Diabetes and Delivery: A Story of Success

After Birth - Family pic

Pregnancy and diabetes are each difficult on their own. Put them together and you have two full time jobs. If you haven’t been following, I’ve been writing about my pregnancy with diabetes for ASweetLife (see here, here, and here), and now, after a long nine months, I can tell you not only about diabetes and pregnancy, but also about diabetes and delivery.

During my final month of pregnancy, I was chronically sweating. I passed the time gulping cold water, opening windows, and using my hand as a fan. Never mind it was winter. In my 40th week, I had brunch at a restaurant and asked the waiter to turn down the heat. He smiled and told me the heat wasn’t on.

That’s how I knew: The Girl was coming.

A day later – two days before my due date – I was in labor. By the middle of the night, my contractions had progressed to five minutes apart. It was time to go to the hospital. But my husband Gary and I couldn’t leave yet. First, I needed to review my checklist of things I’d need for diabetes and delivery. The list had been sitting on top of my packed suitcase for two weeks.

In the margin I had written:

DIABETES AND DELIVERY REMINDERS                                       



All I could see were messy capital letters and an inappropriate amount of exclamation points.

I thought to myself, CRAP. I have to change my site. Now?

When I had made that checklist, I’d predicted my hospital stay would likely last three days – the duration of one pump site change, which meant I could change my site right before going to the hospital, and then again when I returned home. All of this calculating was done in order to avoid having to change my site in the hospital, which really shouldn’t have been something to fear. I’d also figured that inserting my site on my right hip would be the most logical spot for labor. (That is how crazy/unprepared I was.)  And speaking of being unprepared, I had no idea how painful labor contractions would be.  But there I was – in labor – and wishing I could think about nothing but my baby.  Changing my site was the last thing I wanted to do. But you know diabetes. It always takes center stage. Somehow, in between contractions, I managed to change my site.

Gary and I made our way to the hospital. Unfortunately, my doctor wasn’t on call that night. The physicians and nurses on call didn’t know me or my labor plans. Not that I had big plans. I only had plans for my diabetes:

Insulin pump stays on.
No sugar in the IV.
That was it.

But the staff wanted to follow protocol. They wanted to put sugar in the drip. And they were urging me to disconnect my pump and let the nurses take over.

I thought, Hell no. I just changed my site!

I adamantly said “No, thank you.” This was before the epidural, so there may have been some grimacing.

They called my regular OBGYN to make sure it was okay for me to manage my own insulin during labor. I felt like a child. Couldn’t they trust me to care for myself.  “Diabetic” doesn’t mean incompetent.

My doctor gave them the okay.

Labor was a whirlwind. I was excited, nervous, and still sweating. And in the middle of everything, I was still managing my diabetes. Gary was an amazing coach and helped lighten the load. He brought my meter over every 45 minutes so I could test my blood sugar. He inserted the test strip and charged the lancing device. He did everything short of prick his own finger. My blood sugars hovered between 90 and 120 the entire time.

As strange as it sounds, managing my diabetes during labor didn’t annoy me. Like any first-time-mom, I was anxious about meeting a new little person! My old pal diabetes felt familiar. Every normal blood sugar made me feel like I had control over the situation.

After several hours of waiting to fully dilate, the doctor came in to examine me. She told me that I was 10 centimeters. It was time to push.

I nodded and said hold on.

Gary was already walking over with my meter and a juice box.  The juice box.  The telltale sign that the woman giving birth has diabetes.

An hour and twenty minutes later, out came The Girl. But she was no longer The Girl. She was a real person.

The nurse whisked her away to the table to clean her up. I tried to see what they were doing. I kept rambling, “Is she okay? Is she okay?”

Why wouldn’t she be okay?  But diabetes makes you ask those questions.  What if my efforts to keep my blood glucose levels in check hadn’t been enough?

I watched Gary hover over our baby girl. He looked at me and gave me a thumbs-up. He said, “She’s so cute, Jen.”

Diabetes and Delivery- A Story of Success - MayaThe nurse carried her over all bundled up. She weighed a healthy 7 pounds. Holding her in my arms for the first time was the happiest moment of my life. I don’t care if that sounds cliché!

As I reflect now on my 40 weeks of diabetes and pregnancy, all I can say is: what a long haul.  I had debilitating nausea. Fatigue. Aches and pains. Anemia. Blood sugar swings.  Then came Hurricane Sandy. A car accident. Excessive sweating. My little baby endured all that before even entering the world.  She’s a fighter and a survivor.

My daughter’s name is Maya. The M in Maya is for my late grandmother, Grandma Miriam. Grandma Miriam was a Holocaust survivor and the original tough cookie. I thought it fitting that Maya’s name came from her.

The nurse checked Maya’s blood sugar. (Babies born to mothers with diabetes sometimes have low blood sugar at birth. That means a trip to the NICU.) Thankfully, Maya’s blood sugar was fine. She could stay with me. However, the nurses periodically pricked her heel for the next 24 hours. Just in case.

I felt angry at my diabetes for getting in the way. Now it was affecting Maya! I thought, Leave her outta this!  Maya’s blood sugars remained normal through her first 24 hours. They stopped pricking her.

Usually, I am my own biggest critic. I allow diabetes to make me feel like I’m not doing enough.

But not when Maya was born.

I beat the monster that lives in my body and brought a healthy little miracle into the world. I did do enough!  For that I feel both proud and blessed.

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10 years ago

I’m speechless (that’s weird haha). I’m 23.5 weeks pregnant and this gave me such hope – I also have a birth plan that basically consists of my pump staying on, no IV glucose (or insulin!) and a healthy baby afterwards. Whenever I tell friends or family about this plan, they scoff at me for believing that I can manage my disease through contractions. I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for almost 24 years and my control is exemplary, and yet they always tell me ‘well you’ve never been through contractions’. Therefore it is just not possible. Reading this helped reaffirm for… Read more »

11 years ago

Congrats to you Jen and all of us moms with diabetes that bring much loved babies into the world.  I am so pleased to hear Maya arrived safely and you are both well.

Jennifer Jacobs
11 years ago

Thank you all for the well wishes! 
Wendy, it’s amazing how diabetes indirectly became a huge part of your labor story. It truly is a family affair. Sounds like you’re a great mama. 
And good luck, Kim! Let me know if you have questions.


Kim Vlasnik
11 years ago

I am so happy for your and your family! Thank you for sharing your success story. I hope to be sharing my own in a few months. :)

Jessica Apple
11 years ago

Wendy, Jen’s story is beautiful, and so is yours!  Thanks to both of you for sharing.  And I love the name Maya. 

11 years ago

Maya is beautiful! My baby’s name is Maya too — she’ll be 6 in a few short weeks :) As a mother raising a CWD, I have to say that diabetes definitely got in the way of my labor as well.   My husband and I had just moved across country in order to maintain access to health insurance.  Our three year old had been dx about 18 months. We lived in a new neighborhood – half the houses weren’t even finished being built.  We managed to befriend a couple up the street who offered to learn enough so that… Read more »

Scott K. Johnson
11 years ago

Congratulations! She’s beautiful!

Anne Dowling
11 years ago

Congratulations!!! She is beautiful!  I am so happy things went well with your delivery and she is safe and sound in your arms.  Congrats momma!

Melissa Lee
11 years ago

She is gorgeous! Congrats on a great delivery!

Ginger Vieira
11 years ago

Congratulation, Jen! What a beautifully written story, and thank you so much for sharing so much about this challenge/event with all of us! So glad everybody’s healthy and happy.