Most pregnancies exude excitement, as they should! A couple who’ve been praying and trying or even happily surprised with an unplanned pregnancy find the experience to be uplifting, challenging, and rewarding.
Unfortunately this was not how my pregnancy started off.
My partner at the time was my ex-fiancé who had broken our engagement off and we had found out I was pregnant AFTER the fact. With that he decided that this was not his responsibility. I was terrified! This whole humans life inside me depended on my decisions alone. This is not a story about that. But do keep in mind this was something I had to deal with on my own as you read my story.
From the moment I found out I was going to have a child I knew something was wrong. For the life of me I could not see myself raising this baby. I was so scared of losing her and had a feeling that something would go awry.
At First It Was A Normal Pregnancy
From the moment I tested positive until the time I was in the delivery room I dealt with major nausea and vomiting. This is commonly diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, in which I had to be hospitalized every now and then to have an IV push fluids into me to keep baby and I hydrated. Anything from popsicles to spaghetti to a glass of water, my stomach rejected it.
At 30 weeks I was finally beginning to show. More or less it looked like I had a big lunch. Within my second trimester I had lost about 15 pounds and was looking very skinny. As flattering as that was baby girl was measuring small. I had monthly ultra sounds to ensure she was growing (which she was) and things seemed to be going relatively good. Puking aside.
As due date approached I continued working and running to the bathroom and visa versa so provide for this munchkin in my belly. Around 34 weeks the itching began.
Dead Giveaway of Cholestasis
I want to hit this point very early. ITCHING. The most common and noticeable symptom is itching. EVERYWHERE and ALL THE TIME. I am not exaggerating when I say it feels like being locked in a box with a million spiders, ants, caterpillars or whatever crawling all over you without mercy. There is no relief to this itch and causes insomnia and no way to get anything done. I remember being so itchy I would use a hair brush to itch myself and ended up breaking skin in several places. No amount of lotions, prescriptions, baths or DIY remedies were able to tame this insufferable feeling. All you can do is cry and itch and cry and itch.
Inexperienced Staff and Medical Teams
So as I cried and itched I made several phone calls a day to my OBGYN. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t focus I couldn’t slow my mind. All I wanted was some relief. After being annoyingly persistent they decided to run a blood test to test for what is called Cholestasis. I went in that day to be tested to find out that for some reason I wouldn’t receive the results back for four more days. FOUR DAYS OF ITCHING UNCONTROLLABLY. I couldn’t sleep or function normally.
Since I was not diagnosed yet and waiting for test results I was given no medication or direction. Just take Benadryl, they said. Try working full time and taking Benadryl several times a day and stay awake. Not the easiest task. The four days passed and I was officially diagnosed. My bile acid levels were a 14. A 7 is considered to qualify as Cholestasis. I was given a prescription of Ursodoil to take several times a day that would try to help lower my bile acid levels, they were no help with the itch.
With that phone call they told me to come in when convenient. I went in and they explained that I would need to be induced early, that everything was fine and that it was up to me when we would take the baby. I was 35 weeks with this diagnoses and the doctor said I could be induced that night if I wanted or wait a week. With the thought in mind that everything was okay I felt no rush. I scheduled my induction for the next week.
I had two Non Stress Tests at the hospital that week to monitor baby girl and to receive steroid shots to build up her lungs for delivery. She passed each test with flying colors. She was moving and karate chopping my tummy to her hearts content. I was told to do kick counts each hour and to go straight to labor and delivery if she stopped moving as much.
I thought to myself, if this cholestasis isn’t such a big deal then why would it be so urgent to go to the hospital for kick counts?
The day before my induction came and I was preparing like a mad women for this baby to come. Registering with the hospital, packing a hospital bag, buying slippers and movies to watch while waiting for baby to come. I was finally really really excited for this baby to come.
The Worst Was Yet To Come
That night I began to feel cramping. In all honesty I thought I needed to go to the bathroom. Soon I realized these cramps were coming regularly and in waves. I realized I was in labor. I woke up my parents around 12:30 to let them know my contractions were 2 minutes apart and almost instantly my water broke.
