Embracing Pregnancy with Diabetes – by Mellissa

My name is Mellissa and I am 23 years old. I have been living with type 1 diabetes for the past seven years. 

It has taken seven years for me to get to a point where I no longer am afraid of my disease. I had lived in fear for so long – fear of the number on the screen, or not waking up in the morning. I realize now that what I feared most was losing my sense of self. 

However, in 2020 my life had changed completely when I found out I was pregnant. Living with type 1 diabetes at the same time was a big shift and required a tremendous amount of adjusting. Diabetes + pregnancy was always my fear! Why!? I now realize it was because of all the stories and cautionary tales I heard and read about, but I can say now I did not have to be afraid in the same way that I first thought.

The only fear I had was going into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). As the months went by, my glucose fluctuated a lot, which it was hard at first. I had to get used to having another person to care for inside of me. I had to always make sure I watched what I ate and how much insulin I needed so I wouldn’t go hypoglycemia or hypoglycemic. During the second trimester, everything was going back to normal and the growth of my baby was developing great. At that point I knew that I was doing well with my diabetes and my pregnancy. 

Managing all of this during Covid-19 was hard because at first I could invite two people to come into the room with me when I went to the doctor, but then it went down to just one. At one point I had to be admitted to the hospital because of my sugars fluctuating all the time and my doctor wanted my glucose numbers to be between 4-7 mmol/L (72-126 mg/dL). I did not want to come into contact with other people while wearing the mask because it was so uncomfortable for me as I was getting short of breath fast, which I had to consider when I wanted to buy clothes and other stuff to prepare for the baby. Thankfully I was able to solve for that by ordering most of the things I needed. 

Most of my challenges occurred as I was entering my third trimester. I had high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and preeclampsia. Weeks later I was admitted to the hospital to be kept under observation. While my pregnant days were coming to an end on the 7th of September, 2020, my bouncing baby boy came at 37 weeks!

When I gave birth I had to get an emergency cesarean section because he was so big (4.3kg/9lb.8oz.) and I had diabetes among underlying issues. At that point I was all afraid and crying. I knew that this was a possibility, but my expectations were still different: I was the type to butter up and oil down my stomach for my entire pregnancy so I wouldn’t have stretch marks! It worked for the most part, but after I had the surgery I ended up with a few around my navel. However I would say they were worth it! 

Living with type 1 diabetes and being pregnant was a high risk, but knowing what I know now I would tell expecting parents in the diabetes community not to be afraid. Everyone has different experiences and bodies are different but you won’t know what to expect until you do it yourself. I had a great support system throughout my pregnancy, so I encourage other people with diabetes to build up their own communities and networks that are there to offer some really necessary support when it’s most needed. Be prepared and keep your physician’s number close so if you do have issues you can call and ask questions!

After the C-section, I was in a bit of pain and needed to take a few days to recover. While getting accustomed to my incision, I kept in mind that I did not want to walk with a slouched back despite the pain – so I made sure to walk with my back up straight as a proud mother with her big blessing. At that point I was so proud of myself and it built up my determination and brought me a lot of happiness, because I knew that I came a long way from where I started.