I am the mother to 4 wonderful cholestasis babies. I am also an OB/Gyn physician and treat women with ICP. As a result, I have a unique perspective of the disease. I understand the effects of ICP as a clinical disorder but I also understand many of the emotions that go along with it. I have personally experienced the emotions of a cholestasis pregnancy including the fear involved with wanting to make sure your baby is born safely. This has led me to want to advocate for research, appropriate treatment and diagnosis, and emotional support of cholestasis moms.
My ICP journey began around 23 weeks with my oldest son, Evan. I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia and found to have elevated liver tests which can be a sign of ICP. My itching didn’t begin until about 2 weeks later. It took a few more weeks to come to a diagnosis of cholestasis just before deciding on a delivery at 36 weeks. Evan spent almost 2 weeks in the NICU for respiratory issues. This is not entirely unexpected for cholestasis babies as they can have some respiratory concerns at birth. He is now a healthy and happy 9 year old!
My ICP journey is somewhat unique in that I have always been diagnosed very early in my pregnancies. My latest diagnosis was with Evan but my earliest diagnosis was at 5 weeks with my youngest daughter, Corinne. With that positive pregnancy test, I was already having the characteristic itching between my fingers which I had learned from my prior pregnancies is how ICP starts for me. I have been blessed to have an amazing team made up of an OB who always trusted my “mom instinct” as well as a team of high risk specialists (Maternal Fetal Medicine) who were willing to work with me and research different options to allow me to make it to at least 35 weeks in each pregnancy. I was the earliest diagnosed case that any of my providers had treated and so together we researched and came up with treatment plans. While all of my children have needed support in the NICU, most likely due to the length of exposure to ICP, they are now all healthy and amazing.
I am grateful to the ICP Care organization for providing a place for both educational and emotional support for women with cholestasis. I discovered the organization in my second pregnancy with my son, Colin. I was moved by reading other mothers’ stories on the website as they resonated with my own emotional and physical experience with cholestasis. In bringing my background as a cholestasis mom and also an OB/Gyn physician, I hope to help further the missions of the organization and to help support women and the physicians who care for them.
Contact me at Laura.Bonebrake@icpcare.org