The Unsweet Truth About Gestational Diabetes

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There are so many milestones we reach during pregnancy. Some good (like that first positive pregnancy test or hearing your baby’s heartbeat the first time) and some scary (like holding your breath for those first 12 weeks or awaiting genetic testing results).

A few weeks ago I reached one such milestone, my one-hour glucose test for Gestational Diabetes (GD). Now, full disclosure, I was not optimistic that I would pass the test. I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom) and have been diagnosed as insulin resistant in the past. So I went in fully prepared to fail the first test… and boy did I fail it. I bombed that test so hard they didn’t even make me do the three-hour test. We went straight to, “We’re going to start treating you for Gestational Diabetes.”

My heart was heavy at first. For starters, I felt a lot of shame and failure. Even knowing what I know about Gestational Diabetes and my body and my previous diagnoses, I still felt so ashamed and so guilty.

Secondly, I was super afraid to have to be put on insulin. I don’t know why, but after everything we went through to get pregnant, I really wasn’t looking forward to daily shots again.

I cried. I vented. Then, with the help of a couple of really sweet mama friends, I remembered that this is a totally manageable diagnosis and definitely not the worst news I could have received. So I promised myself I would try my best to tackle this new journey with a positive attitude.

Here are the Top Three Things I’ve learned in the last few weeks:

The Diet Isn’t Really That Bad

Honestly, as someone with PCOS that struggles with their weight, a healthier eating plan wasn’t the WORST thing that could happen to me. Especially because my favorite foods include pizza, french fries, and lattes.

The biggest misconception I’ve heard with a diabetic diet is that people assume you shouldn’t be eating ANY carbs. In my case that simply isn’t true (though it may be true for those with more severe cases). Our bodies need carbs to function and our babies need them to grow properly.

The goal is to eat the correct number of carbs throughout the day and to aim for eating healthier whole-grain, complex carbs versus simple, white carbs. I still eat bread and potatoes, and even (gasp) pizza. But I’ve switched to whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and thin-crust pizza loaded with veggies and protein.

Again, this is what I’ve been able to do. If you end up with a GD diagnosis a nutritionist can help you come up with a meal plan that works for you.

My Fear of Insulin was Kind of Silly

My post-meal glucose numbers were great after some diet changes, but I just couldn’t get my morning fasting number (before breakfast) into a healthy range. So my OB decided to start me on insulin at night, to hopefully help lower that number. I was really afraid to be on insulin. It was seriously stressing me out so much.

Shots in the stomach? No thank you. So you can imagine how much of a baby I felt like when I got all my supplies and saw the tiniest syringes and needles ever. I was so relieved!

Now that I have a few weeks of experience, I barely even feel my shot each night. Sure, it’s not my favorite thing to have to do right before bed, but I had built it up in my head way more than I needed to. I haven’t had any adverse reactions so far and my morning fasting number is improving every day.

More Frequent Doctor Appointments Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

One of the few upsides to my GD diagnosis is that starting at 32 weeks I have two (yes, two) appointments with my OB each week. One appointment is for an NST (Non-Stress Test) and the other is for an ultrasound to measure the baby.

Even though it’s a lot of appointments, I’m actually really looking forward to getting to see baby boy each week so close to the end. Eeeek! 

If you find yourself on a similar journey, just remember that, in most cases, there is an end in sight.

Listen to your body and nourish it with things that make you feel good. Don’t totally deprive yourself. Find ways to eat foods you love the smart and healthy way. I had the yummiest Carb Smart Ice Cream Bar tonight. It was totally within my diet plan and a nice treat after a long day with a rambunctious two-year-old.

Most of all, remember that you DID NOT cause this. You didn’t do anything wrong. So go ahead and toss that shame and guilt to the side. You are in control of your journey and you have all the power to make good choices for you and your baby.

Yes, it can be really hard. Especially when those pregnancy cravings kick in, but the high that comes with making good choices far outweighs the temporary high from a couple of really great french fries. 

How do you control your Gestational Diabetes? 

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Carey Shofner
Originally from Indiana, Carey moved to South Carolina in 2009. She and her husband, Brett, met during college at USC and now reside in Forest Acres. She is an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom to their wonderful baby boy. After struggling with infertility for years, their son, Milo, joined their family in November of 2017 through the beautiful gift of adoption. Carey enjoys writing and crafting in her spare time and even has a small Etsy shop and personal blog, both named Simply Shofner. Coffee and cats are her love language and she's passionate about adoption, education and social justice issues. She would describe herself as your totally basic, semi-crunchy, hot mess mom who loves strolling the aisles of Target and play dates at Starbucks.

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