Like the rest of this pregnancy, week 32 has been a decent rollercoaster ride; a milestone mark for high risk pregnancies, a second gestational diabetes test, a husband with the shingles, a chickenpox scare and the flu. Seriously. Argh.
I’m now out the other end into week 33 but I’ve had my patience (and immunity) seriously tested over the past seven days!
The good stuff first
So on the plus side, reaching week 32 ventures into ‘moderately preterm’ territory if baby decided to make her appearance now. Babies at this point weigh a little more, have an improved survival rate, are less likely to have health complications, their lungs are more developed and they may be able to breast or bottle feed.
This means a huge stress weight has been taken off my shoulders – it still wouldn’t be ideal if baby decided to come before the cerclage is removed at 36 weeks, but things are looking much more optimistic!
The deal with gestational diabetes
Most pregnant women just have to pee on a test stick every time they visit the midwife to check urine for excess protein (a sign of conditions such as a UTI or preeclampsia) or excess glucose (a sign of gestational diabetes).
As my mum had gestational diabetes and I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which put me at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes, I automatically had to take the two hour glucose tolerance test straight from the get-go. Unfortunately even though I passed my first test at 26 weeks, my pee tests continued to show excess glucose so I was given marching orders by my midwife to head back to the lab testing place and do the big test again last week.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and affects how your body processes sugar/carbohydrates. It basically results in high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and also the baby’s health. When diagnosed it’s typically monitored by specialists and managed with exercise (which I can’t do because I’m on bed rest), healthy eating (which I’m already doing), and medication. Things typically return to normal after delivering the baby but it leaves you with a higher risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life.
I know it’s for the greater good but I’m not going to lie, the test is a pain in the arse. You need to book it in advance and do it fasted so nothing but water for the previous 10 or so hours leading up to the test. This means taking the test first thing in the morning when the labs open is typically your best option. You get initial blood tests done to see where your blood sugar levels start, then take a glucose drink which is like syrupy flat lemonade. I’ve heard a lot of women complain about this drink being disgusting but my strategy is to just chug it back in one go and I have no problem. Then the wait begins… you’re not allowed to leave the building and have to sit there for two hours. Once you’ve sat that out, they take more blood to assess how your body has metabolised all that sugar water.
I’ve taken this test three times now – once during my last pregnancy, twice in the past few weeks – and each time I feel like I’m ready to head for a nap around 30 mins after taking the drink. I passed the test. Just. But at least now I don’t have to worry about it again for the rest of the pregnancy.
If you ever have to do this test I would highly recommend to take: A bottle of water (the only thing you’re allowed to eat/drink during the test), a comfy pillow (their chairs are usually hard plastic and it’s tough being in your 3rd trimester dealing with that!), a fully-charged phone battery, and a decent book or something to do because staring at your phone for two solid hours isn’t so much fun (I took my nutrition studies textbook and workbook).
A husband with shingles and a toddler chickenpox scare
After pulling a ridiculously long and tiring workday, my hubby developed the shingles several days later. Awesome. I had the chickenpox when I was 16 so we were only half worried about me (as there’s always those one-off cases where people get the chickenpox twice!), but generally when you search the internet for ‘pregnancy’ and ‘shingles’ or ‘chickenpox’ together the results aren’t so ideal.
My midwife being the practical, level-headed font of knowledge that she is said to take precautions but I should be fine so the husband got banished to the spare room, bathroom towels got separated and he was careful to cover up properly around the toddler all the time so his torso rash wouldn’t come into contact with her.
In July this year, a vaccine was made part of the standard free 15-month immunisations for children aimed at preventing the chickenpox and subsequent potential cases of the shingles. To each their own; but we do opt to take part in the standard vaccinations scheduled. Unfortunately we missed the window for this one as Miss E had already had her 15-month vaccines done around 9 months earlier and they’re not going backsies on doing the kids that missed out (it’s a cost of around $90 to get it done).
Of course the toddler developed a fever, a cough and the snots anyway. All signs of the onset of chickenpox…
Why the flu and pregnancy aren’t a great combo
Turned out it wasn’t chickenpox. Sort of a good thing as I didn’t really want to be dealing with that in addition to a high risk pregnancy and a husband with the shingles, but on the downside it was either a nasty virus or the flu. Miss E helpfully sneezed right in my face after she first started coming down with it; the kind of face sneeze where you know there is no way you’re going to escape catching the virus yourself.
Internet search ‘flu’ and ‘pregnancy’ together and the results are about as great as the ones for chickenpox. Toddler’s sickness got better, mine progressively got worse so this week it was off to the doctor for an antibiotics prescription, the pharmacy for some probiotics and back to my couch to try and rest up even more than I already am (didn’t think this was possible…).
Next goals are getting rid of this flu/infection/whatever it is, having the husband and toddler back to 100%, and getting to 36 weeks for the cerclage to be removed. Less than three weeks to go!
Image / NZ Real Health