I am a mom to 1 itchy baby with another one due May 2020. My pregnancy with my first itch, Kaislyn, was pretty easy in the beginning. I didn’t get too sick and had no problems with carrying on with life as normal, with the exception of some round ligament pain. Around 20 weeks my belly began to itch quite bad. I remember not being able to wear many layers (even though it was the middle of winter) because I needed to be able to itch. I thought it was normal because I was growing and stretching. But this itch was different. No matter how much I scratched, I still itched insanely bad. My belly was bruised and bleeding because I couldn’t stop scratching. Everyone I would mention it to would tell me it was perfectly normal, so I went with it. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and I turned to a birthing group I was a part of on Facebook and asked what others did when they itched this bad. Most people were naming different kinds of lotions they used that helped. But I had tried multiple lotions and honestly, it just made it worse. One mom commented and mentioned to be tested for Cholestasis of Pregnancy. I had never heard of it and she was the only one who mentioned it. I did a quick google search and read that Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy is severe itching on your palms and soles of your feet. I didn’t read any further into it because I only itched on my belly, and reading how few women actually get diagnosed with, and never having heard of it before, I assumed I didn’t have it. One night when I was 27 weeks 5 days, my foot started itching. I would scratch, it would be gone for a second, and then come back a little stronger. within an hour my hands and feet were burning and I couldn’t stop scratching. I went to google and typed “Severe itching in hands and feet during pregnancy”. Sure enough, up pops ICP. I had forgotten that it was mentioned to me a few weeks prior. I had an appointment with my midwife in 2 days, and not realizing how scary and dangerous ICP can actually be in that moment, I waited to mention it until then. Luckily, my midwifes first reaction to me saying I was super itchy was “I want you to go get tested immediately after this appointment”. I was diagnosed 2 days later, started Urso and bi-weekly NST’s. I never really did much research after that because my midwife seemed like she knew what she was doing. She scheduled me for induction at 37 weeks. I didn’t know of any of the other risks that can come with ICP besides higher chance of stillbirth. I didn’t even know there were Facebook groups or the icpcare.org website.
On March 23rd my baby girl was born. She was immediately taken away to get help breathing because she had Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Unfortunately, the hospital we were at did not have a NICU and at just a couple of hours old, my baby was being transported to another hospital in another city. I never got to hold her or really touch her. I got to hold her for the first time, for a couple minutes, when she was about 26 hours old. She was on CPAP so we couldn’t hold her long, and we couldn’t even really see her underneath the mask and wires. After 9 long days in the NICU she was released. She was on oxygen at home for about 7 weeks.
It wasn’t until she was a few months old that I found the ICP Facebook pages and read through the brochures on icpcare.org. I had read so much information that made everything about my pregnancy and delivery finally make sense. I was not expecting my birth experience to go like that, and I struggled in silence for almost a year before finding a postpartum support group. I learned that I was suffering from PTSD and postpartum anxiety. It was hard to process, but I am so thankful for not only the support group I found, but also the ICP Facebook pages.
I am so thankful for the woman who reached out to me to warn me of ICP, and after all of the information I have read and learned, spreading awareness has become a passion of mine.