First time when I hit those high blood glucose numbers, I was running through my ninth month of pregnancy. My gestational diabetes was gone as soon as it was discovered, without much effort.
Seven years later, I found myself again in my gynecologist’s office. I was pregnant for the second time. I was on cloud nine until he asked me to do a glucometer test. The machine mocked at me with a blinking 15 mmol/L. I still remember my doctor’s words. ‘Vani if this continues, you will knock the baby off’. So this time gestational diabetes had hit me right from day 1. And ahead of me was the 9-month long journey. Every sugar spike in my body was a potential threat towards my baby’s development.
For almost a month, I was in denial. I refused to come out of my bed unless I was gobbling up metformin with my totally miserable diet. My fingers were swollen as I pricked them 8 times a day, to keep track of sugar spikes. Drowning in the sea of self-pity and misery, I knew that I won’t be able to carry on longer with this state of mind. In order to heal and protect my baby, I needed to accept that I was suffering. It took me a while to realize, that I am different from a normal individual.
My insulin levels work differently. My body rejects highly processed carbs and sugars. Then, one fine day, a thought hit me that transformed it all, ‘Am I the chosen one, with only one option, eat healthy and live strong?’ And that was my empowering moment. I had started looking at diabetes from a different context. Earlier it was a disease for me and now I started to consider it as nature’s mandate to stay healthy. I called it as ‘embracing my sweetness’.
Next thing I did, was to pay attention to every single detail my endocrinologist gave me. She told me that her only goal is to protect my baby. Period. I even allowed myself to breakdown in her office, I knew I needed a good support system which I got with my endocrinologist and her staff.
Here’s what I learned from my journey, it’s not difficult to manage diabetes. Half of the battle is won the moment we accept our condition (not disease).
As long as we are ready to embrace the healthy changes in our life style we can still deal with it. Brown over white, unprocessed over processed, whole fruits over juices and variety of colors on the plate than just bland white stuff. The foodie in me discovered various ways to cook yummy food with healthier ingredients. Online content and many courses helped me through that. I also adapted the diet that my grandmother would eat and approve – I personally consider that the Indian diet is very healthy as long as it is home made.
Managing diabetes is also about breaking the ways in which we are getting conditioned to eat. Such as, daal (lentils) should be eaten with rice and cakes should be baked with sugar. There are millions of healthy substitutes available in the supermarket. Sugar can easily be replaced with herbal stevia or Singapore’s very own gula Melaka (palm and coconut sugar), and white rice can be changed to brown. Moderation is the key for people like us who are filled with an extra doze of sweetness.
I also started getting connected to my spiritual self -I even requested my pancreas to perform optimally. I regularly kept an hour to myself, where I meditated and chanted. Meditation kept me stress-free and safe yoga moves kept me light and breezy. In fact spirituality helped me a lot, to stay positive and focused. It made me embrace my sweetness in every moment.
Another blessing I had, was my friends and family. They were always supportive with my mood swings, they got me diabetic friendly desserts and they never even once asked me to give up on my diet for some sort of social fulfilment. I made it a point to stay away from food terrorism. Meaning, that I did not let anyone or anything bully me or emotionally blackmail me to eat what was unhealthy for me and my baby.
At a much later stage (9th month) of my pregnancy, I took insulin injections too, I must admit that I was a little disappointed at first. But my doctor happily told me that I did well and came a long way with my will power. I can finally have some fun now. In addition, I consciously chose not to take it as my defeat and I learned to inject myself in places and felt brave about it. I even had a half slice of a cake to celebrate the new insulin power in my body.
Finally, at the end of the ninth month I was sporting the cutest belly bump, and that was the only fat I had on my body. At the age of 35, I was a much more active pregnant woman than I was at the age of 28. I even spent 10 days working at the children’s home in Cambodia in my second trimester. Work also called me to India in my first and Malaysia in my last trimester.
Along the way, many people told me that my baby will be extra fat, he will have high sugar or low sugar and many other scary things. My doctor heard all of this patiently, calming the panicky maniac in me down. He only said one thing, ‘I am the doctor here Vani, have faith in me.’ So, I chose to ignore those unsolicited scary stories.
Finally, on May 22nd, 2015 my baby was born. A perfectly healthy baby by God’s grace. And guess what! My diabetes was gone too; I still remember my readings after a cup of hot hospital milo early in the morning – a perfect 3.0 mmol/L.
Let me conclude my story by telling all the mothers with sweetness galore – You can have a perfectly healthy pregnancy even with gestational diabetes. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise ever. Always embrace your sweetness with that charming smile on your lips.
This post was written by Vani Khare.
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