Baby on Board
It was 5 a.m. on a Friday when I shuffled into our kitchen. All I wanted was a cup of half caf. Instead, I opened the refrigerator door and swigged a syrupy orange glucose drink.
I was 25 weeks pregnant, and this was the day I’d get screened for gestational diabetes.
With an empty stomach, I wove through early morning traffic and checked into the clinic. A nurse walked me back to the lab, where I sat down, took a deep breath, and watched a lab tech prick a sharp lancet into my index finger.
She squeezed a drop of blood onto a test strip and plugged it into a small black device.
Beep! My blood glucose level showed up in a matter of seconds.
“Oh, Shelley,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”
My level was high. So high, in fact, I didn’t need additional testing.
I had gestational diabetes.
The following 15 weeks would be a constant learning curve.
As if growing a baby isn’t a hard enough adjustment, I was instantly forced to bid farewell to my chocolate-frosted doughnut cravings and jumbo bags of Hot Tamales. I was unexpectedly thrown into a new world of constantly monitoring my diet, reading food labels, and checking my blood glucose levels four times a day.
Not only was my own body dependent on these changes, so was my daughter’s.
With my two toddlers in tow, I’d arm myself with a diaper bag in one hand and my meter, lancets, and test strips in the other. I learned to pack balanced snacks and set reminders on my smartphone to eat them and check my blood glucose afterward. This all became part of a new routine. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot about myself in the process.
I learned to take control of my health. I learned how important it is to eat a well-balanced diet and how oftentimes a diagnosis of gestational diabetes is an early warning sign that type 2 diabetes may be around the corner.
Perhaps most important, though, I learned an early lesson about the sacrifices of motherhood: that while our actions and priorities of placing our children first are not always seen, they are always—always—worth it. I’d go through the finger pricks, blood draws, and meal logs all over again for my daughter. In fact, I’m doing it all over again for another baby (this time, a boy) and I couldn’t be happier about it—although I certainly wouldn’t turn down a bag of Peanut M&M’s!
Shelley Skuster is an award-winning television journalist turned freelance writer at shelleyskuster.com. She stays at home with her young children, who came to her via birth and adoption. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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