New, Scared, but Hopeful

Hello - I am 31 years old, just had my first baby three weeks ago. I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 28 weeks pregnant after I went DKA with a blood glucose level of 700 and an A1C of 12. After four days in the hospital I was taught how to test my blood sugars and how to take Humalog with meals and Levemir at night. I was motivated by my unborn child and stuck to an incredibly regimented diet for the next three months, with the hope that my diabetes would go away with the birth of my baby.

When my child was born, they tested my A1C, and it was 5.5, and my sugars were consistently staying around 90-110 for fasting. They put me on metformin right away. I started to binge cookies and cake, thinking with the removal of my placenta I was free from this “curse”. I have been living my old sugar eating life for the last three weeks and taking Metformin twice daily. Checking my fasting each morning, I’m at around 100.

Today I had a call with my Endocrinologist; she had me get tested for antibodies. I learned I tested positive for the GAD antibodies. She said I am Type 1 and will inevitably need to be on insulin for the rest of my life; that right now I’m in the “honeymoon” phase. She said to do my best to eat healthy and exercise as my body will eventually stop producing insulin, and I can potentially prolong that day by living a healthy lifestyle. It can “be a year to ten years from now”, in her words.

Is that true? How long do I have until I’m back on insulin for the rest of my life?
I fear for my three week old child. I don’t want that life for them.
I fear for my sanity, that I was able to successfully be an insulin taking gestational diabetic because I was motivated by my pregnancy and the hope it was temporary, and that a permanent diagnosis is mentally detrimental.
I fear my mortality and an earlier death, or psychiatric complications, heart disease, or stroke.
I fear the burden this will be on my husband.

Was anyone else in my shoes? I did this once already, but only for three months, and ate the healthiest I’ve ever eaten before. I checked my sugars 7-10 times a day and had bruises on my thighs, stomach, and arms. I thought it would be one day over. I need motivation to be able to make this a lifelong commitment, and perhaps being healthy and in the best shape of my life is that motivation. What was it for you? Please give me words of encouragement. I’m hopeful but on edge of fear for the future.

Hi @Illumanoti and welcome to the forum. I don’t have children (by choice - nothing to do with diabetes) so I’ll let others who may have had gestational diabetes speak to that. I just wanted to say I’m nearing 60 years living with Type 1. It can be frustrating but most of us can live the life we choose to live.
I don’t think there is any firm guideline add to how long the honeymoon period lasts - which is frustrating because not knowing how much insulin your body is producing and when can make it challenging to dose for. But lots of people on the forum have gone through the honeymoon period and you can read their experiences of it helps to know you’re not alone.
Your pregnancy motivated you before; let being a mom motivate you now. I suppose no one wants “that life” for their child - a life where someine’s body needs “special care.” But don’t assume the worst. First of all, your child may not develop it because you have it. Second, it’s easy to look with pity at people who have challenges - but I know people with various disabilities who don’t want people making assumptions about what life is like for them. Some of the strongest, most interesting people are ones who have determined not to let their diagnosis or disability define them to themselves or others.
I didn’t date a lot, but none of the men I dated had problems with my diabetes - well one might but he ghosted me. My husband’s mother was Type 2 and while it is a different form he did have some understanding and was willing to learn. We’ve been married for over 12 years and he’s been a great support.
I’ll finish (finally!) by saying this: you’ve just gotten gotten a diagnosis no one wants. It comes with tons of learning and lots of warnings about what could possibly happen. The operative word is “could.” There are people on the forum who have gone years or decades with no serious complications, and others who have them and are doing what they can to manage them. Much depends on what we do day to day as we learn to manage our bodies fluctuations. In a way we are lucky because unlike conditions where you may go to a treatment center, much depends on what we do on our own. You got a great start with your eating habits during pregnancy - concentrate on maintaining that great lifestyle for your new baby. Many moms do that - diabetic or not. As you learn you’ll find you can still enjoy your favorite treats - you need to learn how to adjust your insulin accordingly.
You may feel like a human pincushion from fingersticks. I encourage you to look into a continuous glucose monitor. I use Dexcom - it stays in place for 10 days (the equivalent of 40+ fingersticks) and you can see at a glance how you’re doing. There’s lots of tech involved but I encourage you to look into that one first.
Be sure your doctor is an endo who specializes in Type 1. Although you’re still making some insulin right now (honeymoon ING) the two are different and not all endos know how to manage both.
You’re going to feel overwhelmed for a while on top of having your new beautiful baby. You may want to seek counseling to help you learn to adjust - that you can adjust - to your life with diabetes. It does not have to be the end of the world, but the start of a new one.

