Thursday, December 27, 2012

31 Weeks: GD life, Active Baby, Sleepy Mama

The past week has been all about adjusting to my new GD diet/lifestyle. I had to cancel some plans with friends (it's been impossible to see friends during this pregnancy!!), but the transition has been a lot easier than anticipated, mainly because my husband has taken over the food preparation/cooking after my initial effort - bless his heart. I miss eating fruits in the mornings, but it's not too bad. Getting through Christmas without sweets wasn't bad either. Instead of baking cookies, we roasted chestnuts, which I love anyway. Yum. And the pricking finger part has also become manageable after getting used to the routine, especially after cutting down to four times a day from seven. My blood sugar levels have been in the normal ranges at all times. I'm confident this borderline Gestational Diabetes is in control.

Speaking of control, I was hoping this diagnoses could explain some of the terrible things I've been feeling during my pregnancy. I was also hoping the diet would help me feel better. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be related. I still feel sick on and off with nausea and dizziness.

The good news is that my baby girl seems to be doing fine. She is more active than ever, and they say another growth spurt happens around now. I can feel it, not only in the stretching skin but also in the incredible sleepiness I feel. I want to sleep all the time. But of course, sleeping is not such an easy task with the huge belly, kicking baby, achey body, and breathing difficulty. 

I have nine weeks until my due date, but only six until I'm full term, which means there's a chance this baby will come out in about a month and a half. My husband and I had a moment of panic last night because we have so much to do.

We've only begun looking at cribs, strollers, and whatever else parents-to-be look at before the baby comes. We've been too busy focusing on and dealing with my sickness/condition during the pregnancy that we haven't had a chance to prepare for the actual baby who will be out soon. We're lucky tho to have so many new parents around us to tell us about their experiences. Last night, my husband and I FaceTimed with my sister's family for over an hour, talking about babies and baby products. As parents of a 17-month-old, they shared with us what they know and think, which was immensely helpful for us in making some decisions. 

PHOTO at 31 weeks: 
I can feel my baby's head (or butt) right below my rib cage at times, but I think I'm still carrying her pretty low in my belly. I've begun doing yoga ball exercises to help the baby position herself right for birth. This baby is coming soon...!! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

30 weeks: Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. When pregnant, the placenta releases hormones - one of which is called HPL (Human Placental Lactogen) - that have anti-insulin properties. They're basically there to ensure the baby receives enough nutrients. Usually, the mother's body compensates for this specific insulin resistance by working harder at the pancreas, releasing extra insulin. A woman with GD, however, has a hard time accommodating, resulting in an elevated blood glucose level. If prolonged, a lot of dangerous things can happen. But if controlled, it's not a big deal - hence the routine testing. Though someone with GD has a higher chance of developing type II diabetes later in life, the condition usually goes away once the baby - more specifically, the placenta - is out.

There's a list of things that puts someone at a higher risk for GD: being older than 25, going through a 'high risk pregnancy,' having high blood pressure, being overweight before pregnancy, and having given birth to a large baby before. I am none of the above, except being older than 25. But as always, there are exceptions and anomalies. 

My blood glucose level came out slightly elevated after the initial glucose tolerance test (GTT), which routinely happens between 24-28weeks of pregnancy, when the HPL levels become higher and can start affecting the body. GTT consists of consuming within 5 minutes a drink containing 50g of glucose after fasting for 8-14 hours, then drawing blood an hour after. If the number is above 140mg/dl, doctors ask for further testing through the 3 hour glucose tolerance test. The second test consists of drinking a sweeter drink containing 100g of glucose the same way within 5 minutes (it's really sweet and makes some women vomit), then drawing blood for the next 3 hours at every hour. The cut off numbers - they seem to vary a bit depending on your doctor, but these are what my doctor used - are 95 mg/dl (fasting), 180 mg/dl (1hr), 155 mg/dl (2hrs), and 140 mg/dl (3hrs). If two or more numbers are elevated, Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed.

My weight is on track, and my blood pressure is 'perfect.' My baby's heartbeat looks great as well. But I failed the 3hr glucose tolerance test by a few points. I'm right at the borderline. For some more 'lenient' doctors, I might have passed. My doctor seems to be on the more cautious side, which isn't a bad thing. She suggested that I go on a restrictive diet and start monitoring my blood sugar level just in case. No more cookies, cakes, and ice cream for me until the baby comes - my doctor kept saying sorry because it's right before the holidays. But the thing is, I wasn't really into them anyway, at least during this pregnancy because they usually make me vomit. 

