So when I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It's a form of temporary diabetes that can happen in some women during pregnancy, due to changes in hormones (plus having risk factors). If it isn't managed, there can be serious effects on the baby. Some women need to take insulin in order to help manage things.
Let me just say that it really sucked to have diabetes during my pregnancy. My diet was seriously restricted. I was terrified of eating the wrong thing, for fear of harming the baby. And this wasn't a diet where I felt I could "cheat" every now and then. Every cookie, every morsel of bread, every piece of chocolate could have impacted the baby. I didn't have a choice but to follow the diet to the letter of the law. I needed to prick my finger three-four times a day to check my blood sugar levels. By the end of the pregnancy, my fingers were callaced and sore. I needed to eat at certain times. If I wasn't active after every meal and snack, my sugars were too high. And for those of you who have been nearly nine months pregnant, being "active" isn't always possible. That, and it isn't really practical to start doing jumping jacks at work after you finish lunch.
I would walk by every restaurant that I used to eat at, and feel miserable. Birthdays, Christmas, other special days - I would be extremely restricted in terms of what I could eat. On occasion, when I felt like having a small piece of chocolate and couldn't, I would feel like crying. And then I'd get angry with myself: this was for the good of my baby. But it was so, so, so, hard. Food is so central to my life. Perhaps that was the problem.
Anyway, I managed to keep the diabetes in check without needing insulin. Which was a huge feat. The doctor said that my blood sugar levels were through the roof and thought I'd need insulin without a doubt. She was amazed that I managed it by myself. I don't think she understood what a determined young lady she was dealing with.
So, I learned two very important lessons:
1. I would throw myself in front of a thousand flying bullets for my babies. There isn't anything in the world I wouldn't do for them. So really, watching my diet for a few months wasn't an issue. It was hard for me to do, but I did it. Having said that, look at the last 44 days of my struggles now! When it's just me, it's a different kettle of fish altogether. Why is that? Isn't it really the same thing? I'm doing this to be healthy for them. For me. But it's still harder somehow.
2. It was a huge health scare. And a blessing. I was given a window into the world of diabetes, but was also given a pair of curtains with which to close the glass when I was done looking. I didn't like living that way at all.
So here's the bad news: My chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the next ten years have increased four-fold. Especially if I don't lose weight. I am at serious risk of getting diabetes. It makes me sick with fear just to think about it. But then I feel vindicated somehow: I have an opportunity to change this, which is what I'm doing right now.
Anyway, I was supposed to go for some bloodwork three months after I had the baby to ensure that the diabetes had in fact, gone away after pregnancy. I put it off for a few weeks. And then another few weeks. In fact, I put it off for three whole extra months.
Why? I was terrified of finding out. I made a million excuses about being busy with two kids, but really, it was crazy to not want to know. That in itself is a huge risk.
So the morning of my blood test, I decided to pull out the diabetes kit from my pregnancy and check my own blood sugar. It was high. I started to think that I was borderline diabetic, and began to mentally prepare myself. I went to the blood lab (it's a three-hour test!) and sat there feeling sick to my stomach the whole time.
That was two weeks ago. I called the doctor's office with rocks in my stomach yesterday. The secretary said, "Your blood test came back perfectly normal. You're fine."
Tears of relief sprang to my eyes. Wonderful news for now.
But the thing is, diabetes is going to be like a shadow that follows me for the rest of my life. It will chase me, taunt me, and scare me. Everytime I hear the "D" word I'm going to feel uneasy. But I'm so lucky because I have a chance to decrease my odds of getting it.
So. Here I am, Day 44. And I'm starting to become every bit determined as I was a few months ago when that doctor looked at me with amazement. So this journey is so much more than fitting into a size 8 for me. It's about living a long and healthy life. And maybe being around to bounce some great-grand children my knees one day.