Hello Stella @Illumanoti, First and foremost, know this feeling of terror will pass. You just have to power through it. I know because I had similar feelings a couple of years ago when I was put on insulin with gestational diabetes (my fifth baby). With my second and third child, I had gestational diabetes that was controlled by diet. Being pregnant and following the gestational diabetes diet is awful! It is so restrictive. Like you, I kept my blood sugar under control through sheer will power because I loved my baby and wanted the best for each of them. After each birth, my husband would bring me a blueberry milkshake to celebrate not being in that prison anymore. :grin:

Last year, I wound up in the emergency room DKA with an A1C of 14.5.I was immediately put on insulin- this time for life. But being a type one diabetic isn’t a prison! I eat ice cream, birthday cake, potato chips, pizza, lemon blueberry muffins, etc. Just yesterday, I made peanut butter cookies for my kids and ate 3 of them! Gestational diabetes is about severely limiting carbs. Type one means you have to take the skills you learned when you were pregnant and use them to determine how much insulin you need for your three slices of pizza! My exercise is taking my 20 month old baby for a power walk around the neighborhood. Exercise helps me keep my blood sugar numbers down and be psychologically in a good place. The large insulin needles with the orange tops that I used when pregnant are a thing of the past. Insulin for type one people (if you aren’t on a pump) comes in pens. You twist on a very short and thin needle. I also rarely prick my finger. I have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). All I have to do to see my numbers is scan my sensor.

You will be fine. You will live a full life with your beautiful baby! You will still eat pizza and potato chips! I would read through past posts on this forum. The wonderful people here have helped me so much! Joe, Dennis, Dori, Henri, and Jason among others are wonderful positive resources! You can do this and be so happy. Trust me, it feels like the end of the world but it isn’t. Blessings to you!:heart:

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@Illumanoti Hi Stella, and Welcome to the JDRF TypeOneNation Forum! This is a good place to visit, read and offer your thoughts about living with diabetes, but keep in mind that most members on here, like myself, are not licensed medical professionals. We do share tips for managing T1D, and share what has not worked on a firsthand basis - everyone is unique, and there is not a single management technique.

My first question, is how is your baby?, and I do sincerely hope that you and s/he are bonding. I must congratulate you on the really awesome way you managed you diabetes once you received that diagnosis. One comfort for you, is that only “relatively few” women who encounter gestational diabetes later develop Autoimmune diabetes - these days often called TypeOne.

GAD antibodies being present does indicate that you could develop T1D, but many people who have presence of those antibodies ever develop diabetes. (You can check the University of Florida TrialNet Project and see the percentages; TrialNet primarily selected first-degree relatives of people living with diabetes.)

Scared and Hopeful” - my suggestion is that you focus on the hopeful thought. Live a healthy, happy life with your new child!

Hi @Dennis, thank you for responding. I appreciate the positivity and kind words. I will definitely use this forum as a resource for support and tips from experience vs. relying on it for professional medical information.

Do you have a link to the University of a Florida TrialNet Project text that says there’s an actual chance I won’t develop Type 1 with GAD antibodies? I am google searching but coming up short.

@wadawabbit and homeschoolingmomo thank you for your responses as well. I read them to my husband in bed this morning and it gave us feelings of hope. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out.

Hi Stella @Illumanoti , I don’t have the study results here at hand; much of what “I’ve learned” about the study and the results was firsthand talking with people involved in the Project which has been underway for several years. If you haven’t already looked here, I posted a link to the principal website.

I’ve been diabetic for over 30 years. I know it’s scary, but you can get used to it and live your life. It just means you have to be a little more mindful of how you eat and what you’re doing, and you have to take insulin. It’s a lot easier now than it was 30 years ago, with better insulin, better meters, CGMs, and even (finally) closed loop pumps that can respond directly to the CGM readings to help keep your blood sugar more stable.

I’m sorry that you’ve got the Sword of Damocles hanging over you. As your doctor said, you could tip over to being diabetic this year or a decade from now and there’s no way to know.

You’ve already had practice being diabetic. You know how it works. You know you can handle it. It’s okay. You’ll be okay. Talk to a dietician about a good diet plan that works specifically for you. There’s room for flexibility even after you become diabetic. But, in the meantime, sticking to a healthy, balanced diet will be good for you overall.

As for your child: T1D may have a genetic predisposition, but it’s not clear or simple. Your child has a very good chance of not being diabetic. And, even if your child does develop diabetes, there are plenty of us who have lived fairly normal lives with it. It’s not a death sentence anymore, and we have the technology to make it a lot easier to live with. I was diagnosed at 12. I’m in my 40s. It’s just part of my routine life, and I haven’t developed any complications yet. In fact, there are ways in which I’m a healthier person because it’s motivated me to be more mindful of my dietary choices. (My grandfather was type 2. Insulin dependent my whole life. He lived to 110. He said the secret to living a long and healthy life is being diabetic and having a mild heart attack… and then taking care of them. Not the most recommended method, but the motivation worked for him. He was spry and clear-headed right up to the end.)

It will be okay.

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Hi Stella,
Think of your baby and husband! They love you and want to see you take the best care possible of yourself! Your baby doesn’t have T1D now. It will take time to adjust. I suggest this online forum, a diabetes/JDRF mentor, a local support group, and your doctor’s office for support. I suggest loving yourself first so you can share your love with your family and friends. Taking care of yourself now will make it really possible with all of the new technology to live a long and healthy life! Having a strong diabetes education program will help you make decisions that work for you. Best wishes to you!