TALK THURSDAY: My GD Survival Kit

In the previous post, I had spoken about the lessons I learned as I navigated my way through gestational diabetes.  Today, I’m going to talk about the tools I used (and was given to me) to manage it.

The Meal Plan

Like I said in my previous post, meal planning was the highlight of this journey.  I believe I got very lucky with my provider.  My nurse truly took the time to learn what I eat regularly, my preferences and indulgences, and constructed my meals according to it.  Because of that, it was easy to follow and adhere to.

My initial meal plan started out like this. We adjusted and substituted once a trend started showing in my glucose readings.

Another thing that helped tons is My Plate.  For the days when my food options are limited, My Plate presented a plethora of substitutes for my meal requirement of the day.  It’s also available online, but my old soul really loved the booklet my nurse provided.

Glucometer

This is covered by my insurance, thanks to my OB’s prescription.  Surprisingly, my nurse also provided me with one, so I had one reader for the house and another in the bag I would bring whenever we would go out.

There are a lot of options out there but my insurance only covered AccuChek.  I ended up getting the AccuChek Guide.  It’s pretty easy to operate and quite compact.  It came with a carrying case that can house lancets and strips, as well as alcohol pads.

Apps

I downloaded two apps specifically for monitoring my glucose levels:  Glucose — Blood Sugar Tracker and See How You Eat.  I know AccuChek has their own app, but I liked that one better.

With this glucose tracker, I was able to set reminders when to take my readings.  I was also able to generate reports of my numbers that I would send to my nurse every week.

SHYE is to make sure that I am eating right.  It was something that my nurse looked forward to because she loved seeing how I plated my meals.  Because portions were very much controlled for me, I made sure to make eating a treat.  Seeing photos of my food also gave my nurse an idea of what I actually eat, allowing her to adjust my meal plan accordingly, removing my triggers and reducing my sugar spikes.

For both apps, you will have to pay for a premium subscription to keep all your data.

Insulin Pen

Unfortunately, even with my diet and 30 minutes of daily speed walking, my fasting number wasn’t going down.  It was the one number we cannot control through diet and I was referred to another maternal diabetes specialist, who decided to put me on Levemir.

I looooved this pre-filled pen.  I mean, it’s not like I was so happy to be put on it; I prefer pricking myself less thank you very much.  But push came to shove and it was the best thing for our baby at the time.  I would inject this in my belly at night, and it helps bring down my fasting blood sugar significantly.

Cold Pack

I’m not as brave as I make myself out to be, and the first few weeks of being on insulin, I was still scared to inject myself.  I had The Husband do it, and I can tell he was as nervous as me.  The cold pack helped numb the injection site for a bit, but I do have to emphasize that the needle is very short and thin.  After a while, I didn’t need the ice pack anymore, but it was nice to have it handy for the nights when I feel extra sensitive.

More Scans and Tests

Because of the insulin, my entire healthcare team has put me on close monitoring.  I would report once a week for an ultrasound to check the baby’s growth (if he’s growing too fast, I will have to be induced to deliver early), and some days I would go straight to a non-stress test for the baby.  I would also go in every couple of weeks for a biophysical profile.  Then another visit to the OB to check on my well-being.  I must have seen a doctor/nurse at least 3 times a week.

When I said in my previous post that I felt so safe, I was not kidding.  Every step of the way, I was monitored (and well poked and prodded within reason), making sure that the baby and I are safe and within the normal limits.  Because of this, they were able to catch my amniotic fluid levels on time, leading up to the delivery…

Which is another story for another time :)

How about you?  How did you manage your GD?

TALK TUESDAY: Our Pocket Maternity Shoott

A little side note about this post:  had to update it a bit from when I initially wrote it.  But my opinion stays the same.  Man, talk about catching up huh?

