The Most Incredible Gift

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Health-isIf this pregnancy was to follow my first (as they usually do) then I wouldn’t have even given birth yet. But I have a nearly three-week old baby.

I was induced early because I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 36 weeks.

I cried when the obstetrician told me I had diabetes. For nearly two weeks I had pricked my finger six times per day to test my blood sugars before and after meals. I ate well and exercised as much as I could in my heavily pregnant state. The tears kept rolling as she explained to me the hospitals preferred outcome for GD babies was to induce labour at no later than 39 weeks, so not only did I have GD but I was going to be induced again. The very thing I wanted to avoid. Now let me just clarify that I could have refused and trusted my body to do what it needed to do when it needed to do it, but I’m a pragmatist – my body didn’t get the last baby out on time and this one was a much higher risk so I accepted my fate.

Before I knew anything about diabetes I mistakenly thought it was a disease confined to the overweight and obese. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and I *may* have been a little naughty with my nutrition whilst pregnant – because, I’m going to put on weight anyway and I’ve always been lucky with my health. I was unstoppable. Until now.

The baby was closely monitored and it’s weight was tracking at the 95th percentile, so we knew it was going to be a big baby. I probably don’t need to tell you I spent the two weeks between the diagnosis of gestational diabetes and the labour induction date a nervous wreck, trying desperately to avoid talking about the baby and the birth. I even lied to my family because I didn’t want them to be concerned and have that anxiety pass over to me. My midwife was a champ about the whole thing, always answering my texts and calls with compassion and understanding.

After 2 days in hospital my labour pains started in the morning, active labour was established at 1pm and my baby was born four hours later. It hurt just the same amount as the first time – and I didn’t get the epidural in time so it was just gas and air again – but the whole process was much shorter and much more positive. My boy was born at 38 + 5 weeks, healthy and not too big at 8 pounds (3.6kgs). His blood sugars tested fine and my levels tested immediately lower. This is normal with GD, as soon as the baby is born the mother’s insulin resistance dissipates and all is well.

Until you get a letter in the post from the hospital that says this:

We highly encourage Emma to continue the healthy lifestyle (the diet and exercise program I followed after diagnosis) and aim for a non-pregnant weight below 65kg. Her risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years is 50% if she does not continue these lifestyle measures.

Yup – a 50% chance! I have a family history of Type 2 diabetes – both maternal and paternal grandparents so that increases my likelihood of getting the disease. But seriously I had never actually considered that I was at risk.

After I stopped crying (and believe me, that took weeks) I realised something. That I had been given a life-altering gift. It’s like I got tomorrow’s newspaper – essentially if I live a healthier lifestyle I have a 50% chance of not getting a life-threatening disease. Those are pretty good odds.

Now I’m focussed on weaning my sugar addiction and giving up bad carbs. And daily exercise. My life literally depends on it.

As my wonderfully wise mother-in-law always says ‘Health is Wealth’. Because what is all of this for, if I’m not around to enjoy it.

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