I hated my pregnancy with Skeeter. My emotions were a roller coaster the entire time. I was uncomfortable all the time. I was a big ball of rage, irritability, and sadness. The gestational diabetes made me so fucking anxious that I worked myself up into near panic and hysteria over testing my blood sugar four times a day. I hated myself for not enjoying this precious baby growing inside of me that I had wanted and planned. I hated my body for betraying me. I obsessed over everything I put into my mouth. I lived in constant fear of failing and being put on insulin to manage my blood sugar. I withdrew from my family, my friends, and my coworkers. Inside I silently screamed at myself. Why couldn’t I just enjoy my pregnancy like any other mom? Why wasn’t I normal?
I have talked about my gestational diabetes previously in this post. I received validation from my therapist at our last appointment that my healthcare team had missed the warning signs. I am a talker, and I talked about how “stressed” I was with family, friends and my medical team. The care on gestational diabetes focuses entirely on the health of the mom and the health of the baby. I felt like I was already painted with the label of “potentially non-compliant” without any consideration of my current physical condition, my level of activity and my mental health. I was not overweight. I ate a fairly healthy diet, and I exercised on a fairly regular basis. As a dear friend who is a PA (physician’s assistant) told me, “You’re not the typical profile of a mom with gestational diabetes”.
I understand that the obstetrician wants to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery for both mother and child. My anxiety was all-consuming from my pregnancy with Munch. If I did not control my blood sugar through diet and exercise, I would have to take insulin. That threat loomed over me like a dark cloud throughout my entire pregnancy with Skeeter. I understand all too well the harsh reality of life as a diabetic. I did not live with this chronic condition, but I am the daughter of a diabetic. I understand the complications and the additional health risks that diabetes entails.
To my OB/gyn, my endocrinologist, and my CDE, I received amazing care from all three of you. You answered my questions, and I felt supported throughout my entire pregnancy. That is what makes it difficult to advise you that you missed these warning signs. I was struggling to just survive the pregnancy emotionally and mentally. My mental health suffered throughout my entire pregnancy. I had what I now know as undiagnosed antenatal depression and anxiety which ultimately led to my diagnosis at seven months postpartum of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I did not think to advise you that I had suffered previously from an anxiety disorder. I did not realize that gestational diabetes was a factor in possibly developing a perinatal mood disorder. I had no idea that antenatal depression existed. I just knew that I was not myself. I suffered for nearly eighteen months before I finally sought the treatment that I so desperately needed. I do not have the answers on how this could be prevented, but I know this: that is unacceptable. We need to change this. I am willing to share my story with as many healthcare providers as possible so that we can change our culture of care.
To my darling Skeeter, you are my miracle baby. Your love and affection helped me save me through the darkest months of my life. You were always wanted and always loved. My brain was just very sick, and I did not realize it until you were seven months old. If I could undo what happened, I would. I would have marched myself into therapy while I was pregnant. I regret that I did not enjoy this last pregnancy. I regret that I suffered in silence. I regret that I missed out on eighteen months of living my life with my family. I promise to continue to take care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually so I can enjoy you, your sister and your dad. I am always in your corner, and I will always be an advocate for you and your sister. xoxo Mama