GD or not). I connected with a Facebook Group for GD Mama’s. I took my brother to Whole Foods and we loaded up on anything and everything that I could actually eat. I went to staff luncheons, holidays, and dinner parties with my own bags of salad and cauliflower rice so that I could proudly eat what was being served with everyone else in my own way. I started sharing my GD meals and cooking adventures on Instagram to focus and promote what I CAN eat instead of complaining about everything I can’t eat. I decided to be PROactive instead of REactive about how I eat for two. And this time around, it’s made all the difference—even with a little global pandemic thrown into the mix.
There’s no answer to why my body is prone to GD. I know for sure it has taught me that God has instilled strength and will power inside of me that I never even knew I had. Some situations seem so impossible in the initial shock of the moment. But looking back, that moment of devastation didn’t last forever nor did it have to define my pregnancy. I find comfort by looking forward to the moment I get to hold my sweet sugar baby which will far surpass any moment of really wanting to eat actual sugar. My hope for any Mama struggling with GD, or any kind of difficulty during, before, or after pregnancy is that you can find the strength within yourself to fight for you and your baby. There will be hard days, and you will get annoyed with people who mean well but will never understand. But find a tribe, a Facebook group, or a community that helps you cling to the moments that feed you with strength instead of sorrow. And know that you’re a Mama…and there aren’t many things in life much stronger (or sweeter) than that.