Managing type I diabetes and a high risk pregnancy

Today, September 4, 2013, is my son Levi’s first birthday. I’ve been in quite the nostalgic mood, in the midst of busily planning a Baby Einstein-themed birthday bash for my fun-loving little guy. I can’t help but think back on my journey to becoming a mother. Even the idea of planning a pregnancy was a big deal for my husband, Lee, and I. I was diagnosed with type I diabetes when I was sixteen years old. From the start, I knew that pregnancy must be planned and carefully considered.

Sadly enough, our first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. So many questions flooded my mind after that devastating experience. Did my diabetes play a role in my miscarriage? Would I even be able to have children? Images from Steel Magnolias ran through my mind. During such a difficult time, I placed my faith in God. Lee and I prayed that if it was God’s will, that He would bless us with a child. So we were amazed to find out that we were pregnant three short months later.12_Weeks_US

My pregnancy was a continued experience in building faith. Since I had suffered an early miscarriage, had low progesterone levels, and had a history of diabetes and thyroid disease, my pregnancy was considered high-risk. I saw my regular OB every two weeks throughout my pregnancy, as well as a high-risk OB team every four weeks. My OB placed me on progesterone supplements at my initial visit, and the strict regulation of my blood sugars was stressed at every visit.

I was lucky in this aspect, as I am a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator. The decision to make diabetes such a big part of not only my daily life, but also my career, helped me enormously. My endocrinologist was great about communicating with me on a weekly basis to make insulin pump changes. I have a dear friend who is a dietician who helped me in the food department. I also made the decision to consistently wear a continuous glucose monitor, a device that measures interstitial fluid and gives an estimated reading of glucose every five minutes.

12 weeks pregnant
12 weeks pregnant

The first trimester was tough. I gained twelve pounds, mostly due to hypoglycemia. It wasn’t what I was expecting, as I had read so much about insulin resistance and the concerns of hyperglycemia during pregnancy. Around twenty weeks, the insulin resistance kicked in and my insulin demands increased from there. By the end of my pregnancy, I was changing my insulin pump out every one to two days, and my daily insulin needs had more than doubled.

My visits to the doctor continued. One of the perks of having a high-risk pregnancy was the frequent ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health. I referred to these as my “potato check-ups.” This was a reminder to me about faith. Apparently when you plant potatoes (or so I once saw in a movie!), you don’t know how the crop will turn out until you harvest them. I felt like I was getting a sneak peak at the answer to my prayers, like looking at a potato under the ground before it’s ready to be pulled from the earth. There are many risks for women with type I diabetes during pregnancy. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in birth defects, specifically to major organs like the heart. Although my diabetes was well-controlled, I lived with the disease for over ten years prior to pregnancy. These frequent check-ups were helpful in squashing the constant worries and fears that I faced concerning the health of my baby.

At thirty weeks gestation, I started having biweekly non-stress tests. These were routine tests to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, often done with high-risk pregnancies. This involved at least thirty minutes of lying on a bed with a transducer belt strapped to my belly, listening to my little guy’s heart beating away. My doctor and I discussed delivering the baby a little early, as some research links maternal diabetes to increased risk for stillbirth. Considering what I experienced early on in my pregnancy journey, my physician wanted to deliver the baby by thirty-nine weeks.Newborn

At the end of August 2012, Hurricane Isaac made its way to our region. Lee and I like to say that Levi rolled in on the coattails of Hurricane Isaac, as he was born a week after the storm hit. I went in for one of my last routine non-stress tests at thirty eight weeks and one day, and left the hospital three days later with my healthy baby boy!

On my road to motherhood, I experienced loss, struggled with fear, and watched my faith blossom. Now as I run about trying to find anything Baby Einstein for little Levi’s first birthday, I’m amazed and humbled at how my story unfolded!

Lindsey Hebert

BioPicLindsey Hebert grew up on the Westbank of New Orleans, in Algiers. After attending Southeastern Louisiana University for her BS in Nursing, she returned home to post-Katrina New Orleans to fulfill her dream of working at Children’s Hospital. She works part-time as a Diabetes Educator and is passionate about diabetes advocacy. Lindsey and her husband, Lee, live in the quiet outskirts of bayou country in the River Parishes. They are the proud parents of Levi Franklin, their first baby, and “Jake the Collie,” their beloved rescue dog. Lindsey is a die-hard Saints fan and proud season ticket holder. Amid the busyness of motherhood and working part-time, she also enjoys supporting her husband’s passion of writing his sci-fi based Epic series.


  1. Hi, Lindsey! What a great post! I knew some of your story from church but this is just wonderful! You & Lee are definitely BLESSED by God! Happy Birthday to Levi! I hope you found everything that you needed for his party!

    God Bless!!!

  2. Hey Andie! My husband and I live on the westbank of St. Charles parish. I was happy to share my story, especially on Levi’s first birthday! Yes, Pam, the party was a success!

  3. Hi Lindsey, Really interesting to read your experience of pregnancy with Type 1 given all you bring to it with your professional training as well. It looks like I am a few months ahead of you, I had twins in early 2012. I’m wondering how someone in your position feels about how little most women are told about the scary risks associated with Type 1 and pregnancy? We’re told it’s dangerous but not the detail. I was so glad i knew the detail through my work and really understood what diabetes and pregnancy, let alone multiples!, meant when things got complicated for me. I wrote about this on my blog recently too Do you think women should be informed of the risks in detail? Thanks for your thoughts… Kate

  4. Hi Kate! I just read your blog and can relate to your experience a lot. I also had an Endo tell me the same thing, “You tell your husband and mom first and then me”.. regarding pregnancy. I can say that I was never given any education or “what to expect” related to pregnancy as a patient with T1DM. Everything that I knew beforehand, I learned while studying for my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) exam. Even in nursing school, there is more emphasis on gestational diabetes than pre-existing. I definitely believe that women with T1DM need to be informed of potential complications, as well as risks to the baby while in their child-bearing years. Knowledge is power. Knowing this information in advance can be life-saving for both mother and infant. However, I also know how far spread the world of adult endocrinology can be. Consistent guidelines would be a great thing for this population, especially since there is a lot of conflicting information out there!

  5. Lindsey, I’m 18 and was just recently diagnosed with type 1. I cried reading this post because one of the first things that came to my mind after diagnosis was whether or not i would be able to have a healthy baby. Your story gives me hope for the family i still plan to have in the future. thank you for that.

  6. Hi Emily! A diagnosis with any disease at any age is an adjustment. Having been diagnosed with type I at age 16, I understand where you are coming from. Not too long ago, women were told that they shouldn’t or wouldn’t be able to have children with diabetes. Thankfully, much has changed in recent years, including advances in technology and basic understanding of this disease. It was a lot of hard work, but I think most women would say that about pregnancy in general! Best wishes to you in the future, Emily!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing, I am also a T1 diabetic and 35 weeks pregnant with our first! The diabetes management throughout the pregnancy has been a challenge but I know will be worth it in the end! I’m also from the Westbank!


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