We have terrible eating habits. I blame myself because I tend to work late and I dislike grocery shopping. My wife used to take on these responsibilities but since the beginning of her pregnancy, she’s understandably not up for the task. Plus, with all her new food aversions, she has a terrible time deciding what to eat. Now that food is her enemy, cooking is no longer enjoyable. This is unfortunate for her because my ability to provide dinner typically entails ordering take-out, heating up something from a box or even worse, pouring a bowl of Count Chocula cereal. For a woman 33 weeks pregnant with twins, these bad habits are a recipe for disaster.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to us when we learned a month ago that my wife developed gestational diabetes. I’m not saying that gestational diabetes is caused by poor eating habits but it certainly didn’t help the situation (which became an obvious issue when she got sick on my birthday after eating cake and ice cream).
Our doctor explained that gestational diabetes is possibly caused in part by the hormones from the placenta that help the baby develop. These hormones may lower the effectiveness of the insulin produced by the mother’s body, causing higher glucose levels in the blood. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause harm to mother and baby.
To keep an eye on her glucose levels, my wife was prescribed a test kit with instructions to test her blood 4 times daily by a prick to the finger. Once as soon as she gets up in the morning, then 2 hours after breakfast, 2 hours after lunch and lastly 2 hours after dinner. Also, she was sent to the diabetes counseling center where we learned how to manage her sugar levels with a strict low carb, low sugar diet. My wife’s days now revolve around food. For a woman who was already having a hard enough time with food, this was a huge blow, so I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure my wife and unborn children are getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy and strong.
My new hobby is cooking. Dinner every night at our house, no excuses! Each meal is like a Food Network challenge with this diet. The one ingredient I have to avoid is carbs. No French fries, pasta, biscuits, potatoes, cereal or pancakes. And avoiding sugar can be pure torture, especially after dinner or at our own baby shower! No cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, brownies or any of that good stuff, which I try to avoid out of solidarity.
Fortunately, after my wife delivers the babies, the gestational diabetes should go away, although she will have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Looking at the bright side, this could the wake up call we really needed in order to set healthy examples for our daughters.
Tips for Surviving Gestational Diabetes
If your partner is surviving gestational diabetes, here are some things I try to mind in order to maintain a healthy, somewhat happy pregnancy so far:
Keep mealtimes on a schedule.
We used to only eat whenever we got hungry but now that she’s pregnant, my wife is not hungry until she’s absolutely starving and starting to feel sick. So it’s important to be proactive to avoid the crash.
I try not to get too caught up in getting fancy or fussing over recipes. I don’t have time for that and I’m not very skilled in the kitchen. Since the important thing at mealtime is to fill our bellies with nutritious food, I’m not above taking shortcuts like buying frozen veggies in a microwave steam bag.
We have a big Ben & Jerry’s cup. My wife’s job is to refill it every few hours. It’s important to drink water all throughout pregnancy, gestational diabetes or not. Unfortunately, we only have one bathroom and it’s upstairs at the end of a long hallway.
It can drive me a little nutty when chores are unattended at our house and things pile up, however, the highest priority is keeping my pregnant wife healthy and happy. I have to remind myself sometimes that some things can wait while other things cannot.
Sweep her off her feet (and then elevate them).
My wife lost her job when she was a little more than halfway through her pregnancy. Since then, she stays off her feet, which could be one of the contributing factors for a healthy twin pregnancy so far. Even though she’s home during the day, that doesn’t mean that she’s our housekeeper.
Accompany her to doctor’s appointments.
My wife usually has questions for the doctor, but when we get there, she can’t remember what she wanted to ask. My sister (and mother of a very active toddler) calls that “pregnancy brain.” I go with her, I ask the questions she has for the doctor and absorb the information they give us. We’re a team, so I’m there for every appointment. Luckily, I have extremely supportive employers and coworkers who have been very understanding about frequent doctor’s appointments.