One of the things that I wanted to have is a maternity shoot.  My sisters had it when they first had their babies in the Philippines, so that was something I’ve always had an eye out for.  What I didn’t account for is the price difference between the Philippines and the US.  For one, at Php5,000 (US$95) I can already get a decent shoot in a studio for a good two hours with an in-house makeup artist.  Here, I would need a budget of at least US$500 for the artist’s fee, studio time and some digital copies with print releases.  I will have to do my own hair and makeup if I want to save up a bit.

That was a cost I wasn’t prepared for, but that photoshoot was something I had looked forward to since we found out we’re expecting.  I couldn’t just let go of the idea, as vain as it sounds.  My relief came when I found out about Shoott.

Shoott gives you access to experienced photographers in the Metro NYC area to shoot for 30 minutes free at a preset location.  You only pay for the photos you like, ranging from $15 a photo to a full gallery of 40+ photos at just $220.  They don’t just do maternity shoots; they also shoot families, children, and lifestyle.  You can also pick out the photos that you want for your curate feed and with a minimal fee, you can request for a bit more editing to your photos.

We scheduled our Shoott at Hamilton Park in Jersey City a week before our baby shower.  (For a list of other venues and locations, click here.)  I wanted to have the same outfit that we were going to wear to our shower and with fall right around the corner, reds and khakis were our go to.  Our photographer Kym met up with us at the gazebo and started to work right away.

The good thing about having Kym is that she’s shot so many times at Hamilton Park already.  She knows where to go, the pockets of that little oasis that would frame a good shot, so even if it was a pretty packed weekend, we were able to find those little sections of the park all to ourselves.  We even got to shoot on the street.

Definitely, 30 minutes just flew by.  Kym was very personable and warm; the Husband who’s naturally reserved came out of his shell.  I don’t really know how he does that!  He’s so reserved when I’m trying to take a selfie with him, but bring a professional photographer with you and his inner model comes out.  Hahaha.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet of that day.  We received the photos 3 days after shoot day, with a little editing here and there.  I would also like to give a quick shoutout to one of my favorite makeup YouTubers Robert Welsh (YouTube, Facebook).  His tips helped me get myself ready for this shoot.

I do wish I got the extra editing so that those back bulges would be far smoother, but hey, what kind of a pregnant woman would I be if it’s all smooth sailing?

Worried about COVID-19 exposure during your shoot?  Shoott has you covered.  They have the following policies in place:

    • They will only do outdoor shoots, where you can interact with family members you’ve already been quarantining with.
    • They will only send you healthy photographers, who have been following safer-at-home guidelines.
    • That 6 feet apart thing?  Hardcore implemented.
    • And they will mask up.  As will you of course.  Well, before and after the shoot.
    • If your locality changes laws that will make you cancel, they will waive all cancellation charges.

To learn more about their COVID-19 response, click here.

Oh, and if you use this link, you will get 10% off your entire purchase.  To be completely transparent, each completed session through this link gives me a little incentive (at no additional cost to you), but no pressure!  Just didn’t want to let you pass up an opportunity for a little savings.

So… am I looking forward to another Shoott?  Of course.  Hopefully, the weather becomes more bearable and we can take our Little One out.  It pains me that we can’t travel yet, but I could sure use some photos of him outdoors.

Have you tried Shoott?  How was your experience?  Let me know in the comments!

TALK TUESDAY: The Love for Snail Mail

I love snail mail.  Let’s start with that.  I love receiving handwritten notes.  I love going through the bills and spam and seeing a personally scribbled letter made out especially for me.  I love the idea of words flying through air and space, so special that it required extra postage, so intimate that the immediacy of technology just doesn’t give it justice.  Maybe I’m just being romantic, but why not?  I love snail mail.

When I was in the Philippines, my love for letters and postcards was a bit more difficult to communicate.  While we did have postal offices, they weren’t as efficient as I would like.  Most of the time, when I would attempt to send a postcard to our family here in New Jersey, it would be a hit or miss if it ever gets to them.  I always picked out interesting postcards, especially when they came out with 3D ones.  But those never made it to them.

