A pregnant woman is usually tested for Gestational Diabetes around months 24-28 to see if she has GD. After taking two tests, I was 0.1 above the cutoff line so I was placed in the “GD” category. At first, they didn’t know if I would be placed in the program at Sinai since I was so close to a “pass” but then they called and said I got to be part of the program.
8:30 am on Wednesday November 27th
I enter the building at Mount Sinai and expect to be greeted by hundreds of women in a lecture theatre ready to learn about GD.
There was a small classroom where there were about eight people. The instructors hadn’t arrived and I was incredibly anxious. They told me the session would be at least three hours and I didn’t know how I was going to sit through a session like this. Needles, medical issues, etc., are the topics that really elevate my anxiety levels. I immediately looked around the room and decided who was going to be my friend.
Most of the women had their partners with them but Preeti didn’t. I began talking to the women in the room by saying “can you believe we all have this? How are you guys feeling about all of this?”
Suddenly we became closer and most of us shared out stories. There was one woman who was very private and her and her partner spoke in hushed tones all day. They probably thought I was too much (which I totally understand).
“I can’t even believe this has happened” said one of the women. “I work out, I eat super healthy. Why me?”
“Why any of us?” I asked.
The instructor came in with a doctor and the doctor sat at the back of the class taking notes.
“We are joined by a resident doctor today” said the nurse practitioner. “She is just going to observe the class because she wanted to see how we teach the patients.”
We were all given our GD starter kits (as I call them), booklets of info followed by our own little diabetes kit.
We talked about what GD is, how to manage it, etc., for about an hour and then we moved on to the hands-on task. We learned that GD is where women develop high blood sugar while they are pregnant. Usually after the pregnancy, a woman doesn’t have GD. 4 out of 10 women who have GD during their pregnancy, go on to have type 2 diabetes in the future.
When we got our little needle kits, it all felt real and I could feel my hands begin to warm up and get clammy.
“So now I am going to show you how to take your blood sugar. Then you will show me that you can do it on your own.”
My own? I was not ready for all of this.
“I’ll come over and help you” said the resident doctor. She was so nice and could see that my hands were shaking. Together, we took my blood sugar which was 4.4 (has to be below 5.2 so I was happy). Pretti (my new friend) checked hers and it was 10 or something. Immediately, I felt blessed and like things might be okay.
“I am leaving you now” said the nurse practitioner/instructor. “The dietitian will be in to discuss eating habits with you momentarily.”
Another couple walked into the room two hours late. It was crazy. People kept coming late to this course and it was driving me crazy. The instructor would get angry but the people didn’t have to come back to another session. I became angry because I could have slept more.
“I wish I just would have come in late” I said to Pretti.
“But you wouldn’t have all of this information” she said in such an honest and heartfelt way that I started to believe her.
The dietitian came in and gave us all new booklets on what to eat and how to read a label. I was expecting to have to cut out sugar and carbs from my diet but she told me to do quite the opposite.
“The baby needs carbs. You feed the baby first and then protein and fats are just an added bonus. Stick to the number of carbs you should eat (15g X 2-3 for three meals and 15g X 1-2 snacks).
“That is a lot of food” I said. “What if I throw up the food, Will that influence my blood sugar levels?”
“Your blood sugar levels may actually increase” she said. Your body recognizes throwing up, the flu, a cold, etc., as stress so even though you may not have food in your system, your blood sugar could be high.”
After she was with us for about an hour, two women came into the room.
“You all have appointments with your new doctor who will be monitoring you.” They ushered us to a different part of the building.
I looked at the time and it was 12:00. I had an appointment with my OB and I became frustrated. They kept telling us about how important it was to eat but how was I going to eat lunch when I had another appointment before my OB?
We all had to sit in the waiting room at the Diabetes Clinic and I talked to Preeti the whole time. We talked about our pregnancies, the best stroller to get, what our experience had been like at Sinai, etc.
At 12:45 I finally met my new doctor (yes another doctor to add to my list) named Dr. Feig. We discussed how I would be taking a food log for four days that I would later send in to my dietitian. We also discussed how I had to take my blood sugar four times a day and send in my numbers every Sunday to the nurse practitioner. If my blood sugar was too high, I would be enrolled in the “insulin” class (65% of pregnant women with GD have to take insulin).
We also discussed how I needed to come in next week for another appointment.
At this point, I am starting to feel like I live at Sinai.
