The 3 Hour Glucose ~Experience~

Well, it happened. I flunked the one hour test.

They had me do it at about 28 weeks. The threshold for my doctor’s office was a score of 140, and I scored a 160. I currently report from the waiting room of the medical center.

After my initial devastation/guilt/shame-induced sobbing session after finding out I flunked wore off, I decided to just do my best to watch my diet and stay resolute that all would be well as I waited out the two weeks before they could get me in for the three hour. Usually, this would be scheduled pretty quickly, but the holiday sprung up in there as well. The doctor just advised me to keep an eye on my sugar in the meantime since it is a longer wait than they usually want.

Anyway, the three hour test doubles the amount of glucose you drink from 50 to 100mLs. You go in fasting (14 hours is what my doctor wanted, but YMMV), they do a draw, have you drink the glucola, and then they’ll draw again on the hour for the next three.

I find that the internet really overdramatizes this, and my experience has been fine. Of course, I’d rather not be spending half my day on this, but it isn’t a total nightmare.

Here’s my experience:

Fasting: The worst part, no way around it. Telling a woman at 30 weeks gestation she can’t eat for upwards of 16 hours feels like a special brand of torture. Be sure to put a protein rich snack in your bag for when you’re done—I have a small bag of cashews and a granola bar that I’m waiting to bust into.

To make the draws smoother, I drank about a liter of water before I left the house this morning, and nearly a liter before bed. I’m going to get up to pee 30 billion times regardless. May as well have fresh veins.

The first draw: Totally fine. They only need 5 mL at a time, so it goes very quickly—even for me, as someone who is kicking the world’s worst needle phobia. I was told no eating, no sleeping, and only small sips of water for the rest of the morning.

The drink: I find it pretty gross, and I have a strong sweet tooth. It’s like drinking 50 melted popsicles. But they give you five minutes to choke it down and offered it to me cold or room temperature. Cold seemed like a better bet, even though it’s currently -3 degrees outside.

Hour 1: Physically, this was the toughest hour. Immediate heartburn, a bit of wooziness, and sheer exhaustion. I’m not sure if it was from the drink or coming in tired, but it didn’t feel good. Coping strategies for this hour were reading a little and doing a guided meditation. No energy for more than that. The hunger pangs were so real.

The second draw: They used to same arm as the first time. Little pinch, but not a big deal.

Hour 2: My energy picked up and the second hour was spend playing cards with my husband. Heartburn was still fairly bad, but easing up. Small sips of water did really help.

The third draw: New arm! Not so bad! By this time, I was pretty energized by being so close to being done.

Hour 3: Pretty much the same as hour two. Energy was okay, hunger pangs less pronounced, and spirits pretty high. This really was not that bad.

The fourth draw: This one hurt a little more because the last one puffed up my arm a bit more, but it was fast and easy enough.

After it all: I did immediately eat some cashews and half a granola bar on the way to lunch. This gave me some immediate fatigue that lasted through eating an actual meal, but after that meal I felt relatively normal. Which, for third trimester me, is fatigued but in good spirits.

And now I know that I passed all of them! My numbers are below:

Fasting: 73 (needs to be less than 95)

Hour 1: 135 (needs to be less than 180)

Hour 2: 123 (needs to be less than 155)

Hour 3: 115 (needs to be less than 140)

All in all, I’m super relieved that I don’t have to alter my diet or monitor my sugars or anything, and that the baby won’t be impacted by sugar issues on my part. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world by any means, but it’s one less thing on my back.

Biggest regret: laying off my favorite Christmas treats.

 

Pregnancy Products

One of the things that really unnerves me about pregnancy is how much crap is marketed toward pregnant people, often with ridiculous markups in price over what the product’s true value probably is.

I mean, I’m sorry, but a pair of leggings with an extra foot of belly fabric is not worth an additional $20 over a regular pair. Come on!

In any case, here are some mini-reviews of things that have actually helped me, and things that have been a complete flop so far.

Awesome Things:

  1. The Snoogle Pillow.

This thing has changed my life. In the first trimester, I liked to have it just for the extra cuddly factor. Now that I’m close to the third trimester and am experiencing being quite large, this pillow is literally the only thing that allows me to get anything resembling a good night’s sleep. Sleeping on my left side with my right leg propped up on the pillow takes the pressure off of my left hip and my belly, which is helping tremendously with my sciatic and hip pain. When my husband is out of town, the pillow feels like its spooning me, which is also great. You can also kind of fold it up to turn it into something resembling a chair that you can sit propped up in, which is very comfortable for reading in bed. Highly recommend.

