What an amazing story of taking control of your circumstances and coming out on top with two beautiful children. We loved talking to Kara all about her pregnancies and the challenges and how she handled her Type 1 Diabetes throughout them, during our conversation we found her on her social media and noticed it said Cancer Survivor in her bio. we had to know more about her journey to get to where she is now. So we asked her to share more of her life story with us and you and fortunately she was happy to chat a while longer. Read on to hear Kara’s story. Click here
for more information on the different Types of Diabetes and Pregnancy.
At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, this is not an easy disease to live with and I have been working very hard for 12 years to manage it. *** Editors note, It’s important to note, Type 1 Diabetes is very different from Type 2 Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes. Kara is Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1).
Then in Winter 2011, when my endocrinologist (Diabetic Doctor) noticed that a lymph node in neck was swollen, she ordered a CT Scan, and when the scans came back, they were suspicious. After a biopsy and more tests, the news came back that I indeed had cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 2 B, at the age of 19. The cancer was in my neck and also my chest. Chemo was the next step. But before I started Chemo they had to warm me that it could have an effect on my fertility and I made the decision then to not freeze my eggs. After 12 rounds of Chemotherapy in just 8 months and losing all my hair, in August 2012 I went into remission and last August was I celebrated 6 years of remission. I am good and healthy. Now I visit with my oncologist once a year for check ups but everything looks great. A few years after I was declared “in remission”, I delivered my first child, it was not easy ,took so much monitoring and the birth was hard but and with the help of all my doctors, everything ended just fine.
We had plans to wait until our son was at least 18 months until thinking of adding another baby. Just before his first birthday, however, we felt a little push to add another sooner. And then a month after he turned one, we found out we would be adding another! I was obviously nervous, because our first came early (35 weeks 3 days with a two week NICU stay) and I knew the challenges that pregnancy brought. I met with all of my doctors again as soon as I could and we made a game plan and I felt at ease for how this second experience would go.
With my second pregnancy, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I called my endocrinologist and we met frequently to test how my blood sugar was behaving throughout the pregnancy. There are a lot of unique challenges in having Type 1 Diabetes in pregnancy. First of all, the monitoring of blood sugar levels starts day one, as opposed to later in the pregnancy like gestational diabetes. As soon as you find out you are pregnant, you are checking every single detail to make sure both you and baby are safe within levels. During the first trimester, I am testing my levels 10-15 times a day and also dealing with insulin sensitivities due to the added hormones, and of course, there is always a higher chance of having larger babies.
Since I was a patient at Valley Women’s Health for my prior pregnancy, I knew with this second experience that I was going to be dealing with doctors, nurses and procedures that I was familiar with. Because of my pre-existing condition of Diabetes, I am considered “high risk” and I had gotten word from friends and family that Valley Women’s Health had a staff that was perfect for my needs. I saw the doctors often, in conjunction with my endocrinologist and the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and Perinatologist at the hospital. All of my physicians stayed in contact with one another and made my experiences easy and pleasurable. With my high risk needs, I was watched more closely, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy. This second pregnancy had been difficult in the final months.
At 33 weeks, I went into preterm labor and had to be given steroids and labor stopping drugs so that we could keep my baby put for as long as possible. While at the hospital for this event, I had Dr. Heather Dabling meet with me and later that day Dr. Rees. They both reassured me and I felt more comfortable with the experience and that my baby would indeed be safe no matter what.
I was able to stay pregnant another three weeks, when on February 23, at 36 and a half weeks pregnant, I went into labor. My husband and I rushed to the hospital because my contractions were a little more than two minutes apart, lasting around a minute. I was certain I was close to having this baby. When we got to the hospital, however, I was shocked to find out that I was the same 3 cm I had been at my appointment two days prior. The nurses there decided that they would let me labor for an hour to see if I could progress at least one centimeter and if so, they would admit me. So for the next hour, I spent a lot of time swaying back and forth, breathing, walking, watching the contraction monitor and saying lots of prayers. She came back an hour later at about 1:20 and checked me again. I was almost at a 4 and about 80% effaced. She said she would go and ask the doctor what he thought and then let us know. She came back in and said “Good news! You get to stay and you’re having a baby!” I was so happy I could have cried!
They then moved us to another room and the anesthesiologist came at about 2:30 to get me my epidural. It felt nice to not have to feel all that lower back pain anymore but I was still able to feel some of the pain in my sides and ribs. Dr. Jacob arrived around 3 to break my water and at this point I was at a 4. They checked me again around 4:10 and I was still only a 4 so they decided to start a little pitocin.
An hour later at 5:20 I was at a “5 plus” at which point they brought in the peanut shaped yoga ball. I put it between my knees and it was supposed to help drop the baby and get him ready for the birth canal. The monitor started wigging out a bit at this point and the nurse decided she’d check me again, even though she had only checked 20 minutes prior. I was now at a “6 plus” at about 5:45! Everything was moving really quickly. The nurse just kept saying “I don’t think it’s going to be much longer!” even though I was only a 6 at that point. She even started setting up for the delivery and bringing in all the tray and equipment.
Around 6 I decided I needed to wake my husband up because our baby was probably going to be there really soon! The shift change in nurses was coming up and she was filling in the next nurse on my information. She wanted to check me one more time before she left because she was curious. So at 6:15 she checked and I was fully dilated and effaced! And she said she could feel his head! Dr. Jacob showed up and I started pushing barely after 6:30. I was still really numb from the epidural and I was feeling like my pushing wasn’t doing anything. I was pushing while watching the mirror and I could see his hairy little head! The next thing I knew, he was out and I felt complete relief.
He was born at 6:35- they said I only pushed 3 and a half minutes total! And he was posterior. Dr, Jacob laughed as he held up my baby and said, “He sure is a big boy!” and he said I would have done it in one push had he been the right way. My baby ending up weighing 9 pounds, 14 ounces and was 21 inches long.
All of the nurses and Dr. Jacob especially, were amazing to work with and made me feel safe, confident, and so pleased with my second birth experience. It was everything I hoped it would be!