Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hospitals, the sewers of health

Hospitals, a place of health? I don’t think so; they’re more like the sewers of health!

It had been years since I had had to stay overnight in a hospital prior to Little Ring’s birth day, and I don’t know if I’d forgotten what it was like, or just didn’t care back in the day, but I tell you, I haven’t felt quite so unhealthy as I did there in a long, long time. A three-day stay and my diabetes was on the most rickety roller coaster around.

The reason: The food.

The first nurse I saw was set on putting me on the diabetes meal plan. I knew this was a bad idea. I had learned years ago, on my first plane ride, never to opt for the diabetes-specialty meal over a “regular” person’s meal, because while everyone else was eating hearty sandwiches and Kit Kat bars, I was stuck grazing on carrots. That day, I swore never again. But this nurse, she was relentless, and was not taking my no for an answer. You’re a diabetic, you belong on the diabetes meal plan. And while I could have continued fighting, I figured I had bigger things to focus on (I was having a baby after all!) and so, I let it slide.


In total, I had five meals plus snacks delivered. The first meal, dinner, I didn’t open as I was in the throes of labour when it arrived, but by the pitiful look on Big Ring’s face, I knew it wasn’t pretty. The next morning, when breakfast arrived, my belly was growling up a storm, I was ravenous and was ready to sink my teeth into a hearty carb and protein rich meal. But when I opened the container and was presented with two slices of the thinnest pieces of brown toast I’d ever seen and two cups of 2% milk, plus a slab of butter, holy crap, I was flabbergasted.

Are you freaking kidding me, this is what I get after that marathon?

Let’s take a moment here to dissect that sorry state of a meal: First of all, unless it’s chocolate milk, or milk that’s been saturated in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, I won’t touch it. I hate milk, always have, so that was not an option. The toast, it was thin, cold, completely unappealing. There was no protein (again, the milk doesn’t count), no cheese, no peanut butter, no egg, no yogurt. So what’s that? One food group!!!

And when I looked at the menu to see if the carb counts for the toast had been supplied, all that was listed was my name, the type of diabetes I had (which, by the way, they got wrong!) and the total calorie count of the meal – no breakdown of carbs whatsoever. Hmm… when diabetics rely on carb counting, that’s not exactly the best breakdown. Sure, I could have guesstimated, but I like perfection, and by golly, a hospital should like it too.

Rather than guess the carbs on these pitiful meals, and feel starved and miserable for my entire stay, I opted to send Big Ring out for more filling feasts, and while they weren’t my preferred breakfast/lunch/dinner, and while they also forced me to guess the carb/insulin ratios, which had my blood sugars soaring and plummeting all day and all night, at least I wasn’t feeling food deprived.

Maybe hospitals should take a cue from running and cycling races!

Lesson learned: If you want to stay healthy, stay out of hospitals!

TSAB 3 of 3: But what about the diabetes?

So let’s review: so far we’ve covered Little Ring’s speedy arrival on earth, and the non-diabetes related hiccups that arose during the throes of labour, but what about the diabetes?

A girlfriend once told me, following the completion of my first marathon, that if I could do that, I could give birth to a kid no problem. And she was right… to a point. I did go into marathon mode when the time came, I breathed like a marathon machine, and just as I do when coming into the finish, I kicked my pushing up in the home stretch. But the thing is, none of that took into account the diabetes equation.

Unlike training for a marathon, I didn’t have months to condition my body or my diabetes for childbirth. And I felt completely unprepared, diabetes wise, going into the delivery room. Even though I attended a diabetes in pregnancy clinic for the last six months of my pregnancy, that clinic was geared more towards the pregnancy than delivery. The only information I was given for delivery day was to reset my basal settings as soon as the placenta was out as I would no longer require such high doses of insulin. They also gave me a sheet of suitable food options, only after I asked if I could eat or not. And when I asked about insulin settings (should I use a temporary basal rate like I do when running or should I keep it as is) they didn’t give me a solid answer.

Not surprising, the night before Little Ring was set to arrive, I was freaking out, frantically Google searching, tearing my house apart for the Pumping Insulin book, which I’m pretty sure has a chapter on pregnancy, but couldn’t find it for the life of me, and at one point, was close to tears thinking that after nine months of near perfection, I was gonna screw everything up on the last day.

