The Third Trimester: Diabetes, Sciatica, Accidents, and So on

Pregnancy and Diabetes - 32 weeks - Jennifer JacobsIn the movies, the third trimester of pregnancy illustrates perfect baby bumps, charming pickle cravings, and finishing touches on the most adorable nursery you’ve ever seen in your life.

For me, not so much.

My baby bump has grown to the size of a watermelon. It’s difficult to complete even minor tasks like sliding on an UGG boot. I don’t crave pickles, or anything for that matter. And I live in a small NYC apartment; no room for a proper nursery.

I developed pregnancy-related sciatica in my left hip and limped around for a while. Luckily, after three weeks, the pain and my limp  vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared. Now I’m taking mega-doses of insulin. I expected this because I heard that insulin resistance increases during the last trimester. But I secretly hoped I’d be an anomaly. A sandwich on Arnold Light Whole Wheat bread costs me 8 units of Humalog!

And then…

I was in a car accident.

On a dark snowy evening, a white van delivering chocolate covered fruit crashed into my dad’s car while we were on our way to the supermarket. On the impact of the crash, I felt a surge of water burst out of my body. I looked down and my pants were soaked. Again, I thought of the movies: Did my water break? I began to cry because I was only 30 weeks pregnant.

The roar of fire trucks.

Miraculously, my dad was without a scratch. So the paramedics focused on me.

They asked if I knew what day it was. I did.

They asked if I had any medical conditions. I did.

“Type 1 diabetes,” I said.

Through the wind, sirens, and pitter-patter of snow and rain, I could hear, “29 year old female. 30 weeks pregnant. Diabetic.”

I heard my medical label echo again and again. “Diabetic… Diabetic… Diabetic.”

I was thinking, Get over it! 30 weeks pregnant, here! Baby on board! Hello!

They asked me if I test my blood sugar.

Even in my state of shock, I managed to gasp. “Of course,” I said. I tested on the spot. 110. Something was going right.

The ambulance rushed me to the ER. The ER forwarded me to the Labor and Delivery ward.

I thought, Labor and Delivery?! Huh?!

I watched the nurse hook up my IV. I told her, “Just saline, please. No sugar in the drip.” I repeated it for emphasis.

She said, “Okay.”

I said, “I’m not going into labor, right?”

No reply.

After several tests, the doctor confirmed that my water did not break.

So what was that gush of water I had felt after the accident?

Guess what? I had peed my pants. (A different kind of accident.)

Never mind that. All the tests confirmed that I was probably not going into labor. The Girl was doing just fine. A tough cookie.

I was relieved. I thought maybe I could get the heck out of there and go home.

Except… I was having some contractions. The doctor hooked me up to a fetal monitor and told me I’d have to stay overnight. “Just in case.”

I was scared. Why was I having contractions? I cried for a long time. My husband Gary, who had rushed to meet me in the hospital, went home to gather my things, mostly diabetes paraphernalia, and a pillow for himself.

I was also hungry. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything in case of my Just In Case Labor. My blood sugar was running low. I had to get the doctor to sign off that I was allowed to administer glucose tablets to myself. This was a struggle.

During one middle-of-the-night test, my blood sugar was 50. I told the nurse I was going to have three glucose tablets. (I was required to report this to her.) She was surprised. She thought I’d only need one. This made me think of the meeting I’d had with my endocrinologist just a few days earlier. We discussed my birth plan in relation to my diabetes. Did I want to disconnect my insulin pump and have the nurses take over? Or did I want to manage my diabetes myself? The second option, of course, would be more difficult because I might have other things to worry about during labor. However, she said that a lot of patients don’t want to leave their diabetes in another person’s hands. It was up to me. I told her I’d think about it.

This incident in the hospital confirmed that I would indeed be the control freak that I am and manage my own insulin pump. Even during labor.

At 6:00 a.m., the shifts changed and a young nurse I hadn’t met entered my hospital room. She said that my contractions calmed down. The Girl was okay. I could go home.

I was still shaken up. I’m just wired that way. Also, my body was really sore. Especially in my sternum. At the time of the accident, I was wearing pants without pockets. You know what that means? My insulin pump was clipped to my bra. During the impact of the crash, my seatbelt did what it was supposed to do. It tensed up across my chest and held me in place. It also pressed directly against my insulin pump, which dug into my sternum. Really, really hard. I was bleeding and sore for a long time.

It’s been six weeks since the accident. Thankfully, it has been mostly uneventful. I’m just focused on getting my baby here in one piece. At all my OBGYN appointments, my doctor seems impressed that my A1Cs are low, and that my baby is measuring on the small side of average.

Everyone expects me to have a big baby.

Mostly I just smile as if I’m flattered.

I’m so excited for the arrival of my little girl. But I’m anxious, too. A baby is a lot of work. And I feel like I’m already caring for a baby-like entity: diabetes. I worry about how I’ll split my time between my real baby – the adorable little munchkin who’s about to enter the world and my diabetes. Both require constant care and attention.

Gary and I took a childbirth/baby care class recently. Gary did especially well putting a stretchy on the doll. It was comforting to see other couples who felt just as unprepared as we do.

In the meantime, I have four weeks to go. I’ve created three animal paintings for my daughter. I hope she’ll like them. I look at her ultrasound pictures all the time. Especially the 4D ones. They are my rock. Whenever I’m feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or scared, her chubby cheeks remind me of all the wonder that’s coming my way.

To read more about Jen’s pregnancy click here and here.

To read an interview with Jen click here.

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9 years ago

Jennifer,  I’m really enjoying reading your blog posts from when you were pregnant. I too am a Type 1 diabetic and am pregnant (16 weeks). I feel like I’ve only gotten about half the information I need about how pregnancy affects you and how the diabetes affects your baby. Its really nice to read a real person’s account. I was wondering, do you have any books or anything that you found to be helpful dealing with your diabetes and pregnancy? I am voraciously consuming anything I can find online, but there doesn’t seem to be too much out there besides… Read more »

Melissa Shannon
10 years ago

I’m so sorry to hear of the stressors you’ve experienced in your third trimester! You are a superhero. 

Looking forward to to seeing a pic of your beautiful baby girl.

I just had had a boy 1 year ago, first pregnancy with type one diabetes. I’m blogging about type one and pregnancy and other issues unique to type one women. 

Ginger Vieira
11 years ago

SO glad to see this story had a happy ending! You had me very worried with the first 1/4 of the story — goodness!

So glad everything’s alright.  

Michelle Page-Alswager
11 years ago

I was riveted by this story from start to finish.

You are so close to delivery, with a healthy pregnancy. I’m sure it will all go well! Try to enjoy the last few weeks of expectancy.  I hope you feel proud of how well you’ve cared for yourself and your baby throughout your maternity. It’s a real achievement.

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