Archive for March 2016

Being Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes

Monday, March 14, 2016

© laura su

I didn't really understand that I was being diagnosed. I was sitting on the examining table and my OB was looking at my chart, telling me that I had failed two out of the three blood draws for the glucose tolerance tests I had taken.

"Ah." I looked at her.

She looked up from the laptop and patted my arm. "It's going to be okay."

I was confused by this gesture. "Does that mean I have gestational diabetes?"


"Oh." I paused. "Officially? I have gestational diabetes?"

The news didn't upset me. I never thought I was someone who could handle any sort of bad news well. I can be, shall we say, a little dramatic. I take after my mom in that way. In almost every instance, our minds first go to worst case scenarios. Growing up, I was always under the impression that my mom needed to be protected. She seemed so fragile, so prone to flying off the handle. As it turns out, when truly bad things happen, my mother is the vision of calm. She is able to have incredible perspective and the next task is always this- figure out a plan of action.

I was relieved to find that I take after her in this way too.

"Okay. What do we do about it?"

My OB referred me to the local Perinatal Care office, where I would be assigned a dietician and learn about what gestational diabetes was and how to manage it. The time between diagnosis and my appointment was tough. I still didn't know what I was able to eat and still in the midst of first trimester fatigue and morning sickness.

I did not want to be told I wasn't allowed to subsist on orange juice and dried mango slices.

Don't nobody be taking away my dried mango slices.


The first meeting was held like a class. At the head of the table, the dietician had surrounded herself with silicone versions of various foods. I looked around and saw that I was surrounded by women who were much farther along in their pregnancies (the standard practice is to check for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks). I was the only one with an almost nonexistent bump (at only 12 weeks pregnant). In addition to being part of the small fraction of women who were diagnosed with GDM, I was part of an even smaller group of people that were diagnosed early. Huzzah!

We were passed red folders full of useful information. Food schedules, types of food and their corresponding serving sizes, examples of meals that we could have. Each of us were given a starter kit with our own glucose monitor, lancets, and test strips. She taught us how to stick our fingers to draw a bit of blood (on the first digit of the finger and only on the sides, not the pad) to test after we woke in the morning and after each meal. We were to keep a food journal every day and the results of our monitoring would tell us whether we were keeping our blood sugars within a normal range.

The silicone food was there to give us a visual of what proper portions of food were for us now. Was that a real eye opener! Despite being someone who still shakes when face to face with a needle, this was the most disappointing part of the day.

It was an intense couple of hours.

But I was optimistic. I had been told what I could and couldn't eat. I could finally see, using the glucose monitor, what levels my blood sugar were at and that began to give me some feeling of control over the situation. It was like someone had drawn me a map and given me instructions on how to get to the end of this pregnancy.

And I was good at following instructions.

Previous Posts: On Pregnancy

Notes For My Daughter

Thursday, March 10, 2016

There is so much that I want for you already. I'll get to them all one day, but to start:

© laura su

I want to raise you in a home that smells of wood shelving, filled to the brim with stories. To give you a life as stable as the wall to ceiling bookshelves that surround you as you sleep, in your first few months of existence, beside our bed.

© laura su

I want to show you that it's possible, through these stories, to find a deep connection with those who inhabit completely different lifestyles. That it's possible to empathize and feel compassion for those whose paths you'll never have to walk.

© laura su

I want to give you the key to escaping, when you need to, into other worlds so fantastic that everything else falls away, even if for just a moment. And when you are ready, to come back to a life that feels solid. Strong, secure. Like the bookshelves your father built while you were tucked safely inside my belly.

Things Took A Turn

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I was so damn smug.

And then things took a turn.

I didn't see the nausea coming and when it arrived, I was caught completely and utterly off guard. Totally KO'd.

Much of it came from my intensely heightened sense of smell. Chemicals, laundry detergent, soaps. Our century old apartment, with its layers of paint and ancient caulking. His deodorant. Our toothpaste.

(If this is you, you'll need a few new household products to keep gagging to a minimum. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of items we replaced to make life a little less awful.)

