The Engulfment of Fear: Cholestasis in Pregnancy Part 5
TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of stillbirth and pregnancy complications. Please do not read unless you feel comfortable.
You know in part 3 when I mentioned the anxiety that comes with pregnancy, this post is all about that. You see the story I'm about to tell is incredibly rare. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it can be quite devastating for both mom and baby. So please take this all with the knowledge that this happened to me but may never happen to you. I'm writing this not to scare others, but to bring awareness to the condition.
I am beyond blessed and would like to start by thanking Colleen Ballinger. Colleen vlogged her pregnancies and with both she had Cholestasis. A devastating and scary condition that she shared and filmed in real-time. And I'm beyond blessed to have been exposed to her experience because if not I probably would've had no clue what to be looking for. It's vitally important that we all tell our stories because it can save lives.
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is when the liver and gallbladder begin to malfunction and leak bile into the bloodstream during pregnancy. When this occurs in pregnancy you can get persistent itchiness in the palms of the hands and feet. This itch does not go away and can keep people up at all hours of the night. It can often be very difficult. The worst part about ICP is that it can cause growth restriction, underdeveloped lungs, premature birth, and possible stillbirth later in the pregnancy. I first began to itch at around 29 weeks and was officially diagnosed with ICP at week 34. After being diagnosed I was considered a high-risk pregnancy which tripled my appointments. I would go in twice a week for non-stress tests, and then near the end of my pregnancy went in every other day. I also had several ultrasounds to check on my son and had to have a scheduled induction in order to curb the risk of stillbirth and other related issues.
This was the scariest experience I have ever lived through. About two days after I was diagnosed, I went for an emergency growth scan with a fetal medicine specialist just to double-check he was doing okay, and they tried and tried and tried but couldn't properly get a full scan of his heartbeat and his breath. He wasn't moving much, and they were concerned. They sent me to the hospital for an hour or two just to check on everything, and when I tell you I was so terrified. I was 34 weeks and a couple of days and was trying hard to remain calm. I deep down knew everything would be fine, but there was always that .05 percent that nagged at the back of my mind.
That day we ended up scheduling an induction at exactly his 37-week mark after I begged the doctor to let him have a little longer to develop. I wanted so badly to not have to be discharged without him because a NICU stay would've been awful for me and the baby. The fear I had was so awful. It was so hard.
I'm just so happy that I was able to get treatment as soon as I started itching, and that I was able to get in with everyone fairly quickly. Please if you start itching call your doctor straight away. And just know that if you have fear during your pregnancy it's not only normal but a sign that you truly care. It's also something you will survive. I remember and understand that at the moment it doesn't feel like it'll ever end, but I promise you it does. It comes to an end, and the end is the best part.
The finale of this story is up next. It's the best part honestly, so stay tuned.