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A Journey to Motherhood

Posted on August 26, 2021 | No Comments on A Journey to Motherhood

Penny Ovejera, a 34 year-old full time mother and wife, hung on to this particular saying during her struggle with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). It had not been an easy journey for her, but with her deep faith in God and the loving support of her family, she was able to overcome it all.

Trekking on dangerous grounds
Penny’s encounter with GDM happened during her second pregnancy. It was unexpected, she says, given that she felt very fit during that time. “I was very active and I regularly exercised,” she recounts. Penny recalls that during her first pregnancy she was really big, she ate heavily and did not exercise as much as she did the second time. Yet she wasn’t diagnosed with GDM during her first pregnancy with her now 5-year-old son Gabriel. However, she admits that although she was doing regular exercise, she was also feasting on sweet and salty food. And when she vacationed in the US during her fourth month of pregnancy, she admitted to having eaten ice cream everyday! Before her month-long vacation ended, she started developing symptoms of GDM – headaches, dizziness, and frequent visits to the bathroom.

Starting on the journey
She took the first signs of gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy) as part of being pregnant. But one fateful experience made her think that there may be more to it than just pregnancy signs. Penny recalls the night when she could not sleep and felt really suffocated. “I couldn’t really breath, I was gasping for air,” she recounts. “I was so afraid something was going to happen to me. It felt like I was going to another dimension, another world. It was very uncomfortable.” First thing in the morning she went to see her obstetrician-gynecologist and she was immediately subjected to laboratory tests. The tests showed that her blood sugar level was way above the normal level. In that instance, she was declared as having GDM. From then on, she was seeing not only an 0B-gynecologist but also an endocrinologist who made sure that she had a healthy pregnancy.

The road to acceptance

Accepting the fact that she had GDM has been very difficult for Penny. “I had a very heavy heart,” says Penny upon learning that she had GDM. “I was saying why me? I was even blaming my dad.” Penny’s dad was a Type 1 diabetic and depended on insulin injections up until he died. A family history of diabetes and age at time of pregnancy are some-of the factors that may cause gestational diabetes. Penny succumbed to depression for a while. But after some time, she slowly opened her mind to her condition and started accepting the situation. She religiously followed what her doctor told her, whatfoods to eat and avoid, and kept a diary where she kept track of her food intake. She did the recommended exercises for pregnant women and monitored her sugar level regularly.

But her predicament did not – stop there. The diet and exercise regimen did not paid off really well because despite regular exercise and strict monitoring of food intake, her blood sugar was still shooting up after a month. Again, Penny was devastated when she was told that she had to start insulin therapy.
She seemed to have been jolted out of her depression and self-pity only when her doctor told her that if she refused insulin treatment then they could not be sure if the baby would be healthy. That was Penny’s wake-up call. She forgot about her sadness about doing the insulin injections and concentrated instead on the health of the growing baby inside her. She went on with the insulin treatment and her diet and exercise regimen. And after delivering the baby, her blood sugar level has normalized and she was freed from GDM even before she came out of the hospital.

The end of the journey
After all she’s gone through, Penny says she is not yet ready for another pregnancy. Her husband has been understanding and told her that he could not bare seeing her again with a difficult pregnancy. And that having two adorable boys are enough for them for a while. Having GDM, says Penny also has a rewarding side now that she looks at it. She says she lost a lot of weight because of her strict diet and exercise regimen. Now, people are telling her that she looks better than before. “I feel very good about myself, I feel very confident,” she says. She still tries her best to lead a healthy lifestyle for she knows that women who have had GDM are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

With her new found confidence, Penny could only hope that other women who may be experiencing the same things she has gone through could also find the strength she found from her deep faith in God, and the loving support that her family gave her. “Just be strong and ask strength from God. Be cooperative with your doctors and don’t be too depressed because there’s a way for you to overcome it.” Looking at her now one year-old son Gavin, Penny could only smile and be thankful for the gift of a son that God graciously gave her. Gavin, on his part, gives his mother much happiness even at his young age. “He’s a very adorable baby. Every time he wakes up, he’s ready with a big smile,” Penny shares. It’s very rewarding when you see your son with a happy smile. Everything feels so good and beautiful around you,” she happily relates.

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