Saturday, October 6, 2012

A whole bunch of pregnancy firsts.

As many of you already know, I wasn't a diabetic when I was pregnant with GW back in 2009.  I didn't even have a hint of gestational diabetes let alone a full on type 1 dependence on artificial insulin.  It was a normal pregnancy in many regards with no complications and only a few quirks - namely I didn't realize I was pregnant until week 12 (nuva ring, baby!) and GW arrived "pre-term" by being two days short of 37 weeks.  But all in all, the pregnancy with him was smooth sailing and what I'd typically refer to as "all pop-tarts and rainbows."

Obviously this go round is quite a bit different.  I've got type 1 now, I'm having loads of non-diabetes pregnancy complications and I don't even want to attempt to go there with pop-tarts or rainbows because (lets face it) those probably have more carbs per serving than I have insulin -- especially if the rainbows we're talking about here are made of skittles.   But seeing as this is round two for me, I know what a little bundle of joy I'll get at the end of this and I'm grateful to my pancreas for at least providing me a degree of perspective by sparing my first pregnancy from it's wrath.

The thing is, though, despite my almost three years of hands on parenting experience, there are so many new and different things with this pregnancy that I feel in many ways I'm a brand-new mom all over again:

  • My medical care is different and more complicated - leaving many new tests to research and understand.  
  • My diet is more restricted and calculated - requiring more attention and proactive tracking.  
  • My to go bag is ready to go much earlier (okay, it's been ready for several weeks and is actually re-packed after last week) - making me more anxious and nervous for labor to begin.  
  • My expectations for delivery are more grey - causing me to unavoidably "what if" about before, during and after labor. 

So although I'm some how managing to keep calm and accept that the only thing I can really DO to help Baby is put my feet up, I find my experiences with this pregnancy far more resemble that of a first-timer than typical of a pregnancy-vet.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not back to absolute square one of trying to figure out which way the diaper goes on or what the heck a Manhattan Whoozit is, but there is something to be said about the difference between a straight forward, non-diabetic delivery of a baby and the complicated, ultra-sensitive (I mean you're even allowed to eat - yes, more than ice chips) delivery of a diabetic. Wrapping my head around the changes to my experience-based-expectations is turning into quite the task and emotional challenge.

On a completely unexpected note, one of the biggest differences that I've noticed this past week between this pregnancy and the last is contractions.  I know this probably sounds weird, but bear with me... When I went into labor with GW the only sensation I experienced was this sharp, unbelievable point pain that I quickly learned was caused by dilation.  The pain I felt with that was more than I expected and - as a firm believer in modern medicine - very much the reason I opted for the epidural.

Oct 12, 2009 - post epidural and much, much happier.

The past two weeks, however, I've had my first taste for what a contraction feels like and I previously had no flippin' clue there was a difference between "contractions" and what I felt in Oct 2009.  Contractions, unlike dilation, feel more like a solid, crescendo-decrescendo of pressure spread across your entire uterus that cause it to go entirely rigid.  I would not describe it as painful, it's just rather unpleasant -- and actually, if labor and delivery were confined to only contractions and not dilation I'd venture to say that natural childbirth would be quite within the non-medicated pain threshold I personally have.   But seeing as dilation is the bleepity-bleep-bleep that it is, I have no shame whatsoever in saying "yes, please" (or something to that effect) to a gigantic needle being rammed in my spine.

Perhaps I've developed too much of an immunity to needles?

Honestly, the biggest change I am scared of (well beyond any possible necessary use of the NICU) is the challenge maintaining healthy-range blood sugar creates with breast feeding.   As with any calorie burning activity, breast feeding requires a mother's body to burn energy - aka glucose - to the point that many diabetic-mommy's report that it is excessively easy to experience their worst episodes of hypoglycemia ever (click here for an example).   Not that these other changes or complications have been a walk in the park, but it's scary to think that the "high risk" of being a diabetic mother doesn't necessarily go away once Baby is born.

When I was expecting GW the only intimidating part about breast feeding was that I'd never done it before.  In trying to sooth my nerves, HB and I experimented with the Medela pump we bought and it made such an audible suction sound that I insisted he try it before I did.  As an extremely supportive husband and incredible good sport, he did and within the first weeks of GW's life I took to that sucker (ha, literally) with far more confidence because of his gallant courage.  But this go around, I can't just ask HB to test drive for me... it's my pancreas and my second baby after all and not some odd electronic that in any non-internet based forum would otherwise make me blush.  Obviously, I need to do some more research on this topic so as to understand the implications of my disease better and hopefully dissuade some of the fears that go along with it.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

Without wanting to jinx myself, I really must admit that I'm looking forward to baby #3 whenever he or she comes around.  Maybe by then I'll have wrapped my head around not only pregnancy, but pregnancy and motherhood with diabetes that I can finally go into the experience with the luxury of fewer questions and concerns than before.  Course, knowing me, there will be some other nuance that will change the situation and give me yet another run at pregnancy with an amateur status... but, by the grace of God, I've got HB and two amazing children that will help me get through whatever that challenge is when it arrises.  All I ask, Lord, is that if I'm allowed my druthers that next time the complication is something as straight forward and "easy" as twins!

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