This is my entry for the Aptaclub ‘If Only I’d Known’ competition in conjunction with their new app.
I’m sharing my knowledge of the third trimester of my pregnancy.
If you tick a certain number of boxes at your midwife check-in you’re recommended the dreaded Glucose Tolerance Test, aka the GTT. As I hit my third trimester I headed to hospital for a morning of no food (from fasting the previous night) and vile tasting liquid – and when you’ve been fairly good with food it’s difficult, as all you can think about is food. You know how it is? You don’t have it, so you want it, even if you didn’t really need it. It becomes bigger in your head than it should be.
All I had to do was drink the vile liquid, wait two or three hours and have two sets of tests within that time to measure how much sugar I had in my blood, and find out how likely it was I was developing diabetes.
At the end of the test the nurse present looked surprised at my result “hm, we may need you to do this again” she said, before checking with someone else and telling me it was fine, I could go (and stuff my face). I knew then though: I had diabetes. I think I knew this before the test but was in denial.
The following day a phone call confirmed it, so for the final trimester I was in and out of hospital for fortnightly appointments at the diabetes clinic, the dullest (and fullest) clinic I’d had to attend as well as pricking my fingers before and after meals to check my blood sugar levels. You check in, get your blood pressure checked, wait for an hour or more, have an ultrasound doppler and a check how big your baby feels, then a shorter wait until a diabetes consultant looks at your fingerpricking logs (technical term there) circle any that are high while you get to argue your case (and they’ll usually smile and say no, politely). The best part was them telling you to come back in three weeks as that meant you stood a chance of getting an early appointment. You have to book one a week later; your heart sinks as you know you’ll lose the best part of a day waiting. It would seem a lot of people get Gestational Diabetes these days.
The bonus of diabetes was monthly scans to check how H was growing. We saw her a lot, which was nice.
The downside of diabetes, the constant appointments, making my NCT pregnant friends guilty unintentionally – we were offered chocolate biscuits and I sighed “ahh, if only” and I saw them all withdraw their hands in some kind of polite solidarity with me (sorry).
Another upside, better diet. Downside? Watching everyone eat what you dream of eating. Even things you’d never normally eat.
The interesting bit – I was the only woman with gestational diabetes who did colostrum harvesting – basically squeezing your boobs nightly to get colostrum out, into syringes which live in the freezer to be defrosted and given to her once she was born (as her blood sugars could remain high while mine would be fine). It was kind of freaky, my first experience of anything like that. I did okay too!
Then there’s Metformin. (I never did get onto injecting insulin.) Metformin, if you’ve never taken it before, pretty much flushes your insides. I lost at least a stone – by the time I was ready to give birth I weighed the same as I did when I got pregnant. I don’t recommend it. At one point my ketones started to rise (as in my body was using itself for energy rather than food – that’s a very simple explanation), and I was instructed to eat more. I had a terrible fear of injecting. I didn’t want to go there, to have to do that. I was going to manage it on diet and metformin alone.
Looking back it’s possibly a silly way to think of it, another pressure there – working hard to make sure you don’t have to inject. Your body will get diabetes whether you like it or not, because that’s what it’s doing. If you’re lucky it’ll fix itself once you give birth (mine did).
Another bonus, I was in my pre-pregnancy jeans six weeks after H was born, I blame the Metformin.
I started my maternity leave quite early, a good month and a half before H was due as I had a lot of holiday accumulated. Almost immediately my blood sugar levels dropped, I even lowered my daily metformin (after arguing my case) – I’m no doctor, but I do wonder how much stress contributes to it; probably a fair bit. If someone had told me not to get stressed about things I’d probably not have screamed at my coworkers that time and called them a name I’d never use in everyday life.
So yes, those ideallic pictures of a fabulous last trimester were taken away.
This also led to one other issue. I was told I couldn’t go beyond my due date due to having diabetes. There was a chance H could be a big baby and there was plenty of literature that said the words “BIG BABY” and “STILLBORN” creating a fear of the unknown so you felt forced into making that decision whether you liked it or not – the I word – being induced.
It lasted four days, and H arrived by c-section the day after her due date. I’d like to think it’s us sticking our fingers up at the system as I felt like I wasted an hour of my time writing out a birth plan (it was put in my file and probably makes a nice fan or something). Oh, and when H was born she was a normal weight (she was long, but we’re tall) – which made me realise just how much of a science having a scan is – they don’t truly, accurately know. It feels like a computerized jumble of probability and averages. I was set for a 9.5lb’er and she was 7.5lb. You never truly know, it’s just minimising all possible risks really, isn’t it?
“This post is The Adequate Parent’s entry into the Aptaclub ‘If Only I’d Known…’ competition”