My doctor doesn't think it has anything to do with what I'm doing. She said it's probably my high hormone levels. She's putting me on a diet to make sure my baby's healthy and my birthing process is as smooth as possible. And keeping blood sugar levels in check never hurt anyone. 

When GD is severe and cannot be treated with diet and exercise alone, insulin injection or other form of medication is needed. But I'm not at that stage; I just need to monitor my glucose level and watch my diet. The biggest change will be that I have to cut down on my fruits and eat a lot more often. Oh, and I'll have to prick myself seven times a day. I was pretty bummed out for a day because I couldn't believe how helpless this pregnancy has made me, starting with Hyperemesis.

But after a good night's sleep, I've come to a completely different place of something closer to... excitement. After reading a bunch of documents from the Doctor's office, I made a meal plan chart for myself and went to Trader Joe's to get the ingredients. I also stopped by the Dr's office to learn how to use the glucose monitor. The needle is tiny and doesn't hurt (that much)! This is a great opportunity to revamp my diet, which has gotten a bit sloppy since Hyperemesis. This heightened awareness is going to only help me and my baby, not to mention my husband. And I've always been curious about my glucose level anyway. So far, things are looking good. I'm not hungry, and my sugar level is absolutely normal. Maybe these changes will help with my nausea and vomiting too. 

PHOTO at 30 weeks:
I feel heavy (my legs cramp up a lot at nights, probably from all the extra weight they have to handle), but I love the roundness of the belly. We saw our baby girl's face on the sonogram yesterday, and her cheeks have gotten chubbier! My husband thinks she looks like me, but I can't tell just yet. We're so excited to meet this baby girl!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

29 weeks: like 'Spirited Away' pigs

Have you seen the Japanese animated movie, Spirited Away? If you have, you know the part where the parents turn into pigs? Well, that's how I felt this week, like I suddenly turned into a pig different creature!

I'm feeling the 3rd trimester growth. I've been having a lot of breathing issues, especially after meals. I seem to be having a hard time adjusting to the rate at which my belly is expanding. I get cramps in my lower abdominal area when I lie down or move a certain way, and my hip pains are coming back. I'm getting frequent headaches, and my regular 'morning sickness' is maybe getting worse - yes, I'm STILL vomiting... On average, I seem to be bedridden every other day these days. I guess that's still much better than 24/7.

Today is my last day at the Bahamas with my husband. We've been on a full vacation mode since Monday, when we moved to a bigger room with an ocean view. It's been nice, especially because we've had to spend a lot of time inside. Fortunately, I've had one really good day this week - tho the morning was still awful - where I spent the whole afternoon in the sun by the beach. Mostly, I watched Dave swim in the ocean while sitting on a lounge chair, sipping on my virgin pina colada. But I did get to spend some time in the water as well - some in the ocean and mostly in the pool. It felt so good to feel so light and weightless! I'd describe that day, Tuesday, as... absolutely perfect.

Yesterday was another nauseated-and-dizzy-and-stuck-inside day. But hey, that's what room service is for, right? And this is our view right from our bed!

I had a really rough night. But after a really nice nap this morning, today has been one of my better days. After waking up from a nightmare that I slept through my last full day in the Bahamas, we spent some time out in the sun by the beach again. It was a bit too cold to go in the ocean because of the giant clouds that were covering the sun. But now that I'm back in my room to get ready for our next activity (aquarium!), the clouds have disappeared, and the sun is back up! Oh well... I already had my perfect beach day. I'm all good.

We fly back tomorrow, back to reality. In a way, I'm really looking forward to staying put at home and focusing fully on getting ready for this baby. And I think my body's had about enough of traveling for now.

PHOTO: 29 weeks and feeling like a pig different creature. This baby is GROWING and getting so strong! We play music to her sometimes, and I swear she dances to it. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

28 weeks: 3rd trimester begins in the Bahamas w/ a growth spurt

As I officially enter my 3rd trimester today, I'm in Nassau, Bahamas to attend a film festival. I know that probably sounds only marvelous, but I had actually been dreading it. Jet lagged and sick from the previous trip, I was pretty sure I couldn't handle another travel.

