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.
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.
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.
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 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.