5 Easy Tips for Managing Gestational Diabetes

I had Gestational Diabetes.

That dreaded glucose tolerance test. Even my doctor tensed up when she mentioned the test while discussing the timeline of my pregnancy. Actually physically tensed up – almost like she thought I was about to hurl a book at her head and start throwing a tantrum. For some reason, every pregnant mama is completely terrified of gestational diabetes. And, if you got to this blog post because you, too, are freaking out, I’m here to tell you: take a deep breath – and stop Googling – this is totally manageable and I’ll tell you how.

Focus on nutrition.

After I got the call from my doctor, not only did she suggest I keep track of my blood sugar by checking it four times daily, but also to visit the Certified Nutritionist at their office. My doctor was pretty confident that I could keep my gestational diabetes in control with diet and exercise alone, which was very encouraging; however, I had to make some serious changes for that to happen. Like replacing my usual breakfast of Pop-Tarts and Cap’n Crunch with eggs and veggies.

What I ate.

I remember reading tons of blogs, articles, and even Instagram posts for meal ideas before I ever saw my nutritionist. Yes, I’m that girl, always Googling. I can’t even tell you how many YouTube birth vlogs I watched the week before I was induced. I like to be prepared. So, by the time I was actually sitting in her office, surrounded by plastic play food, I already had a pretty good grasp on the foods I should be incorporating into my diet. We talked about what I was currently eating, and she gave me tips on what to incorporate and how certain foods and especially portion sizes affected my blood sugar.


Here’s an example of a full day of eating for me and my blood sugar readings after each meal.

Fasted: 89 mg/dL

Breakfast: whole wheat toast (1 slice), peanut butter (1/2 serving), hard boiled egg
2 Hours Post Breakfast: 90 mg/dL

Snack: apple, light string cheese

Lunch: turkey, swiss cheese, whole wheat bread, yellow mustard, small apple
2 Hours Post Lunch: 95 mg/dL

Snack: greek yogurt, animal crackers

Dinner: grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, grilled red potatoes
2 Hours Post Dinner: 92 mg/dL

Snack: apple, chocolate PB2, light string cheese

(My doctor wanted me to be under 95 mg/dL fasting and under 120 mg/dL two hours post meals.)

The biggest tip she gave me was: balance. You don’t need to completely cut out carbs or sugar – yay, bread! – but, you need to have balance! Instead of sitting down with a whole bagel, some Cap’n Crunch and some fruit, have half a whole wheat bagel, some turkey bacon or eggs and fruit. If you incorporate some protein with your carbs it will actually slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, which will keep your readings in check and will prevent that mid-morning/mid-afternoon sugar crash.

Another tip? Snack, snack, snack. This one was easy for me because I really couldn’t eat a bunch at each meal, so I found that 6 small meals each day was the best for me. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. I basically just snacked all day long – who can hate that? Since huge portion sizes are another thing that would affect my blood sugar reading, having small meals kept me full, but also made sure I wasn’t eating too much.

And, I’m just going to leave this one here: water. Drink it, and drink a lot of it. I know you’re pregnant and you’ve got a tiny human using your bladder as a trampoline, but water is so important and it’s worth all of those extra trips to the bathroom!

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Write it down.

As a suggestion from my doctor, I began keeping a food journal and kept track of all of my blood sugar readings after each meal. It was so helpful to see how my meals affected my readings and I could take that information and adjust if I had a high reading. Most of the time when I had a high reading there was a clear explanation in my food journal – like, I had a HUGE meal, or I had a carb-heavy meal, or ate fast food. 

Get moving.

Yes, I know, you’re pregnant and huge and the last thing you want to do is get any kind of exercise. I was pregnant the entire summer and just walking from my car to the door to my work building while it was 100 degrees with 80% humidity was like running a marathon. So, I get it. I was committed to controlling my gestational diabetes with diet alone, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore exercise. And, I’m not saying go out and enroll in a CrossFit class. Just take a nice, peaceful evening walk! Or, if you have a wiener dog: a nice, peaceful noisy walk. Zach and I would make it a point to get in a walk around the neighborhood at least a couple times a week. And, when I got that walk in, my fasting blood sugar reading reflected it.

By the end of my pregnancy, I had successfully kept my Gestational Diabetes in check with diet and exercise alone, and gave birth to a healthy, yet big (9lbs 1oz), baby boy!

Nursing Must-Haves: Oat Mama Lactation Bars

A couple months ago, Kash went through some sort of crazy growth spurt. Seriously, one day his 3 month pants fit and the next morning he was in 6 month pants. How is that even possible?

Leading up to that growth spurt, he was going through pumped milk at the babysitter so fast that my supply could just barely keep up! I’ve been pretty committed to breastfeeding him until one – especially since I had gestational diabetes – so, I was starting to freak out when I ran out of my freezer stash and I was pumping only what he needed for the next day, which meant no backup and no date night stash! (Pro tip: I found out freaking out about not pumping enough was also contributing to me not pumping enough.)

