Diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and smoking complicate Calgarian’s pregnancy

On Sept. 20, 2011, Amanda Phillips was sitting outside the bathroom, with boyfriend Matt Mitchell waiting nervously for the test to say yes or no.

After waiting for two minutes, she finally re-entered the bathroom, looked at the results and began to cry.

Yes, she was pregnant.

“My first reaction was ecstatic, like ‘oh my God, we did it, we did it! I’m going to be a mom.’”

With an understanding that after the first three months, chance of miscarrying goes down to five per cent, Phillips only told the news of her pregnancy to a select group of people.

“I was really cautious for the first three months because I have miscarried before, and you just don’t want to get excited so that the letdown is that much worse,” she said.

The Risks

“Being diabetic is high-risk, the fact that I have miscarried (in the past) makes me high-risk, family heredity makes it very high-risk. I’m kind of up against a lot,” Phillips said.

“According to the doctors and all the tests that have been run, I’m fighting through all of that really well.”

Phillips said, “The diabetes is huge if it’s not managed well, even before conception, you’re more likely to lose the baby early on.”

“It can (also) cause the baby to be huge to the point where it’s physically impossible to deliver.”

Phillips’ smoking habit is also putting the baby at risk. While to most mothers-to-be, smoking may seem like the worst thing for your child, Phillips’ doctor is telling her to cut back, but at this point not to quit completely.

According to Phillips, “It’s high on the priority list after the pregnancy. If this isn’t a big enough reason to quit smoking what is?”

First Things First

Amanda Phillips and Matt Mitchell are expecting their first child this May.
Photo courtesy of: Amanda Phillips

Not only is being pregnant a difficult and risky task, but actually getting pregnant was difficult for the couple.

Phillips said, “I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which has a lot of side effects, one of which is diabetes. Heart disease is also a side effect.

“The inability to have children is a very large side effect of it, so the fact that we got pregnant to begin with is huge.”

From her point of view, some credit for her pregnancy could be attributed to mystical African fertility dolls given to Mitchell’s grandma from her brother, a priest in Africa.

“Matt’s aunt and uncle actually got pregnant because of the fertility dolls. They were put underneath their bed,” said Phillips, “[the family] thought it would be funny if they did it to us, because Grandma really wanted a baby, so they put the fertility dolls in our bedroom and bingo we’re pregnant.”

Being Pregnant

Issues with Phillips’ diabetes began during the first month of pregnancy.

“I had major morning sickness. I was sick all day from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed,” she said, “I threw up about 10 times a day, and being diabetic and on insulin, you have to inject your insulin prior to a meal.

“When you inject your insulin, eat and then three minutes later you’re losing your lunch, it’s very difficult to manage the diabetes because you have to eat again so that your blood sugar’s not low; it’s tough because it’s a cycle.”

Now that the morning sickness is over, Phillips is now forced to conquer another hurdle.

After signs of bleeding, Phillips was put on bed rest.

“That’s how I lost the last baby,” Phillips said, “They were really concerned that I was working too hard, perhaps not listening when people told me to rest, so it has been forced on me now.”

Amanda said her family doctor is thinking she will remain on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy.

“I’m really hoping she’s wrong because I am very social, and it is very difficult to be at home by myself all day without wanting to get up and do something,” Phillips said, “It’s tough to sit here, but you do what you have to do.”

With things currently “going the way it’s supposed to,” Phillips said she still has fears about committing to baby shopping.

“We are still on the edge on buying stuff still just because I’m superstitious about buying a crib before the baby. Just little old wives’ tales and stuff, but we

will find the sex in December and at that point, I think the wallet will be opening up and we will be buying a lot of stuff.”

Coping through loss

With Type 2 diabetes and other health risk, Phillips’ pregnancy is high-risk.
Photo courtesy of: Amanda Phillips
“It’s brutal, and heartbreaking,” Phillips said while thinking back on her two miscarriages.

“The first one I think we were only a month and a half pregnant, it was still hard, but I think it was a little bit easier than the last one because we were a day away from being three months (pregnant). You’re almost there,” she said. “But at the same time I think everything happens for a reason and maybe I just wasn’t in the right spot at that time.”

Phillips said it was hard, but she isn’t shy to talk about her losses.

“It’s important, it’s a human being, you may not have met them, but it was growing inside of you; it’s really tough to lose that.”

Talking with family and friends helped the couple heal quickly letting them move forward, never giving up hope for a child.

Due on May 10, 2012, Phillips continues her journey to becoming a mom. She is trying everything to be as healthy as possible for her baby.

“I have listened to what the doctors have to say,” Phillips said. “I follow their orders very specifically because, you know, I’m 31 and it’s such a gift to have actually gotten pregnant to begin with that I don’t want to mess it up, and if they want me to jump rope for 30 hours I’ll do it if that’s what it takes to have the baby.

“It’s tough, but it’s worth every minute.”

awither@cjournal.ca