2020 is almost over and in a blink of an eye, my two girls are already two and five. Time just flies by so fast. I still remember the time when they were little babies.
If you wanted to say that my pregnancies were hard, they weren’t that bad. However, they weren’t a whole lot smooth sailing either.
My First Born
With Emilee, I was this very green, first time mother. I was expecting the morning sickness and backaches during my pregnancy but there was close to none. I even started to wonder whether I was really pregnant or not. At this point, the older folks will just go “choy, choy, choy, don’t say such things.” And so, I was prepared for a very joyful pregnancy. That was until I went for the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) at about 20 weeks.
Back in 2015, the OGTT was still not made compulsory but since my mum’s side of the family had a history of diabetes, my gynae felt I was at a higher risk of getting gestational diabetes (GD). I still remember the day I received the call on my OGTT results. I had just had a satisfying meal of duck rice. The call came and I was asked to go down to the hospital ASAP. I knew then that something was not right.
I was given my results. I had GD. It was not even a borderline fail. I was asked to consult the dietitian and given a strict diet plan. At first, it didn’t really sink in that I had GD. Well, not until the endocrinologist told me point blank in my face that I really had to watch my blood sugar coz if it goes too high, my baby’s heart could just stop beating. That was it. That sentence drove home the message of not to take GD so lightly.
The next week or so was the worst moments in my pregnancy. Pricking fingers seven times a day was bad enough, getting blood sugar readings that were above the allowed threshold was disappointing. I started to obsess with what I ate in precise quantity. I cut back here and there. I got the good readings I wanted but deep down I was miserable. I was often hungry and had to think twice every time I reached out for anything to eat. Once, I really broke down and cried, asking baby inside to give me strength to go on.
I reported how I felt to the nurse and then I was given insulin. I was really upset about it. At that time, I had some GD mummy friends but I couldn’t turn to them for help coz none of them were on insulin like me. I searched the internet and finally found a blog of an overseas GD mummy. Through her blog, I slowly learned to accept my condition and accept the help of insulin. My mum, who is a diabetic, also helped guide me through the foods I should avoid.
Because of GD, I also had to accept that I could not deliver my baby naturally. I had to go through induced labour at not more than 38 weeks. I learnt later the reason for this was due to the higher risk of stillborn coz of GD.
To make matters worse, Emilee was not exactly developing as planned. She was small for her gestational age. I think it was around 32 weeks that I was told to prepare for her to be taken out if gynae found that not enough blood was flowing to her. It was a rude shock coz I hadn’t even packed my bag. I really wasn’t ready for her to be out so soon. Thankfully though, everything looked fine. So, my gynae said I would be induced as soon as I hit 37 weeks.
At 37 weeks, Emilee was given eviction notice and out she came into the world, weighing only 2.1kg. She was born a healthy baby so that was all that mattered. In the end, my gynae attributed her small size to both my and hubby’s genes. I am petite and he’s not exactly very big sized either.
My Second One
My second pregnancy came with an early scare at 6 weeks. I had a considerable amount of brown spotting which made me panic and saw me going to the hospital for an early scan. (Tip: Take a photo of any spotting and show it to the hospital staff. I realised that everyone’s measurement of ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ is different. A picture would be clearer for diagnosis. ) Thankfully, baby was alright and it was not the big M word. I was however advised to rest more and take care. No more carrying of heavy things. That was a little tough coz 3-year-old Emilee still asked to be carried. We just told her that mummy wasn’t well and doctor said I couldn’t carry her. She whined a bit at first but she soon settled into the new adjustment.
Experience makes mums more chill. That was pretty true for me. By now, my GD hadn’t cleared after Emilee’s birth and I was declared pre diabetic. That didn’t really faze me. I was all prepared for the insulin; all the pricking and poking. I didn’t have to take OGTT again but was put on insulin at 9 weeks. And of course, I was back on that dreaded diet.
I was already used to non-sugared foods so the adjustment was much smoother. However, to say that I felt nothing about it, would be a lie. Imagine opening your social media apps and seeing people post food that you absolutely cannot touch. It was a torture. I dare say the strict diet was worse than the insulin jabs I had to take daily. Life was only a tad bit easier coz by then, I knew what foods worked for me. I also took my mum’s advice to not let diabetes and the dictation of what I could or could not eat, affect my quality of life. She told me to enjoy a dessert now and then…except where other people could enjoy a whole cone or cup of ice-cream, I could only satisfy my craving with one or two teaspoonfuls. I was thankful for that one or two spoonfuls. Better than nothing right?
For some strange reason, I developed an allergy to the insulin for this pregnancy. I would get a red itchy swelling at the injection site. I was taking five insulin jabs per day so you can imagine how my tummy looked like with those angry red swellings. The itch of course was unbearable. I attributed this allergy to hormonal change/imbalance, however, the endocrinologist narrowed it down that the long acting insulin was the one I had developed an allergy to. (I take two types of insulin. Long acting insulin is taken once in the morning and once at night. Rapid acting insulin is taken three times a day, before each meal.) She changed it to another type of insulin and then all became fine again.
In terms of morning sickness and backaches, this pregnancy had a few more episodes of both but I think they were nothing compared to some other mummies so I feel I should just keep quiet and thank my lucky stars.
Again, I would have to go through induced labour but as Kaitlin was developing well, there was no urgency to get her out earlier than 38 weeks. Since Emilee’s birthday was 12/11 (Yea, I wanted her to have 11/11 as her birthday but induction does not work that way. Some respond faster, some respond slower…though you do have a certain amount of control of when baby comes out.), I wanted Kaitlin to be out on either 11/12 or 12/12. Alas, my gynae was away during that period and we set my delivery date to be 18/12.
On my last check up on 13/12, Kaitlin’s heart beat dropped for a few seconds. The covering gynae suggested that with my pre diabetic background, it would be wiser to induce labour straight away. Why risk going home and having baby’s heart beat drop again? This round I am lucky that it recovered and I am in hospital. What if it happened again while I was at home and it didn’t recover? I was also already at 38 weeks anyway. (Eh, I learnt from my previous pregnancy to pack my bag way earlier. So I was not worried about the earlier than expected labour.) I was just slightly disappointed that my preferred gynae would not be delivering Kaitlin. That’s not to say that the covering gynae was any worse in terms of delivery experience.
And so, Kaitlin came into the world at 2.6kg. Not a whole lot heavier than her older sister, but still an ok weight. The labour timing was faster than the first round but it was expected as this was no longer my first delivery. Again, my baby was born healthy and that was all that mattered.