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.
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!