For This Child I Have Bled

“Oh wow!” the nurse processing the new pregnancy paperwork after my eight-week appointment exclaimed. “Your daughter was quite a big baby!” I laughed and glanced over at my tall, now extremely lanky, toddler carefully pulling the pamphlets out of the basket in the corner of the nurse’s office one by one. “Yup! 9 pounds, 11 ounces. Apparently, my husband’s side of the family has big babies.”

The conversation continued, “Ok, so I’m going to need you to complete your glucose screening before your next appointment. Having a baby over nine pounds in a previous pregnancy puts you at an increased risk for gestational diabetes, so we need to test you early.”

At this point, my internal dialogue started going crazy. Um, excuse me? Drink that nasty stuff during my first trimester? Does she want me to throw up all over the poor unsuspecting lab tech?

Unfortunately, no amount of exclamations on my part about how I didn’t have gestational diabetes in my previous pregnancy, I was sure I was perfectly healthy, and really I just have big babies would get me out of it. I (once again, internally) rolled my eyes and thought at least I would get the test over with early on.

What’s that saying? Pride cometh before the fall?

Much to my dismay a mere three weeks later, at only 11 weeks along, I found myself sitting in a “So, you have gestational diabetes” type class learning all about my diet restrictions and how to use my new glucose meter.

Every night after dinner for months of this pregnancy, until the triple-digit summer heat made it unbearable, I took a walk. It’s one of the best things you can do to regulate your blood sugar. Sometimes Ellie and David joined, but many evenings I walked by myself. I put one foot in front of the other, circling our block multiple times, first legitimately walking and then waddling as my belly grew.

The walks gave me a lot of time to think.

I often wondered what our neighbors thought and if any of them felt oddly invested in my pregnancy, even if they don’t personally know me, as they watched my belly expand night after night as I passed by their houses.

Mostly, I just thought a lot about the baby inside of me and prayed.

It’s ironic, really. If you were to ask me which pregnancy was easier I would answer this one without missing a beat even though I’m technically high risk, because physically it has been. It’s been largely free of the nausea that plagued me during Ellie’s entire pregnancy and required medication. For the most part, I’ve had energy and been able to keep up with all my normal activities. I even got used to the unwelcome diet changes pretty quickly. But in its own way, it has been harder this time around.

With Ellie, I had complete peace and confidence that my body was the safest place for her to be. She was literally created for me; I knew I was the only one who could provide her with what she needed during those 40 weeks. As sick as I was, I never had a doubt that she was going to stay ours and come out healthy at the end.

This pregnancy has been one giant mental battle.

It’s the extreme weight loss early on and my inability to gain the weight back because I can’t have sugar or simple carbohydrates; the constant checking of my blood sugar; the phone calls from nurses that come every Wednesday evening like clockwork to record said blood sugar numbers and ask me questions about my diet; the “supervised high risk pregnancy” label that shows up on all of my paperwork. I’m so thankful that she is healthy, but I can’t shake the nagging feeling that my body isn’t the safest place for her to grow. I just want her on the outside where I can actually take care of her.

700. That’s how many times I have pricked my finger this pregnancy and squeezed out a drop of blood to test my sugar levels. I’ll have to do it 112 more times if she goes to full term. I know this won’t be the last time I physically bleed because of her, and I also know that my anxiety for her wellbeing won’t end when she finally exits my body. In fact, it will be the beginning of a lifetime of concern, worry, and prayer over the sweet soul I have been entrusted with.

For this child I have bled, and will continue to bleed, and pray over, and love and protect with everything I have in me. I am so lucky to be her Mama.