On Wednesday it was beautiful outside - sunny, warm and not a cloud in the sky. Naturally, I decided to spend the entire morning in the hospital waiting room.
I had to get my regular bloodwork done, as well as an ECG, and tests for gestational diabetes, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia (I see you giving me the side eye! The last two are STANDARD I’ll have you know!)
Originally I wasn’t even going to do the gestational diabetes test. In my midwives practice very few tests or diagnostic procedures are mandatory. They tell you about the test, explain the risks/benefits, then allow you to make your own decision. I had heard a lot about the test - basically you fast overnight, then go to the hospital and your blood taken. After that you drink a large bottle of sugar syrup that tastes like concentrated orange drink from McDonalds, and then have more blood drawn 1 hr and 2 hrs after.
(Oh! Also! If you’re me you forget both your phone and a book and spend those two hours alternately reading ancient copies of “Parents” magazine and eavesdropping on the posse of old men sitting behind you.)
Sounds fun, right? So why was I thinking of not doing it in the first place? Oh you know, because this is a list of risk factors for developing Gestational Diabetes:
- You’re obese (your body mass index is over 30).
- You’ve had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
- You have sugar in your urine.
- You have a strong family history of diabetes.
- You’ve previously given birth to a big baby. Some use 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams, or 4 kilos) as the cutoff; others use 9 pounds, 14 ounces (4,500 grams, or 4.5 kilos).
- You’ve had an unexplained stillbirth.
- You’ve had a baby with a birth defect.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You’re over 35.
I have exactly none of these. NONE. In fact I am the polar opposite of some of them (I was technically underweight pre-pregnancy and I have always had really low blood pressure).
Still, with all the shit that’s gone down in my pregnancy thus far, I thought it would be a good idea to just do the test and get it checked off the list. Truthfully, I just wanted a test result to come back good for a change.
Do you see where this is going? Has my heavy-handed foreshadowing given it away yet?
I have motherfucking gestational diabetes.
And because I am a woman of action, here’s what I have done about it so far:
Panicked. Spent way too much time on google. Cried about it at 2am to my bewildered and exhausted husband. Googled some more. Wallowed. Cried. Cried in the shower. Cried while talking to my midwife. Cried while pulling out weeds in the backyard. Examined all of my eating habits for the past seven months. Berated myself for having four ice cream cones in Victoria, that Australian licorice last week - (because that’s probably what did it, right?). Cried while hanging laundry on the line. Cried while vacuuming (it makes me feel better to clean when I am in these states, okay?).
Because seriously, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?
I was so upset I didn’t even know how to coherently express myself. Every time I started to say “I have gestational diabetes…” I broke into wailing sobs mid-sentence and it sounded more like “I have gestational diaeeeee eee eeeee!”.
I think what upset me most (other than how Dr. Google told me I would have a 14 lb baby, or a dead baby, or be diabetic for the rest of my life, or that I should pretty much just give up now because I have already failed at being a mother before I’ve even had the damn kid) is the preconceived notions I have about diabetes and the fact that other people might begin applying those - consciously or unconsciously - to me.
It’s never pleasant to come face to face with your own prejudices, and I have to admit when I think “diabetes” I think of stock news-reel footage of obese people shot from the shoulders down. Monstrous forms scarfing down fast food and bucket-sized soft drinks. I think of people who haven’t eaten fresh vegetables in years, people who think doughnuts are an acceptable breakfast.
I know that this image isn’t fair, that what I’ve described isn’t the reality for all diabetics or even most diabetics, but I’ve realized that this the image I associate - without even being aware that I’m doing it- with diabetes. And now I am worried that image is attaching itself to me.
I felt the need to protest, to justify, to explain that I DO eat well, I DO exercise. I worried that this meant I had failed somehow in this enormous task given to me.
These are some of my most unattractive character traits, the propensity to judge; to think the sky is falling; to curl up in a fetal position and wail that it’s just not FAIR, dammit!
I didn’t want to write about this. The diagnosis embarrassed me and my reaction embarrassed me, and although I have been told several times now, by several different medical professionals that this is not my fault, that GD is oftentimes simply a fluke, a unique reaction between pregnancy hormones and insulin, despite all of this I am blaming myself. How could I not?
I could not stop going back over every single thing I ate since becoming pregnant. Feeling guilty for the morning sickness months where simple carbs were all I could keep down. Feeling guilty for the occasional cone of gelato and that coke I had at lunch one day. I scrutinized every indulgence, every treat, and meted out the blame accordingly.
In short, I was over reacting. Being melodramatic and self-flagellating and feeling uncomfortably sorry for myself. Listening to me try and explain myself through hiccuping sobs yesterday, Adam looked at me in bewilderment and said, “I have no idea why you’re being so irrationally emotional right now. You need to think of this a bit more logically.”
Ohhh! LOGIC! Of course!
Hi Adam, have you MET me?
ME! Me who once cried after a long day of moving because there was ketchup on my burger. Me who loses herself for days in books, knee-deep in the minute intricacies of of fictional characters. Me who now has all of that predisposition towards hysteria and “end of the world” thinking PLUS a healthy dose of 7-month pregnancy hormones.
Yeah Adam, I’ll get right on that “logic” thing you speak of, right after I finish furiously scrubbing the floor with my bitter tears.
All of these histrionics are in the past. Towards the end of the day I spoke with my midwife, spoke with one of my friends who’s had GD, took a deep breath and then took the day off work and went to the lake.
Buoyed by cool water, I floated on my back, soaking up the sun. I swam laps around the water’s edge, getting close enough to the shore to see the spider webbed network of lily-pads close up.
I swam until I was bone-tired and my eyes weren’t red from crying anymore. I hauled myself out, sat on the shore and soaked up the last bits of sun and with it some much needed perspective.
I feel thoroughly foolish for my (over)reaction, I’m over it. This is just another teensy bump in the road, a small but manageable condition and far from the worst news a lady could get. No more woe is me, no more tears and pity parties. But also, unfortunately, no more gelato :(
So Internets, I have the diabeetus. I meet with our local clinic next week to get instructions, and to acquaint myself with the lovely little device that I’ll be pricking my finger with after every meal. I’ll manage this and I’ll do what I’m told and although in my unattractive moments it is tempting to bemoan this development, to feel like I’m ending up with every random pregnancy condition ever, it could be worse.
It could be worse. Despite the diabeetus I am going to have a healthy, happy baby and that’s all that matters.
I’m just going to go ahead and let my good friend Wilford Brimley take it from here with my new theme song.