2. Saucony Omni Grid Walkers 

Are these attractive? Not really. But what they are is unbelievably comfortable. When I realized that my most comfortable shoes were my ridiculous pink running shoes (also Saucony, which I’m a total loyalist to), I knew I needed to get a more reasonable looking pair for work, so off to Saucony I went. These shoes come in a range of sizes, and aren’t as clunky as they look online. I’ve been wearing them daily for a couple of months, and my feet never hurt, have plenty of room to swell, and my posture and pronation issues, which suck more than ever before, are corrected. Highly recommend.

3. Ingrid Isabel Products from Target

As far as maternity clothing goes, this line is the best I’ve found with regard to affordability and quality. I’m not interested in blowing huge money on a wardrobe I’ll wear for a finite period of time, so lines like this are saving my life. My experience is that these are true to size in the sense that I can grab my pre-pregnancy size and be sure it’ll work now and with plenty of room to grow. Quality is fine for the price point–they aren’t family heirlooms, but they are solid, washable, non-transparent, and cute. My go-to most days is one of their sweaters or t shirts with a pair of printed leggings.

PS, in the leggings category, my best luck hasn’t been with maternity lines aside from Ingrid Isabel (almost all of the other ones I’ve bought maternity are too sheer to wear as pants, and I am one of those people sorrynotsorry). Instead, I just stock up on printed leggings from my favorite boutique in town, which are basically LulaRoe rip-offs, in a size significantly bigger than my pre-pregnancy size, and they work awesomely.

4. Aeroflow for your free breast pump through insurance

I did not think this was going to be easy, but it was amazingly so. I ordered mine pretty early just in case, I think at 18 weeks or so, because Trump.

All you do is fill out a form for personal and insurance information, then it’ll toggle to pumps you should qualify for. I then sorted by price to see what the fanciest thing I could get for free was, read some reviews on other sites, and ordered (Bluetooth equipped? Why not!). They were able to confirm my qualification within a day–a miracle! The actually processing and shipping took longer than a typical online order, but I still had it at my door within 10-14 business days. Aeroflow also offers accessories for added cost–I got a tote bag for mine for a little extra because it didn’t come with one.

Flops: 

  1. Preggie Pops Products 

Let’s be real. These are just candy. My nausea was a little worse than normal, and these did nothing but take my mind off of it for a few tasty minutes. One the lozenge is gone, the nausea is back. They do have added vitamin B, but not the medicinal dose that ended up being prescribed to me, and that aspect of these products made no difference for me. Sucking on something did help in the moment, but I would just buy some hard candy in flavors I actually like and save on the mark-up. They are also fairly conspicuous in packaging if you’re early on and are trying to hide a pregnancy.

2. Motherhood Maternity Pants and Leggings

The leggings are see-through. The belly panels are made of such cheap elastic that one run through the gentle cycle of my washing machine tore up a pair of $50 pants. Sizing is very inconsistent–I cannot reliably grab my pre-pregnancy size and go. The saving grace here is the variety in what they offer–work pants, leggings, jeans, etc., but I would tread very, very lightly.

Choosing a Doula

Why we chose to have a doula: 

So many reasons.

Crunchy, but backed by data: There are so many “natural birth” trends on which the data is shaky or nonexistent, but there is actual information to support that having a doula present gives one a significantly better shot at certain birth outcomes, such as:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

Data from Evidence Based Birth

I’m a crunchy person either way, but having the information to back it up also makes this feel like a strong decision financially and with regards to health and wellbeing.

Environment and Advocacy: Because we’re having a hospital birth, it was very important to me to feel like I would have a constant in the room along with my husband to help keep me comfortable, focused, and advocated for. I am hoping to have a birth very light on interventions–no epidural, minimal monitoring, and most importantly to me, no Pitocin. But I also know that I can be susceptible to outside influence, and if doctors and nurses are pressuring me into interventions I don’t want or need, I need someone else there to keep me focused on what I want. Nurses and doctors are going to change shifts and come and go anyway. I want the constant of my husband and my doula amid the other things that are going to be in flux.

I also want the hospital setting to feel as homey as possible, and I know a doula will be a big part of creating the environment in the room that will feel that way–keeping lights low, music, pillows, bouncy balls, showers, baths, etc.

Education: Having a doula means having someone else who can dispense wisdom, advice, knowledge, and firsthand experience on something that I have exactly no firsthand experience in.