1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday November 27th
I leave the Diabetes Clinic with such a mixture of emotions.
I am proud of myself for taking in all of the info and remaining calm. I am thankful for all of the knowledge I have learned.
I am also late.
I am late for my OB and my research ultrasound which makes me anxious.
“I am so sorry I am late” I tell Celine at the front desk of Dr. Snelgrove’s office. “I was at the diabetes clinic and I have a research ultrasound…”
“Sarah. It is okay. Go get your research ultrasound and we are here when you are done.”
Celine was super kind and I suddenly felt like all of my students who arrive late to my class while being full of excuses and super stressed.
I had my research ultrasound and my little one was so well behaved. The doctor was shocked at how still he stayed throughout the ultrasound.
“He must have been bored by the GD presentation he attended” I joked.
Then I saw a closer look of my little boy.
“Are his legs supposed to be that long?” I asked.
“He does have long legs” said the doctor. “He is 2.5 lbs and is measuring in the 50th percentile. He is one healthy boy.”
Wednesday November 27th from 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
I wait for about 1.5 hours to see my OB and in that time I do my first blood sugar test on my own. It took me about 20 minutes because I was scared and somehow had forgotten everything I had been taught.
Dr. Snelgrove walked into the room just as I was taking my blood sugar.
“So I see you have GD” he said.
“Guilty” I laughed. Why was I always making jokes? So awkward.
“Well because you have GD, you will have to have more ultrasounds.”
“What?” I asked. “I am part of the research study and get them done all the time.”
“You will need a new ultrasound every two weeks” he said.
“I live here” I said.
After my appointment with Dr. Snelgrove, I had to go to Mount Sinai Hospital to get my blood taken one last time for GD.
“Can you please take your blood sugar right now” asked the nurse.
“I am not good at it. Plus, I just took it at the doctor’s office and it is 5.1. It needs to be under 6.6 so I am fine” I said with a smile.
“You have to take it now as well. I need to see the number.”
I was super nervous to show her what I had learned because I thought I was doing it all wrong.
“You are a pro” she smiled.
“My number is 4.6” I said.
“See…it changed” she smiled.
“So I can eat now?” I asked. I had a super small lunch before my research ultrasound and was hungry again after fasting for two hours.
“You can eat” she laughed.
I went down to Second Cup to get something. What holiday drink would I get? NONE. What gluten-free snack should I have? NONE.
I ordered a decaf latte with skim milk. Normally I’ll put cinnamon on top of it, but not anymore. I reached in my bag for some almonds and realized this would be my new snack.
Wednesday November 27th at 5:00 p.m.
My doctor had given me a prescription for needles and for test strips so I had them filled at the pharmacy at Sinai.
I could feel pain from my leg going to my butt. My OB told me that this was “sciatica” and I realized that my body was just feeling exhausted and that I needed to go to bed.
I was completely drained – physically and emotionally. Somehow I had spent 8.5 hours at Mount Sinai on Wednesday.
With so much knowledge and so many appointments, I felt like I was finally in control of things (as much as I could be).
That night, I went home and started tracking everything. On Thursday I started my food log, and my numbers have all been amazing. I can’t wait to send in my info on Sunday night and hope I’ll get a gold star. I don’t want to go to the insulin training session (happens every Wednesday) and I really want to avoid insulin by being careful with my diet. At any time throughout this process I may have to get insulin, but this week, I think I have avoided the class.
I’ve realized that GD is quite common (1 in 16 Canadians) and that I am not a failure for having this. If I just eat as healthy as possible I have a chance of reducing my risk of preeclampsia, a low/high birth weight of the baby, and a c-section.
I have been eating really well and haven’t felt as sick as I had been feeling. Yes, I still get sick here and there but things are manageable. I also force myself to go for a walk every day which has helped to keep my numbers down.
Through this fertility process, I’ve had six doctors – Dr. Yu (family doctor), Dr. Jones (fertility doctor), Dr. Whittle (high risk OB), Dr. Snelgrove (low risk OB), Dr. Kingdom (in charge of research study), and Dr. Feig (my new diabetes doctor). Some people can’t find a doctor in Canada and somehow, through this pregnancy, I have had six doctors.
The care I am receiving is the best of the best and I really want to thank Mount Sinai for everything. On this journey, I am constantly learning and the support has been incredible. If you or someone you know has GD and wants to reach out, feel free to email me anytime.
Wishing everyone a great week!