Gestational Diabetes

   Shocked and Angry: Kathy Close

Kathy CloseAt 24 weeks of pregnancy I was shocked that a routine glucose test indicated that I had gestational diabetes. Anger surged!  Twenty-eight was not too old to have my first baby, why should five more years make a difference?  Grief and fear were followed by bewilderment.  How would I be able to handle the roles of wife, mother, teacher, and now a hormonally charged, pregnant woman with diabetes? We had worked so hard to plan the spacing of our children. Thinking logically, every thing had been planned, it just wasn’t fair. Being a detail-oriented person and extremely worried about the increased risks my baby and I faced, I dug for information. Twenty-three years ago, the internet was in its infancy and information was difficult to find.  Many sources were conflicting, which only added to my confusion and fear.

I have learned that having diabetes is not a death sentence, but an opportunity to learn more about how my body works best. For the past 11 years I have continued to battle with my weight and keeping my blood sugars under control.  Consistent exercise along with a proper drug regiment has given me the success I have needed in achieving and staying in balance.

My husband, who has Type 1 diabetes, assured me that this was something we could handle.  With his patience, instruction, love, and prayers, the outcome was successful.  After a C-section, my ob-gyn  physician  brought the medical residents in to view our beautiful baby and to talk with us about our success.  If my husband had not had the background of personal experience to help me stay in control, I fear that the outcome would have been different.

Today, my “baby” is about to become a registered nurse and my oldest daughter is a third year medical resident.  They both have a passion for helping people deal with diabetes.  God does work in mysterious ways.  No one told me that I had a much higher chance of later developing Type 2 diabetes.  If I had the current wealth of information available to me then, perhaps I would have been able to prevent or delay my present Type 2 diabetes.  Information is power and strength.  That is why I believe that Partners and Peers is an organization that can make a difference in the diabetes community.

Kathy was born in McMinnville, TN, into a large close-knit nuclear and extended family, where she was nurtured by everyone.  Her parents encouraged her to try anything, as long as it was legal, moral, and not against their rules!  With such an empowering environment, she was able to excel and grow spiritually, academically, physically, and socially.  At that time girls were limited to basketball as a sport and Kathy is only 5' 4'', so her father and uncles formed a girls' softball league, which provided her a great deal of challenge and the opportunity for success. While in college she became certified as a water safety instructor and continued to be involved in sports.  After graduating from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville she moved to Chattanooga, TN, where she began work as a teacher for the Hamilton County School System. She has now taught for more than 35 years, and is recognized for her nurturing work in “paying forward” the support she received as a child. Kathy met her husband Paul on a blind date, arranged by a fellow teacher. They have been married for over 30 years, and have two beautiful daughters. She enjoys UT football, gardening, interior decorating, and repurposing furniture.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy in women who were previously healthy. It does not refer to women who are known to have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes before they become pregnant.  In many cases these women will test negative for diabetes, following their pregnancy. If, however, their diabetes persists following pregnancy, it is reclassified as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. 

Early detection and treatment for even mild gestational diabetes is critical to the health of the unborn baby. Women with any of the following characteristics are at increased risk of developing Gestational Diabetes.

History of gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies
Family History of diabetes
Being overweight
Age greater than 25 years
Previous delivery of a baby greater than 9 lbs (4.1 kg)
African-American, Latino, Native American, or Asian Women
Previous unexplained stillbirth or malformed child
If Mother herself weighed > 9 lbs (4.1 kg), or l< 6 lbs (2.7 kg) at birth
Glucose in urine at first prenatal visit
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Current use of Steroids
High Blood Pressure
Rapid weight gain in first half of pregnancy

Women who develop Gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and their child has an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  

Normal Blood Glucose = Normal Baby

Reference: Up to Date for Patients: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, by Lois Jovanovic

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