All I wanted was a hefty glass of Odwalla orange juice.
So orange juice I began to consume, seemingly by the gallons, morning, noon and night – and it didn’t seem like a big deal to me at the time. After all, pregnant women are known for their cravings, for sending their partners to Five Guys right before the “Closed” sign graces the door, and for eating ice cream right out of the carton, because they can. Because they’re “with child,” and what better an excuse is there?
So I drank orange juice, freely and gladly and without regard for its effects on my body because, well, it’s just juice. It’s nature’s drink, after all.
But my blood sugar didn’t exactly agree with my decision.
Early on, this alarmed the doctors because with such high numbers, I became at risk for developing gestational diabetes. So I was referred to the Sweet Success clinic, for not just diet and exercise, but to begin monitoring my blood sugar four times a day. Like, stick a needle in the side of my finger and watch my red insides fill up the line on the little reading machine. And y’all, it’s not like this is the end of the world – this is common. One out of 20 women develop this same condition in pregnancy. Additionally, millions of Americans live with the reality of diabetes every day, and shouldn’t I (…shouldn’t, shouldn’t, shouldn’t, I’d tell myself…) simply be grateful for an otherwise healthy pregnancy and the ability to carry a child at all?
But I wasn’t.
Instead, my heart ached because my expectations didn’t line up with the reality of what stood before me. I loathed recording every food morsel that crossed my palate, and pricking my third and fourth fingers wasn’t exactly my idea of a smashing good time. I felt like another number in their program, unheard and misunderstood, ignored yet without proof.
But instead of praying for a good attitude, I just counted down the days until I could finally graduate from the program. And then I did. Just as soon as I’d begun, they realized the fluke of nature herself – that my blood sugar usually is quite low, and that by simply cutting out the ol’ orange juice craving, my numbers were back to normal.
Suddenly it was like all was well with the world: rose-colored sunglasses adorned the top of my head again, as I asked the dietician to repeat her words, just in case I didn’t understand. You don’t need to record your blood sugar anymore, she said, smiling – just lay off the orange juice, will you?
I walked out of the clinic with a skip in my step, but then it hit me: am I only happy when my expectations go the way I desire? Is my joy merely dependent on the good things of my life?
Because that’s not what I want. That’s not how I want to live, and that’s not who I want to be – my inward joy need not be an up or down battle simply because I’m getting my way. I cry and I scream, I wriggle my feet and I pound my fists until things go my way, and if it doesn’t then what? I’m forever doomed to sadness?
This isn’t how I want to live, for no matter what’s going on externally around me, I want my little internal soul meter to remain its steady course.
But I am still going to lay off the orange juice.
What about you? How do you remain steady, even when life is really, really good, or really, really hard? And PS: drink some OJ for me, will you? And PPS: I know I promised I wouldn’t write about pregnancy more than once a week, but sometimes it happens. Wink.