But when it came time, a surprising calm washed over me. I knew how to do this. Sure, I’d never done it while giving birth, but there was also a time I’d never managed diabetes while running 42.2 km, and I did that just fine. The obstetrician agreed. One of the first things he told me after introducing himself was that I was in charge of my diabetes, noting that I knew my disease and how to manage it way better than any of them.

So what did I do? I didn’t reduce my insulin requirements, but I did test my blood sugars every hour on the hour, and when I wasn’t capable of doing it myself, I had Big Ring take the honours (Note: prior to this, Big Ring had never once tested my blood sugars for me in the 7 years we’ve been together… he did great ;)).

I went in with a suitcase full of applesauce, pudding, watermelon, chicken broth, and soda crackers, but aside from the crackers, I didn’t eat any of it. The last proper meal I had was at 2 p.m. (an egg salad sandwich and watermelon slices). Shortly after being induced, I had two biscuits, which didn’t sit well. And once labour started, an overwhelming feeling of pukiness hit me and the last thing I wanted was food.

It’s a good thing I brought all that food, though, because apparently they like to starve diabetics in hospitals! Seriously, this is breakfast???

Because I knew that high blood sugars could cause baby to have low blood sugars once out of the womb, and that low blood sugars could wreak havoc on me, the goal was to keep my BG between 4.5 and 6.9. For the most part, I managed that, not once going over 6.7. Anytime I had a reading in the 4s, I sent Big Ring off to grab me a hospital-sized orange juice. I tried a few crackers, but only managed a small bite or two before throwing them to the side. In the last hour, when my blood sugars plummeted down to 3.8, and I was growing sickly of the OJ, the obstetrician and I decided to hook me up to a glucose line, which kept my BG even for the rest of the way.

I had hoped not to endure such an intervention, but when I think about it now, it was probably the best thing I could do… I was going into the final stretch, and needed every ounce of energy I could muster to push out my big bellied baby – I did not need to be worrying about my blood sugars.

In conclusion: the biggest thing I learned throughout this pregnancy, including the labour and delivery, was simply to follow my gut. As much as I would have loved to have had all the answers laid out in front of me, that simply was not the case, and nine times out of 10, it was my gut giving me the solutions I needed. I’ve had this disease for 25 years. I’ve managed it incredibly well for the past 10 years. I’ve run marathons with it, climbed mountains with it, paddled boats with it, traveled with it, and now, I’ve given birth to the most handsome boy I’ve ever set eyes on with it.

One hundred per cent worth it!

TSAB 2 of 3: Hiccups

While Little Ring’s entrance into this world was a super speedy one, it didn’t come without a few hiccups.

Last Wednesday when my obstetrician recommended we move the induction date up, it wasn’t just because of the hefty size of my little babe. A blood test showed my liver enzymes had been hosting a Cholestasis Bash in my belly, which was causing the incessant stomach itch I’d been enduring for more than a month. My ob wanted me to go in that day, but given my reaction (I was still working, Big Ring was also working more than an hour away, I didn’t have my suitcase with me, didn’t have a take-home outfit for baby, hadn’t selected our movies yet… I was NOT ready!) she agreed we could wait until the next morning.

But when I called the maternity triage, Thursday morning, they said the NICU was full; we would have to wait. Instead, I was instructed to go to the hospital for another non-stress test to make sure baby was okay. It was there that my obstetrician laid out the urgency of the situation: There was no guarantee my baby would require a bed in the NICU, she said, but because I was already technically high risk with my diabetes and because I was delivering three weeks early, and because there was that whole shoulder dystocia concern, it was a possibility. And with cholestasis, she said, there was also a chance of stillbirth if we waited too long to deliver. Uh, what?

The solution: She told me a hospital in Surrey had room and was willing to take us. I nearly broke down at this point. After 9 months of planning, preparing, carefully selecting, I did NOT want my kid being born in Surrey, I did not want my kid getting the Surrey stamp (Surrey = the slum of the West Coast) right off the hop.

I know that sounds selfish, but take into account that I specifically chose this hospital because of its newness, because I had yet to form a grudge against it, because I had a great family support network all around it. I toured this hospital, had become comfortable with the maternity ward and its staff through my various appointments. Surrey, I didn’t know, I didn’t trust, and by golly, it was SURREY!!!

After talking it over, Big Ring and I decided to take our chances. They’d induce me and if our baby required the nursery post delivery, he’d be shipped to another hospital that had room. It was a scary thought being separated from my baby, but we truly believed he would be fine, that he’d be kicking and wailing just as loud as the next healthy newborn.

