“Please be positive…Please be positive.”
I reiterated, walking back and forth in the bathroom holding the pregnancy test. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of twelve. I felt it wasn’t as severe as people said it was and handled it like a joke in my seventeen years of fighting. I started using the insulin pump a year after I was diagnosed. Yet, even with the best device, My A1C was above 9.0 for many years. After getting married and moving to Dallas from NYC a year later, I made an appointment with my new endocrinologist.
“There is no way you can even think about having a baby right now.” She said. My glucose was running too high, which would lead to congenital disabilities in my child if I got pregnant. So I started watching videos of diabetic-to-be mothers and reading about diabetes and pregnancy. Watching what I eat, how much, and exercising daily—finally bringing my A1c down to a 5.8 in a year. It wasn’t an easy ride, but I had a supportive husband and family. Excited, I booked my first family planning appointment with a gynecologist. I waited alone patiently in the room, listing down all the questions I wanted to ask in my head. Soon as she walked in, she handed me a paper. A paper with “diabetes and risk” listed on top. With all the different types of birth defects listed on the bottom. I told her my glucose had been well in control, but she remarked that I was still at high risk. She talked about how my baby would be ‘big’ or have ‘spinal Bifida’. Everything she said made me not want to have a child. I left the clinic heartbroken.
I arrived home crying to my husband, telling him what had happened handing him the paper the doctor had given me. He thought what my gynecologist had said was absurd and suggested going to another doctor. I joined online groups and downloaded the what to except app to get my questions answered. I was relieved to know many expecting type 1 diabetic mother were trying their best to help me understand. One mom told me that it wouldn’t be an uncomplicated pregnancy, but it is worth a shot.
Many women with diabetes are still fearful of getting pregnant, even with well-controlled diabetes. Some think they cannot get pregnant unaware that diabetes does not affect fertility. If you visit gynecologists today, some don’t understand that having prediabetes and controlling it throughout pregnancy is different than gestational diabetes. In gestation diabetes, a woman finds out her pancreas is not making enough Insulin after hitting the second trimester and she struggles to control her glucose. Many women diagnosed with gestational diabetes don’t even take insulin and can control it with carb counting. After having the baby gestational diabetes is cured unfortunately that is not the same case for women who are prediabetic or type 2.
In contrast, type one diabetics work with their endocrinologist every few months to stabilize their glucose levels. Many of us type ones have been diagnosed since we were children. We are keeping track of our sugar with CGM and insulin pumps daily. Many because of how expensive diabetic supplies are still use needles and insulin pens to control the highs and the lows. That being said, with the proper treatment, women with diabetes can have a healthy baby just like a woman without.
I peeked at my pregnancy test in disbelief…Two lines it is.