Thursday, September 19, 2013

sugar showdown, 26 weeks, 6 days

The gestational diabetes test is a shame – not because it’s a bullshit test[1] that requires a pregnant woman to needlessly suffer[2] – but because it comes during this magical time in your pregnancy[3]. This time when, all of a sudden, the stars begin to align. The nausea has (almost totally) dissipated. You’re back to waking only once or twice a night to pee, rather than the 9-12 times of yore. You’ve begun to feel much more like a human being (albeit rounder), rather than the emotional-sexless-ravenous-nauseated-train-wreck of trimesters pasts. You’re even starting to appear pregnant in a way that says glowing! rather than in a way that says I-just-ate-several-burritos-and-need-to-unbutton completely-take-off-my-pants. What I mean to say is that, at least for me, starting around five months, things started to feel pretty good. Sure, there was the occasional nighttime leg cramp – oh, the shrillness of my screams! – and my first Braxton-Hicks experience – must-stop-moving-and-stand-VERY-VERY-STILL – and heartburn, obviously and always. But overall, I was feeling good. Like, almost really good.

That is, until <drums!> the test to end all tests: THE. GREAT. GLUCOSE. CHALLENGE.
Simply put, the gestational diabetes test boils down to this:

one part 12 hour fast + one part 2 hour test + one horrendous bottle of orange-fizzy-cough-syrup-that-a-well-meaning-phlebotomist-will-assure-you-tastes-just-like-gatorade! + a million needle sticks + one seriously overdramatic, dizzy and nauseated pregnant lady – I’m creating a human life here, people! = an entire morning of unfettered joy/shiny happy people dancing/bliss[4]!

[Spoiler alert: here’s where I make it seem so-unsimple and so-very-overdramatic].

When I arrived at the office, the woman at the front desk, searching for the right word and at first not realizing the depths of her well-placed irony, asked me “did you starve?” before correcting herself and confirming that I fasted. I probably laughed too hard/too long/too maniacally at the accuracy of her initial inquiry. Because yeah. I starved. Because I am six months pregnant and not eating for AN ENTIRE TWELVE HOURS is basically state sanctioned torture. Now checked in, it was time for my first blood letting.

I have to admit, at this point in my life, I thought I was an old pro. Yeah, I have a history of blood-draw-induced-fainting but I really thought that the infertility rollercoaster had shed me of my bad habit. That the incredibly efficient resident blood-letter in the infertility clinic had restored in me a confidence, trust and ease. I mean, shucks, by the end of my infertility clinic tenure, I wasn’t even lying down anymore. I was sitting! Like a person! (With my eyes closed, tightly wringing my hands and in great terror).

All of this is to say that my backslide into blood-drawing-mediocrity was that much harder to swallow. But let me not be the only one to blame: this blood-drawer was not exactly a match made in heaven. When I warned her that I had fainted in the past[5], she grew immediately wary – of both me and her own ability. Points for instilling confidence? Check! During the first blood draw, she announced that “blood is going back in your arm and under your skin, hmmm”. To round things out, she removed the needle and confirmed what I was already feeling “there’s a lot of blood still coming out!” Super. Let’s all just close our eyes and go to our happy place

Luckily, blood draw number one was followed by my first refreshment of the morning. A Sunny D size bottle of NOTHING-BUT-ORANGE-SUGAR[6]. After dry heaving/gulping it down, I wandered aimlessly into the waiting room where, in a fit of nausea and sudden post-fasting-sugar-rush, it’s possible that I may have taken a brief nap.

An hour later, blood draw number two and an entire hour after that, the hat trick: blood draw number three. Let’s just cut to the chase. Blood draw number three was a bust: I fainted <takes bow> and the tech only managed to eek out half a tube. She assured me that it would suffice. And I, even in my delirious state, nodded in agreement, though DEEPLY TERRIFIED of having to repeat this whole affair again if we were wrong.

The rest of the day is something of a blur. I stumbled in to work where I proceeded to try to eat like a ravenous-but-still-nauseated human being, while alternately dazed in debilitating a kind of head-on-desk-sugar-stupor. It was all very dramatic – and TOTALLY NOT A BIG DEAL IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS. But I’m never one to downplay a good bloodletting. Plus, I am again reminded how charming it is to have the forearms of a heroin addict. Thankfully this particular shade of purple-blue compliments many of my outfits.

*Fingers crossed that I don’t actually have gestational diabetes.* Because that might actually be kind of a bummer.

[1] Totally not licensed to play a doctor. Not even on the internet. So let me be clear: the gestational diabetes test is REALLY IMPORTANT. Now I will ceaselessly complain about it.
[2] I am nothing if not overdramatic.
[3] A funny thing happens when you Google image search “pregnancy magic.” No, seriously, watch that. I’ll wait. <patiently waiting>.
[4] This just felt… right?
[5] Mistake number one.
[6] This woman knows what’s up.


  1. Honestly, I'm declining this test, because I really DON'T think it's "really important." From all of the research I've done, they aren't even sure they're testing at the right time of pregnancy or in the right way -- and the treatment is things like "cut back on carbs and sugars - exercise more - deliver baby." Um, check? So ya, I did this test with kiddo #1, and I am supremely happy to know that I will be skipping it this time around! (check out my post from earlier this week if you want more links to my research).

    That being said, you already went through the starvation torture (cuz yes, it truly is torture for a pregnant woman!) so I REALLY hope you pass with flying colors!

    You're damn near in 3rd trimester woman - this is flying!

    1. thanks, josey! You did a bang up job on that post and I couldn't agree with you more on the "prescription" for behavioral changes should you wind up with GD - hopefully we're striving to do those things anyway!

  2. In the UK they only do this test if you already have indicators. I would decline too unless I was in an at risk category.

  3. The nice nurses where I got my blood letting done actually had a spare room (and exam bed) next to them and let me lay down to sleep between their vampire stints! It was great and everyone apologized when they came in the room and saw me sleeping.
    I hope you don't have GD either!

  4. You're hilarious... weird about the fasting, I'm pretty sure I was just told not to eat anything for two hours beforehand. Also, I secretly loved the glucose solution - I'm a sugar freak to begin with, and it was nice and chilled; I probably could have downed another four or five cups before feeling ill. :)

    1. There's no way to say this nicely: you're a freak. I totally would have given you my portion! Ha.

  5. You guys are all so much better advocates for yourselves than I am - I am clearly just a slave to the hypermedicalized world of obstetrics. I should have done my homework and declined this beast of a test!

    1. Meh. There is SO much to research if you really want to go into it, and I definitely went with the flow a lot more with my 1st pregnancy. It's not like you hurt anything by doing the GD test - it just sucks and isn't proven all that necessary, so that's why I declined it this time. Live and learn, right? :) It's hard to even realize that tests are optional (IMO) when medical providers just present them as routine and necessary without really telling you WHY (and honestly, I don't think THEY have done the research or know why since THEY left med school!).