I realize that I’ve abandoned the DOC ship for a number of weeks, and I assure you that everything is fine. I’m (still) pregnant with a little under an estimated 4 weeks to go. (Give or take.) Baby Meatball is growing on track and passes her NSTs with flying colors at her twice weekly checks. I’m still working (ugh) and plan to until week 39
because I’m a masochist because I have a four-month work leave to take advantage of and want to spend as much time with Baby upon her arrival as possible. Though – the thought of “lounging” on my couch for two weeks watching Netflix sounds so appealing at this moment. (I say lounging loosely, as it’s pretty much uncomfortable to sit in any position at this point.)
Besides the usual pregnancy symptoms of heartburn, swollen feet, general fatigue, a sense of foreboding, and a tendency to want to eat ALL THE THINGS and then nothing at all, there are a litany of other joys of pregnancy that only someone with diabetes can understand.
1) Doctor appointment burn out: Seriously, I never want to see my OB’s office again after I’m done with this pregnancy. The nurses and I all know each other on a first name basis because my blood sugar records are usually the talk of the office on Wednesday. Since week 32, I’ve been heading to that office twice a week. Some weeks, it’s three times, however, that’s only because they’ll sneak in a growth ultrasound here and there. Don’t get me wrong – there is no mystery to how my kid is progressing and I really don’t have any “unknowns” which many first time moms probably experience. And if I do have a weird symptom pop up, I’m most likely going to be checked, ultrasounded, or monitored within a day of the concern. But yeah – the act of heading in to your doc’s office all the dang time is pretty draining. Especially when you are huge and still trying to work.
2) Striving for a “normal” delivery: The term normal is used very loosely here. Most moms will tell you that there is no such thing as a normal delivery and some ladies can get hung up on wanting the perfect birth – sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I realized 3/4s of the way through this pregnancy that there were too many factors involved here that having that “perfect, magical birth” which so many doulas and midwives will write about was probably damn near impossible. And I was fine with that. I completely own the fact that I have a high risk pregnancy.
My biggest issue right now is trying to convince nursing and hospital staff that I can have a low-risk birth in spite of my complications. That I am more than just my chronic illness. The hospital we’re delivering at is pretty baby friendly, so long as you are low risk. I’ve been told this countless times in classes by nursing staff – sure, you can have a natural birth with little intervention… oh, you have diabetes? Oh well… um, yeah, expect to be wired up to everything possible. But there is no reason given other than I have a chronic illness. It’s a bit like when I was told at 22 that I had to be on all of these additional medications for “preventative purposes.” And when my lab work came back indicating all systems were normal, I was told to stay on them because there really wasn’t any harm in not taking them. Pshhhh. I’m prepped to advocate for myself and my child, but I really don’t want to have to fight while having contractions.
3) (Lack of) Sleep Training: Nothing will prepare a PWD mom for the many sleepless nights with a cranky newborn better than a cranky CGM. Obviously, this only applies to those who actually have one, but the whole lack of sleep and getting up in the middle of the night multiple times is pretty commonplace for me. I get up more often because of low and high alarms (all mostly legit) than I do because I have to use the bathroom. (But if it were a high blood sugar, I’d be doing that anyway.) And hell, it’s been proven that PWDs don’t sleep anyway, so I figure I’m pretty prepared for these every 2 hour feedings. (Both for me and for her, apparently.)
4) Shrinking real estate: Again, only really applies if you are a pumper/CGM user. I’m finding that as my belly gets bigger, the places I can stick an infusion set and CGM sensor are shrinking. It seems counterintuitive, but who wants to jam a 9mm cannula into really thin, stretched out skin? It’s like poking a hole in a balloon. No thanks. I also never thought I’d regret the placement of the tattoo on my left love handle so much.
5) A love/hate relationship with food: The average woman can gain up to 25-30 pounds during pregnancy. But let’s be realistic. Between the cravings, aversions, hormones and so forth, someone might want to dig into that pint of ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. (For some reason, ice cream just tastes better while pregnant.) Then there are those of us with broken pancreases who need to supplement our cravings with insanely large doses of insulin. Insulin costs a lot of money, so if I have to blow through 150 units in less than 18 hours, I really hope I get at least three meals out of it. And – I don’t really want to try and carb count an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I guess I’ll have some quinoa. So not exciting. Whomp whomp.
Bonus #6) Burnout and Diabetes Fatigue: Probably the one thing I worry about the most. The moment that I deliver that placenta, I’ll stop caring about my blood sugars just because I’ve been micromanaging everything for SO LONG. The longer I run lower than usual, the more severe my hypoglycemia unawareness becomes. It doesn’t help that I want to chuck my CGM out the window on the way home from the hospital. (Not really – maybe just shut it off for a few days.) Besides, I’ll have a little person to take care of – who is going to have time to check me?