While waiting in my dentist’s office with horrible tooth pain, I got the phone call: you have gestational diabetes. A week later, I took a two-hour diabetes education class that included horror stories of emergency c-sections, giant babies and the dangers of preeclampsia. It also included meal suggestions and two classmates, the likes of which are the reason healthcare in America is broken. (Seriously: you get a diagnosis of GD, don’t you want to do something about it? Perhaps you should stop drinking 3-4 cans of Pepsi or actually use the testing kit. But enough about them. This is about me, Type A.)
I’m the type of patient doctors love because I hate failing tests. Even if these aren’t “graded,” I am a teacher’s dream. I always do extra credit assignments, even when I already have an ‘A’ in a class. So when my doctor told me this stupid condition could be controlled with diet and exercise and I could avoid taking medicine or insulin, I took that as a challenge. I can do anything for three months after all, including mostly avoiding my beloved ice cream. And the fact that I successfully did the South Beach diet for six months before my wedding gave me hope, considering many of the meal suggestions are South Beach diet friendly.
140 or less is the target blood glucose number an hour after beginning a meal. 90 or less is the target when you first wake up. After taking the class, I have only been over the target number once and I knew it was going to happen because I finished my son’s banana and toast at breakfast after already eating too many carbs, including a Yoplait yogurt, which had too many carbs than I should consume at breakfast.
Breakfast is the hardest meal. Most cereal is really high in carbs/sugar and the ones that aren’t taste like cardboard. So I’ve been eating a lot of eggs and cheese at breakfast. I have no idea how a vegan would survive breakfast time with gestational diabetes.
Here are my tips for succeeding:
Do what the doctor tells you. Test four times a day until she tells you that you can cut back to twice a day. Do some form of exercise after each meal, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Eat an evening snack that includes protein and carbs but don’t eat it too late at night. If you miss testing an hour after a meal, test two hours afterward (but your number should be 120 or less). And please don’t test in the car while driving, especially if you haven’t mastered one-handed testing yet. It’s stupid and dangerous and unnecessary.
And it is okay to cry and feel sad, especially when you hear that you will have a 50/50 chance of developing type 2 diabetes as soon as 10 years after the gestational diabetes diagnosis. It’s depressing. But if you think if this as a test you don’t want to fail – or you know, have a 15 pound baby – you can manage. And after delivery I plan to have ice cream and cookies and cake exclusively for a week. And I’m only sort of kidding.