There is big news in our household…Baby Grey is coming in July! As big of news as this is, you may be wondering why I haven’t been blogging about it! The truth is, I have been so occupied with managing my Type 1 Diabetes and pregnancy, that it has taken me time to 1) decide how I wanted to write about it 2) what I wanted to say and 3) sit down and DO it!
So, I thought I would start the first of many blog posts on some of the basics of T1D and pregnancy. Here are the usual questions I got when announcing the news to friends, family and acquaintances: Usually it goes, “How have you been feeling?” followed by, “How has managing your diabetes and sugars been with pregnancy?” and lastly, especially if they are somewhat educated on T1D, “How is a Type 1 pregnancy different? Is there anything special you have to do throughout the pregnancy?”
I welcome these questions, as every day I am learning too. It’s also a chance to educate others on what my daily life is like now…and how far the world has come with pregnancy and T1D.
- The prep. Last year I started buckling down on getting my A1C under 7.0. As a refresher, your A1C basically measures how well you’ve controlled your daily blood sugars over a 3-month span. For me, at least so far, this prep last year was harder than the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. It involved playing around with insulin levels, going more low-carb than usual, and fine-tuning how specific exercises affected the blood sugar. It’s much easier (and guilt free) to get your A1C down when there’s not another life affected by it. Not all diabetics have this choice as many moms develop gestational diabetes, but I am solely talking about my own experience with T1D.
- The technology. Managing T1D during pregnancy has been like adding another full-time job to my plate. It is my absolute number one priority, and always on my mind. I cannot imagine managing this without my Dexcom CGM or my OmniPod insulin pump. They are my constant companions.
- More doctors visits. The OBGYN appointments start out like any other — our first sonogram we saw the flashes of a heartbeat, and I’ve gone back once a month until I hit 28 weeks and I will go every week. I do see my endocrinologist more often at once a month and am in constant communication with the nurse practitioner as insulin needs during pregnancy are always changing (chart further below)
Baby Grey’s first sono at 7 weeks. It was amazing to see the heartbeat flicker on our little bean!
- Checking the boxes for “high risk.” There are more boxes to check in the medical field with a T1D pregnancy, as precautions. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to not let it get to you. My OBGYN has been a constant encourager that any risks to the baby drop dramatically with good control. But still, since I have the T1D label on my chart, I have more bloodwork done on a regular basis, I did a 24-hour urine test (it was so glamorous), and was also referred to a high-risk fetal care center where they do in-depth sonograms and a fetal echocardiogram of Baby Grey’s heart.
Baby Grey’s latest sono at 20 weeks and fetal echocardiogram. Everything looks wonderful, and baby is super active!
- First trimester lows. First trimester low blood sugars were no joke. I’ve always heard to watch out for the low blood sugars, but I didn’t realize that even walking around the block would make my blood sugar plummet, and having a Dex 4, Juicy Juice box, or a Sprite in my handbag or my car — basically wherever I went, was essential.
- And later, insulin resistance. I’m not even sure what to say about this yet, but I am just starting to experience it. As the baby grows, your body requires more insulin.
One of the many helpful charts and bits of info from Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes by Cheryl Alkon
- Cravings. Good Lord, the cravings. T1Ds are not immune to regular pregnancy symptoms. I was blessed to never have nausea, but I have had some pretty intense, random cravings. I’ll never forget that surreal moment at about 14 weeks where all I wanted was chicken nuggets. I mean, I would have killed for them. I decided to go to Wendy’s on my lunch break and grab a 6-pc nugget and salad. I then preceded to park in the parking lot and unzip my pants and chomp down those nuggets in peace. Cravings and my pants being too tight…a “normal” pregnancy experience! We went and got maternity work pants that weekend.
We’re not finding out. Why? Because of all the reasons and more above.
Because managing T1D is already hard work.
And pregnancy in itself is hard work.
T1D and pregnancy? It’s no walk in the park. My blood sugar is the baby’s blood sugar, and that motivation keeps me going. We cannot wait for the moment when baby is born – and to have the gender as a last surprise or shall we say, reward for all of the hard work, patience and perseverance surrounding the pregnancy.
So if you are a T1D that is venturing down the road of prepping your body for pregnancy, are just curious, or are a friend or family of a T1D, I hope this helps. Growing a human life such an amazing adventure, and I cannot imagine what it will be like to hold him/her in my arms. We love you, Baby Grey!