Luckily, I was able to get here somehow - most of it is a blur. Once on the plane, the ride felt a lot shorter than anticipated. I guess a 2.5hr flight feels like nothing compared to a 14hr one. And it's great that I'm in the same time zone.

My husband and I arrived two days ago, and it's only been pleasant so far. Being in a new environment that happens to involve warm temperatures, I've been feeling pretty comfortable. I know the baby is still in my belly, but it feels like we're on our first time vacation as a family of three. It also doesn't hurt that it's beautiful here in Nassau.

As expected, I'm definitely not my original walk-around-all-day-sightseeing self. I get tired easily. And being exhausted for me goes hand in hand with feeling sick that leads to vomiting, so I need to be careful. There are a lot of events I want to attend while I'm here, but I'll have to pace myself. There was a filmmakers' retreat the other day that involved a 40 minute boat ride, which I chose to skip. And there's an opening night party tonight on a yacht... I plan to stop by and reassess, but I'm pretty sure I won't be joining... I don't want to tempt my already on and off nausea.....

I'm starting to understand what women mean when they say they 'feel like a whale,' and it's annoying when I can't put on my wedding ring because my fingers are puffy (it's mostly after I eat some kind of Asian food for dinner the night before). I swear I'm bigger whenever I wake up from sleeping, whether it's overnight or just a short nap. And I'm convinced the little growth spurts make me extra sleepy. Oh, and I get really hot when I sleep - I'm usually the one with layers of clothes on in bed because I get cold easily. I'm experiencing a lot of new things as a pregnant woman.

As uncomfortable as I am, I also recognize how fleeting these moments are. A part of me can't wait until the baby comes out, but most of me wants to savor this experience while it lasts. My every cranky bout ends with some kind of food my husband gets for me, and even the worst of pregnancy sickness eventually tapers off as I'm comforted by my baby's movements. It's such a special time, and I am not going to wish it to go away soon. I'm sure I'll feel differently in 12 weeks, but for now, I want to enjoy the ride. And welcoming my 3rd trimester in the Bahamas with my husband, with whom I plan to take a few extra days off after the festival, seems like the perfect way to celebrate this huge transition into parenthood. I'm always hungry, tired, and/or sick, but all in all, life is good.

PHOTO: 28 weeks pregnant, feeling huge & starting to look it too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: severe morning sickness

Apparently, Kate Middleton has this condition, and the media is beginning to cover Hyperemesis Gravidarum. The general population doesn't really know about it, and there also hasn't been much research on the topic because it's considered a temporary condition that passes.

My sister asked me if I had heard of HG because it sounds a lot like what I had gone through. Nonchalantly answering 'yes,' I was touched because I thought no one noticed - maybe except my husband. Reading this New York Times article by Laura Geggel, I do agree that this is not just another case of 'morning sickness.' I felt validated when I read '...there are a lot of misconceptions about it. A lot of women are treated really badly. They’re treated like they’re faking it or that they just don’t want their child.' I have actually been in this situation, where I was accused of exaggerating, which prompted me to change hospitals.

And when reading the blog entry, 'Pregnant and wanting to die' by Betsy Shaw, one of the links sis sent me, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I guess I could blame it on the hormones, but it is more that this woman was describing things I dared not say out loud. The morbid thoughts that has gone through my head had filled me with shame and a sense of incompetence as a woman. I too remember having moments of complete compassion for women who chose to end it. I remember thinking every day I want to die.

Fortunately, I was able to get through it without such tragedy. And I was also able to stop my weight loss early on. But I was still completely nonfunctional for months without any break - not even a moment, throwing up every single day, mumbling to no one in particular, 'please make it stop.'

I think back, and the only reason I was able to survive without living at the hospital is because my husband was by my side 24/7, feeding or trying to feed me every hour. There is no way I would have ingested anything if I were alone. Every bite of food or sip of drink tasted like death, and I was too dizzy to move.

But I also knew not taking what my husband had in front of me meant going to the hospital. For better or worse, I convinced myself eating and throwing up is better than lying in the hospital with a needle in my arm. Every bite was a battle, but I took it because I had an irrational fear - or maybe it's plenty rational - that I could hurt my baby if I didn't consume anything. My husband's hand movement that brings food to my mouth sometimes would be enough to set me off to vomit. Sometimes, we cried together as I struggled to swallow a piece of fruit...

Needless to say, I'm glad that period is over................

I feel nothing but sympathy for the duchess, but I'm slightly hopeful for what this new awareness could bring about.