So, now I’m high-risk.

itchytummyAs I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really, really itchy lately. Well, for weeks actually. It is TERRIBLE. Like, wakes-me-up-in-the-night-type terrible. I even mentioned it at my 9 & 14 week appointments. “It’s just hormones,” they said. “It’s your skin stretching,” they said. “Itching is a 3rd trimester thing,” they said.

Well, I self-diagnosed weeks ago with ICP (Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy), characterized by severe, wide-spread itching without a rash. Basically, your liver doesn’t process the bile-acids properly, which makes your histamines go crazy (hence, the itching). And I’ve always had an asymptomatic liver disease (since birth), so it made sense. It fit my symptoms perfectly. I even called the after-hours nurse line because I was freaked-out. When I spoke with the nurses at my doc’s office the next day, they were unconcerned. “It’s just hormones,” they said. “It’s your skin stretching,” they said. “It’s too early, it’s a 3rd trimester thing,” they said.

But guess what showed up in my labs, after demanding that they test me for it?! ICP. Yeah, I f***ing knew it. Moral of the story? Always, always listen to your body. It normally shows up in the 3rd trimester. At 17 weeks, I’m nearly half that. My doctor told me she was “shocked,” and that in the other cases she’s dealt with, none of the other women had it before 35 weeks. Lucky me.

This diagnosis officially makes me high-risk, but it should disappear within days of giving birth. It’s a “complication.” It doesn’t affect the development of the baby, cognitively or physically, but mothers with ICP have a much higher risk of stillbirth (for reasons still unknown) and babies are more to have respiratory distress after birth…which is exactly the thing a pregnant momma doesn’t want to hear. =( To minimize the risk to the baby, I will have weekly ultrasounds starting at 24 weeks (viability) until my 32nd week, when I’ll start having Fetal Non-Stress Tests (NST’s) 2x a week. Because of the increased risk of stillbirth, doctors induce between the 37th-38th week of pregnancy. That means we’ll have another late-August baby…I’ll literally be pregnant an entire month less than McKenzie (who was super, duper late). Maybe Jon will actually get to be there if it’s planned?

I comfort myself with the knowledge that, if delivered before 38 weeks, the risk of stillbirth is less than 1%, which is the same as normal pregnancy. My silver lining is that I get to have more ultrasounds (did I jinx myself with that last post?), and we get to meet *him* sooner.

I’m trying to stay calm. It’s still scary. And I’m still itchy. But hopefully the medication I’m taking 2x/day will have these wicked bile-acids under control soon.

And this makes me miss my husband that much more, I SO wish he was here right now. Thankfully, I got to speak with him briefly yesterday to tell him what’s going on…and he hadn’t gotten my letter yet, so I told him it’s a boy. Another silver lining? I’m trying to stay positive, it could always be much worse. =)

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10 thoughts on “So, now I’m high-risk.

  1. Oh my goodness – I’m SO glad you were persistent and advocated for your and the baby’s well being. Hopefully the medication keeps things under control. Will it clear up after the baby is born or could it continue afterwards?

  2. Hi Nicole, Thinking of you! So glad to know what is happening! Thrilled about your baby boy! Love Chris

    • Thanks! And nope, I had to request that they do labs to test for it, and they didn’t want to because it’s “so early.” I’ve already had routine liver panels done for my chronic condition, but they had to specifically check the liver bile levels. Of course they were elevated, as I suspected. Blah. My doctor was great though and sat down with me for 30 minutes to outline the plan and answer questions. I’m so glad I have a doctor I like!

  3. You are my hero Nicole! You have had so much to deal with in your life and this is another thing that you will conquer! Keep your head up and if you want to talk just give me a call. I don’t work during the day so if you are feeling lonely and you need to vent to someone, I am here!

    I also called the after-hours nurse line and they were very short and dismissive with me. It’s almost like she seemed irritated that I called, and I only called three times in two months. I know some women who called every day, and there is nothing wrong with doing that either. It’s their job to listen and be supportive while answering our questions. I eventually just self-diagnosed the problem as well and just listened to my instincts. I decided quickly that the nurse line is useless…or at least the nurse I got was useless and rude.

  4. Yikes for all the itchiness! I’m glad you didnt listen to the docs and stood your ground. Hopefully everything will go smoothly from now on and the meds help. Gosh, I’m all itchy from just reading this :)

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