Pregnancy: 24 weeks + 6 days update

An update about life at 24 weeks pregnant with a unicornuate uterus, incompetent cervix, and cerclage! Also, a bit about gestational diabetes, the glucose screening, the 3-hour glucose test, baby registries, second hand baby clothes shopping, and pregnancy body changes.

Gestational Diabetes

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

I had my glucose screening to assess for gestational diabetes last week and “barely failed it,” per my nurse practitioner.

So what is gestational diabetes, and what does it mean that I “barely failed it?”

According to babycenter.com, “Gestational diabetes is a high blood sugar condition that some women get during pregnancy. Between 2 and 5 percent of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. And because the condition rarely causes any symptoms, testing is the only way to find out whether you have it.”

Mayoclinic.org describes the cause of gestational diabetes in a little more detail: “During pregnancy, the placenta, which connects your baby to your blood supply, produces high levels of various other hormones. Almost all of them impair the action of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. Modest elevation of blood sugar after meals is normal during pregnancy.”

Researchers don’t know why some women develop gestational diabetes and why some don’t. Risk factors include being over 25-years-old (me!), nonwhite race (me! Half Hispanic). A family history of diabetes (not me). Being overweight (not me). And a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome (not me). One way to prevent gestational diabetes (although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent it) is to exercise 30 minutes/day, something my doc hasn’t let me do for the past seven weeks because of my incompetent cervix/cerclage. Part of me wonders if this lack of exercise has anything to do with my “barely failing.”

So how did I “barely fail?” Let me tell you a little about the screening first. After a normal day of eating and drinking (no modifications or fasting), I had to drink a sugary drink within five minutes. Mine was fruit punch flavor and tasted like highly concentrated juice + cough syrup. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world (aka: didn’t make me gag), but I wouldn’t ever choose to drink it just for fun. One hour after downing the drink, they drew my blood and tested my blood sugar level. My one-hour blood sugar level was 131 mg/dL, and the cutoff for “normal” was 130 or below at my clinic.

The fruit punch drink I had during my screening and today during the test.

The fruit punch drink I had during my screening and today during the test.

So here I am today, sitting in my MFM waiting room for the next 2-3 hours as I complete the glucose tolerance test. I’m happy to know that only 30% of women who fail the screening truly have gestational diabetes, but it still makes me worried.

I’m worried about having gestational diabetes because I’m afraid of the dietary modifications I would have to make. I’m afraid these modifications (e.g., monitoring carbs, eating low glycemic index foods, keeping a good journal) would spark my old eating disorder tendencies. I used to be borderline bulimic (definitely had exercise bulimia). I exercised in excess to burn calories consumed, retroactively or proactively. I was also orthorexic, an eating disorder in which the person has an obsession with healthy eating. I used to follow so many rules with food. Foods fit into two columns in my head: good or bad. I went years upon years without ever eating bread. I was all about macros and protein. Kale was my best friend (ew). Sugar was evil. I even did something called the anti-Candida diet because I thought I had too much yeast in my body. (Read my introductory blog post about my disordered eating here.) It has taken me 2.5 years to (mostly) heal from these disordered thoughts and behaviors, and it has been a hard journey…especially because I was praised by people during my eating disorder days for being “so healthy” and “looking so good.” I’m afraid that if I have gestational diabetes, then I’ll be triggered like crazy when altering my diet to manage the disease. BAH!

I have also been feeling pretty discouraged for another reason. It seems like every 5-6 weeks during this pregnancy, something less than stellar has happened. At 13 weeks, I had so much bleeding post-sex that I had to go to the ER. (Read more about that “fun” experience here.)  At 18 weeks, I had a cerclage because of an incompetent cervix. (Read about my cervix and cerclage here and here.) And now, at 24 weeks, I failed the glucose screening and may have gestational diabetes. 

Woe is me. Poor Kristen.

Okay, that’s out of my system now. Let’s combat that Debbie-Downer-ness with a little gratitude:

  • I’m 24 (almost 25!) weeks pregnant.

  • I wouldn’t have even been able to get to this point without access to specialized medical care, good health insurance, and being privileged in general.

  • My workplace has been so supportive of me during this pregnancy (and always), allowing me to get three hours off work last-minute for this glucose test.

  • I have family, friends, and a Unicorn community supporting me through all of this.

  • I’m sitting on a really comfortable couch right now.

  • I slept well last night.

Gratitude…check!

With a lighter heart, let me tell you about this glucose test I’m doing right now. The glucose test is a lot like the screening I did last week, but I have to do it on an empty stomach and I have to be tested over the course of 2-3 hours. After fasting since midnight (no food/water), I came in at 8:15 am and had my first “fasting” blood draw. Then I immediately drank another bottle of sugar fruit punch ick and was sent to the waiting room to chill for an hour.

(Update! The medical assistant just called me name to head back for the 1-hour test. Be right back!)

Okay - I got some news! I passed the first fasting blood draw. My blood sugar needed to be below 95, and mine was 71. I also passed the 1-hour test. My blood sugar needed to be below 180 for that one, and it was 87! Knocked it out of the park. Great job, pancreas! Now another hour wait until the 2-hour test. If I pass this next one, I can leave! If I don’t, I’ll have to stick around for a 3-hour test.