This letter is from my niece Kai Mykonos. I always have two addresses saved for her, and she always surprises me where she’s going to send her reply.

I had this image in my head that the postal worker would see my beautiful postcard, read what it’s the back and decide to keep it for himself.  At first it would make me mad, but soon enough, it would turn into hope — hope that it inspires them, hope that it brightens their day.  Then I just write another one.

My aunt recently went on a Italian tour and she sent this postcard from Rome.

Postcards have become a staple, especially when my niece Machiko started learning how to read and write.  It has become her preferred souvenir whenever I would go on work travels, so I always made an effort to find a post office and mail one in.  When I moved here, she challenged me to find better stamps, make it more colorful.

This combo letter from Machiko and Jared made the Husband and I laugh so much. Thank you for the name suggestions, kids!

I love it when Machiko becomes so creative with her letters. This envelope stationery gave me so many butterflies. She wrote one for each of us.

Slowly, it became my secret courier.  Whenever I would have news, as big as the last one, I would always write it to my best friend/sister Marga first.  I would hold it in as long as I could until she gets the letter, Facetimes me, screams in my face, and then we can talk about it.  Something about writing things down makes it all the more real; holding it in your hands makes it all the more real.

A week before receiving this mail from a very dear friend, I saw her get engaged. This is from where the question was popped. I’m so happy for her.

Soon enough, my friends started doing the same.  In a world of instant messaging, nothing beats the love that comes from the moment the ink is absorbed by the paper.

One of our wedding godparents frequents Japan. She makes sure to send one or two for every visit. I truly appreciate that about her.

From one of my childhood best friends, before her Tokyo postcards, she used to send them from Budapest. I have to dig those out from my box, but these, I often use as bookmarks.

You would get medical bills, phone bills, credit card offers, junk mail and voila!  In the thick of it all, there it is.  A note.  Sometimes with a picture, sometimes so thick that the envelope barely closes over it.  You see where it’s from and your fingers run over the stamps, seeing how far it traveled to get to you.  And there it is.  In the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind and more, the world pauses as you read your letter, your postcard, and for a moment, everything is quiet but the words that lift off those pages.

Mixed media postcard from Machiko. She makes me up my snail mail game.

I love snail mail.

Would you like to receive one from me?  Send me an email with your preferred address at ohcarlaloo@gmail.com.  

TALK TUESDAY: The sun and stars

One of the things that I regret is not blogging more often.  The year 2019 started rough for the Husband and I, that is without a doubt.  There has been a quiet struggle and frankly speaking, not having it publicized — even to closest friends and family — made the struggle somewhat small, even though the weight of it never diminished.

Let me start with this:  I have changed.  Before I married my husband, one of the things that I have made clear to him is the fact that I do not intend to be a mother.  My motivation is to live with my life partner, that is him and that is all.  I never imagined motherhood to be in my journey, until 2017.

One of our cousin’s brothers passed away suddenly.  He was 33.  We attended the wake, it was one of the loneliest images I have in my head.  His widow, sitting vigil by his coffin.  And she’s alone.  The only thing that went through my head was she’s alone…. and I remember what Derek Shepherd said.

At first, we just put a stop to birth control.  When we reached 8 months of kind-of trying, I went to see the doctor where he recommended a specialist.  Apparently, at my age, which I consider to be a young 31, if it takes more than 6 months to naturally conceive, I need to be looked at.  So I went and had myself looked at.  I had a couple of blood draws, Husband got tested for sperm count and motility, I had an HSG test.  AMH, FSH, pelvic exam here and there, smears, it took about two months of testing just to evaluate where we stand.

And nothing was wrong.  Everything is where it was.  The specialist had us redo everything again to verify, except the HSG, and still nothing was wrong.  That was the most frustrating part.  If only there was a reason why it was taking so long… and then we hit the one year mark.

I started to pee in cups for ovulation tests, BBTs, I did it for so long, I can’t even remember when I last peed normally.  And still nothing.  At this point, we were closing in to a year and a half.

