The Pregnant Life: Dude, Where's My Carbs?

Glucose monitor
Purely precautionary!
Friday, I had to face the music. I mean, I'm in Week 27, and the three-hour fasting glucose tolerance test, determining whether I have gestational diabetes, has to be completed before Week 28 -- I had put it off as long as I could. I combined the test with a doctor visit, since both required a trip to my hospital, and finally got it over with. Phew.

I found myself bargaining with the test the night before. "Do I have to fast for 12 hours before the test?" I asked online. "No, just no food after midnight!" I was told by many of you, and I was relieved to be able to tuck into a bowl of cereal at 11:30 p.m.

Morning dawned, and I was nervous.


My last test at the beginning of this pregnancy resulted in a total emotional meltdown at my husband, who was a half hour late picking me up. Oh lordy, I wasn't friendly. (To be fair, my objection wasn't that he was late -- I understand how toddler poop explosions can mess with a schedule. I just wanted him to tell me, so I could pop into Café Palio and get a sandwich, even though he'd made me a lovely lunch.) (Anyway, we got over it.) Bottom line: The test wipes me out for the whole day, and I dreaded the boredom, the hunger, and, let's face it, the possible diagnosis. I had it last time -- I could have it this time, and that would mean even more complications. I didn't think I could take it!

This time, the test went smoothly -- mostly because someone tipped me off to the fact that there's a public library two doors down from the lab, with Internet access and comfy chairs. I was able to Facebook, Twitter, and CafeMom away the long hours and barely noticed my hunger. Amazing. And when it was all over, I just took myself out to lunch, enjoying a nice half-hour break as I felt myself return to normal before driving home (and indulging in a two-hour nap).

And today, I visited my nutritionist, who literally wrote the book on diabetes control. She told me the good news: My numbers look great. I definitely don't have GD this time around. "But your fasting numbers are close," she said. "That number is going to creep up as the weeks go by, and by the end of your pregnancy, you'll probably have it. And that's okay, because we're going to go over the diet now, and you're going to test your blood whenever you feel like it, and call us if it goes past 95."

The diet isn't what you think it'd be. I don't have to give up carbs, which turn into sugar -- in fact, to do so would be extremely unhealthy, as both the baby and I need 175 grams of carbs per day. At 15 grams per slice of bread, 1/3 cup of rice, or 2/3 cup of yogurt, that's pretty generous. The key is to spread it out over the day so that nothing spikes my sugar.

Fun facts from my dietitian:

  • Yogurt has carbs because it has lactose. Cheese has neither. Both should be OK even for the lactose-intolerant like me.
  • Fat makes the stomach empty more slowly, so a small amount of fat leaves you sated, while a completely fat-free diet leaves you constantly hungry for more.
  • Fiber also makes food digest more slowly, which is why brown rice is so much better than its evil white cousin.

Most importantly, gestational diabetes is really not tied to eating poorly during your pregnancy. You either get it or you don't. Pregnancy hormones block insulin, stopping it from getting to your cells. Your body doubles its production of insulin to make up for this. Some women can't make all the extra insulin, and that's when you get GD. It's not a character flaw or a failure to diet, and there's no shame in it. You just have to eat properly, which is easier than you think. Don't limit protein; limit carbs and spread them across your day; take a 10-minute walk after a big meal to flush a sugar-spike out of your system. The rest, a good nutritionist should be able to tell you.

As for me, I'm feeling great. I must have hit a plateau in the baby's growth and my own hormonal shifts. I've got my energy back, I barely have any pain other than the occasional sciatica, and the baby's doing laps around my insides -- I love it. My bump is really high and pointy, leading old ladies to tell me she's a boy. My doctor's giving me a cautiously optimistic thumbs-up for the next few weeks, cautioning me to call if I feel anything, anything, anything out of the ordinary. Next time I see her I'll be in Week 30, the week when everything went awry last time -- so she's more worried than I am.

For now. Let's see what lies around the next corner!


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