My Experience with Gestational Diabetes (Diet-Controlled, Insulin)

Disclaimer: This is simply my experience with gestational diabetes; for any medical or nutritional advice, please speak with your OB, NP, nutritionist or other medical professionals involved in your pregnancy. When first publishing this, I was 31w4d pregnant. I was diagnosed with GD at 27 weeks.

Ever since becoming pregnant, I would read about all the different “pregnancy milestones” — things I’d have to do at the different marks (How many weeks can I tell people? When do I find out the sex of my child? When to shop for maternity clothes?) My husband hated it, but I went on a Googling spree. And I was fine with it! I’m someone who likes to know what’s generally coming rather than find out through my OB or 1-2 anecdotal experiences.

Of course, one of the dreaded pieces of this journey was “When do I get tested for Gestational Diabetes?” — I had learned that I may have an increased risk due to a few conditions out of my control: genetics. My mother is a diabetic, and overall there is a diabetic trend among those of South Asian origin, plus I couldn’t help but feel that I was a tad past normal BMI reqs pre-pregnancy. And what would it mean? Anything from a large baby due to getting too much glucose, a baby with complications after birth (jaundice, low blood sugar, or being born too early), and potential early induction (which may prevent you from giving birth naturally).

All of these truths had me a bit nervous before my 1 hour glucose test — which I failed — followed by the 3 hour glucose test, which I also failed.

THE GLUCOSE TEST

The 1 hour glucose test consists of drinking this sweet AF 50mg sugary drink (no fasting required) within 3-5 minutes, and they wanted my number to be below 135 after an hour. Mine was 145.

“Maybe it was the banana bread I had that morning.”
I thought, “It’s fine, I’ll pass the 3 hour test.”

This required 3 days of 10 carb servings per day (they want to make sure you don’t cheat the test), fasting overnight, coming in to get blood drawn, then drinking that same nastiness — except it’s 100mg this time, in the same time span of 3-5 minutes. Then they’d draw my blood 1 hour after, 2 hours after, and 3 hours after (no water or anything in between these blood draws).

In general the cut offs for the test differ slightly among OBs and institutions. If you fail 2 out of the 4, you’re diagnosed with GD. Here were my numbers (right) compared to the cut offs (left):

Fasting: 95mg/dl - 94mg/dl (passed)
1 hour: 180mg/dl - 176mg/dl (passed)
2 hour: 155mg/dl - 169mg/dl (failed)
3 hour: 140mg/dl - 144mg/dl (failed)

You can imagine my frustration, thinking to myself maybe there were ways I could have wriggled out of this diagnosis. But of course, you never want to cheat the test. It is what it is, and always important to know and treat effectively so that your baby is safe and doesn’t get too big. Of course I had no knowledge of my numbers on the day of and had to wait the next day for the results.

THE DIAGNOSIS

The minute I got the GD diagnosis via voicemail after my dentist appointment, I was immediately wracked with sadness, fear, and guilt. Because I just came out of my cleaning feeling relieved, unscathed and cavity free! But that changed within 5 minutes of checking my voicemail. I sat in my car crying before driving to work.

I couldn’t help but wonder — was this my fault? Did I cause this during my first trimester where nausea took over and I latched onto bagels and cream cheese for comfort? When the only thing I was in the mood to eat at 9 weeks was macaroni and cheese? Was my addiction to simple carbs the culprit? And of course, the other side of my brain said, “OK, time for research!”

I immediately started reading even more after being diagnosed, wondering how many people were diet-controlled; what types of diets they were on, and what the ramifications were if one was unable to control one’s diet. The scariest part: I now have a 50% chance of developing this in my next pregnancy and a higher chance of developing Type 2 later in life.

