Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cholestasis of Pregnancy - Part 2 {Reese's Birth Story}

If you are following along at all you would have know that I suffered from a condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy or ICP when I was pregnant with my first baby. You can read more about that here. But that was not going to be my last experience with this awful condition. I would once again be diagnosed with ICP when I was pregnant with my daughter Reese. Below I will detail my experiences dealing with this the second time around but first a disclaimer.

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. I am only sharing my experiences. My knowledge on the subject only relates to my situation and does not serve to provide medical advice. If you have any concerns, please consult your physician).

I am not going to go into details of what this condition is since I described it in my last post but the dangers of it are very real. Since I had developed this condition with my first pregnancy, my sister also suffered from this awful condition during her pregnancies, I was pretty certain that it would happen to me again. And sure enough it did.

Back when I was expecting my second baby, I was working full time for a medical clinic. Coincidentally it was the same clinic that my sister went to when she was expecting and so I was pretty confident that the OB doctors there knew what I could be going through. And they did. But this pregnancy was not like my first. Sure in the beginning everything was good but as the pregnancy progressed things got worse. Especially around 34 weeks. I was a work and I remember stating to one of my co-workers that I was starting to feel a little crampish. I was hoping that it was nothing but since I was induced with my first pregnancy I didn't know what it was like to start having contractions on my own. 

As naive as this may sound I was hoping that it was just end of pregnancy stuff and that it would go away. I finished out my work day and went home and laid in bed hoping that I just needed a nap and that I would wake up feeling better. That didn't happen. Instead I couldn't sleep and the crampiness was getting worse and more frequent. By now I was sure these were contractions. My husband and I called the doctor and they told me to go straight to the hospital. They put me in a room and hooked me up to all sorts of monitors and sure enough I was in labor. Only I was 34 weeks along. Not good. So they called the on-call doctor and I was given an IV drip with medicine to stop the contractions. It took a really long time (as in hours) but they finally did stop. I was discharged and sent home with a prescription to stop them from continuing. I don't remember what the prescription was only that I hated taking it because it made me shake so bad. I was also restricted to working only 4 hour days from then on out.

If that was going to be the worst of my experience I would take it however those 4 hour work days only lasted about a week and half when the itching started. This time, I recognized the itching right away. Believe me it is not something you ever forget. It started just the same as last time with intense burning sensation on my hands and my feet. After noticing it the first night, I went into work and talked to my doctor about it right away. He ordered labs and over my lunch hour I remember sitting in the lab and the technician asking me about how I was feeling (she was a co-worker of my after all). I told her what was going on and she gave me a gentle smile and told me that she would process the labs right away because she too also suffered from ICP with her pregnancies. She knew what I was going through and understood the gravity of my situation. She didn't say much but she didn't have to. We both knew what could happen and in that moment I felt some reassurance that this was going to be OK.

My labs were processed and sure enough my ALT levels were sky high. To this day I don't remember exactly what they were only that my doctor decided that enough was enough and we were going to deliver this baby that day. I was 36 weeks along and in my mind, I delivered my first baby at 35 weeks and she was OK so there was no reason to be concerned that this one would be any different. 

Famous. Last. Words. 

At 7pm the c-section was scheduled and I remember lying on the operating table feeling the usual tugging and pulling and when they got her out I expected to hear that wondrous cry that all moms long to hear. Only it wasn't there. I heard scuffling between the doctors and the nurses, my husband desperately trying to see what was going on without leaving my side. Finally in what seemed like forever a nurse came over and told us that the baby was having a hard time breathing and that they needed to take her away to a different room to try and help her. All I wanted was for her to be OK. To see her and hold her and let her know that mommy was there but I couldn't. I cried, and cried and cried. Finally I remember laying in the recovery room and asking the nurses there for updates but all they would tell me what they were working on her. 

Once I was well enough to be moved to my room I asked to stop outside the nursery. All I could see of my precious little baby was this little limp body lying in the bassinet with an oxygen mask over her head, hooked up to all sort of gear and her little body struggling and shuddering with every breath she took. I was not allowed in the nursery and so I had to watch from afar and my heart was breaking.