Emotional Support: One can’t have enough of this in such a vulnerable situation. Knowing that someone else has your back in that room, and having someone to express fears and misgivings to is extremely important to me.

Husband Support: My husband is the kind of guy that isn’t going to want to leave my side at all, but this is going to be a long process, and the man’s going to need food and rest. He also needs all of the above things almost as much as I do, and he deserves to have it. A doula will also make sure that his emotional and physical needs are met.

Doula interviewing tips: 

We only talked to two, but I learned a lot in that process. Most importantly, this would be the advice I would dispense:

  • Know yourself and what you want. I know what works for me and my personality. I’m a total extrovert and genuinely like most people, so I need to take a step back after having conversations like that to really assess what I think after the conversation-high wears off. I also know that advocacy for my wants and needs was the most important thing on my list after the general personality click, so when the second doula really spoke to that, I was sold. Go into these conversations knowing what you’re looking for in that partnership.
  • Keep your partner involved. It was really important to me that my husband also like this person. After all, we’re going be spending like 20 really intense hours together.
  • Keep an open mind. I thought that I would much prefer someone my own age, but our doula has kids my age, and it ended up feeling really natural to have someone who has kind of a cool-mom vibe. I really surprised myself on this.
  • Be honest with them about the financial end. It does cost a lot, and insurance is probably not going to help you. I asked both of them over email about how they take payment, and their feedback on that also helped shape the decision.
  • Ask about their philosophy and scope of service. Does it sync up with what you want and how you’re feeling about everything? Does it align with your personal values? If there’s a disconnect or a disagreement, do you feel comfortable voicing it?

How we chose our particular doula: 

So, the decision was clear for us–we wanted a doula. And, shockingly, we had a lot of options in our area. I looked at some websites, and reviews as I could find them, and narrowed it down to two we would interview first. If we didn’t feel a vibe with either of them, we would go back to the drawing board.

For both conversations, they came to our home to talk with us and get to know us a bit. The first person we talked to was part of a doula organization. I liked her personally and the services they offered, but also felt that she seemed to still be figuring things out. The thing that was their big brag was that when you sign with them, you get two doulas that you get to know during your pregnancy, and whoever is on call when you go into labor is your person. From her perspective, this was a major win–you wouldn’t run into a situation where you just straight up didn’t have a doula. This wasn’t a win for me and my husband though, because if I were to not get the one I hoped for during go-time…I’d be a nightmare bitch to deal with. Know thyself.

The next one we interviewed was an instant win. She’s warm, extremely experienced, easy to talk to, and had a lot to say about advocacy in the birth room, taking back your birth, and prioritizing the things you want while staying open to the process. I appreciated her straightforwardness and how comfortable she was talking about her work–she wasn’t trying to impress us, she was just telling us like it is. You could just tell she is someone who supremely knows what she’s doing and wants genuinely to get to know and help you. We ended up knowing some of the same people, which was fun and gave some common ground, and also ended up, somehow, on some pretty personal topics related to family and things like that. The fact that we had that instant comfort level and connection was the selling point for me. Her knowledge was obvious, but what really did it was the personal connection. I could tell she would be someone who would have solutions or ideas for issues during labor, not someone who was going to need to consult a guidebook to figure it out. She also only takes two clients a month and has never missed a birth. That track record was a winner. I feel 100% confident in the choice that we made and am legit excited to go into labor.

Demystifying the Anatomy Scan

I see a lot of confusion about this on the internet–anxieties about what it’ll be like, what to expect, and disappointment that what a lot of people see as their big Gender Reveal scan is sometimes a little…scientific. This is my experience with it, which hopefully can dispel some of those worries.

What is it? 

The anatomy scan, sometimes called a WellBaby scan or a Level 2 ultrasound, and popularly thought of as the Gender Reveal scan, is your big mid-pregnancy ultrasound. For some people, this may be the first scan they get. I had a lot of problems early in pregnancy, so I’d already had a handful of scans, but this was certainly the longest and most thorough. Generally thought of as your 20 week scan, the anatomy scan usually takes place anywhere from 18-22 weeks depending on your practitioner and schedule of appointments. Mine happened at 18w2d.

What to expect: 

This will be coupled with the usual routine you’re probably used to be now–weight, blood pressure, and pee-in-a-cup check. Depending on the practice, your practitioner might be in there with the tech or may be called in later to check on everything. If you had earlier transvaginal ultrasounds, you’re in luck–this one will stay happily on the outside.