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Anyway, I was scrolling through Instagram one morning and found a post from a fellow mom blogger about Oat Mama Lactation Bars. I went to their site and almost immediately I had a Variety Pack in my cart and I was checking out. Their shipping was lightening fast – which was much appreciated – and I received my order in just a few days!

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I started eating one bar everyday for my morning snack at work, and by the end of the week, I was pumping almost twice what I was pumping the week before. I was finally able to stock my freezer again! Yay for date nights! Since that first order, I’ve re-ordered twice, and I will continue to purchase not only because they are delicious and perfect for a morning pick me up, but also because of the increase in supply.

I usually order the Variety Pack, which includes: Nut + Berry, Chocolate Almond Coconut and Peanut Butter Chocolate. I’ve also had their other flavor: Apple Cinnamon Raisin with Fenugreek. I love all of the flavors, but my favorite is definitely the Nut + Berry.

If you want more specifics on their incredible ingredients and their benefits, check out their page here!

*Also, I know it might seem like it, but this post was not sponsored… I’m just really passionate about breastfeeding and Oat Mama bars!

Recent Work: Birth Announcements

The last big design project I did outside of work was Kash’s birth announcements. I started working on these right after I gave birth, but honestly I wish I would have started them while I was still pregnant! Designing for yourself is hard and it’s even harder when you have a brand new baby at home. So, you’re trying to figure out breastfeeding, diapering, and doing everything in your power to get that beautiful baby to just sleep – and, when you finally get all of that done all you want to do is sleep. Or sit on the couch and stare off into space. Both of which I did a lot on maternity leave. Something I didn’t do a lot of: showering.

birth announcements

Anyway, we got off on a tangent there. Somehow, I found a little bit of time to design these and have them printed, but I do wish I could have spent more time on them.

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Design

For the design of these, I really wanted the focus to be the photo and to keep the design super simple. The photo I used was one that the photographer at the hospital took literally 8 hours after Kash was born. I love that Zach’s hands are holding him up, and I love how his hands are up by his face, which is how he hung out in the womb and how he still sleeps today.

So, advice for all you pregnant designers out there thinking about designing your birth announcements: either start now, or find an amazing design on a site like Minted. It will make your life after birth a little easier. And, with the time I helped you free up, go ahead and use it to take a shower and wash your hair. Or just sleep. Always sleep.

Kash Aaron: 6 Month Update

*The site is going through a little bit of an identity crisis. Bear with me while I install/configure a new theme!

So, it might be a little ridiculous that I’m starting these updates when Kash is already half way to his first birthday – but, #momlife man. Seriously, someone get me one of those “Mommin’ ain’t easy” tees that I’ve seen all over Instagram.

I just spent three hours trying to get a clingy, tired, momma’s boy to bed. By myself. He’s been asleep for not even 45 min and I feel like I’ve won a freaking gold medal. For reference, Zach’s been out of town for four days and for three of those days, Kash has ended up sleeping in bed with me. Attached to the boob. Then, falling off the boob in the middle of the night and ravenously clawing his way back to it to continue his all-you-can-eat all-night boob buffet. Is this the 6 month growth spurt?

Stats
6 months 7 days old. 15 lbs 12.5 oz. 26 inches. With a head circumference of 17.5 inches.

Sleep
What is sleep? We had to transition him out of the Rock ‘n Play since he was getting way too long for it. So, I picked up the Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit after reading tons of great reviews. The first couple nights, he did pretty well in it. Then, something happened and we were only getting about an hour to an hour and a half of sleep before he was up screaming again. Fingers crossed he is just going through some sort of growth spurt or phase.

Eating
We’re still nursing – about every couple hours when I’m home and he drinks anywhere from 8-15 oz of pumped milk from a bottle while I’m at work.  And, we introduced vegetables a couple of weeks ago – this kid loves to eat. So far we’ve had: sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash. He loves the sweet potatoes and carrots, but didn’t care too much for that squash. I don’t blame him.

Milestones
He’s been a roly poly for a couple of months now – belly to back, back to belly. He is oh so close to sitting up on his own. But, right now he’s been obsessed with standing! Not on his own yet, of course, but if you’re trying to get him to sit, he will straighten his legs and push up to stand. On his belly, he will pull his legs underneath him, but he hasn’t seemed interested in moving just yet. When he does, we are in trouble, because he is too curious for his own good. I see a lot of baby-proofing in the near future.

Birth Story: Kash Aaron

Obviously I didn’t follow through with those pregnancy updates I promised a couple of posts ago on the blog. But, here’s a pretty big update: I’m not so pregnant anymore.

Zach and I welcomed a son, Kash Aaron, on September 22 at 12:57 am – measuring in at 21 in. and a whopping 9 lbs. 1 oz. Here’s his birth story.

