I’m a mom of two “itchy” babies. With my first, I had what was thought to be a normal pregnancy. I had no risks, no concerning family history of pregnancy difficulties, and no known complications. I expected a typical pregnancy with the usual outcome, a healthy, happy baby. My pregnancy was normal. Yes, I puked regularly until almost 19 weeks, but that was normal. All those aches, weird pains, exhaustion? They were also to be expected. So when I began itching, I shrugged it off and labeled it as “normal.” I had not yet discovered the ICP Care website and besides Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) is so rare. Plus, itching should be localized to my hands and feet, not affecting my legs and everywhere else.
By thirty-seven weeks, I was miserable, not sleeping, and feeling guilty for wanting my baby out. I finally had my midwives run a bile acid and liver function tests “just in case.” Additionally, they noted that my blood pressure was high, but below the threshold for pre-eclampsia.
Surprisingly, just shy of 38 weeks, I went into labor on own. Late in labor, my midwives popped my water and it was stained with meconium. I transferred to a hospital and was itching so badly and complaining if a nurse’s scrubs had even brushed against my skin. My labs came back as I labored with elevated bile acids; my blood pressure spiked; my temperature jumped to 103; my baby’s heart went into bouts of tachycardia. Finally, my little boy was born and whisked away to the NICU for the evening. I was immensely relieved. Later, I learned that ladies with this high-risk pregnancy condition have a higher occurrence of preeclampsia. Additionally, meconium in the amniotic fluid was also a risk associated with ICP.
It was more than a year later that I began researching Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy. My husband and I wanted more children and I needed to know more about the crazy itching disease that had caused so much misery. I finally found the ICP Care page where I learned more about not only ICP but also the risks it has for my baby. I thanked God that my son had come on his own and was healthy. I also wished I had the information and research better to advocate for my little one and myself.
Armed with this information, I went into my second pregnancy. With my second pregnancy, the itching started earlier, but mildly, so mild I almost ignored it. I begin to ask for testing. My doctor was willing albeit a little dubious as the results came back normal and then normal again. Finally, on my third test, I received the dreaded call. My levels had gone from normal to severe. I was prescribed ursodiol, extra monitoring, and an early delivery date, but not as early as severe numbers warranted. After a consult with a maternal fetal medicine specialist, I finally got my early induction date squared away. A few weeks later, at 36+4, we welcomed our little daughter into the world. She needed no NICU time, thankfully, though later she required some jaundice treatment. She’s been thriving ever since and now is full of giggles and loves running after her big brother.
I am so grateful to ICP Care for providing me with the research, support, and information I needed to advocate for my second little itch. I decided to give back to ICP Care by volunteering to help other ladies walk through similar experiences and encourage them to advocate for their little ones. ICP Care provides information so mothers like me do not have to be in the dark about abnormal itching, its causes, and its potential great risks to their babies.