I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 18 years. I was always careful to take steps to control my blood sugars, but, no matter what, I never seemed to see the de­sired results. At first I didn’t worry – I was young and sure that I would have things under control before pregnancy was on the cards. I was never discouraged from starting a family but I was advised not to while my HbA1c was out of a safe range for conception and pregnancy. When I first thought about the possibility of starting a family, it was hovering around 75mmol/ mol (9%).
My healthcare team tried to find a solu­tion to get to the desired level, my insulin was changed, I was prescribed metformin for insulin resistance and I was also sent to an intense DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) course. I followed the ad­vice but I still struggled. Meanwhile, as my sisters, other family members and friends became pregnant, I struggled with feelings of jealousy and sadness. Having a child of my own became all-consuming and it was unbearable to think that it may never hap­pen for me.
After years of blood sugar battles, one sympathetic consultant told me that I was eligible for an insulin pump. Adjusting to life on the pump was challenging and learn­ing how to operate the machine for opti­mum blood sugar control took over my life, but I never gave up on my dream of moth­erhood. Gradually, as I learned the basics, I started to see improvements and, finally, ten months after starting pump therapy, a significantly reduced HbA1c result meant that I got the go ahead from my consultant.
The next step was to begin taking a high dose 5mg folic acid supplement to help prevent neural tube defects. I was told such problems can be more likely to occur in the babies of women with diabetes, which is why careful planning, pre-conception care and good blood sugar control before con­ception are essential. Once we started try­ing for a baby, I wanted to know as early as possible if I was pregnant or not so that I could be extra vigilant with my control.
It wasn’t the most romantic of times, but I was adamant to know exactly when I con­ceived so that I could monitor and manage my blood sugars extra carefully.
Three months later, I was pregnant. Joy was quickly followed by panic as I thought about the responsibility of the months of tight blood sugar control ahead. Anyone with diabetes will know what a tough task this is even without the added obstacles of sickness in the early weeks, fluctuating hormones and a growing baby. I learnt that high blood sugars were most problematic if they remained high for extended periods of time so I was always quick to correct any highs, but I still couldn’t help worrying about the effects on my precious unborn baby.
Luckily, I found an online forum where many other diabetic mums and mums-to-be aired their concerns, shared experiences and provided support. It was reassuring to know others were going through the same thing with the same worries and questions. I didn’t meet any pregnant women with diabetes, so the forum was invaluable.
As the birth approached, I heeded the ad­vice of the professionals and agreed to an early induction, at 37 weeks’ gestation. In hindsight, I wish that I had trusted my body to progress further on into the pregnancy because nothing went to plan after inter­vention.
My pump was removed for labour and I gladly handed over my blood glucose con­trol to my midwives, who hooked me up to a sliding scale drip and monitored me carefully.
■ Culled from Diabetes Balance.