My due date was September 26th, but since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes around week 24, my doctor planned to induce me at 39 weeks. Now, while it was nice to have a pretty good idea of when we would have a baby, induction birth stories tend to be on the dramatic side. I would answer every “When are you due?” inquiry with “My due date is September 26th, but I’ll be induced the week before if he hasn’t come on his own.” After which, the inquirer would give me their best sympathetic look and say, “I hope he comes on his own!” Thanks, me too.

Well, he didn’t come on his own. I wasn’t dilated or having contractions by my last doctor’s appointment, much to my doctor’s dismay. So, I was scheduled to come to the hospital the evening of September 20th to start the Cervidil.

We showed up at the hospital at 4:30pm on September 20th to get everything started. I was both nervous and excited as went up to the desk to check-in, we ended up on the wrong floor at the wrong desk even though we had taken the hospital tour. Once we were in the right place, the nurses had me get changed and settle into the very uncomfortable bed I’d be in for the entire labor and delivery process. After 30 minutes of questions and a pretty smooth IV insertion, the resident doctor came in and inserted the Cervidil to get things going. The Cervidil would be in overnight and would hopefully kickstart my body into labor and thin out my cervix for the next day.

The next morning, the nurse and a new resident doctor came in at 7am to check my progress – dilated to 3cm and having pretty regular contractions. The contractions were still mild on a pain scale and really just felt like menstrual cramps. After checking my progress, the doctor mentioned that I could get my epidural and he would break my water and start Pitocin. Since I wanted to go without the epidural, he went ahead and broke my water and started a low dose of Pitocin. Well, he thought he broke my water… more on that later.

The day went by fast and slow at the same time. We had family members coming in and out all day long sitting and talking and waiting. My contractions kept getting more intense, but still just felt like menstrual cramps. The doctors would come in and check my progress every couple hours, each time progressing more and more. 3cm, 4cm, 5cm, 6cm, 7cm.

Somewhere around 7cm, I stalled out for a couple of hours. My doctor wanted a catheter inserted to monitor my contractions to make sure they were intense enough to move baby’s head down and into the “go” position. However, when she went to insert the catheter, she discovered that my water was still very much intact. Great. So, she broke my water – for real – and inserted the catheter to keep track of my contractions. Almost immediately after the rupture, my contractions went from painful but manageable to holy-crap-there’s-a-gremlin-trying-to-claw-his-way-out. That was because my Pitocin was jacked all the way up because my progress had stalled out at 7cm. So, yes, the horror stories you read about Pitocin are true.

I still hadn’t had an epidural, and I thought I was golden… until the first contraction after my water broke. At this point, my memories of the day get a little fuzzy. I’m assuming that’s because of the pain and because I took off my glasses and had my eyes closed while breathing/screaming through contractions the rest of the day. According to my mom and Zach, I went a couple more hours before requesting something for the pain. I was still only at 7-8cm and I knew I would be exhausted if I kept going like I was.

So, I got the epidural. And, since I got it so late, it really didn’t do much. It didn’t feel like the miracle drug that everyone said it was. But, it did take an edge off. A couple more hours went by, a couple more centimeters, and then I started to feel the urge to push.

And, yes, it does feel like that.

All of a sudden – apparently, it was about 2 hours – I was fully dilated, effaced, and ready to go. A nurse comes in and says she is getting my labor kit ready. Then, the room was literally filled with doctors and nurses all ready to bring another human into the world. My doctor showed up just in time. I pushed for about 30 minutes before I felt this tiny body placed on my chest and heard his sweet cries. He grabbed my finger with his purple hand and wouldn’t let go. He had a head full of hair and he was beautiful. I couldn’t believe just 20 minutes ago he was inside of my body – I know that’s such a cliche, but seriously it’s such a strange feeling.

He stayed on my chest long enough for my mom to cut his cord and for Zach and I to finally pick a name: Kash.

birth story inductionThe nurses took him to weigh him and clean him up. That’s when I found out that tiny thing, was actually quite big. 9 pounds 1 ounce big. 10 fingers. 10 toes. He was perfect.

birth storyOnce he was back on my chest, the rest of the evening was a blur. Somewhere around 2am, I got to eat my first meal in two days. I got a hamburger – it was delicious.

Welcome to the world, Kash Aaron Close.

Recent Work: Jason & Brittany

I haven’t been working on much outside of my day job lately – what with the unbelievable exhaustion that comes with growing a human inside of your body – but, somehow, I managed to finish up my brother-in-law’s wedding invitations. You may remember a couple of posts featuring snippets of this design, I even did a DIY post on how I created the ombre watercolor background for these.

Inspiration

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My new sister-in-law had a pretty strong vision for what she wanted her wedding invitation design to look and feel like. Her colors were shades of teal and she really loved the idea of incorporating the string lights they were using in the tent at the reception. Having a color palette of shades of teal, I thought an ombre background design would work perfectly. Once I had the background designed, I created a very simple initial logo to tie all of the pieces together, and added an abstract string light element.

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