While I wait for the 2-hour test, I’ll fill you in on what has happened the past three weeks.

Cervix Pain

The last time I wrote a pregnancy update was on June 23rd at 21 weeks + 3 days. At that time, I was experiencing some cervix pain. I went to my maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doc about three weeks ago, and my nurse practitioner (NP) thought my cervix pain was caused by a yeast infection (say what?!) rather than the cerclage. I had zero yeast infection symptoms, so I was surprised to hear that’s what they were expecting was the culprit of the pain. My NP did a quick swab-a-doo of my vagina and sent the sample for testing. Well, it turns out that I didn’t have any sort of vaginal infection, and that the pain was probably due to the cerclage. Ever since then, my cervix pain has practically vanished. In the past four weeks, I’ve only had a couple days where I’ve experienced that pain. My ultrasound tech said it could be due to the change in the moons or the earth’s rotation. In other words, who knows? Ha! I’m just so grateful that the pain is decreasing.

Hello baby!

Hello baby!

Growing Body

My entire body has grown (ya don’t say?!). My baby bump, arms, my back, my hips, my thighs, my booty…even my feet! To get me through this next phase, I bought the next size up in maternity jeans plus five dresses at Target. This will be my wardrobe on rotation for the next few months.

All the classes!

We signed up for a breast feeding class, a birthing class (vaginal), and a c-section class. I’ll cancel either the birthing or c-section class depending on whether or not baby flips in the next couple of weeks. Usually, a baby has until 36ish weeks to flip to head down in a normal uterus. In my half-sized uterus, my baby has until about 28 weeks. At our 22 week ultrasound, he was breech with his head above my right hip. BUT when I got up to go to the bathroom halfway through the ultrasound, he had flipped to head down by the time I got back to the exam room! What an active baby! At 24 weeks, he was head up again. If he’s still breech at 28, it’s unlikely he’ll have enough room to flip-a-doo before birth. I’m banking on a c-section. About 70% of women with unicornuate uteruses have c-sections

Baby Registry

We finished our baby registry. After a lot of deliberation, we decided to go with Target and Babylist.com. Initially, we were only going to register at Babylist.com, but a fellow unicornuate uterus friend told me she was having some troubles with the website. Specifically, people were buying items off the list, but it wasn’t indicating that the items were purchased. This ended up in her receiving doubles of items. No bueno. I registered for most of our stuff through the traditional Target and then added just a few fun things (like the books Not Quite Narwhal and Prince and Knight) through Babylist! I’m going to write a blog post soon about everything I learned from family/friends about baby registries and what to register for/what not to register for. (PS: a Nose Frida? What the what?)

Hungry, Hungry Kristen

It’s really cool to see my hunger ebb and flow. Last Saturday, I couldn’t eat enough, fast enough. I had a breakfast burrito for breakfast with scrambled eggs refried beans cheese and salsa. Two hours later I found myself needing another burrito. And hour after that, I had a bowl of cereal. Lunch was a chicken sausage, rice with pico de gallo, and corn on the cob. Then an apple with peanut butter. Somewhere during my day I had some chocolate and an oatmeal raisin cookie. For dinner, I had the biggest pile of nachos I’ve ever seen with three types of meat, two types of cheese, sour cream, salsa, beans and a little bit of cilantro lime rice on top because heck why not? I then had a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. Unfortunately, I think the food caught up with me because I was sick to my stomach all night long. I woke up the next day and didn’t feel like eating much at all, and I’ve barely had anything compared to yesterday. Also, I was exhausted the day I ate a horse and needed a nap in the afternoon. I woke up after an hour of sleep and could have kept going all the rest of the day. The next day, I didn’t feel that tired. It’s so bizarre to experience my body going through a growth spurt…except I’m not the one growing…it’s the baby! 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Also last Saturday, Cory and I went to Goodwill to look for baby clothes. We found so much stuff! It confirmed that I will never (or I will try not) to buy brand new clothes. I can’t imagine not buying most things second hand. Babies wear clothes for only a few months. Most of the clothes we found were in perfect condition. We bought three CU onesies, at least three complete outfits, and a couple fun shirts just for fun for him…all for $30!

Final glucose test results

I was just taken back for my 2-hour test, and…I passed! After two hours, my blood sugars needed to be below 155. Mine were at 114. Before leaving, my NP came to talk to me. She told me I passed and that I’m not even borderline! She told me to completely forget about the stress from the failed screening and to continue eating exactly as I had been. What a relief! You know what else is great? Even if I didn’t pass the test and I did have gestational diabetes, I know everything would have been okay. Many other women before me have had gestational diabetes, and everything has turned out just fine. All is well.

You know, all mystics - Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion - are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
— Anthony de Mello (1931 - 1987), Jesuit Priest

As the medical assistants finish up my blood work and process my paperwork, I’ll quickly wrap up this blog post. Now I can head into work feeling much lighter than before.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your day!