Shortly after arriving in my room the pediatrician came in and told me my daughters breathing was not improving and that the hospital that we were at was not equipped to handle her situation and therefore they needed to airlift her to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. My husband and I agreed and after hours had gone by, the paramedics arrived, prepared her for transport and she was all set and ready to go. They brought her into my room so that I could at least see her before they left. They wheeled her in the enclosed plastic case, I could only see her through the case, not able to touch her. She was so beautiful laying there, with her dark hair and olive skin. Her body shaking with every breath. I kissed the case and told her mommy loved her and that it was going to be OK and then they wheeled her off. I remember saying to my husband that I didn't want her to go.

Children's Hospital of Minneapolis is in downtown Minneapolis, at least an hour away from where we were. I begged my husband to go to the hospital so he could be there when she arrived and in the middle of the night he left me to follow the helicopter on the road and be with her. Meanwhile I stayed in the hospital to recover from my c-section. He would send me pictures like this one and explain what they were doing. He was a true saint during those days and I am forever grateful for him.

My family also came to visit me to keep me company. My mother-in-law would bring Addy so I could snuggle with my girl while still missing my other one. My sister came to visit and pushed me around in the wheel chair just for fun. But with my baby is where I wanted to be and so I begged my doctor to be discharged a day early so I could go to Children's to be with my daughter. And he did just that.

So my hubby arrived to pick me up at the hospital and drive the hour drive it took to get to Children's. That was the longest hour of my life, me screaming out in pain at every pothole and turn that the car would take. But it was well worth it for when I got there, I got to do this...

Reese spent a total of 5 days at Children's Hospital before her breathing was under control. However she was still not well enough to come home so they transported her back to the hospital where she was born to stay another 5 days to assure that she could eat. She had a feeding tube in place and once she was able to eat on her own then she was able to come home. 

(Addy meeting her new sister for the first time)

That whole ordeal was awful. That is something that I wish no mother would ever have to go through. But despite everything, it did end well. And I praise God for that everyday. Today I have a happy and healthy 7 year old who if you knew her, you would have never have known that anything was wrong when she was born.

Thank God for miracles!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cholestasis of Pregnancy - Part One

I have struggled a long time about whether or not I wanted to write this post. Something about putting your fears out there for the whole world to see is very scary. Especially when they involve your children, your unborn children. But I figure if I can help other women who have had the same struggles that I had and came out the other side then I figure it was worth it. You see, when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Choleostais of Pregnancy or ICP, which is a liver disorder that if goes untreated can result in delivering a stillborn baby.

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. I am only sharing my experiences. My knowledge on the subject only relates to my situation and does not serve to provide medical advice. If you have any concerns, please consult your physician).

My knowledge on the subject started several years before I even became pregnant. My sister was diagnosed with ICP during her pregnancies. I watched as she suffered from this condition and learned about it along the way. However, her story is her story to tell and therefore I will leave the details of her situation at that. But that was how I first learned of what ICP even was. So when I found out we were expecting our first child those were the first questions I asked my doctor.

Did she know what ICP was? 

How many cases had she treated? 

Is it hereditary? 

What were my chances that I would get it? 

If I did get it, what would be the course of treatment? 

Could I lose my baby? 

Lots of questions to ask for a first time mother. My doctor was great. She was this calm quite young woman who I think answered my questions just to appease me but when it came down to it she didn't know a whole lot about it.

At that time ICP was a relatively new condition and not much was known about it. In layman's terms ICP is when your liver and the baby don't get along. Your liver goes into overdrive and emits bio-salts into your blood stream causing you to itch often during the 3rd trimester however it can start earlier as I learned. And it is not the kind of itch that you can stratch and it will go away. This is an intense down deep in your skin kind of burning that no matter how much you scratch it won't go away. It usually starts on your hands and feet but it can spread to all parts of your body and is generally worse at night making it almost impossible to sleep. At least that was what happened to me. Other symptoms can include becoming jaundice in appearance and loss of appetite (at least in my case I didn't want to eat because I felt that food made the itching worse). The scary thing is that if ICP is not monitored it could result in the death of the unborn baby. And from my most recent experience, the doctors still don't know why.

