Monthly Archives: November 2012

Gestational Diabetes: Tips and Tricks for Still Eating How You Want

OK, disclaimer time: I am not a doctor, blah blah blah. Everybody’s body is different. Everybody processes sugar differently, and different types of carbs differently. My numbers are still pretty low at 31 weeks, and I know some people who cannot even look at pizza without getting blood sugar in the 300s, while I ate a few pieces and got a 136 — still not in my ideal range, but not awful. So don’t take this as the end all and be all replacement for good, sound nutritional advice such as the type you’ll get from a registered diabetes nurse upon diagnosis.

But I’m here to tell you, eating like a diabetic is not that bad.

I outlined my meal plan back here, but the only things that are different from how I normally eat are:

1. I can’t have fruit, juice, milk, yogurt or anything sugary (like most cereals) for breakfast.

2. I can’t have same as above anytime after dinner. The reasons for 1 and 2 are that insulin resistance is higher in the mornings and evenings, so this extra-sugary stuff might spike me higher at these hours than others. That being said, I’ve read diabetics recommending oatmeal with apples and shit for breakfast, and you could certainly try it, but I’m not willing to risk the high numbers because it’ll make me cry and feel like a failure.

3. I can’t have a candy bar or most anything from the Starbucks pastry case or a cheggnog (which is my favorite thing ever, but whatever) or a huge piece of cake just whenever the hell I want.

3a. 3 sort of does not apply as long as I

  • Look at how many carbs are in what I’m eating and adjust for what meal or snack I’m eating this treat for, so like if I want a bagel at 3 p.m. I can have a quarter of a bagel. Which is barely worth it and might end up spiking me anyway.

4. I have to pay attention to what I’m eating and make sure I’m getting enough of what I’m supposed to and not too much of what I’m not.

5. I have to force myself to eat more carbs than I normally would at lunch and dinner.

6. I have to force myself to have an intentional, scheduled, carefully portioned evening snack rather than just eating half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while I catch up on reruns.

All in all, honestly not bad.

The thing is, depriving yourself and counting calories and feeling hungry while pregnant feels so unnatural. All anybody ever said to me for the first 29 weeks when I’d sheepishly order a milkshake IN ADDITION TO the full-sugar soda that came with my McDonald’s meal, or ate two doughnuts after breakfast, was, “Eat up girl! You’re pregnant!” And now all of a sudden it’s like, “We need to hide the cake from her.”

But I’m only about a week into this thang, and I’ve discovered a few tricks.

  • Whole grain anything is better than white, refined of same. If I want rice, I eat brown rice (it’s gross, but I just mix it up with whatever I’m having and it’s tolerable). I have half a whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter and a cottage cheese for breakfast. A slice of whole grain bread with butter and a scrambled egg. A whole grain pita or flatbread with my afternoon snack. I haven’t really done much testing to see if the whole-grain versus white bread changes my blood sugar, but it makes me feel better about myself and is better for me anyway, and many diabetics have reported that brown stuff keeps their sugars in check better than white stuff. Plus I can still get all carb-y without feeling like I just ate half a French bread baguette or half a cookie sheet full of Pillsbury croissants (not that I’ve ever done that).
  • A protein shake before a food splurge goes a long way. An Internet friend who also had GD gave me this trick, and so far, it really seems to work. At the very least, when I get home from work and am so starving I want to eat my dog and still need to wait through a 20 to 45-minute cooking session before eating, a protein shake will fill me up quickly without impacting my blood sugar. Protein acts as a stabilizer, so it’s good to pair with carbs. I like the Atkins Advantage shakes that have 2g of net carbs — the Dark Chocolate Royale ones are the best ever. I also tried the Strawberry Banana ones, and they’re OK, but I had the taste in my mouth all day, even after brushing, which is kinda gross. Anyway, I drank one of the chocolate ones before Thanksgiving dinner and had stuffing, cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole, and mashed potatoes, didn’t walk after, and got a 130 on my glucometer an hour later. I had one before eating a quarter of a thin-crust pizza from Domino’s that I’d miscalculated the carbs on and therefore ended up consuming TWICE the amount of carbs I was supposed to with dinner, and still only got a 136 after an hour. I don’t fully know the science behind this, and obviously 136 after dinner isn’t number I should be striving for every day (I’m supposed to be between 100 and 129 an hour later), but like I said, it’s at least great for taking the edge off hunger — much better than half a bag of pretzels and a Hershey bar.
  • If I’m still hungry, I’ll eat a protein. I get 2,000 calories a day, and I don’t always meet it, especially watching what I eat. So I have some extra stuff to burn, and honestly, I’m still not terribly concerned if I go over my calorie count. My doctor basically called me a fat pig for gaining 30 pounds in 29 weeks, but my diabetes nurse told me not to worry about counting calories, so I’m picking B. So the thing is, for the first four days of the diet, all was good because I was able to eat on a normal schedule — 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, noon lunch, 2 p.m. snack, 5 p.m. dinner. Now that I’m back at work, it looks more like, 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, noon lunch, 3:30 p.m. snack (IF I CAN MAKE IT THAT LONG), 7 p.m. or later dinner. So by the time I get home and start cooking dinner, I’m all whacked out on hunger, which is bizarre when carrying around a 3-pound fetus. So I’ll eat a piece of cheese at 1:30 and a hard-boiled egg around 5. Or drink one of those protein shakes. Or have a few pieces of grilled chicken.
  • And along those same lines, I bulk up on my afternoon snack. I get 2 whole carb servings along with a protein allowance for my afternoon snack, whereas for my morning and evening snacks, I only get 1 carb. So I’ve learned to take advantage of that fact and have a pretty hefty afternoon snack. Lately, I’ve been having a good handful of baby carrots, a little individual pack of cottage cheese, a piece of cheese or a hard-boiled egg, and half a whole-grain flatbread. Today I’m going to mix that up by substituting a couple of granola thins for the flatbread. It’s great because it’s got calcium, fiber, protein, and carbs, and has been keeping me going until dinnertime.

