Guest Blogger Rebecca W. shares her experience of having Gestational Diabetes twice, as well as the healthier lifestyle changes she’s made along her journey.
I had Gestational Diabetes—twice. That’s two times in my life that I have lived as a diabetic for weeks at a time. I counted carbs. I tested my blood sugar four times a day. I injected insulin before bedtime every night up until my scheduled c-sections.
During those times I enjoyed commiserating with other GD moms on chat boards and online forums. Much of the posts were venting along the lines of, “How do you have a baby shower and not eat a piece of cake?” There were long threads about what we would eat once our babies were born and the hormones causing our under-active pancreases leveled out. McDonald’s was high on the list for most, doughnuts, too. I just wanted a Carvel ice cream cake. And, once I was back home from the hospital, that’s exactly what I ate. Five nights in a row. For dinner.
Of course, food feels like a comfort at times like that. A newborn in the house, and the loss of personal freedom and spontaneity is a shock to the system. Add to that the nesting instinct, the fact that celebrations are usually accompanied by sweets, and the need to eat more calories so you have enough energy to breastfeed, and, basically, all of the lessons I learned while living with GD I unlearned quickly. Twice. The doctor’s cautions about how I now had a 50-50 chance of developing Type-2 diabetes? I put them out of my mind.
Life with small children can be a bit of a blur. My husband and I put most of our time and energy into feeding, bathing, shuttling, teaching and soothing our kids. We missed showers of our own, trips with friends, after-work drinks and time together as adults. Something we never skipped? Meals. In fact, going out to eat was one of the easiest activities for us. The kids loved to order food—even if they didn’t usually eat most of it—and they loved the attention of the waitstaff at most places, the crayons and the placemats with puzzles, the free sliced bananas they bring at Cheesecake Factory, and most of all, getting to watch videos on mommy or daddy’s phone while the adults have 10 minutes to talk without interruption. We stretched those meals out as much as we could, because once they were over it was back home to the messy living room, foiled naptimes and laundry.
I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do in the hours after my kids went to bed: Take a yoga class, ride my exercise bike, keep a journal, have naked time with my husband, catch up with old friends over the phone, get a babysitter and see a movie. But I did none of these. Instead, every night for the better part of four years I put my kids to bed, sat down in front of the TV or the computer and ate bananas and peanut butter. The ritual of stirring the all-natural peanut butter and then drizzling it over the banana (or sometimes my fingers) was so pleasing I had no idea how much I was eating. And, because we buy almost everything at Costco, there was always at least one more jar in the cabinet.
There were mornings—at least once or twice a month—when I woke with what felt like a terrible hangover. I was headachy and nauseated. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises, needed to stay horizontal, went to the bathroom every 20 minutes. Were these migraines? Menstrual cycle-related episodes? I can’t say for sure, but once the 8 to 10 PM peanut butter binges stopped, so did the headaches.
In order to stop eating the peanut butter, I went through a multi-step process. First I had to acknowledge how much I was eating. I had to ask myself if I was eating because I was hungry, which led to admitting that although I was not indeed hungry, I was eating anyway. And then, the really hard part, I had to figure out the reasons I was eating the peanut butter: I was bored and felt deprived. I wanted something for myself. A treat. Something that was just for me.
I knew I had to find other ways of satisfying myself. And then I realized that I already had a list of them. I now ride my exercise bike five or six nights a week, regularly write in my journal, see my husband naked, and go to the movies almost every Thursday night. And when I talk to my old friends on the phone, I tell them about all of this because I know a lot of them are struggling too.
I’d like to say that I did all of this to counter those chances of acquiring Type-2 diabetes, but that wasn’t it. I did it because I wanted to feel better. I don’t have headaches anymore. I’m not bored or feeling deprived. I have things that are just for me, and they do make me feel better. If I was on one of those chat boards now, I don’t think I’d be obsessing over ice cream cake anymore. I could list a dozen things I’d like for myself, and not one of them is food.