Gestational Diabetes: The Pregnancy Complication I Didn't Expect

This mom found out late in her pregnancy that she had gestational diabetes and was shocked and in denial over her diagnosis, until she found the silver lining.

Gestational Diabetes: The Pregnancy Complication I Didn't Expect

I'd never failed a test in my whole life, and the very thought used to give me nightmares at school. That all changed when I was pregnant with my first baby. I failed the one-hour sugar test that screens expectant moms for gestational diabetes. And though I passed the subsequent three-hour version, I failed both of them again later in my pregnancy by just a number or two. It was confirmed, according to my doctor: I had GD.

Me??? Couldn't be!

To say I was stunned and terribly upset would be an understatement. I'd been lucky enough to get pregnant over the age of 35 with no trouble at all, and things had been going so smoothly until then. I wasn't overweight and didn't have a history of diabetes in my family. I was exercising regularly, eating healthily, and had tons of energy. My only risk factor for gestational diabetes was my age, and I had no symptoms. So how could this be happening to me?

I listened numbly over the phone as my OB delivered the bad news and informed me of what I had to do. I honestly couldn't believe it. The results had to be wrong. Maybe they got my sample mixed up with someone else's in the lab? Or maybe my doctor was being overzealous because of how old I was. Plus, I'd passed the three-hour screening earlier on. Wasn't that enough?

I told her how upset I was and expressed my doubts about the accuracy of the diagnosis. She listened, but firmly stuck to her read of my condition.

The task at hand

Eventually, I realized I had no choice but to accept it and do everything I was told to do.

I had to prick my finger with a little needle four times a day and use a little kit to check my insulin levels. I had to write down each and every result, along with detailed descriptions of what I ate. I had to see an expensive nutritionist who didn't take insurance. I had to stick to a very controlled diet in which every meal had an equal balance of carbs and protein—peanut butter toast or Greek yogurt with blueberries for breakfast, and cheese, bread and fruit for lunch, for example—to keep my sugar levels at bay. I had to go in every week and be hooked up to a fetal monitor to make sure the baby was okay. If she didn't move much, my OB made me leave, get something to eat and come back to do the whole thing over again.

And perhaps the toughest thing of all for me at the time (or so I thought then) was that I had to agree to be induced on my due date instead of going into labor naturally, even though I'd specifically asked not to be induced except in an emergency in my birth plan.

The only saving grace was that I wasn't diagnosed with gestational diabetes until I was 32 weeks along. Meaning I only had to go through all of that for eight weeks.

The impact

My doctor was so worried and fixated on my condition that her stress rubbed off on me, big-time. One night, I woke up sweating, my heart pounding at an alarming rate, my breathing shallow. I took a taxi to the maternity ward, afraid something might be wrong with the baby and I might go into labor early. After they gave me a thorough checkup (and my OB came in and made sure the fetal monitor results were nothing short of perfect), I was sent home and told I was fine. All the anxiety had just gotten to me.

A happy ending

Ultimately, I came out of the whole experience a stronger woman and a better mom. Though it was upsetting, unpleasant and downright traumatic at times, my gestational diabetes diagnosis taught me the importance of expecting the unexpected, rolling with the punches and keeping calm under fire even when it seems impossible during pregnancy and motherhood. Thankfully, my daughter was born without a trace of diabetes and mine vanished after I gave birth. Being induced turned out to make for a pain-free, seamless first labor for me, which was amazing and completely changed my opinion about the procedure. And two years later, when I was pregnant again with my second child, I knew how to balance carbs and protein to beat the sugar test and avoid another case of GD. I got through that pregnancy complication-free.

So if you're one of the many moms who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, know that you're not alone and you and the baby will be fine if you do what your doctor tells you. Hopefully, the experience will make you a calmer, stronger, ready-for-anything mom, too. And once you're cradling your beautiful baby in your arms, the stress and fear that come with having any kind of pregnancy complication will melt away and you'll see that it was all truly worth it in the end.