And here’s another thing: since I started this diet, I haven’t been falling asleep at my desk at work. I don’t fully understand why, because I would typically have dinner leftovers for lunch, and most of what I used to make for dinner is still in play. But then again, I haven’t yet attempted to eat angel hair and jarred pasta sauce with cheese — I’d seriously eat a tub of that for lunch just a few weeks ago. Or leftover pizza. Or fast food because I’d planned poorly and not cooked the night before or not made enough for leftovers. I’d have cereal for breakfast. I’d eat half a bag of pita chips in the mid-morning. So while it feels like I have to eat more carbs, I’m really eating fewer, and I’m not crashing anymore. I totally feel healthier and have more energy and a more positive outlook.

Am I still all worried about what the dia-beetus will do to my baby? Pssssh, yeah. I also have become beset with third-trimester anxiety. I’m afraid that my baby will be a stillborn because I found some gestational diabetes message board and all the ever chat about is risks and outcomes. But I’m also afraid my baby will be blind, which is an irrational and unrelated fear. I’m also worried when my husband is five minutes late because obviously it means he’s died in a fiery car crash. I’m just a worrier. So my last piece of advice — if you have questions about your diagnosis, meal plan, risks, tests, or anything else, ask your doctor and/or your diabetes nurse. Don’t scour Internet message boards or ask strangers on Yahoo! I promise, this suggestion is for your sanity alone.

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Preg-Zilla Roundup: 13 Things That Have Helped Me Keep My Sanity Over 30 Weeks of Pregnancy

I’m in the home stretch, with less than 10 weeks to go until we welcome Bean into our family. I’m sure that 30 weeks pregnant is nothing compared to what 31, 32, 33, etc. have in store for me, but there have nonetheless been many friends who have helped me through the aches, pains, trials, and tribulations of pregnancy. So I thought I’d put together a little list for you of the 13 things that have most helped me keep my sanity throughout the past seven-and-a-half months.



1. Bed Bath & Beyond Bodymate Body Pillow ($9.99)I’ve heard a lot about the Snoogle and other bedtime contraptions, but for me, a basic $10 body pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond, in conjunction with other pillows from throughout our house, have done the best for helping me sleep as comfortably as possible. Let’s face it, trying to sleep while pregnant is never going to be amazing, but this pillow between my knees helps ease the tension on my back and hip, folded up behind me while lying down gives great back support, and folded up behind me while sitting up helps me stay as comfortable as possible while watching TV, reading, or surfing the Internet. It’s cheap and flexible enough to do what I want it to do. Win.

2. Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm ($14.95). I have an unwelcome partner along for this third trimester, and his name is Lloyd. Lloyd the Hemorrhoid. He likes to come out and party when I’m trying to sleep, when I’m walking, when I’m sitting for long periods of time at work, and when I have difficulty in the, um, powder room. I tried Tucks and Preparation H for one long week before finally buying this balm, and let me tell you, it is amazing. Lloyd immediately piped down, and has grown smaller over just a day or two. It’s filled with good organic stuff like olive oil, St. Johns wort, yarrow, witch hazel, calendula, and lavender, and a little goes a long, long way. I’ll be holding onto this for postpartum, as well.

3. Clinique Exfoliating Scrub ($19.50). I’ve had serious cystic acne since I was 13 years old, and the only thing that ever kept it at bay was serious prescription topical medication. Like, the kind that you’re not supposed to use while you’re pregnant because it can soak into your bloodstream and cause serious baby birth defects. I had awful, awful skin for the first trimester until I discovered this stuff. It’s got salicylic acid in it, which some pregnant ladies want to shy away from, but it’s in such minimal amounts that it’s not even listed as a percentage on the label. I use a little bit of this with tons of water morning and night, and it’s gentle enough that my sensitive skin can handle it. It’s kept the breakouts and oil at bay, and let me have a bit of that pregnancy glow.

4. Motherhood Maternity Seamless Clip Down Nursing Bra ($22.98). I lived in a black sports bra for the first 18 weeks, and when I was wearing something light, would resort to my nude underwire bra I’d worn pre-pregnancy. Once it got ridiculously small, I ran into Motherhood Maternity insisting on a bra that would fit me with no cup, because I had no idea how much bigger I’d get throughout pregnancy and after birth. This totally fit the bill, is about as comfortable as any piece of clothing can be at this point, and will transition well into a nursing bra. I’ll be picking up way more of these soon. Plus, it’s super cheap compared to other options out there!

5. Old Navy New Classic Flip-Flops ($3.94). My feet have gotten huge so far. I don’t even know what size I am. All I know is I can’t fit into my favorite flats, my great cheap Target boots, or any heels. These cheap and comfortable flip-flops have been a total lifesaver and have helped keep the swelling to a minimum. I thank my stars every single day for working in an office where jeans and flip-flops are acceptable everyday attire, because I have no clue what I would do otherwise.

6. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy ($9.99 Kindle edition). The first book I bought once we got our positive pregnancy test was a pretty famous one that had a movie based on it, starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, and Elizabeth Banks. I won’t mention the book by name, because like other mamas-to-be, I found it to be cloying, annoying, and full of alarmist BS. I once heard it nicknamed, “What to Expect in the Highly Unlikely Event that Something Awful Goes Wrong,” and I think that’s apropos. So then I bought this book, and just loved it. It’s full of useful advice and its milestone chapters for each week of pregnancy are informative and interesting. There’s even a good bit about postpartum stuff, labor and delivery, pregnancy conditions, and more. This was an indispensable reference for me.

7. Luna Protein Bars for Women (prices vary but I get mine for $.99 each at the local supermarket). I lived off regular Luna bars for the first 29 weeks as a tasty snack that wasn’t terrible for me. Once I got my gestational diabetes diagnosis, I moved onto these. They still have carbs — about one serving — but up the protein factor so I’m more full for longer, which is nice now that I have my snacktimes severely limited to 3 times per day. My favorite is the chocolate peanut butter flavor, but the cookie dough and mint chocolate chip varieties are also yummy (I haven’t had the other two).

8. Atkins Advantage Ready-to-Drink Shakes ($19.99/pack of 8). No, I’m not going on a no-carb diet. I needed something chocolatey that would help curb my sweet cravings without disrupting my blood sugars, and these protein shakes are mighty tasty. They have 2g of net carbs (6g carbs, 4g fiber) and have been great as an additional between-meal snack or something to drink before indulging myself (like right before Thanksgiving dinner or before a piece of pie) to absorb any excessive carbs I might have. I wish these weren’t so pricey, but they’re worth it as a splurge.

9. Old Navy Maternity Scoop Rib-Knit Tank ($10.00). My major gripe with so-called maternity shirts is the length — particularly the ones from Target. They’re just too short to wear past the second trimester, in my opinion. These tank tops are amazing, though — plenty long enough, very comfortable, and great to wear under a more gauzy shirt, with a cardigan, or alone. Total fashion lifesaver.

10. Old Navy Maternity Smooth-Panel Skinny Jeans ($34.50). I’ve heard a lot of hate for Old Navy’s maternity jeans, but they’re the only ones that look great on me for the right price. I’m just not willing to spend $100+ on a pair of jeans, no matter how amazing they make my new Oompa-Loompa figure look. These are actually the first skinny jeans I have bought in my life, and they do a lot for my figure. The panel is starting to get a little snug, but I can tuck it under my belly and with a long enough shirt, totally get away with it.

11. Tums ($5.49). I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but I’ve had massive heartburn and acid reflux for my entire pregnancy, which sucks for somebody craving Mexican food 24/7. I didn’t think these worked for me until I realized that if I chewed a couple after my meal but before the heartburn kicked it, they totally kept it at bay. I buy the generic kind because I’m cheap. I also kinda like how they taste, because I’m weird.

12. The Birth Partner by Peggy Simkin ($11.55). I just got my used copy of this book, and it’s pretty awesome. While written for doulas, dads, and other birth partners, it’s totally applicable and informative for the mom, as well. It’s a little doula-centric, but it covers all sorts of birthing positions, prelabor signs, stuff to pack for the hospital (or have on hand for a home birth), pain medications, complications, and more. Another really indispensable resource.

13. Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Peaceful Mama Tea ($5.97). I love tea, but have been scared to have my favorites because I’m not sure what’s safe for the baby and what’s not. I found this in a sampler at a local maternity boutique, and it’s perfect now that things are chilling up a little bit here. It’s got lemon balm, oat straw, chamomile, red raspberry leaf, and orange peel so it’s mighty tasty and formulated for the pregnant lady. They make a variety of teas, including a heartburn tea and a third trimester tea for labor preparation, so I’m hoping to check them all out.

So there you have it! What were some of your favorite pregnant lifesavers?

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30 Weeks: Almost to the Single-Digit Countdown

Sorry about the thumb in the pic. Hi, thumb!

Baby is the size of: A head of cabbage (regular this time, not Chinese)

How far along are you: 30 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby’s about 15.7 inches long now, and he weighs almost 3 pounds. A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds your little one, but that volume will decrease as your baby gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus. Your baby’s eyesight continues to develop, though it’s not very keen. Even after birth, your baby will keep those little peepers closed for a good part of the day. He or she will respond to changes in light, but will have 20/400 vision and only make out objects a few inches from his or her face.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still fine, not getting up in the middle of the night or having too much trouble falling asleep.

Best moment this week: Bean feels like he’s gone through a bit of a growth spurt recently, and is pounding away in there. I really love feeling him move around, so this is always the best moment of any week.

Worst moment this week: Starting my gestational diabetes diet and finger pricks. The diet isn’t too bad, but my stress over the test-to-test numbers is rising. Which I know isn’t healthy for me, but I can’t help it. I’m in sheer panic about what this means for labor and what it means for the baby’s health. I’m worried about needing to be induced early because of the baby’s size, and worried because I know GD babies don’t develop as quickly as other babies. I’m worried about so much right now, that it’s hard for me to stay in the positive. I feel like this whole thing has sucked the joy out of pregnancy, and I’m just bummed.

What are you looking forward to: My shower in a few weeks! Some gifts have already gone off the registry (and yes, I’m a total registry stalker — guilty pleasure).

