Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy

I like to imagine that I'm pretty good with words, but I don't have any that adequately describe how terrified I was when I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.  There's really no way of explaining what it's like to land on the main page for your pregnancy complication and see the words "infant memorials."

I can't even go back and read the emails I wrote back then (pre-blog) without choking up.

And to make matters even less bearable, they knew practically nothing about ICP 5 years ago.  They didn't know why it happened.  They didn't know if it was likely to happen in subsequent pregnancies (for the record, it didn't for me).  They didn't know how to treat it (my doctor gave me phenobarbital).  They didn't know anything, at the time, except that our best chance of having a live baby was to induce at 37 weeks.  (They may know more, now.  I've stopped following the research.  I think, when I was pregnant with Jack, that the recommendation for induction had changed to 38 weeks.)

It turned out that my blood pressure went through the roof (whose wouldn't?) and they had to induce me at 36 weeks, instead.  And she was fine.  She's perfect.  And both of our livers are fine, now, too.  We have no lasting effects from it.  Isn't that bizarre?  That something can threaten your baby's life and then just disappear?  We watched her like hawks after she was born (it didn't help that she was a better-than-average-and-certainly-better-than-her-sister sleeper).  She'd be asleep and BJ and I both would check to make sure she was still breathing.

I just took some time to stop by the Itchy Mom's Facebook page, which is private so I'm not going to bother linking, to post a picture of Claire and say the following:
‎5 years ago today I was induced at exactly 36 weeks gestation because of ICP and pregnancy induced hypertension. Today, our lovely daughter Claire enjoyed breakfast out with Daddy, being "Helper of the Day" at preschool, going to the Pizza Hut lunch buffet with Mom and siblings for lunch, a birthday party with 9 friends at the movie theater (we saw The Lorax), her favorite "Panda Chicken" for dinner, and extra long stories and snuggles from Daddy again at bedtime. She got lots of lovely presents, calls from far-away relatives, and was generally spoiled quite rotten all day long.
Those of us who have had great outcomes after ICP aren't on here much, because we're busy raising our beautiful kids. But I wanted to share with you all who are still in the midst of it, today, that there are happy endings.
I hope each of you who reads these words can come back 5 years from now and share your happy ending, too. 
The chance of someone Googling ICP and ending up here are not insignificant.  And I just thought it was important to share my happy ending with the world.

Oh, and if you're trying to get the itching to stop... Try vinegar (applied to your skin, don't drink it!).  My Great-Aunt Carolyn was a nurse and used to take care of patients with "hepatic frost" - where the bile salts (the things that make you itch with ICP) would build up on the patients' skin, and they treated them with vinegar.  It was the only thing that really helped me, other than having the baby.

I'm posting this at 11:09 pm on 3/13/12 - exactly 5 years to the minute after she was born.  :)


Vacationland Mom said...

Hi Amy- I think it's wonderful that you and your family are healthy and that you've posted about your experiences with ICP. I had Pemphigoid Gestationis (an autoimmune skin condition that causes rash and extreme itch) during my pregnancy. It took 1.5 months for them to figure out what it was, and the dermatologist actually took pics and presented them to a conference here in Maine to help educate other providers so maybe other people with PG don't have to go through what I went through. Anyways, thank you. You have a beautiful family!

Mums make lists said...

The Baby Shower Link Party this week is focused on pregnancy health conditions such as cholestasis and I would absolutely love for you to link this post up Alice @ Mums Make Lists xx

Mums make lists said...

Thanks so much for linking up at the Friday Baby Shower Alice xxx