Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first trimester!
Hopefully this means that the morning sickness and oppressive exhaustion is over and the rest of pregnancy will be a breeze. This is the part where you get to go shopping, design an adorable nursery, have a shower, maybe go on a baby-moon. The second and third trimesters are fun, right? Plus, food is suddenly super appealing again, so you can just eat whatever you want!
Well, maybe not.
Because, expectant mama, you’re going to have to get through a gestational diabetes screening first.
Oh, what? No one told you about that? Yeah, me either.
The whole thing was a huge surprise, almost like the baby I was carrying, so I had no idea what to expect. I’d barely even heard of gestational diabetes, so when I found out I had to have yet another test, I was absolutely terrified.
What was it going to be like? Would it hurt? Was the baby going to have problems because I ate too much cake?
I worked myself into a ridiculous state of anxiety about this, so let me explain exactly what is going to happen, step by step, according to my experience …
1. Your OB-GYN will casually inform you, kind of off-handedly, that you need to schedule a glucose screening.
“A WHAT?? HAVEN’T YOU PEOPLE TESTED EVERYTHING THERE IS TO TEST ALREADY??” you will reply.
“Yeah, it’s nothing,” your doctor will tell you.
2. You stay up all night Googling gestational diabetes until you’re convinced you definitely have it.
And you’re also convinced you’re going to give birth to a 37-pound baby that will end up on the news all because you cannot stop eating those irresistible sweet-and-salty granola bars. And cupcakes.
3. Go into the kitchen and grab a cupcake.
Put Nutella all over it because it doesn’t have enough frosting. This is because the baby really loves Nutella.
4. Because the doctor assured you the screening is actually “nothing,” try to convince yourself that this is true.
And that it’s perfectly reasonable to pour a bag of Skittles down your throat on the way to the appointment. You are pregnant! You aren’t puking anymore! Your appetite is back! The baby needs food! EAT ALL THE THINGS!
5. When you get to the appointment, first pee in a cup.
You got this. You have been peeing in cups for six months now. You are a champion cup pee-er at this point. No one can pee in a cup as good as you!
6. Next, the nurse will offer you a selection of beverages.
They will look like the Snapples and Hi-Cs you remember from childhood. You will be fooled into thinking that they are going to taste good. They are not. But since you can’t get out of this, take my advice: Always choose the orange flavor.
7. Upon first sip, you will realize this tastes nothing like Tang, or Orange Crush, or any known delicious powdered drink mix.
This tastes like the vomit of evil sugar demons. Why is this drink thick?? you’ll wonder. It’s the consistency of motor oil. The answer is because you are essentially trying to choke down a large bottle of syrup and chemicals.
8. Halfway through the bottle, you’ll become convinced you’re going to hurl.
When the nurse comes to check on you to see why you aren’t finished drinking your scrumptious cocktail, shoot daggers at her. Possibly suggest that she try to chug what feels like a 72-ounce Big Gulp of Glucose. Finish the damn drink.
9. Play with your phone for the next hour.
After an hour and a half of waiting, because the doctor had to go do an emergency C-section, the nurse will remember that she has abandoned you, and will come and jab your finger with a needle that looks like a pen. It doesn’t hurt that bad. I promise.
10. Congrats, you failed.
Exactly like College Algebra. Guess what? You have to do this crap all over again, but for even longer next time.
11. Cry the whole way home.
You are definitely having a 37-pound baby and it’s going to come out looking like a piece of rock candy because you have so much sugar in your blood. In fact, if the baby is a girl you should pretty much just name her Candy because that’s what she will be. Boy? I don’t know. Maybe call him Reese, after Cups.
12. Now you have to take an official glucose tolerance test.
This is for real this time. You’re going to have to fast. That means not eat. Which means you cannot have that brown-sugar bacon for breakfast. Stop. Don’t even think about it. I SAID STOP!
13. Pee in a cup again.
This is old hat by now. Have more blood squeezed out of your fingertip. Drink the drink again. This time will be harder because you already know that it’s disgusting. If you didn’t listen to me last time, please, for the love of all that is good: PICK THE ORANGE ONE. It truly is the lesser of the evils.
14. Settle in, girl, because you’re going to be here awhile.
Spend the next three hours alternating worry and fervent prayer with getting your fingers pricked.
Now, comes one of two scenarios:
Congratulations, the three hours are up, you are practically in a sugar coma, and you passed!
You do not have gestational diabetes and this test has effectively cured you of your sweet tooth forever. Go forth and grow a baby!
Sorry, you failed — you have gestational diabetes.
But don’t worry: some studies say that gestational diabetes affects 10 percent of pregnancies. That means it’s really common and this is not your fault. I promise. This is not caused by Skittles.
The good news is that you found out early. You are getting the care you need. Most likely, you’ll have to follow a special diet. When I had gestational diabetes, my diet looked a lot like Atkins, and I developed a love for Ezekiel Bread. The diet was in no way difficult. I also had a simple exercise plan, and I had to get a test kit to keep track of my own blood sugar, which, because I’m a total nerd, ended up being kind of fun and interesting. It was not painful and I never felt sick.
In the end, I had a healthy baby. Because I had the test, which was definitely annoying and inconvenient, I was able to find out early on that there was a problem and then take the steps to fix it.
Gestational diabetes ended up being a blessing because it jolted me into eating better and exercising during my pregnancy, which led to me not gaining too much weight. It sounds scary to hear that you have a disease, but the good news is that it is treatable and in most cases it goes away after the baby comes (mine did). I even know women who have needed insulin shots, and they tolerated them easily and also went on to have happy, healthy, perfect-in-every- way babies.
So calm down, new mama. You’re in good hands and you’re doing a good job no matter what your blood sugar levels are.More On