Food cravings: Just craving the ability to have food when I want it. Going so long between meals without a snack is hard now that work has started back up again. It wasn’t a big deal at home the past few days when I could make dinner at 5, but now that we won’t be eating until 7 p.m. or later, it makes the afternoon snack crucial and leaves me starving for way longer than I’m used to. I only have to go four hours between breakfast and lunch, with a snack in between. The stretch between lunch and dinner is seven-plus hours, with a snack in between, leaving me almost four hours with no food and no ability to eat another snack because it might raise my blood sugar.

What do you miss: A relatively stress-free pregnancy. Sweets. Soda.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, belly numbness.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Almost completely out now.

Ring: Off.

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Gestational Diabetes and Me (and Bean): What It Means, and What I’m Doing

I had a great 29-week checkup at the OB, but hearing “You’re diabetic” put a screeching halt to all the positivity. After failing my one-hour glucose tolerance test by one point and taking a three-hour test — having blood drawn after 12 hours of fasting, drinking 100 mg of fruit-punch-flavored glucose, and having blood drawn after one, two, and three hours — I had failed two of the blood draws. My one-hour draw came in at 204, while the highest level allowed is 180. My two-hour draw came in at 155, with the highest level allowed by my practice at 145. The terms “borderline” and “prediabetes” were thrown around, but inside, I felt like a total failure.

I felt like it was my fault. The doctor was great, trying to make me feel better by saying that I’d be in a better, healthier position than most women in the third trimester because I would be more carefully watching what I ate and walking more (which can significantly lower blood sugar after a meal). And then he said, “Which will be a great thing for you, because you’re only supposed to gain up to 35 pounds in pregnancy and you’ve already gained 29 pounds in 29 weeks, with 11 weeks still to go. You’ve gained five pounds in the last two weeks. You gained eight pounds in the month before that. Six in the month before that.” And I wanted to stick my head in a drawer and cry. I felt like I was being told, “You’re a big fatty fat, and your fatty fattiness is going to make your baby an unhealthy fatty fat fat. Good going, fatty.”

I calmed down a bit by the next afternoon, after I’d met with a diabetes nurse who explained that

1. Gestational diabetes is not related to anything you eat or do and

2. The risks are associated with women whose blood sugar levels are highly elevated over a period of time. Following a diet and monitoring my levels for problems will mitigate those risks.

What is gestational diabetes?

Essentially, gestational diabetes happens when a pregnant woman’s pancreas can, for some reason, simply not produce enough insulin to process the additional sugars produced during pregnancy. The risk is not necessarily high for the mother, but for the baby, excessive blood glucose can pass through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream, causing them to put on more weight than normal babies.

The nurse also explained that this excess glucose can eat away at the placenta over time, breaking it down so it passes along fewer nutrients — much like excessive sugar builds up in your mouth when you don’t brush and rots away your teeth. So while you might have a 9-pound baby at 37 weeks, you might also have a baby whose lungs and other organs are less developed than a typical 37-week-old fetus. None of that is good.

Not only that, but the baby is at a higher risk of hypoglycemia because once the cord is cut — along with the high sugar supply he or she once received through the placenta — the baby’s blood sugar will suddenly drop and can cause, among other things, seizures.

No, no bueno.

What can you do?

So to help me manage this condition, the doctor’s office set me up with a company that tracks you for 21 days. A nurse met with me the day after I got the diagnosis, and showed me how to test my blood sugar four times a day (at fasting, or upon waking up; one hour after breakfast; one hour after lunch; and one hour after dinner) with a glucometer. She went over ideal ranges, my meal plan, and exercise goals.

And she explained that if my levels are too high for an extended period of time, they can be further managed with insulin. I’m not going to lie — this terrifies me.

Now that I’m having biweekly doctor’s visits, they’re measuring my belly for adequate growth related to where I am gestationally. If I’m growing too quickly or having other issues like reduced fetal movement, I’ll be given a late sonogram to see roughly how big Bean is, and a non-stress test to monitor his heartbeat and development.

How am I doing?

Testing my blood sugar is easily the worst part of this whole thing. The finger pricks aren’t terribly painful, but I have serious psychological issues with needles and blood, so having to poke myself four times a day is akin to some level of hell. I get dizzy and lightheaded beforehand and I swore the very first night that the diet was giving me low blood sugar, when really my levels were fine and I was just nervous and feeling like I’d drained all the blood from my body (drama queen?).

I also stress about each individual number. They’re all over the place, and even though they’re all pretty much within range, it boggles my mind that I can have the exact same thing for breakfast three days in a row and get an 86 an hour later one day, a 114 the next, and a 126 the next. The nurse explained to me that the meter is less than precise and whatever reading I get could be 10-15 points off, which means that 126 could be 110. Or, as my mind immediately told me, it could be 141. Yes, I am a negative Nancy.

My fasting blood sugar is the biggest indicator of whether I’ll need insulin, because it shows what my body does without food. The nurse assured me that, based on my tested level of 78, the chances are remote I’ll need insulin. But since I started testing at home five days ago, I’ve gotten a 66, 88, 96, 88, and 101. After getting my 101 this morning, I retested on a different finger, different hand, and got a 94. So now I’m driving myself nuts with that kind of nonsense. I don’t understand, because I’m eating the prescribed evening snack of a carb and a protein, and getting different numbers every morning. And it’s the number I can do the least amount, and the one I’m most worried about. All of which stresses me out — and raises my blood sugar.

What about the food?

The diet is really not that bad. OK, I can’t have my nightly full-sugar Sprite with dinner or my random “just because” candy bar. I can’t eat a quarter of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while watching “Dexter.” I can’t down half a pizza when I’m home alone at night.

