I’m a googler. I google everything. My husband gets mad at me because when we’re watching movies together at home, I will start to google information about the movie and the actors. By the end of the movie, I know it all.
I also google health questions. If I get a weird twinge or pain- I google it. It’s not that I’m afraid that I’m sick, it’s just that I am just so interested in the why. Why does my leg get this certain twitch in it after I walk up a big hill? Why does my knee hurt only on the third Tuesday of every month? Thanks to Google, I have a very wide array of random knowledge. A girl I knew told me she grew up across the street from a Vegas troupe. I googled them. 30 minutes later I was telling my husband all about it. The accident. My opinion on what happened. I like to know things.
When I was 32 weeks pregnant, I woke up one night with really itchy hands and feet. I thought it was kind of weird. Usually when I itch during pregnancy, it’s on my belly where I am doing the growing. And this was really itchy. In the morning, I googled it. At my most recent doctors appointment, they had put me on a high dosage of iron for anemia. I figured it was a side effect.
I started typing in itchy hands and feet. Trusty google predicted exactly what I was going to say next. “Itchy hands and feet during pregnancy” It finished it up for me.
The first search result was from mayoclinic.org. Cholestasis of Pregnancy.
They gave a definition:
“Cholestasis of pregnancy can make you intensely uncomfortable but poses no long-term risk to an expectant mother. For a developing baby, however, cholestasis of pregnancy can be dangerous. Doctors usually recommend early delivery.”
Not the benign answer that I was expecting. I went down the list through the search results. The more I googled, the more I realized the seriousness of the situation. I called my doctors office and spoke to a nurse. “I’ll schedule you in with the lab at the hospital. When can you get down there? Right away?” The urgency in her voice left me with one option. I got there right away.
I tested positive.
The doctor called me to deliver the news. In order to ensure my baby was born healthy, I needed to get blood work done weekly. I needed 2 Non Stress Tests a week. I needed an ultrasound once a week. It was strange to go from a relatively healthy pregnancy to high risk within a morning.
Movement is important in Cholestatis. At any moment your bile acid levels can rise and you lose the baby. We needed to know my baby was okay and moving. If I didn’t feel my baby move in a certain time period, I needed to go to Labor and Delivery right away for an ultrasound. It was possible that they could deliver the baby right then if he seemed distressed, unresponsive or his heart was slowing down.
During the Non Stress Tests, E’s heart had to peak a certain amount of times to make sure he was okay. “Hold on, let me have the doctor look at this” was a dreaded phrase. One I heard too often. E really enjoyed his naps it seemed. I was so worried all the time. I was worried that they would miss something. I was worried my baby would stop moving. I was worried I would be one of the loss stories. I had so much fear.
At first the itchiness was unbearable. Forget my past knowledge over what I thought was intolerable itching. The Chicken Pox seemed like a walk in the park by comparison. It was unreal. Antihistamines did not work. Lotions did not work. I scratched myself until I bled and there was still no relief. Ice packs were my best friend. I would bury myself in every frozen thing in my house. In spite of the torture I was going through, I was one of the lucky ones. After my levels normalized, my itching went down. Others are not so lucky and itch the entire pregnancy.
My bile levels stayed normal. My baby stayed moving. I had my baby at 37 weeks. The NICU was on hand just in case. He was amazingly healthy.
June is ICP Awareness month. (Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy) It’s important to me to share my experience because there are women who were not as lucky as I was. They didn’t realize that they had ICP and they lost their babies. Even though ICP is fairly common, (1 in 1000 pregnancies) there are people who don’t know anything about it. Like I hadn’t.
Here are some facts.
What exactly is cholestasis?
“[Cholestatsis is] a common liver disease that only happens in pregnancy. Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder is affected by the high amounts of pregnancy hormones” –americanpregnancy.org
What is the treatment for Cholestasis?
1) Medication in the management plan of ICP.
Different Medicines to control the itch and to keep your bile acid levels down.
2) Early Delivery in the management plan of ICP.
The ideal time to deliver is between 36-37 weeks if symptoms can be managed. It is not common to have to deliver the baby earlier than that.
3) Additional management plan of ICP.
Below is an amazing website. It answers questions, has success stories, doctor recommendations for each state. Everything you could want to know about Cholestatsis.