And then the aversions came. Some women get to have cravings. I got to experience a deep hatred for almost everything I used to love- coffee, garlic, that fresh wood smell you get from new furniture. Spices in Indian food. Did I mention coffee? That one hurt the most.

Every night, I cried while my helpless husband got ready for bed. My sense of smell was relentless and various, formerly benign, odors would wake me up every hour. We slept apart so that at least one of us would get some rest.

"I've ruined our lives!" I would sob. Misery can only see a few inches in front of it, and without a sense of a real baby, not even a semblance of a belly bump, I had forgotten that this was something we both wanted, so desperately, just a few weeks ago.

© laura su

Life went into a dark hole for the next four months.

In that dark hole, I was also diagnosed early with gestational diabetes mellitus. I was tired all the time. Some of it was normal first trimester sleepiness but not knowing what I could or couldn't eat also severely affected energy levels. I was too exhausted to attempt any type of research. If I had, I would have found ways to cope.
GDM pro tip: Do not do what I did and cut out all carbs! Carbs = energy. An excellent way to handle carbs is to balance with protein or fats, for example: cheese with whole wheat crackers. Scrums.
Gestational diabetes affects approximately 7% of pregnancies and I was one of the lucky ones! If you've found your way to this blog because you are also pregnant, don't worry. Statistically speaking, you probably won't get it.

If you do have it, it's okay. There are alot of misconceptions floating around that only cause you more stress. Before I continue, I want you to know these extremely important things:

  1. GDM is temporary.
  2. Your having GDM is not your fault.
  3. You can still enjoy food without hurting yourself or your baby. 

Stay tuned. I was diagnosed very early, so I have mucho to say on the topic.

Previous Posts: On Pregnancy

  • Things Took A Turn

Scent free/Lightly Scented Products For Sensitive Pregnant Noses:

Tide Free and Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent

Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Bar Soap, All-One Hemp Baby Unscented

Olivina Moisturizing Hand and Body Wash with Pump, Lavender
This is a fairly expensive product but something that really worked for me. Affordable options exist and a good workaround is reading the ingredient list. If the list is very short and the product is advertised as "natural", it might be just as effective.

Schmidt's Deodorant - Bergamot and Lime (All-Day Protection and Wetness Relief; Aluminum-Free)
This also comes in a bar/stick form, which we sometimes pick up at Urban Outfitters but the pot is the more affordable option to try.

The First Symptom

Thursday, March 3, 2016

About a week or so after the Line Appeared On The Test, the first symptom of my pregnancy appeared. The non-crazies who don't test until they've missed their period might miss this one (which is really unfortunate because it was the absolute BEST), but I had discovered that I was pregnant a full week before that milestone.

It was plenty of time for me to notice that something unusual was happening.

©laura su

In my natural state, the me that I present to the world is of a fairly calm person. At the end of a work day, I could be described as subdued. The week following my first positive test, a pregnancy symptom appeared and it was this: complete and utter euphoria.

If you didn't know me very well, you might have assumed this change in demeanor meant that I was just feeling happy about our life altering news- we were finally going to have a baby! What I was actually feeling was a mixture of fear and dread (not a big fan of change). I was good with fear and dread though. Fear and dread was a familiar and cozy place.

But in these first couple weeks of pregnancy, I felt terrifyingly happy. I would find mundane things simply delightful and at times, this would cause me to laugh spontaneously. That giddy sensation would feel so good that I would continue to grin stupidly for the next several minutes. If I was out in public, I would point that stupid grin at strangers on the street.

I'm a born and raised New Yorker. We wear black, walk briskly, avoid eye contact in close quarters. Smiling at strangers is something we absolutely do not do.

Yet there I was, doing it.

My husband didn't understand this new happy person that he was sharing his home with.

"Stop being so happy," he said. "It's freaking me out."

I laughed heartily. For several minutes.

Perhaps I would be one of the lucky few that had no terrible symptoms! Pregnancy was going to be the best nine months of my life.

Previous Posts: On Pregnancy

  • The First Symptom