The idea is to help keep my blood sugar level by eating regularly throughout the day, eating a smaller amount — but not a low amount, because duh, I’m pregnant — of carbs, and spreading those throughout the day. It has me eating more food than before, because it adds snacks I wasn’t having before, and adds carbs I never packed into lunch and dinner. It basically forces me to take that afternoon Twix and transform it into a dinnertime potato and bread.

The plan is spread out like this:

  • Breakfast: 15-20 g of carb with a protein
  • Morning snack: 15-20 g of carb with a protein
  • Lunch: 55-60 g of carb with a protein and a nonstarchy vegetable
  • Afternoon snack: 30-40 g of carb with a protein
  • Dinner: 55-60 g of carb with a protein and a nonstarchy vegetable
  • Evening snack: 15-20 g of carb with a protein

It gives me a fair amount of flexibility. So far, I’ve had:

  • Breakfast: One or two scrambled eggs and a piece of toast, a hard-boiled egg with some raisin toast.
  • Snacks: One chocolate/peanut butter Nature Valley Granola Thin with two tablespoons of Smart Balance creamy peanut butter; a Luna protein bar; a couple of squares of cheddar cheese, half an Arnold’s whole grain flatbread thin, and an 8-ounce glass of milk
  • Lunch: Largely leftovers so far but on Saturday I had a Morningstar Farms tomato basil pizza veggie burger on two slices of whole wheat bread, half an orange, and an 8-ounce glass of milk.
  • Dinner: Turkey-Vegetable Bake, Adobo Pork Chops with half a sweet potato, steamed broccoli, half an Arnold’s whole grain flatbread thin, and an 8-ounce glass of milk.

I’m struggling the most with breakfast, because there are only so many carb/protein combos you can come up with for that. Insulin resistance is highest in the morning and late evening, so that means I can’t have any milk, fruit, juice, or yogurt in those time frames. The nurse gave me some ideas I’m going to try, like turkey bacon, a tomato, and melted cheese on a whole wheat English muffin, or oatmeal (though I can’t have any fruit with it, and it seems like all the diabetic recipes are for apple oatmeal, berry oatmeal, etc.). She also mentioned cottage cheese, which counts as a protein, which was slightly confusing since I can’t have milk, but whatever.

What else?

I’m a natural-born worrier, and I’m terrified of so many things. I’m scared I’ll stick to the diet and we’ll still have a huge baby with health problems. I’m scared my levels will continue to rise as I progress in the pregnancy, and will require insulin — and I’m absolutely paralyzed by the idea of injecting this into my stomach. I’m scared about what this means for my labor — whether I’m high-risk now, whether I can’t be delivered by the practice’s midwives anymore, whether they’re automatically going to induce me or give me a c-section, whether they’re going to hook me up to insulin during labor and/or monitor my blood sugar, whether they’ll automatically admit Bean to the NICU. I didn’t have a chance to talk to my doctor about any of this stuff because my head was just swimming with the “fatty fat fat” stuff. So I’ll have to talk to him at my next appointment, and hopefully have my mind set at ease — or at least have a heads up of what’s to come.

This isn’t a death sentence, and it isn’t my fault. And while pricking my finger makes everything from my head to my toes tingle with panic, and I can’t eat a cupcake whenever I damn well please, I’d eat bread and ketchup and draw blood from a syringe 18 times a day if it meant it would keep my baby safe and healthy.

Were you or somebody you know diagnosed with GD? How did you handle it?

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29 Weeks: Or, Crabby Without Cupcakes


Baby is the size of: A butternut squash

How far along are you: 29 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. Muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and your baby’s head is growing bigger to make room for that developing brain. To meet your baby’s increasing nutritional demands, you’ll need plenty of protein, vitamin C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk. This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby’s hardening skeleton each day.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still seem to be doing OK, but more frequent middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.

Best moment this week: Our childbirth class was this weekend, and it was pretty cool. The instructor made the 8-hour crash course aspect of it as bearable as possible, though I was still falling asleep near the end. We learned some breathing techniques, different massages Mister Mister can do to help relieve pain (pressing on my hips and lower back while I’m bent over) in early labor, pain management options, when a c-section might be necessary, and some other things to expect that I was unclear on and Mister Mister certainly benefited from as well. The only issue was that it made me pretty freaked out about an epidural, but we’ll see how I feel once I get there.

Worst moment this week: Totally failed my one-hour glucose test by one point. I had to take the three-hour test last Friday, which honestly wasn’t as bad as I was expected, but still wasn’t fun. And then I found out today that I do have gestational diabetes. I have to visit a diabetes nurse and get a meal plan to minimize my blood sugars, and a glucometer to test my blood sugar several times a day. The doctor essentially said diet and walking should keep it under control, but if it doesn’t, I’ll need to start injecting insulin as well. It was a huge bummer and kind of made me feel like a failure, especially when they told me that I’m too fat (well they didn’t really say that, but that’s what I heard). I’m not going to lie, it sucks being told you can’t eat whatever you want while you’re pregnant. But I also don’t want a huge hypoglycemic baby with health issues, so I’ll absolutely do what it takes. But worst moment of the week? Try worst moment of the whole pregnancy.

What are you looking forward to: Invites are out for my shower, so that’s the next big thing we’re looking forward to! Oh, and Thanksgiving. It’s seriously my favorite time of the entire year.

Food cravings: Thanksgiving goodies like broccoli casserole, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, French silk pie… all stuff I’m really not supposed to have.

What do you miss: Life without hemorrhoids. I call him Lloyd.