We weren’t wrong.

Waiting for a room. Waiting to be induced. Waiting to meet my little man.

Little Ring came out strong and healthy, he didn’t require any assistance with breathing, his wailing lungs got a good workout from the moment he was out, the shoulder dystocia concern was a non entity, his blood sugars were a bit low to start, but quickly rose to adequate numbers.

Giving tummy time serious thought 😀

I, however, had a few more issues to contend with. Before my water was broken, I was told I was a carrier of group b strep, which can cause serious lung infection and even death if passed onto the baby through the birth canal. As a result, I required an IV drip of penicillin to protect my little guy. But the thing is, despite having gloriously robust veins that nearly every blood extracting technician compliments, the nurse who was in charge of getting the IV line in me could not find a suitable vein… she tried four times, was pushing and twisting, but the line kept getting stuck halfway in, not budging another inch. At the time, it wasn’t a huge deal, I was already in the throes of contractions which were taking my mind off the poking pain, but the next morning, and subsequent days after, my hands and forearms were covered in painful bruises!

But, given how my pregnancy was full of hiccups, obstacles, challenges from the moment Little Ring first became a zygote in my belly, should I really have expected a labour that would go 100 per cent smooth? Nah, that would have been too easy 😀

TSAB 1 of 3: Blue moon

So, I guess I’ve got to stop calling him my little thumb-sucking alien baby, hey 😀

He did not come out with two heads or green antennae, I have yet to see him suck his thumb (although he is a fan of sucking his whole fist) and my gawd he is not little – 8 lbs, 10 oz and 20.5 inches long, which I swear are all legs! Mind you, calling him my Baby Cavendish or my Little Usain Bolt is not out of the question.

Just 11 days old, and he’s already got his victory pose down!

Last Thursday, I was induced, one week before the originally planned for induction date, and three weeks before his actual due date. Big Ring and I knew it could take hours, maybe even days before things got going, so we made sure we were prepared. Laptop, check. IPod, check. Girly book, check. Two magazines, check. Stack of DVDs (Ghostbusters and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, oh yeah ;)) check.

We didn’t need any of it.

Within 15 minutes of the cervidil, I started to feel pressure, 30 minutes in, cramping, 45 minutes the cervidil was removed for fear the labour was progressing too fast. It didn’t stop. At one hour, I was 3 cm dilated, at which point the super amazing obstetrician (I seriously can’t say enough good stuff about him and the nurse in charge of me that night) broke my water, figuring the babe was none too keen to continue hanging in the womb.

At 6 cm, my belly started to involuntarily push. I knew this was not good, but as much as I tried to stop it, at one point even lecturing it to stop, it would not. When the OB came back to check (literally minutes from the last time he checked!) I was 10 cm dilated. With a huge grin on his face, he announced to the room, “You’ve got a really nice cervix!” Now that’s a compliment I’ve never heard before 😀

Pushing Time:

Labour is the one thing that has freaked me out for years. Despite having a high pain threshold, the days and months leading up to this event, I was trembling. I for sure figured I’d be a complete wimp and be begging for drugs the second we rolled into the hospital parking lot. And yet, while it was painful and uncomfortable as hell, and I think I even joked at one point for Big Ring to remind me again why I opposed a c-section, it wasn’t the kind of tear-your-insides-apart, get-on-your-knees-and-beg-for-the-gods-up-above-to-make-it-stop pain. There were no tears, there was no howling, no morphine, no thought of an epidural, just a bunch of hits of laughing gas is all 😀

I kept my eyes shut for pretty much the entire time, and as soon as a contraction came I pushed, oh man did I ever push – once, twice, three and four times per contraction, face apparently beet red, veins in my neck popping like they never popped before. I was focused! And watching me, Big Ring said there was no doubt in his mind this kid was getting out naturally – there would be no c-section if my pushing had any say in the matter.

On Aug 30, at 8:59 p.m., with a blue moon shining brightly outside, after two hours of labour, plus one hour of pushing, my baby boy was out. “Open your eyes! Open your eyes!” the nurse and doc shouted. What I saw was the most beautiful, slimy, greyish, purple, wailing bundle being placed on my chest. It is that moment I know I will never forget.

Welcome to the world Little Ring!

And look, he’s already watching bike races with papa!