Your ultrasound tech will ask you to bare your belly and will generously apply ultrasound gel. Mine used SO MUCH, because it evaporates relatively quickly and this one is little long.

My tech started with measurements of the circumference of the head and brain, which was rad as hell. 

Here’s the thing about this scan: be patient. While getting the sex of your baby may be super important to you today, this is not your healthcare provider’s primary concern–the health of your fetus is. Mine worked from the literal top down, so we didn’t get the big reveal until more than halfway through. Personally, I was transfixed by the nitty gritty of what she could see because it all looked pretty blobby to me without her guidance on what everything was.

Your tech will check the face for issues like a cleft palette and will work down to looking at the formation of the spine, lungs, stomach, arms and legs, and kidney and bladder function. Mine was thoughtful enough to show us a little black dot of pee in her bladder, which reassured her that all was working well. Likely, they will spend the most time looking at the heart–they want to see the four chambers and they will likely want to watch it beat several times to verify its function. Finally, they’ll check your placenta for placement and size.

The tech will also check the genitals to make sure that’s looking good, and if you want to know, will tell you what they think they’re looking at sex-wise. My tech has been doing ultrasounds for longer than I’ve been alive and is a PRO, but even she said that she could be wrong. They’ll most likely be correct, but know that there is some margin of error, especially if you go in on the earlier end of the 18-22 weeks, like I did.

All The Feels 

If I had to provide any other piece of advice other than patience, it would be to prepare yourself for this to be pretty emotional. You might have some worries that everything will look good, and you might be flooded with a lot of overwhelming feelings of joy and anticipation at what you’re seeing on the screen. Try to stay open to it–don’t be embarrassed about having reactions to what you’re seeing, and don’t be afraid to cry if it happens to move you that way. Your tech and practitioner have seen the gamut of human emotions, and you won’t surprise or unnerve them with yours. Likewise, encourage the same from your partner (PS–this is an appointment not to miss if they can help it). It was such a bonding experience to see all of it with my husband, and also made me feel so in community with my tech and OB.

Pictures

Certainly, you’ll walk away with some print outs of your scan. My tech goes a little ham on these, and I have a 3.5 foot scroll of these on my fridge now. Here are some highlights:

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This is what a fetus-face looks like from straight on in a 2D ultrasound. I think the tech thought we were a little weird for joking that she looks like a ninja turtle.

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Little foot. These are the best.

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This is a butt. It also somehow communicated that she’s a she to the tech–again, I’m endlessly impressed by their abilities.

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I believe this one was a shot of her bladder functioning. The little black dot in the center right is pee.

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My favorite, actually: fully articulated spine. There’s something really poetic and beautiful about carrying two spines.

 

 

My best pregnancy meltdown (so far)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fairly emotional person. My heart bleeds for everything and everyone, and I’ve never been to a wedding that didn’t make me blubber (even as a plus one who didn’t know either party to be wed). So, the threat of pregnancy mood swings put some pretty active fear of God in me–if I’m already vulnerable to fits of tears because the sunset is just so fucking beautiful, what was I in for?

I’ve had a few hormonal meltdowns, but this one takes the cake: Sunday night before a Monday off of school. We have plans to go to a haunted house with some teacher friends, but I’m feeling sick and crappy and am equivocating heavily about going or not.

And then it strikes: I need toum. Right now.

 Toum is a Levantine condiment made out of crushed garlic, oil, lemon, and often an extra secret ingredient like a bit of boiled potato depending on the maker to create a fluffy, almost mousse-like texture when it’s done right. Like any good girl who grew up on the wonders of Arabic cuisine, my soul bleeds toum. But I don’t live back home in Detroit anymore, where you can buy tubs of perfect toum next to the Mountain Dew at the gas station. There’s one restaurant here in town that has an authentic version.

And its closed on Sunday nights.

My husband comes out of the shower to find me on the couch sobbing. Full-on, ugly cry, snot bubbles flying sobbing. Because I can’t get real toum. And because I’m cancelling plans with friends, which induces a panic attack to the tune of “Am I boring now?! Am I this person who’d doesn’t do things anymore?!”

What resolution can there be for this? I can’t get my toum, I’m boring, I’m hyperventilating from crying so hard.

Long story short, we went out for garlic bread and toum the next night, but that was an unparalleled emotional experience if I ever had one. Bring on the emotional weight of labor–I’m ready.