Symptoms: Heartburn/reflux, back pain, mood swings, hemorrhoids, a weird numb and tingly strip at the top of my belly that the doctor says is due to muscles stretching from a growing uterus.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Even more out than last week!

Ring: Off.

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My Childbirth Class Made Me Totally Question Getting an Epidural

The last thing I expected my childbirth class to freak me out about was pain management. I thought it would be more like, the education on just how much PAIN would be involved would make me run for the hills. The thing is, I knew already that this is going to hurt. A lot. Beyond a lot. But I think I was a little in the dark about just how much intervention could be involved once I get that epidural placed.

For one, they would show us all these positions we can get into while laboring, to push more effectively and move the baby past your tailbone, etc. But then they’d say, “Having an epidural significantly limits your options here.”

Image via

Then they started passing around the various intervention tools: vacuum, internal fetal heartrate monitor, internal contraction monitor, water breaker… and I started to picture all these tubes and wires running in and out of me while I’m birthing my child, and I got REALLY nervous. After the instructor described each one, she’d say, “These might be used in an unmedicated birth, but you increase your odds of them being used in a medicated birth.”

Image via Kentec Medical. You’re going to stick what inside of me?

Then all the talk about what an epidural can do, like slow down your contractions or make it harder for you to push. I kind of pictured it like a runaway train, where I would get an epidural to manage my pain and all of a sudden have 50 million things stuck in me, require Pitocin from slowed-down labor, and eventually need a c-section because I couldn’t push.

Now, I’m well aware that every experience is different. I’ve heard women say they received an epidural and went from 5 to 10 cm in an hour and a half whereas they’d been slowed down for hours before the meds arrived. I’ve heard others say that they really regret receiving an epidural and want to try for a natural birth next time. I have a friend who has had two c-sections and pretty much berates me every time I bring up my fears and hesitations about getting an epidural, telling me not to be a martyr and exclaiming that she has no idea why anybody would ever consider an unmedicated birth. I have others comment that they don’t understand why, in this day and age with all the research and information available, anybody would consider a medicated birth.

I also know that I have no idea what my labor pain will be like once I’m in it. I’ve gone through two medical issues that are frequently compared to labor-level pain by other women who have done both — a kidney stone, and a Bartholin’s abscess (I’m not going to link you, Google it if you’re really curious, but you have my warning: You might regret it). I’ve even had the Bartholin’s twice. The second time I had it, I was prescribed pain medication because of what was done to relieve the issue. I was adamant that I wouldn’t take a narcotic, until the anesthesia wore off and I was begging poor Mister Mister to run to the pharmacy — no really, RUN — and just grab the closest narcotic off the shelf.

Seriously, my pain tolerance is ridiculous. My kidney stone made me puke. I stub my toe and it’s World War III. A paper cut makes me despondent for days. So why do I think I can do this without medication?

I’ll be talking with my OB about his thoughts on delaying the epidural as long as possible. I know the hospital where we’re delivering is open to alternatives and options, and I’m hoping they can show me some effective pushing positions in the event that I do need an epidural OMGRIGHTTHISVERYMINUTE. My current plan is to wait as long as possible before requesting one, but I know that could very well be before I’ve even dilated at all. I’m trying to withhold judgment and planning of my birth experience and just let it happen.

Which, for a judger and a planner, is not very easy at all.

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Holiday Heartbreak: My Mother’s Bittersweet Broccoli Casserole

I didn’t expect that a casserole would make me cry.

I should have known. It was, after all, my mother’s famous Broccoli Casserole, the one she served every Thanksgiving to an eager table of hungry family members and friends. And seeing as how I hadn’t tasted the mainstay, not once, in the nearly three years since she passed away… well, it was pretty much inevitable that when I nailed the recipe on the first try, my emotions would get the best of me.

Mom inherited the recipe from her friend Mary Pat in the late 1970s. The first year she made it, the story goes, my family was less than enthusiastic. In fact, some of them simply refused to taste the dish. My gentle immigrant grandfather, a man who would eat anything you put in front of him, led this skeptical pack. So my mother, never one to take an insult lying down, stomped around the dinner table, testily spooning out portions of the cheesy, gooey concoction onto every. single. person’s. plate.

The following Thanksgiving, most of the original naysayers nonchalantly asked if she’d possibly maybe be making that casserole again. After that, it became tradition. She occasionally considered cooking it in the “off season,” but she felt it wouldn’t be as special if she made it more frequently.

I agree.

Even after many of our family members passed away and the rest scattered, after Thanksgiving became just my mother, my father, and me, she made a full table of food every November — turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce, and, of course, the Broccoli Casserole.

Cooking became for me after Mom died from a heart attack on the morning of Dec. 1, 2006. She had been a stay-at-home mom throughout my life, and my memories of her usually revolved around the dishes she made and the time we spent in our large, sunny Oklahoma kitchen. When I began living on my own and making my own forays into the culinary world, I’d frequently call her, sometimes two to three times a night, asking about substitutions and measurements, cooking temperatures and times. If a recipe was especially good, I’d email it to her. Sometimes she’d argue with me about certain things, like the oven-fried chicken recipe that called for the chicken thighs to cook for 45 minutes on each side (“They’ll be too dry!” she protested. “Mom, I swear, I’ve made it a million times and it’s great. It’s 45 minutes,” I said. “OK, if you say so, but I think they’ll be dry,” she clucked as she gathered the ingredients. She later called me raving about how moist they were).

