Fighting the Fight: For Baby and Me

August 24, 2012By 7 Comments

I have waited patiently to write this blog post for about 14 weeks now.  Call it voodoo, a silent pact among women, or just plain superstition, I didn’t want to share my good news until I felt that I was at least mostly out of the woods (although you are never really out of the woods, diabetes or not).  I have so much to say and so much emotion to share, and over the next 6 months or so, you will understand what it is like to be in the brain and in the body of a pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes.  I have many friends that I can look to for encouragement, many friends from diabetes camp who have either gone on to have not one, but two or even three healthy beautiful babies, and other diabetic friends who are at the same stage in their life as me, and just starting on this journey. Although I have this endless circle of support, I still for some reason feel like I am on an island all by myself with a strict set of rules and a map made of test strips to get me through what I always thought was the impossible.  I am hopeful that my candid blogging through my pregnancy will help anyone in my position or anyone who loves someone in my position.  We need to share our stories, and while some wonderful people I know have shared theirs on blogs and on facebook, for some reason, now that I am in the actual position of being pregnant with diabetes, I can’t remember their stories, all I see is the fight I have in front of me and the progress I have made thus far.

The crazy, Type A, OCD, stubborn and determined person really paid off when it came to planning this pregnancy.  James and I knew we wanted to start trying at some point this summer, but when my birthday came near, I told him all I wanted for a gift was a baby (not exactly the cheapest present in the long-run).  Now, in my head, I had been planning this out for months.  My A1c was 7.3 back in January; WAY higher then I like, regardless of pregnancy aspirations.  Not only did I work my butt off, wear my annoying sensor every day, and work diligently to stop over-treating lows and stop over-bolusing after high’s, but I completely changed my lifestyle.  I started seeing the specialists in Boston months in advance.  I started reading books and implementing all I had learned over the years in my practice as a dietitian and eating not just for the health of my diabetes, but for the health of my body to get it ready to host the best party around.  Some may say that eating perfectly, having a perfect A1c, and thinking positive thoughts have nothing to do with being able to get pregnant, and I’m sure they’re right.  Again, I just like to think that it didn’t hurt my chances.  This is just my personality; if something is in my control and I can have an effect on what happens, then I will do everything in my power to make it work.  I am not saying that this is the perfect way to go about things, and everyone can go about it differently and can get the same result.

Needless to say, the joy, the elation, the surprise and anxiety all related to getting that positive pregnancy test were all there.  Lingering not far behind all those emotions were the weight and heaviness of my diabetes and the desperation of the list of questions immediately took over my body.  Did I do enough?  My A1c was 5.8 at my last visit, but I’ve had a couple 200’s this week?  Will I be able to hold steady with this kind of control for the next 9 months? What if I have a miscarriage, how can I keep up this control for well over a year or however long it takes to have a successful pregnancy?  Every time I go high am I hurting the baby, am I taking away its only chance at growing strong organs?  These thoughts have never left my brain since the second I found out I was pregnant.  I have friends, and even my doctors who tell me “you can’t beat yourself up if you have a high.  It’s not the one high blood sugar that matters; it’s a bunch of them in a pattern for long periods of time, that’s what hurts the baby.”  I know this is true, and I know that the random high’s I have from over-treating a low are not killing my baby.  But when I get the automated email from the pregnancy website I signed up for, and it says “this week your babies brain is developing”, and I check my blood sugar and I’m 175; well I can’t help but feel my heavy heart sink to my feet and a voice inside my head tell me that I am not doing enough to avoid these high’s.

This sounds awful, and pessimistic, and James will hear none of this.  He is a big believer in positive, positive, positive thoughts, without room for any second guesses.  I have been great on the outside, with only a few moments of tears and frustrated phone calls to him while he has been away on business trips, “But Hun, can you try to see if on one of your sales calls you can find someone who wants to buy my diabetes?  They can have it for free, and I’ll even throw a cat in there for good measure.”