DIET-CONTROL

First step - meet with a nutritionist. This was slightly more informative than I thought. Largely because she described how pregnant women’s placentas produce all these hormones which at times prevents our insulin receptors from working, thereby increasing our blood glucose levels. The nutritionist gave me some guidelines (in short - it’s carb control), which were then altered slightly by the gestational-diabetes nurse. Here’s what it looked like:

All XXg represent carbs:

Breakfast: 30g (test blood sugar 2 hours after first bite)
AM snack: 15g
Lunch: 45g (test blood sugar 2 hours after first bite)
PM snack: 15g
Dinner: 45g (test blood sugar 2 hours after first bite)
Bedtime snack: 15-30g
(Test blood sugar when you wake up next day - fasting level)

Note: getting these carbs from high fiber, 100% whole wheat, low sugar items is way better than useless non-nutritional simple carbs — which I’ve always known but damn is it hard while pregnant!

Next - I had to get a blood glucose measuring kit (my OBs prescribed one to my pharmacy). This is to test my blood sugar 4 times per day by pricking my fingers with a lancet. I use Accucheck (I’ve heard some negative things re: OneTouch from forums and other mamas, but see if you can request a brand that others have reviewed well).

Some doctors say to test after the first bite, or last bite of your meals — some do 1 hour after meals, with targets under 140mg/dl, while others say 2 hours under 120; fasting targets are generally below 95 or 90. I know — super confusing! And based on your doc or OB, you may have a different set of rules. I had to test 2 hours from the first bite, with a target under 120; my fasting target was under 95.

Breakfast meals that have worked for me:

  • Whole wheat waffle (1) with peanut butter and 4 to 5 dark-chocolate chips

  • Any amount of eggs scrambled with veggies and cheese

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and thin layer of low-sugar jam
    I’ve coupled the above with half cup of unsweetened almond milk + half a cup of Stok iced black coffee (no sugar of course) on the way to work.

    I’ve stayed away from cereals, milk and fruit because the carb count is just too high for me to risk spiking.

Lunch meals that have worked for me:

  • Whole wheat wraps or sandwiches with cheese/veggies/protein inside
    (only get the carbs from the wrap or bread and make sure they’re under 45g)

  • Small soup (clear soups without noodles are less fatty/carb-y) and half sandwich similar to above and/or small salad with cheese, veggies + protein

    I steer clear of too many beans/bean-based items since beans have a lot of carbs although they’re a good protein source. I just get my protein elsewhere.

EMOTIONAL DRAWBACKS - PART I

Meeting with the nutritionist and having a way to check my blood sugars was initially empowering. As an optimist, I decided to take this as a challenge that I could overcome. So when I faced what I deemed as failure, I broke down — frequently.

Think about it. Everyday you wake up - you test your blood sugar. You need to be under 95 and the only control you had over it (supposedly) was your bedtime snack. You switch it around every night to wake up the next morning either relieved or devastated. Repeat this feeling 3 times a day, after breakfast, after lunch, and after dinner. Not to mention half of those times are in between work meetings in the bathroom, thinking only about what you can do to improve or plan your next meal. Sometimes I was so tired from cooking and cleaning after dinner, that going for a walk was just out of the question. And days where I would fit in gym time would sometimes result in a bad number; and some low-exercise days I’d end up testing okay. This entire thing was EXHAUSTING.

I remember literally just crying inside our closet and my husband (a general hospital physician who at times can approach things very methodically versus sympathetically) was genuinely confused. He would ask me if this was because of GD, probably because he hadn’t seen me randomly break down like this before and was truly curious as to why it’s affecting me so negatively when we were blessed to be pregnant in the first place. According to him — with treatment and diligence, nothing would be a problem!

And that’s fair when you’re on the outside looking in. But I withdrew. I was sick and tired of my conversations revolving around my meals, snacks, carb gram limits, sugar levels, not a moment in the day felt like I could dedicate it anywhere else. I didn’t feel like calling my friends (not because they wouldn’t sympathize, but because I didn’t even know how to bring it up or how to just verbal diarrhea the misery; and of course, it’s not always easy to feel weak around your loved ones 24/7). Hanging out with people for dinner or meals felt out of the question.