It wasn’t until almost two years after her death that I slowly started cooking more for myself and others. It was harder than I thought to not share my hits and misses with my foodie Mom. So when a friend invited me to a 4th of July barbecue back in 2008 and asked me to bring a covered dish, I decided to try out Mom’s Broccoli Casserole.

Initially, my Dad and I were worried that she hadn’t written it down. Sometimes, if she made something enough times, she’d go by sheer muscle memory and periodic taste tests in the kitchen. But a few weeks before the barbecue, Dad and I were sifting through her Ziploc bag of recipe index cards, and we found the casserole recipe — two copies, in fact. I took one home with me, pinned it on my kitchen bulletin board, and began playing guessing games with the cryptic portions.

While not as bad as some of my grandmother’s original recipe cards — a pinch of this, some of that, a little of this, that to taste, whole steps left out — the Broccoli Casserole card left me scratching my head at turns.

“Six frozen chopped broccoli.”

Six what? Six ounces? Six bags? Six pounds? I vaguely remembered her using those little boxes of frozen broccoli, but I couldn’t be sure.

“2-4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese.”

Why 2-4? Why not 8? Or did she mean “two to four”? I brought it to friends and tried to figure it out. I finally settled on 2 pounds of frozen cut broccoli (slight error in judgment — it needed to be chopped not merely cut, and I spent a bit of time after cooking it cutting it down to more manageable pieces while trying not to scald my hands) and 8 ounces of shredded cheddar. I had intended to make the full recipe, but ended up with half. Before it went into the oven, I tasted a bit… and it was dead on.

And that’s when I cried.

It was partially the memory of how it tasted, the memories of childhood Thanksgivings spent with family in Chicago and, later, in Florida with my parents. It was partially the idea that I’d made something that had been my mother’s territory alone, and the notion that she’d somehow watched over me while I made it for the first time.

I didn’t let myself cry for long, and I went about preparing for the barbecue. The casserole was a hit with my friends, and only a small spoonful remained.

The tradition of the Broccoli Casserole carries on, then — and carries through all our family Thanksgivings from here on out (that 4th of July barbecue was the last time I made the dish outside of the fall holiday season).

Fran’s Famous Broccoli Casserole

2 pounds frozen chopped broccoli
1 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cups mayonnaise
1/2 box cheese nip crackers, crushed fine
1 package shredded almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Cook broccoli. Put in bowl. Mix soup, mayonnaise, lemon and cheese. Pour into 2 quart casserole. Top with cheese nips and almonds. Cook one hour. Serves 6-8.

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The First Two Trimesters: A Review in Photos


Week colors change at week 16 because that’s when we found out we are having a boy.

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28 Weeks: A More Official Third Trimester and Baby Tries to Tear His Way Out

Baby is the size of: A Chinese cabbage (seriously, they are running out of veggies)

How far along are you: 28 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “by this week, your baby weighs 2 1/4 pounds and measures 14.8 inches from the top of the head to the heels. Your baby can blink his eyes, which now sport lashes. With increasingly developed eyesight, your baby may be able to see the light that filters in through your womb. Your baby’s also developing billions of neurons in his brain and adding more body fat in preparation for life in the outside world.” How cool is it that his eyes are open now?

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Definitely waking up more throughout the night, partially because the bladder hold-age has become less competent, and partly because I’m just so uncomfortable on one side or another that I have to keep switching to keep my back from spasming. I seem to be doing an OK job still with falling asleep, both initially and after waking up periodically, and napping is no issue either. It’s less consistent, but still doable.

Best moment this week: We took our hospital tour on Saturday! It was so awesome. We knew that it was a great hospital from everything that we had heard. It’s the facility of choice around here, and had been totally revamped into a hospital-within-a-hospital about a year and a half ago. It used to be part of the main hospital, and now is located directly in the children’s hospital, so you have the peace of mind of knowing there are specialists and a NICU (god forbid) right upstairs. The rooms are huge, and it’s designed to as much like home as a hospital can, by putting equipment away in closets and up in the ceiling, to be pulled out once pushing starts. They also practice kangaroo care by default and give you an automatic hours’ time to hold the baby skin-to-skin before allowing visitors or taking the baby for weighing. Even when you have a c-section, you can give kangaroo care for 10-15 minutes and then dad can do it in the nursery while the mom is in recovery. And they encourage the baby to stay in the room with the mother, which sounds kind of scary, but also kind of nice. So it was great to see all the places we’ll  be in less than 3 months (except of course the OR and the mother-baby suites since, well, sterile environment and full house — though we did see the antepartum rooms, which are similar to mother-baby suites) and to get an idea of what to expect. Oh, my other favorite part? The mother-baby wing has several nourishment rooms stocked with sodas, gatorade, chocolate milk, and frozen meals so that if I want something after delivering, I just have to send Mister Mister to grab it for me.

Worst moment this week: Not really a terrible moment, but I had my glucose tolerance test yesterday. I think the worst part about it was getting up at 6 a.m. — since it’s an hourlong test, I didn’t want to be late to work so booked a lab appointment at 7 a.m. They have the presence of mind to keep the glucose drinks in a fridge, so it was actually cold and basically tasted like a slightly more bitter Hi-C orange drink like what they have at McDonald’s. The other bad part about it is it made me very jittery after a while — oh, and having blood drawn. I’ll find out next Tuesday whether I passed, and if I didn’t, I have to go for a three-hour test that involves getting blood drawn 4 TIMES.