So understandably I had a lot of questions for my doctor my first time around. And for most of my pregnancy I felt pretty good. I thought I might be lucky and not have to go through this awful experience that I watched my sister go through.  And then it happened. At 35 weeks. I remember it as if it was yesterday. My husband was out of town for work and we had just moved to a small town outside of the Minneapolis area. We had only been in our new place for a week. I had awaken in the middle of the night and my feet felt as if they were on fire. I scratched and scratched and nothing helped. Immediately I panicked. Was this it? It made sense. I had all the signs, intense itching at night and I was in the later part of my pregnancy and I hadn't felt the baby move as much lately. It was the later that freaked me out the most. What if something had already happened to my baby! That next morning the first thing I did was call my husband asking him to come home (although I knew that he couldn't) and then I called my sister. She was able to understand what was going on better than any doctor could and she had given me suggestions to make it more tolerable at least until I could get in to see my doctor (it was the weekend after all). She suggested I soak in a tub of luke warm not hot water, add oatmeal to the bath and to take milk thistle supplements. These were to all help with the itching so I could at least get some sleep.

Monday morning rolled around and hubby was back from his trip. I called out sick from work due to pure exhaustion from not sleeping all weekend and then I called my doctor. By the time she had returned my call it was later in the afternoon. I told her of my symptoms especially the part about the baby not moving and she wanted to see me right away. So we hopped in the car and began our hour drive to St. Paul. We were about half way there when we had a change of plans. The doctor called me back and instead of coming in to see her she wanted me to go to the hospital to be admitted for overnight monitoring. I panicked. Why would she want that? What was wrong? She assured me that it was just a precautionary measure to see how the baby was doing. I cried. A lot. I just wanted to have a healthy baby. This couldn't be happening!

I was admitted to the hospital and immediately had an ultrasound with a perinatologist. The baby had looked ok on the ultrasound which was a huge relief, but the doctor said that more then likely I had ICP and we needed to check the babies lungs to see if we could deliver. I then went in for an an amniocentesis. As he was pulling that large needle out of my belly he got a very concerned look on his face. He told me that I had meconium in my fluid and that we would need to deliver right away. For those non doctor folk, meconium occurs when the baby has had their first bowl movement in the womb. It is one sign that your baby is under stress. It is especially dangerous because if your baby were to swallow/inhale any of the meconium back into their lungs it can be life threatening. I cried again. I was not ready for this. I was only to go in for monitoring and now I would be delivering a baby. I had prayed for a happy healthy baby but I didn't know what I was going to get. Why was this happening?

I was induced and after several hours of labor it was determined that I needed to have a c-section. So at 35 weeks on a beautiful Tuesday morning my Addy was born. And she was healthy! I prayed and thanked God for giving me this miracle who was banged up but healthy! And she was beautiful!

(ok so these pictures are obviously after we had been home for a few weeks, she didn't come into this world looking quite like that)

She did have some struggles though, being born at 35 weeks she didn't want to nurse. Or even eat for that matter. We had to feed her out of a cup and she would lick it up like a cat. And because she wouldn't eat she didn't gain weight like she should have.

 She eventually got the hang of it though!

I am truly blessed and thankful that my story ended up a happy one. I know that not everyone who has had ICP has a happy ending. Had I not known about it prior due to my sisters situation, I would not have known it was happening to me. I would have just thought that the itching was normal pregnancy stuff and probably would have never said anything to my doctor about it. And then the outcome could have been very different. But I don't want to think about that.

So that is the very reason I decided to write about it. To inform others that they are not going crazy and to encourage them to seek medical attention if any itching starts. And if you do suffer from ICP, ask questions, learn about it, study it. It could save your childs life. If your doctors is unfamiliar with it, get a different doctor. One who will listen to you. Your babies life depends on it.

