Trying to conceive isn’t simple when you are type 1 diabetic! There’s a lot more preparation before you even start trying to conceive. Ideally your HbA1c should be below 6.5% and you should be on 5mg of folic acid before conception. Sounds simple right? Not so simple when you’ve been out of control for years.
My conception journey actually started when my hba1c was 11.8% and I decided I wanted to take control back. I was advised not to bring this down rapidly, as going from poor control to good control over night can come with a host of additional complications including increased risk of retinopathy. So I started my slow and exhausting journey. I’ve said it before, but it was like being diagnosed all over again. My husband and I weren’t in a rush to have a baby but I wanted to be at a place where I could without risk to myself or the baby.
I think if you’ve ever tried to conceive then you know how frustrating it can sometimes be even without diabetes. Every month you pregnancy-sign-watch waiting for your period and praying it doesn’t come. And when it does, a piece of you gives up hope every time!
Did you know when your period doesn’t arrive you are already 4 weeks pregnant? 4 weeks your body has been preparing so even before you conceive your told to be in tight control. It’s exhausting! And pretty demotivating when each month rolls around and you’ve tirelessly worked for near-perfect blood sugars but the test is negative.
And then you are! When you least expect it, and have kind of given up hope, there’s that line on the stick you’ve longed for. From that moment, before your baby has even started to form, you love them! And I loved our Blob! From then on every high or low is not just a frustration to you, but can damaging to your baby and it’s growth. And that comes with a fear and a guilt that I have never experienced before. You now become responsible for growing a little human and you are one of your vital organs!
At conception my HbA1c was 5.9%, I spent on average 85% in range (4-9mmol) and I’d been on 5mg of folic acid for around 6 months. As soon as I found out my target range changed to 3.5-7mmol and my DSN wanted me to be 6mmol 1 hour after meals. Pretty darn tight! I experienced more lows than ever in the first couple of weeks and completely lost all hypo awareness until below 3mmol so was extremely grateful for Dexcom to alert me when I was low. I tried to do everything right; I continued light exercise, ate a healthy balanced fairly low carb diet with plenty of fruit and veg, slept for at least 8 hours every night but I did also have two very stressful full time jobs, one of them being a full time pancreas.
Unlike the handful of close friends and family, who we’d excitedly told (I mean, who can keep a secret for 3 months?) I reserved my excitement. Maybe it was intuition or maybe it was due to the fact that I had done my research. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and the chances increase significantly when you have diabetes. That being said, it didn’t make me love any less, I just silently prepared for the worst case scenario.
For 8 weeks my body prepared for a baby that would never arrive and then after 2 weeks it was all over. Naturally you blame yourself and I also blamed my diabetes! Was it that spike I had after I ate 1 too many grams of carbs? Did my diabetes cause me to lose the baby I worked so for hard for? It definitely wasn’t because I wasn’t under tight control, but it could have contributed to the miscarriage. “It’s just one of those things!” I was told this repeatedly, but it is so true! And as hard as it is to grasp, it isn’t your fault!
I have mourned and grieved the loss of a baby that I never had. I have hated my diabetes for making it so hard. But if anything this journey has made me stronger and more determined to be the healthiest I can be so I can give our next blob the best possible chance of survival.
There is such a stigma surrounding miscarriage and talking about it, but the heartbreak happens so often and some women go through this experience suffering in silence, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If anyone has experienced a loss and needs someone to talk to or has any questions about preparing to conceive with type 1, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!