By Michelle October; photographs by Freepik
“I didn’t know I had gestational diabetes until after [my son] was born.”
Gestational diabetes is often pushed to the back of the line of important conditions to be on the lookout for. Type 2 Diabetes, The Big One, gets almost all the spotlight. But Celeste Smith is au fait with gestational diabetes, having had it not once, but thrice. “My first pregnancy was stillborn: Noah was born at 38 weeks,” she says. She’d had diabetes during her pregnancy and had no idea until after she’d given birth. “We suspected with my family having diabetes that I could get it, but my doctor at the time never picked it up,” she says.
Celeste’s not alone: one in seven births are affected by gestational diabetes (GD), and while it disappears after birth, both the mom and child are at risk of developing Type 2 in the future. For moms, it could happen within five to ten years after giving birth. In other cases, like Celeste’s, GD can be fatal.
After a while, Celeste wanted to get pregnant again. This time, a doc tested her before conception, and after – she’d fallen pregnant with twin boys, and was diagnosed with GD again. This time, she roped in an endocrinologist to keep tabs on her sugar levels. “I was put on Metformin and later insulin. I also had to have monthly HbA1c (blood glucose) tests and test my blood sugar seven times a day: when I woke up, before each meal, after each meal and before I went to bed,” she says. “My fingers had so many holes in them; I didn’t know where to prick myself!”
Added to that, Celeste had to overhaul her lifestyle. She amped up the steamed veg on her plate and cut out refined starch. She also started exercising every day. Looking back, she says her condition allowed her to really evaluate her lifestyle. “I wouldn’t have been as conscious of my meals and how my body reacted to certain foods,” she says. “I made a lot of sacrifices which was all worth it, since the end result was my beautiful healthy twin boys.”
Celeste fell pregnant again since then, and had GD during that time as well. She gave birth to a boy, and now the whole family runs, walks and swims together.
This story was first published in Sweet Life Magazine.