Our specialist recommended that we take another three months to try conceiving naturally before we explore other options — hormone therapy, IUI, IVF.  He gave us a deadline:  if we haven’t conceived by end of February, we are to make another appointment with him, but this time with a financial planner, so we can properly explore financing options for our needs.  He says he wanted to catch the peak of my egg quality so that if needed, harvesting them won’t be as difficult.  And I am about to turn 33.

It was devastating to make that appointment, knowing nothing is wrong with our bodies.  For some reason, we just couldn’t get in sync.  It just wouldn’t click.  That part was the most difficult to accept.  If you look at our love story, there’s every reason to believe that Husband and I are meant to be.  Yet here we are.  The sun and the stars have been looked up to and we still didn’t mix the parts right.

So I made the call.  March 26, with our specialist and the financial planner.  I looked at our bank statements and other credit options, weighed it all and found out we can dish out a good amount, just in case the insurance doesn’t cover even half of it all.  We looked ready.  I think we are ready.

Then March 16 came.  It was a surge of relief and joy and pure elation.  We kept the news to ourselves as long as possible, but we knew we had to slowly tell everyone.  While we weren’t able to record everyone’s reaction, the ones we did made our announcement all the more memorable.

So we did.  In person, through Facebook and Facetime, all the way to the Philippines, Japan and our surrounding neighborhoods.  It definitely made for a moment to remember.

—-HEADPHONES WARNING:  Because we recorded their reactions in different channels, volume levels vary.  Note to self:  use one camera for all videos next time.  —-

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

TALK TUESDAY: Transitioning

My working days started not so long ago.  In fact, this week, I turn two months old in my company.  I am still trying to find my footing, but I have to say, I have been pretty blessed with a motivating boss and a welcoming team.  This job is a great introduction to the American working class.

I feel pretty blessed at this point.  Right this very moment, I am happy.  I am happy to go to work, and I am happy to come home.  I cannot recall having such a healthy balance in my life before.  Although my commuting pretty much ate up my time for working out in the early evening and my weight gain has become more palpable, I really cannot complain.  A lot of people mistake that disposition as optimism, especially my new work friends, but really it’s not.  I am just all too familiar what a stressful life is.

Here’s the thing though:  I have been missing out on wifely duties.  Maybe not even wifely, but chores to be more exact.  Now, I feel the tiredness of the commute, and have a fixed schedule to follow.  Chores are starting to build up as this new thing in my life occupies 40 hours of my week, plus 20 more to prepare and to commute home.  Seeing three weeks’ worth of laundry building up, I can’t help but feel guilty.

Laundry pile

No shame that all of my undergarments are shown in this photo lolol

I felt even worse over the weekend.  The Husband was taking a nap while I chose to fold laundry.  Ten minutes in, seeing that there was so much to do and pretty much getting overwhelmed, I banged the laundry basket, slammed the door, and pretty much kicked the bed frame to wake him up and say, “I COULD USE SOME HELP HERE, IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE.”  What a bitch, right?  I bathed in my own bitterness, sulking as if it’s the Husband’s fault that the laundry got this bad.

But it’s not.  Life is just taking over, and as much as I want to be the best wife ever that makes and packs meals, does chores, and still look so f*cking glamorous, I’m not.  One way or another, a ball will drop, and it’s okay.  I should be okay with it because it’s not a ball I can’t just pick up.

After my brief rampage, he just started folding clothes with me.  I was quiet for about 20 minutes before I made my way over to his side of the bed and apologized.  I know I upset him, and I know I was being unfair.  After all, I was the one that insisted that he should nap and get some rest.  But he easily accepted my apologies and bathed me in kisses.  It was at that moment that I realized in order for balls to not keep falling on the floor, I should just be more honest and ask for help.

Wow.  Even when he’s napping, he’s truly proving to be the better half in this partnership.  Hahaha.  Oh well.  I can race him to be the better half tomorrow. <3