We rushed to the hospital running every red light and I began to waddle to labor and delivery. Crying in pain I became nauseous. I clicked the elevator button and got in and began gagging. With each gag my water broke more and more. I was in too much pain to be embarrassed that I was literally leaking a trail of fluid. Once off the elevator I began vomiting. I was unable to continue walking.
Nurses ran out with a wheelchair and wheeled me in and made me sign papers and I’m crying in pain. I quickly got to my room and was told to change into a gown. I ran into the bathroom and waiting for the current contraction to finish so I could put my gown on in between the pain.
Then I noticed something. And I knew it wasn’t good. The fluid I was leaking was bright green. And there was a lot of it. I hopped in the bed and asked the nurses if that was normal. No reply.
They began searching for a heart beat. The nurse with her stethoscope couldn’t find anything. They then brought in an ultrasound guy who confirmed the lack of a heart beat.
I stared at the ceiling, not connected with the world and unable to process what they were telling me. As I stared I heard the cries of my family and like plea’s to get her out and resuscitate her. They were unable to do anything.
Each contraction came and made me forget what was going on, I remember praying to stay in this physical pain forever so I would not have to come back to reality and comprehend that my baby was gone. For two hours or so we waited for the doctor to come give me my epidural. I was restrained to the bed as I was shaking uncontrollably from the pain of each contraction. Finally the epidural was administered and I was relieved of labor pains. I looked at my stomach, not feeling a thing and watched my stomach contract in a long wave over and over.
Since she had passed all we did was wait for my body to push her out on its own to save my body some trauma.
Seeing My Angel
I gave birth to her without knowing until the sheet was lifted from me and a perfect lifeless angel laid on the bed between my legs.
I held her body and fell in love. Although her lips were black and her skin was purple my baby was beautiful. It felt as if she were just taking a nap, she looked so peaceful and that she could wake up at any moment. Just then, I was so proud of what I had created. Later came the hurt and pain. I was wheeled over to the other end of the wing away from all the other successful deliveries. I held her close as they wheeled me over to me new room, right passed the nursery with dozens of healthy and crying babies. What I would give to hear my baby cry. As I approached my room a couple came out with they’re glowing pink newborn…And I cried. And I cried more.
I was happy to spend time with my newly named baby, Madeline, stroking her hair and memorizing her face. The most heartbreaking part of this all was when the nurses had to take my baby to the freezer every so often. My baby had to be frozen to be preserved. Each time I held her she got colder and colder and her skin stiffer.
Aftermath and Dealing with Child Loss
Wow. Did I really just lose a child at 21? During my pregnancy I was seeing a therapist since I was a single mother and after my traumatic experience at the hospital I continued to go. I was diagnosed with symptoms of PTSD on top of my already Major Depressive Disorder and became very dissociative. That meaning I couldn't comprehend what had happened. I didn't feel like a mom. I didn't think it was real. It was all just foggy and felt like a really bad nightmare. I did EMDR which is a practice they use to help those in the military who experience PTSD. My therapist explained to me that my brain was completely shutting out the experience to save myself. This made it really hard to process and grieve my still born. To this day I still have trouble connecting myself with it and this happened back in 2017. Can you imagine not even being able to grieve your own child? It's one of the most frustrating things in the world. You know its real and that it happened so why can't you feel anything?!
Well let me tell you it hits. And when it hits, its hard. Not to mention at the most inopportune times and in the most dramatic way possible. I find myself going back and forth from dissociating myself and then feeling everything at once.
What Could I Have Done?
I often wonder, what would’ve happened if I had been more informed of this disease? I would’ve asked to deliver her a lot sooner. I’d have a warm daughter and a happy heart. Because I would’ve lived with that itch forever if it meant my darling was glowing pink and warm. I didn’t want to hear that I was one in a million that this would happen to. I wanted Madeline. The reality was that there was nothing I could've done differently with the information and direction I was given. That's why it is important to raise awareness so that Doctors and their staff are properly trained and informed about ICP.
Our Recent Posts
What Could've Been
January 19, 2019
ICP Awareness: Stillbirth
December 5, 2018
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!