What are you looking forward to: Our prepared childbirth class is on Saturday! It’s an 8-hour class, oh my lord, but we couldn’t do the four two-hour classes because we couldn’t guarantee Mister Mister would have all four of those nights off. I’m sure it’ll be boring in parts and way too long, but I love stuff like this and feeling prepared, even though yes, I know I could probably just read a book and get as much information. Still, it’s yet another milestone and a chance to do more baby stuff with Mister Mister, which I always love to do 🙂

Food cravings: Still: Nothing in particular right now, just lots of everything.

What do you miss: Sleeping on my back, putting on socks with minimal effort. I shaved my legs for the first time in a long time and realized that soon enough, Mister Mister will have to complete that task for me.

Symptoms: Heartburn, hip and back pain, mood swings, exhaustion, some swelling,  some mild nausea, hot flashes. Baby kicks — it sounds insane to call that a symptom, but he’s started kicking HARD and sometimes he kicks or punches (I have no clue how he’s oriented, I’m so bad at that) way down low and it makes me want to vomit. Though it is kinda cool to watch and feel most of the time, and last night Mister Mister finally got to see my belly bulge out while little bean was making himself comfortable. And though it totally looked like an alien was trying to tear me apart, he exclaimed, “Jesus Christ!” and immediately put his hand on my stomach and felt all the movement, and then kissed my tummy. It was very sweet.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: It’s really cratering up around the edges now. It’s practically out, but seems to still be hanging in there (no pun intended).

Ring: Off.

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Thanksgiving Eats: The Menu

I love Thanksgiving. It’s easily my favorite holiday, even though there are no presents. You know why? Because there is just so. Much. Food.

I grew up Italian, so Thanksgiving dinner was always a big gluttonous festival of foods. Even when my parents moved to Florida and my grandparents had passed away and my whole family was in shambles and it was just the three of us, my mom would always cook for like eleventy billion people and then send me home with tons of Tupperware filled with mounds of every dish.

I like carrying forth traditions, so I also cook for eleventy billion people, even though there are usually only four of us — Mister Mister, my dad, and my dad’s missus. This year, the verdict’s out on whether there will be two or four of us — my dad’s step daughter usually spends the holidays with her in-laws, but there was some… um, stuff that happened, so now there are no in-laws, and she may want to spend the holiday with her mom. Fair enough. I’ll still pork out like a proud preggo. Particularly now that our kitchen is humongoid compared with the shoebox I was cooking in last year.

So what exactly do I make every year? There are some variables, but the menu is more or less set.


Easily my least favorite part of the dinner, it’s still a must. Maybe I’ll just buy a smaller turkey this year. I’m still searching for the perfect recipe, but here’s a nice basic one from Queen Martha. Online friends turned me onto this Alton Brown recipe for a brined roast turkey, so I’ll be trying that this year. The bonus is it requires me to stick it in the fridge to thaw on Monday instead of my typical Tuesday, so it should be totally thawed by Thanksgiving morning.

Photo by tuchodi via Flickr


I make my own. It’s awesome. I use Martha’s Pan Gravy recipe.

Photo by Miia Ranta via HubPages

Cranberry sauce

As much as I love the jellied stuff (comfort food), this recipe for Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce is just the best, and pretty easy.

Photo by MGF/Lady Disdain via Flickr


No Stovetop Stuffing! I made this Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing last year and it’s now The Stuffing For All Years (not pictured above).

Photo by Meng He via

Broccoli casserole

My mom found this recipe in some magazine or got it from a friend or whatever, and made it for the family like 30 years ago, and everybody thought it would be gross and wouldn’t eat it. So she forced a big spoonful onto everybody’s plate (I totally am my mother’s daughter). And then next year everybody was begging her to make it again. So it was her recipe, and now it’s mine. As much as I want it every single day of the year, we keep it Thanksgiving special.

I’ll be sharing the recipe in a future post, so stay tuned!

Photo by Kathryn Hill via The Kitchn

Mashed potatoes

Natch. I don’t really have a go-to recipe, I always forget each year which one I used the year before and forget to print it out and save it. And throughout the year I always just end up using a different recipe. Yeah, I need a recipe to make mashed potatoes. Sue me.

Photo by plasticrevolver via Flickr via The Circle of Moms Cookbook


Just because. Dude, my recipe is sooooo good: I buy a bag of frozen corn, and cook it. Wow. I’m a culinary genius.

Photo by my_amii via Flickr

Sweet potatoes

Potato Part Deux. Because you have to. Last year I tried some new sweet potato casserole thing I found online and it was TERRIBLE. It didn’t cook the sweet potatoes at all and we didn’t even try to eat it. This year, I’m hunting for some approximation of how my mom made it: Simple, with the sweet potatoes peeled and halved and cooked with some sort of buttery maple glaze thing going on. Any ideas?

Photo by Wally Hartshorn via New Frugality

Appetizer: cheeseballs

This is my all-time favorite party recipe. I usually only make two, ditching the cheddar cheese one. They are so effing good — a perfect starter to gorging. I use Martha’s Cheese Balls Three Ways.

Photo via

Appetizer:  cashews

Again with the Martha: Chili Lime Cashews.

Photo via

Dessert: French silk pie

I don’t make this shit. We buy it from Perkins or Village Inn. Has to be one of those. “Chocolate cream pie” is NOT the same thing.

Photo via Rolling Sin

So there you have it — my “it could feed a third-world country but instead we shove it into 4 mouths, pick off it for 2 days, and throw out the rest, American style” Thanksgiving dinner.

Now I’m hungry (even after eating three breakfasts this morning).

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