Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GD Diaries Part 2: It's not my fault

This post is part of a series on Gestational Diabetes. The posts were written in August - October, but are just now being published. While I was too upset and conflicted about this situation when I was first dealing with it, I want to share my experiences with other moms that may go through something similar. Check back for another installment every Tuesday! You can start at the beginning here: Part 1

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So I've been trying to think about the reasons why I may have ended up with gestational diabetes this time when I avoided it in my first two pregnancies. I don't know why, because everything I read said that it's really not what you do but just how your body reacts. It's simply the hormones that turn glucose sensitivity into a full blown problem, and logically - that makes sense. Especially because I started feeling off very early on in my pregnancy, without really doing anything differently this time. It seems like this was a problem that grew from the beginning to become the problem it is now, but the scary part is that I had no idea it was happening, and I didn't treat my body accordingly. Of course, I've since done everything I can, but I can't help but worry that I've done some undue damage to my pancreas, and my baby's. I can only hope that they recover well after this pregnancy.

But why wasn't it up to the task in the first place? It could be that it's tired from 5 years of having kids. I mean, plenty of people do this way longer than I have, but that's still a big portion of my life to have it being over-worked. I've hard breaks in there, of course, but my body has been in childbearing mode for half of a decade, and considering how tired I am, I can only imagine that internal pieces of me are as well.

It could be that I'm older. I mean, I'm not old. But I was 23 when I was pregnant with Luke, and I'm 29 now. That's 6 years of miles I've put on this body - and my pancreas, too.

But what I'm really starting to think about is the fact that I was eating a Vegetarian diet for the year before this baby was conceived.

I don't know if that makes sense, but here's my train of thought. I read a lot about vegetarianism in that year, including all of the ways long-term meat consumption isn't what our bodies were intended for, and the horrors of the meat & dairy industry. I was sold on vegetarianism, and my plan was to become vegan once my childbearing years are over. But in learning about what helps your body when you have a glucose intolerance (protein, and eating it along with every carb you have), I've realized that....a vegetarian diet is really tough to stick to. Especially the way I was doing it. Ya know, the busy Mom who still had to feed her family of busy, meat-loving boys. I ate a lot of carbs (both simple & complex), a lot of beans and grains and full-fat additives like cheese and butter, because I was trying to fill in gaps in my diet. I had a really hard time with quick meals and healthy but satisfying snacks, and I found myself craving things all the time. I never craved actual meat, but I'm guessing that I was craving things that contained similar nutritional values. And I didn't always channel them correctly. Like, having a bowl of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter on it for lunch because...hey, it's protein!

That's not to say I ate terribly like that all the time, I didn't. I was still at a very healthy weight for my height, and my day was very full of fruits and veggies. But it did happen, and I reasoned it away, and one excuse lead to another.

I started craving meat just a few weeks into this pregnancy - after almost a year of never craving it. I'd have dreams about it! I would drool, and then almost cry after seeing it in commercials (yeah, I'm sure the hormones had nothing to do with that, either). I daydreamed about specific types - some that I hadn't had in years, even. I started taking tiny nibbles off my husband's plate. He tried to stop me, saying I'd regret it, and I eventually got to a point where I was like....nope, I can say with total confidence that I will not. So I let meat back in. I though it was the anemia driving that train, but now that I know more about GD, I can't help but wonder if my body was craving it to help itself out with all the carbs and sugar it was getting. I am so thankful I started eating meat again, now that I know what I know. I eat it in smaller portions than I used to, and I always buy organic. And I still sometimes feel bad about it. I planned on working back towards vegetarianism by the end of the year, and now I'm not sure what to do. Once you have GD, you are at higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes later in life, and I don't really like the idea of over-taxing my pancreas in the mean time. It can only make that more likely, right?

I really don't know if there's anything I could have done differently to create a different outcome. If I'm making by best guess, I'd say that my GD was caused by a mixture of being a little older, having multiple pregnancies, and the after-shock of a vegetarian diet, all mixed with the pregnancy hormones making it difficult for my pancreas to do its job. I can't do anything about three of those, and vegetarianism isn't anything to shake your head at. I spent a year sparing animals lives and helping the environment. How can I feel badly about that?

All of this is to say that I need to stop feeling guilty for ending up here. Could I have skipped the iced capps a few more times? Sure. But I'm not even mad about that, because I completely stayed away from caffeine in my first trimester and then decided to treat myself once a week when I was exhausted from running the kids around. With a small, icy, coffee drink. It could have been a bag of potato chips, right? Plus, right before I got pregnant, I was on a clean eating kick, and despite having a lack of meat in my life, my hemoglobin was really good (for me) at 12.4 and my glucose was fine when it was tested in November for my yearly check up. I am not terrible to my body. I am not overweight (when I'm not pregnant). I did not spend a lifetime eating terrible and carrying too many pounds. This just isn't my fault.

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