DOWNEY (CBS) — Pregnancy has not been kind to Shirley Sirivong of Irvine. After a heartbreaking miscarriage last year, Sirivong and her husband of five years, Gat, were overjoyed to find out they were pregnant again, due in December. But after just one trimester, her pregnancy began to wreak havoc on her body.
Sirivong, who works as a community health program manager at UC Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, was diagnosed early with gestational diabetes, and later with complete placenta previa.
She was placed on bed rest at just 13 weeks and was barred from doing any work, put on a strict diet and could only walk up and down the stairs at home once a day. Sirivong was also told to try not to be upright for long periods of time.
So what’s a girl with gestational diabetes to eat? A food lover, Sirivong found herself in unfamiliar territory having to eat diabetic-friendly breakfasts of 1 egg, whites only, a slice of wheat toast, peanut butter and fruits and vegetables.
At week 9 of bed rest, her husband began to play with the food preparations to lift her spirits. Funny faces made appearances first on her plates, but they began morphing into creative and elaborate scenes – like a plate featuring two egg people with carrot arms and legs, sitting under a lettuce tree and an egg yolk sun or another featuring three egg people with triumphant carrot arms enjoying an eggy Olympic ceremony.
“It was quite unexpected and comical,” Sirivong says. “It was very simple, just a silly face on my plate made of the breakfast ingredients that I had been eating for weeks. I didn’t think it would be something he would continue doing, but he continued to surprise me. I think he saw how delighted I was, and how he could make my day start off cheerfully.”
When Sirivong was encouraged to increase her breakfast to two eggs, the chef artist of the house was delighted to have more ingredients to work into his scenes. Chef Gat began waking up an extra 30-45 minutes early to prepare Sirivong’s breakfasts, which were not planned ahead of time.
Sirivong is now 27 weeks along but has been hospitalized at Kaiser Permanente in Downey for the past three weeks. Sirivong says she’s taking things day by day, which she believes is the best way to cope with the situation or it would become too overwhelming.
“By the time this pregnancy is over, I’ll have spent six months on my back,” Sirivong said.
Sirivong is grateful for her doctors – who, incidentally also helped deliver Nadya Suleman’s octuplets – but living at a hospital with 24-hour care and attention is still no match for home.
“I miss my husband’s cheesy little breakfasts.”
By Darleene Powells
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