(Stay tuned for my story regarding ICP the second time around)

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Change. I love it and I hate it. Some days I embrace it. Some days I down right loathe it. Especially when I don't know what it looks like. Some days I can't wait for a change, and yet the thought of it is really scarry. Let me explain.

Since I last wrote a post, our newest addition hadn't even arrived yet and now here he is just over 4 months old and he is the best change that has ever happened to our family. Seriously, I can't even remember what our life was like with a family of four. But now that we are five my life has changed in ways that I can't even comprehend. This little man brings so much joy it makes me tear up just thinking about it. (Warning, picture overload of really cute baby about to commence).

Don't say I didn't warn you. And in case you didn't get enough I'll throw in one more just for good measure.

But ultimately he is not the reason for this post. You see, prior to moving down here I had a good job. I mean a really good job. I thrived in that position and I loved every minute of it. But when my husband accepted a new position in the south that meant that I had to give up my really good job for something that was unknown. And that my friends is very scary!

But now something has changed. I have looked for a new job but my heart is not in it. I am sure the above little man probably has something to do with that. Yet at the same time, I have big hopes and dreams for all my kids. And one of those hopes is that we will move out of this temporary housing situation and build our forever home. But we can't do that until mommy gets back to work. Thus my dilemma.

You see my really good job wasn't really all that great. It meant a lot of stress and a lot of long hours away from my family. And right now that is not something that I am looking for. So does this mean that change is in my near future yet again? Isn't moving across the country while 7 months pregnant enough change for one year? I don't know. What I do know is that I am not as passionate about what I used to do.

So while I contemplate what my future holds I am starting to make small changes in my everyday life that I am embracing right off the bat. First off, I want to be healthy again. Pregnancy was not kind to me and it left me with a few more extra pounds then I would like. So I have decided to do something about it. I will be sure to keep you posted as to how it goes.

Secondly, I decided to sit down and write this post which hopefully means that I am back to blogging again. Will I be here every day? No. But I hope to be able to write more and be more intentional in my writing, find something that I am passionate about and be able to share it with you. I am excited for that possibility of what this little place on the internet hold for me as well.

And thirdly, I will keep looking for a job. Giving up is not an option. My dreams are too big to put aside and these guys depend on me. And that is all the motivation I need to embrace whatever change comes my way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow Days...

So in case you haven't heard, it snowed here the other day. School was closed for 3 days because of 6 inches of snow. It started snowing sometime Wednesday night and quit late Thursday afternoon. It was actually very pretty and this midwestern girl really enjoyed it.

It is funny though how everything comes to a stand still around here when it snows. People were out shoveling their driveways on Friday with garden shovels. A snow plow didn't come by our house until late sometime Friday night, well over 24 hours after it had stopped snowing. My hubby and I went for lunch yesterday and the snow plows left huge piles of snow right in the middle of the driving aisle in the parking lot. Why wouldn't they at least push it to the corner of the lot? Seems so strange to me and yet completely normal to everyone else.

But even with school out for 3 days I had to keep the kiddos busy or this mama was going to go bonkers. Thank goodness for Valentines Day and boxes that needed to be made! So that is what we did. And for those of you who know me, know that I am not a crafty person in the least. So when I asked Addy what type of Valentines box she wanted she scoured the Internet and pulled up a photo of a Minion box. So Wednesday morning (before it started snowing) her and I went up to the craft store, bought our supplies and I secretly prayed this would work out.

Several hours later we had this!

She was so proud of that box! And you know what? I was too! I guess there is a little Martha in me after all. And let me tell you, I am not one of those moms who does the project for their kids. No Sirree! I did help Addy wrap the yellow construction paper on the box because it was so hard to bend, and I did cut the hole for the mouth. "Safety First," Addy would tell me. But she did the rest.

And yesterday when the girls got home from school (and they finally got to have their valentines parties) Addy was so excited to tell me that she won first place! First Place! Way to go Girl! There was major high fives going on at our house. And the best part was I didn't even know there was a contest! Score one for us!