I latched onto my parents (shout out to them and I am so lucky to have them); my mother would insist I could call her anytime I felt this way, which was a huge help. It was the most frustrating feeling, day after day, knowing I still had [X] number of days having to prick my finger 4x and hold my breath for the 5 seconds before a number was revealed on that dreaded screen.

GETTING ON INSULIN

After repeat frustrations and nights of elevated dinner numbers and fasting numbers, my NP mentioned that the high-risk OBs would have to put me on insulin. If 50% of your numbers are elevated, that’s the protocol. I said “well 50% of my numbers look good, right?” referencing my breakfast and lunch logs. But she chuckled kindly and said “50% of each column, otherwise we diagnose insulin for that particular time of day - whether short acting or long acting.” The most comforting thing was that she told me it was my placenta, and it’s only gonna get wonkier as the pregnancy progresses and more hormones are released.

I asked a ton of questions, about the injection method, the number of units I’d have to inject, and how and when those units would increase, if at all.

I was also told that now that I’m on insulin, I’ll have to come in for 2 ultrasounds per week (!) and will be induced at 39 weeks if I don’t give birth earlier. So in short, less control over having a CS or vaginal birth based on baby’s position & size at that time. They would put me on 12 units for both dinner and fasting; with a short-acting insulin 15 minutes before eating dinner and long-acting insulin before I go to bed (around the time I have my bedtime snack).

I initially only told my family and a friend or two; I had a wedding weekend coming up, and the stress with my diet and impending injections had me in an emotional state once again. I inject my thighs right now, (can’t bring myself to do the abdomen yet since I bruise easily). My husband sometimes helps draw the insulin sans air bubbles before I inject. The smell of alcohol swabs definitely takes me back to the days of my grandpa injecting himself and me watching him when I was little.

EMOTIONAL DRAWBACKS PART II:

As an optimist, I really do know that I am blessed. I’m sure others have had much worse complications and I myself may face greater adversities in this pregnancy, the next, or in my overall health. I’m not short of perspective.

But when you go through something like this and only you are carrying your child, the last thing you want to hear about is about someone else’s pregnancy, or how they also had GD, or how they were put on insulin, or how they were also induced, or how they also knew someone who knew someone who had a baby who weighed normal.

None of that really matters. That doesn’t get rid of the fact that I now prick myself 6-8x a day, 4-6 pricks to check (or recheck) my blood sugars and 2 shots for dinner and fasting. It doesn’t take away the fact that I’m tasked with figuring out what foods spike me daily for each meal and to avoid things like the plague - things that I’m naturally craving as a pregnant person.

I’m coming to terms with the diagnosis and dealing with it day by day, distracting myself with cupcake toppers for my baby shower, blankly staring at onesies and cribs, and feigning smiles and replies like “good, thanks!” whenever people ask me how the pregnancy is going.

I’m working hard to keep my breakfast and lunch numbers stable. I’m currently logging them into a Google Spreadsheet, a manual log on my fridge, as well as an app - overkill I know - but there are only so many times I have access to one of the 3 throughout the day! The great thing is that my blood sugar monitor has a memory and you can click left or right to remind yourself of your levels. I am still planning my dinner meals and bedtime snacks to be within the carb limits provided, and the insulin has reflected a majority of my numbers under the target, which is certainly relieving.

Only 52 more days of meal planning, blood sugar checking, and insulin injecting. But it’s important to look for the silver lining; starting a week from now, frequent hospital visits mean frequent ultrasounds where I get to see how my baby girl is growing. I am gaining peace in talking about this and being able to help / share my experience with other mamas-to-be or get insight from those who have gone through this. So please feel free to share your experience or ask me any questions!

UPDATES

I plan to update this post as things progress, as i’m currently 31w5d with an induction date set for 39 weeks.

Baby Shower Decor and Ideas

Hello lovelies! Today I decided to share some of my decor finds and really pretty baby shower ideas only because 1) I'm obviously thinking about it, and 2) it's never too early to prepare and start researching these things! So I'm going to break it up into three sections to feel a bit on top of it and so that I have something to reference later on when I start truly planning mine and bringing it all together (which I'll obviously be sharing with y'all too once that happens)!

