Victoria Jelinek

Pregnancy Diaries – 11

“Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” Erma Bombeck

It turns out that my glucose test for gestational diabetes reflected high sugar levels. I’d taken it earlier than most women ‘cause I’m over 35 and have a history of diabetes in my family. Between 2-10% of women develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy, making it the most common health problem for expectant mothers. Apparently, and if I’ve understood my good doctor correctly (who good naturedly was annoyed that I asked for an explanation – “Ah, if only you were French…”), when you eat, your digestive system breaks your food down into a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose enters your bloodstream and with the help of insulin – a hormone that your pancreas makes (where’s my pancreas again?) your cells use the glucose as fuel. But, if your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or if your cells don’t respond well to the insulin, too much glucose moves into your blood instead of into your cells…the ones that convert it to energy (whew!). Hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can make your cells less responsive to insulin.

If I do have gestational diabetes, I’ll have to alter my diet, and have more prenatal visits to monitor the baby’s growth, movement and heart rate. If the baby becomes too big nearer to my due date, I’ll be induced, or have a C-section. It isn’t definitive that I have it…only 2/3rds of women who test positive on the first test actually have it. I knew that I was eating too much sugar but I can’t help myself; I’m a total Coca-Cola addict even as I know that Coke can take blood off of pavement, take the crud off of your car battery, and render mince meat soaked in it overnight, to shreds (this knowledge is courtesy of a Russian friend who said that they did these types of experiments in his chemistry class in secondary school in 1970’s-1980’s Soviet Union to prove, further, that products from the West are poisonous). Coke is the only bad thing I do now, and I don’t have too much of it…I’m even drinking decaf for goodness sake, but now this…

Anyway, I was ordered to take the longer, more definitive exam called a ‘glucose tolerance test’ this week – my results will be back next week. I went to the lab – they’ve seen me every week for the last four months (and even before that for the two other pregnancies) and still the receptionists are not friendly to me! I couldn’t eat or drink for fourteen hours before I went, so the last meal I had was dinner. I went in, they took my blood, and then gave me 50g of a very nasty sugar solution that tasted like a soda pop you’d buy in South America. I’m told that it’s sweeter than the first test ‘cause the solution is, actually, twice as sweet and ‘cause there’s fasting before. An hour later, they took another blood test. An hour after that, another blood test. An hour later, one more. All the while I had to stay in the lab reception – they wouldn’t even let me leave for a wee walk ‘cause they didn’t trust me not to eat or drink! To be fair, I might have. I’m ashamed to say I carried on like a baby. My bestie and I have been joking about my ‘need’, and other expectant mothers’, to eat for two as an excuse for pregnant women to eat like pigs…but I was frantic without food! I started crying after the first hour and the second prick, and I never cry – I felt so sick, shaky and faint. By the second hour and the third prick, the lab tech took pity on me (or the receptionists complained about my visible misery) and let me lie down in a room by myself where I cried and felt sorry for myself. Jeez louise. No ‘stiff upper lip’ on this one. Maybe I am what my good doctor says, a ‘woosie’ (or as he pronounces it, ‘ah wooz’).

The Pregnancy Diaries – 2

Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Colette

My doctor doesn’t think that anything I’ve done to date will harm this baby – not even smoking. However, he is concerned about the fact that I’ve acquired a kitten. Apparently Toxoplasmosis is common in France – ‘because we eat a lot of raw meat and are dirty,’ he told me. I thought it was something one got from tampons, but apparently not. I’m pleased it gets me out of kitty litter duty, but my doctor is not amused. As a result, I shall be tested for Toxoplasmosis weekly for the first three months, then monthly.

We found this kitten when we purchased a used car from a French mountain guide and his wife. The man had been left alone to care for the mother cat and had let her ‘prowl’ unguarded while she was in heat, so his wife had returned to a pregnant cat. As a result, they were getting rid of the kittens immediately. We drove out to their farm outside Annecy. Their stone house has been in his family for generations. We first saw the kittens as they were nursing from their mother! I asked the farm lady if they were old enough to be taken from their mother? She said that they were eight weeks and that was plenty. I was sceptical, thinking that one of these babies would be parted from the safety of their mother that very day and that me, a mother-to-be, would be the culprit that literally pulled the kitten from its mother’s tit. I told myself that the mother cat would be batting these kittens away in the days to come, wanting her independence again, and I’d give it a good home, but my hormonal heart wept. We sat on the ground in their living room with all five of the kittens playing around us while the woman made a fresh quiche for us from the eggs their chickens had laid that day and her husband smoked incessantly and looked grumpy. My husband wanted one of two particularly feisty tabbies, but there was a wee black one that kept coming up to me, and I knew that this was my kitty; she is brave and independent. We took her from her mother that day and put her in a box with a dirty piece of cloth that her family had been sleeping on in their cellar. She mewed in the car on the hour-plus drive back to our house, her little heart beating so quickly, but she never wet or pooped. How scared she must have been with the sound of the cars motor and the movement. She was so small, then – the size of a teacup. She immediately took to her litter box even as she had to scale its wall and fall into it. It was difficult for her to eat food, so we wet it and she would eat one little nugget at a time. I couldn’t bare the idea of her sleeping alone so I slept on the couch with her for the first several days. She would suckle at my neck when she was getting ready to sleep, which was a little ticklish and a tad uncomfortable, but mostly poignant.

And now my doctor is telling me that my brave kitten is dangerous to my baby. What have I done? No, I will not get ‘rid’ of the creature (either one). We took the kitten to the vet’s to have a check up. I told the vet that my doctor tells me that the kitten is bad for my unborn baby. She was irate and demanded to know who my doctor is. When I told her, she called me a liar (she’s tactless, but a great vet). Then she promptly got on the phone and called his office. After a rapid-fire conversation with him, she told me that I am not to clean the kitty litter, or to sleep with the kitten anymore, and I’m to wash my hands every time I touch it. My doctor hasn’t said anything about the phone call, and he still prescribes the weekly toxoplasmosis test.