For me, a blood sugar of 175 or even 190 for that matter, prior to becoming obsessed with pregnancy, was a fantastic way to start my exercise or just fine for an hour after dinner.  Now, I can’t go to the gym unless I’m 130 or below, and with that there is a complete guarantee (as much of a guarantee that I will have to pee at some point during my workout) that I only have t-minus 30 minutes before I am 45.  It doesn’t matter what I eat or how low I put a temp basal on my pump.  I crash.  This has been one of the biggest challenges with my first trimester.  I am still able to keep up my exercise routine of walking 2-4 miles at least 5 days a week, but now I have had to plan my exercise so that it is right after a meal, giving me a better chance at hanging on without drowning in juice boxes.

Speaking of which, James has picked me up three 8-packs of juicy juice boxes every week for the last 6 weeks or so.  The bad lows really hit between 6-10 weeks pregnant.  Luckily (knock on wood) I have been able to put the straw in my own juice box without any assistance this whole time, but not without some major scares and some freakishly fast drops without feeling a thing.  Let’s do some math for a second: 100 calories per juice box times 8 juice boxes (800 calories) times 3 (4 8-packs per week) = 2400 calories in juice alone per week for most of my first trimester.  Now, this is just an estimation, but this is friggin ridiculous!!  I haven’t started really showing much yet in my belly, but any puffiness that is there has to be just from juice boxes alone!  Sure, I can eat other things or drink other things, but at the end of the day any diabetic will tell you that juice boxes are the easiest and fastest way to bring up a low.

I am lucky that I live so close to Boston, and I am able to get the best care available with the Joslin Pregnancy Clinic and a High-risk maternal fetal medicine specialist affiliated with Joslin and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.  Being the control freak that I am, I am well aware that on the day of delivery, I will need to relinquish all control, including my pump, to these people.  I might as well put myself in the hands of people that not only have helped friends of mine go through the same thing, but are the best in the country at what they do.  Being a high-risk pregnancy has its rewards too, I have already had 4 ultrasounds and have been able to see my little bugger literally dancing and doing back-flips inside me.  It is just the craziest thing in the world!

I am trying so incredibly hard to not be psychotic and check my blood sugar 20 times a day (I’ve resorted to 12-15 times a day being my max).  I wear my sensor almost religiously, but when I feel like I’m having accuracy issues, I take a break from it and just rely solely on the extra finger pricks and my meter.  I take a lot of deep breaths (prenatal yoga is a god send!), try to keep myself away from stressful situations and continue to be positive since that is the theme in our household anyways.  When my numbers are higher than I would like, I apologize to the teeny tiny pancreas of my baby for eventually having to compensate for those highs’ and tell it that I will continue to try so hard to not have to put that burden on him/her.  I have always had a bit of an issue with high-blood pressure, so they are keeping a close eye on that.  My biggest fear is pre-eclampsia and being put on bed rest (which would drive me certifiably insane, I am sure of it).  I try not to think that far ahead and enjoy the little moments of wonderful I get with my growing belly and my husband for now.   I am convinced that since I am such a high-strung person, and knowing that I need to chill the heck out for health of this baby and for myself, that I will completely change and become laid back and carefree.  Probably not, but I can wish!  The good news is, this baby has a chance of being a Pisces like my husband, who has a calm demeanor and overly sunny disposition.

I don’t mean to dwell so much in this post about the worries and the stresses of all of this amazing and happy news, but it is the reality for me, fighting this fight called diabetes all for me and for my baby.  It is such a different kind of fight when you have to worry about someone else besides yourself, but the reward will be so worth it.  I am enjoying every second of it, and I have never been at such peace in my life with all the wonderful blessings I have, but it doesn’t come without the constant worrying lurking in the background.   I guess parenting starts NOW.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Kelly Pheulpin says:

    Such great news Regina! I’m so happy for you and your husband.

  2. Heidi Sifferlen says:

    Best news Regina! I am so happy for you and James. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help…

  3. veronca says:

    Once again, you write from your heart and put us right there with you. You are doing such a great job for you and your lttle one.

  4. Marilyn Paladino says:

    Regina with you all the way your strength will reward you with the best things you can put around your neck your baby’s ams ox

  5. susan says:

    I am so happy for you!!! HUgs!!

  6. Beth Shapiro says:

    A beautiful post. Honest and emotional. As you know, we are so thrilled for you and James as you embark on this journey! You have amazing strength and heart that will get you through anything as you prepare for baby; it is ALL worth it!

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