NOTE: I'm having a baby girl, and although I'm super anti all those bright pink vs blue heteronormative themes, I'm feeling blush (I love the color in general) along with rustic tones, metallics and greenery. 

1. The Venue

Everyone knows what a sucker I am for natural light. I need it all the time because it's the BEST for photo ops. Even for my wedding I made sure there was a way we could get natural light (no matter what, rain or shine) so we opted for a venue with a glass ceiling/dome... aaaand I'll probably want a similar vibe for my baby shower (I'm fine with natural light via tall windows or something, nothing that crazy). Here are a few examples (not in Atlanta, but we'll see if I opt for our backyard or elsewhere depending on the weather):

Source: Pinterest, BuffyDekmarBlog, StyleMePretty

2. The Invites

Yes I'm of Indian origin, and no I didn't realize how overwhelming and confusing it is to come up with the guest list for the shower. Wanting it to be intimate without forgetting any loved ones, while also not putting pressure on attendance is a really fine line to balance. I am still in the process, but i'm a digital gal and paperless post is gonna be my invite of choice when it comes to having people save the date (I know this isn't necessary but it really is when you have a lot of people considering coming from out of town) and the actual invites themselves. How beautiful are these custom Paperless Post designs for baby showers?! I can't wait to get started on mine.

Source: PaperlessPost

3. The Decor

While browsing Pinterest, I've seen so many cute decor ideas that I simply CANNOT choose, but know that I will have to limit myself because this is a baby shower, obv, and not a full-blown wedding shower and I need to chill out a bit. But I can't help but get excited at all these gorgeous neutral / blush pink / white themed ideas that are oh-so rustic and pretty!

Source: GingerRay

4. Food & Drink

I'm such a fan of finger foods and believe it or not, I don't have the largest sweet tooth (yikes!), so I'll probably get some friends to recommend the best types of delicacies for pastries and dessert type options. But when it comes to savory, I am sooo into light snacks and refreshing drinks (will likely include some boozy options, too, because hey -- ima let others enjoy and have a good time during the shower even if I can't indulge)! How yummy do these look?

Source: Mabel & Moxie, MonCheriBridals

5. Entertainment

Just cause I'm havin' a baby doesn't mean I can't bust a move or two, or at least have some fun music playing in the background and a few games to keep people entertained. I saw some cute printables (see left) that spurred some really fun ideas for guests to partake in. And of course, my favorite idea: having people decorate onesies! Such a fun personal touch that I can keep with my forever when I dress my baby girl.

Source: PrettyCollected, StyleMePretty

Are there any games you've enjoyed while attending or hosting your baby shower? Any other decor ideas you've seen or are dying to share? Sound off in the comments. I could totally use ideas and hear from you about your experiences. Momma to momma-to-be advice is always fun! Thanks for reading.

XO
Jen

5 reasons I stopped blogging (and why I'm going to try again)

It's been a long time since I've published anything to this blog. I've lazily posted a few things on Instagram, but I've simply not kept up with creating meaningful content for any semblance of a readership I may or may not have. I felt like writing out the numerous explanations (not excuses) for why I haven't been blogging. Just like choosing to create this blog was a conscious decision, I've also made multiple decisions to prioritize other things over blogging, which have made me upset at times, disappointed in myself, and just overwhelmed -- because I'm not creating anything exciting anymore. And I want to start trying again. The last thing I want is for blogging to become a chore, and I don't yet think I'm at that point because I still have a lot of ideas that I'd truly like to share! So here is a list of why I stopped (just to air it out and be real):

1. MAKING THE TIME

I'm actually writing this on a lunch break as we speak. Here's the thing -- blogging takes time. I need to organize the content vs. just publish any sort of verbal diarrhea. I also struggle to take pictures and edit them in a consistent manner where I'm posting regularly.

