When I was roughly 12 weeks pregnant with my first child (3 years ago), I learned that I had gestational diabetes. My first thought was pure shock as I did not anticipate it – especially that early on in the pregnancy. I went into the training, learned how to prick my fingers and administer insulin. I was angry; I didn’t have any of the risk factors, and just didn’t understand it. It didn’t help that people would tell me, “oh, it’s no big deal” – despite them never experiencing it. I felt like I had to hide what I was feeling and how frustrating it was. I barely talked about it, for that reason.
The whole pregnancy, I was incredibly strict. I ate around 20g of carbs a day – which in hindsight, is absolutely wild. I walked about 2 hours a day, on average. I knew this could not be sustained long term, but there was an end in sight.
Once my daughter was born, the “GD” never went away. I was then told that I was prediabetic and had to get my A1C tested every 3-6 months to ensure it hadn’t turned into diabetes. Since I was no longer pregnant, and this was now for life, I eased up a little on my diet, ate more than 20g of carbs, and maintained a healthy lifestyle with daily exercise.
When my daughter turned 2 years old, I started to feel strange. There was just something wrong with my body – and my mind it felt as well. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I chalked it up to COVID, as we were about a month into lockdown and the world had become a stressful place. As the weeks went on, I felt worse and worse – hiding it from everyone I knew, including my husband.
I started to test my glucose levels daily again, just to see what they were looking like. It was early May, and my numbers were around the 12+ mmol/L mark. Even with daily exercise and healthy eating, it didn’t seem to matter. I spoke to my family doctor who agreed that I needed to be re-tested for diabetes.
The test came back that I progressed into diabetes. I wasn’t surprised. I was told it wasn’t much of a concern and just keep doing what I was doing. They told me I had Type 2, and that was it. No additional appointments or check-ups. No further conversation. I couldn’t believe how little care or thought went into this new (and incorrect) diagnosis.
I became pregnant in late May with my 2nd baby and as I still wasn’t feeling well, I opted for another opinion – this time from my OB! She was quite concerned and sent me off to my former endocrinologist to look into things further. When I sat down with her, she said almost right away that she didn’t believe I had Type 2 as I do not present as one. She sent me straight away to get additional testing – and off I went with requisition form in hand.
Sure enough, 2 weeks later, I was told that I was, in fact, a Type 1 diabetic. What she explained is that when they thought I had gestational diabetes previously, it was actually type 1.5 and my pancreas was slowly shutting down until we got to where we are now – type 1 diabetes. I almost burst into tears with relief. Relief that I finally had an answer, and relief that someone finally took me seriously!
Being diagnosed during pregnancy has been overwhelming, to say the least. Despite having a wonderful support system, I felt alone a lot of the time. I never wanted to complain, as I tried to remember that there is always someone who has it worse. It may be true, but what I know now, is that it still shouldn’t diminish the hard times that you go through. As I grew more frustrated with my fluctuating glucose levels, confused over carb: insulin ratios, and unmotivated to be active due to some severe nausea in my first trimester, I was very hormonal, extremely drained…and felt like I was living a double life.
After finding the Type 1 community on Instagram, I felt like I belonged somewhere. Here was a group of people that I could not only relate to but actually talk to about what was going on. As vulnerable as it made me feel, I created an account and have learned more from those battling the same daily battles than I have from anyone else! I can share exactly how I’m feeling, because I know I’m not alone in it. I have learned more tricks from this incredible community than I ever could have from my weekly 10-minute endo sessions. More importantly, I felt happier and more at ease, because I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did before.
Although it’s just over a month into a lifelong “partnership” with T1, I feel as though I’m finally embracing this illness. I know there will be tough moments and that I won’t ever ‘know it all’. I know that it’s a big mental game, as well as a physical one. But, accepting it has taken a weight off my shoulders, and I am proud to be part of this badass group of people.
I’m an avid traveler, athlete, mama of a beautiful girl, and another on the way. Newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, trying to embrace this new adventure!