I also love my day job. It was easier to make time for my side passion when my head and heart weren't 100% into my day job, or when I found myself needing a creative outlet more often. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to share other creative ideas or tips, but when my brain's more into my 9-5, it's hard to switch gears as often as I'd been able to before. 

I think this is something that needs to be done consciously and properly in order for true change and commitment to posting more often.

2. FEAR OF FAILURE

I'm not afraid to admit that I'm ... well, afraid. It's easy to see other successful bloggers put their heart and soul into their platforms and content creation and feel inadequate. Sometimes I've fallen into thoughts of "Oh, well she already posted a tutorial on this. Why should I? Will it be any better?" or "Wow, she looks stunning. She's in such great shape. I'm not near where I want to be so what's the point of taking pictures of this outfit?" 

But here's the thing -- content can be unique because it's YOU that's unique. And I need to tell myself that more often. I view multiple tutorials on the same things because I'm interested in that particular blogger or influencer's vibe or life or attitude. So why should I compare myself and fear anything? There's nothing to lose. Post a picture that doesn't go with the rest of my Instagram feed? Who cares! It sounds sillier when I reflect on it and think about it out loud.

3. TOO MANY INTERESTS

I know, I know. Who says having too many interests is a bad thing? It's not! But sometimes I feel stretched so thin that I'm thinking about posting about something one day, and something completely different another day. When I feel stretched across so many potential topics mentally, it becomes hard to deliberately focus on one topic at a time, or truly form a niche or theme for my blog or platforms. There are so many help articles or guides about focusing your blog, or picking a theme you're good at and sticking with it -- but with my personality, that's freaking hard! And it's OK.

It's OK if I want to talk over and over about Bollywood and then snap back to my favorite mascara another day. I can give myself the freedom to post something "random," as long as I truly care about it. That's all that matters. When you really care about what you're talking about or creating content for, it shouldn't matter. So screw those articles, because I can't help it. The great thing is that platforms like Instagram help you diversify the things you talk about in your stories, etc. - so that's definitely something I can get better at and utilize so I don't feel all over the place.

4. LIVING IN THE MOMENT

Sounds cheesy, right? What does this even mean? I'll tell you. Sometimes, when I'm having a sweet moment with Anup and laughing over something silly like missing my straw when I'm having a drink, I forget to even take a picture or boomerang of it. And then I think back of all the times I could have captured content, but was too busy cracking up or singing or enjoying the road trip instead of editing pictures on my phone and queueing them up for posts. It's a part of real life.

And now, I'm pregnant. I see all these beautiful announcement posts from influencers about their journeys, but with all the initial sickness and even the excitement of celebrating the news with family, I haven't really gotten around to posting about it or sharing it with a platform. It doesn't mean I don't have some fun tips or pieces of my journey that I wouldn't like to share. I just get easily caught up in the moment too often where I don't sit and reflect and share. I'd like to do this more often, because the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

5. FEELING FAKE

This is going to sound bizarre. I always want to feel genuine and share authentic content at all times. But sometimes this world of blogging doesn't make you feel like you're operating that way when you have to filter photos, add captions, and talk about the content you're sharing. I sometimes write a caption, stare at it and think to myself "WTF, you don't even talk like that." And then I hate it, because my content feels cookie-cutter, bland, and completely inauthentic. Sometimes, if I truly had to be honest, my caption would be "Did that thing where I made Anup retake this photo for the 4th time because my hairtie was on my arm." And I've done that sometimes. But I think I need to be that real that much more often (for myself and so that I feel comfortable in what I'm sharing). Otherwise it starts to feel like I'm brainstorming content that is just not at all how I talk or type to my friends. And then my blogging life feels like a distant thing, vs. a true outlet that is close to me and representative of my true day to day. 

If you made it this far -- thanks for reading. I genuinely think airing all of this out makes me feel better to try to blog again and feel good doing it. I'm definitely open to hearing other people's thoughts, tips or ideas for how to tackle the above issues that I've come across time and time again over the past year. Excited to start anew and share some fun content along the way.

XO
Jen