The day flew by, the girls were happy and we all enjoyed each others company without the distractions of electronics. Complete success in my book! If only I could say Thursday went the same way. But no, sadly it did not. 

I spent most of Thursday doing laundry and cleaning and organizing the baby's room. The girls spent most of the day on electronics. Big fat fail in my book. However in my defense, after having a HUGE baby shower at our church our little man's nursery was looking something like this...

(ignore the pink bunnies, those actually were a gift to the girls from papa several Easters ago)

Now don't get me wrong, I am overly blessed and eternally grateful to have such an amazing church family who has taken us under their wing and decided to throw a wonderful shower for me and our little arrival. I wish I had more photos of the actually shower to show you all, it really was a good time. It seems like saying "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you," is not enough to express how I actually feel about them all for doing something like this. They had even thought of the girls and got them gifts as well. God is good and works in amazing ways and the thoughtfulness of this congregation has left me speechless.

Did I just get off topic? I think I did. Anywho, so after this amazing shower, I had a lot of work to do. So Thursday that is what I did. I will show you pictures after I finish the room, it is almost there but not quite yet. The bedding for the crib was washed and put together, toys were organized, clothes were washed and put away. As for the girls, they played on their electronics and watched movies. I tried to encourage them to go play outside in the snow but we have yet to find their snow boots (they are still packed away somewhere) so I didn't push the issue too much.

Friday rolls around and it has now stopped snowing and starting to melt. I have an appointment scheduled that afternoon with the local fire department to have the car seat installed in my car. Since the girls are off of school yet again, they got to go with me. Only the woman that was supposed to do it, couldn't get out of her driveway to meet me there. So as I am thinking the trip was a total bust, one of the fire fighters asked the girls if they wanted to see a fire truck. And boy were they excited!

(Showing them how their equipment works)

(Checking out the pole! He even slid down it for them!)

So what I thought was going to be a hassle turned out to be a really fun afternoon. I have to give a shout out to the Salisbury Fire Department for giving my girls their own private showing and being so kind and generous with us. They made my little girls day and therefore made mama's day too.

And after talking with the fireman, I think I will drop off some of our snow shovels for them to use, if and when it snows again. We don't want them out there shoveling their driveway with garden shovels.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Hackers! Don't you hate them? They are everywhere these days, from the stores you shop at to sites online. I am sure you have all heard by now about the Target breach where millions of credit card numbers and personal info was stolen. This is not the first time that this kind of thing has happened and it will certainly not be the last however in my opinion, it is what those companies do to make things right for their customer that really matters.

It's no secret that I love Target. Hello? I am from the Midwest after all, where Super Targets are on every block. I will always be a loyal shopper for life. This incident that has affected millions of people including me, is very serious and we all need to be monitoring our credit in the months/years to come to protect ourselves. And in case you haven't heard, Target is offering a year of free credit monitoring if you were one of those who were were effected by this incident. Now it doesn't make the whole breach thing ok in my opinion however what I do appreciate is that they are not pretending that this didn't happen. In fact they are addressing the issue head on, taking responsibility and informing their customers of their options. In my book that still makes Target a stand up company and I will continue to shop there. Will also I take advantage of the free credit monitoring? You bet!

But what I can't tolerate is when this type of thing occurs and the company does nothing about it. Case in point, my Pinterest account was recently hacked. Apparently someone from Indonesia logged into my account and tried to pin spam on my account. So Pinterest decided to put my account in "safe mode" without telling me. So when I tried to pin something it wouldn't let me. Their customer service department told me that to fix the problem, all I had to do was reset my password via an e-mail link associated with my account. The only problem is that since we have moved, my e-mail associated with that account is not open anymore. I tried to change the e-mail account myself but it won't let me because my account is in "Safe Mode." So I asked Pinterest to change my e-mail address for me. And their response was since my account is not linked to my Facebook, they could not verify who I was and therefore the only solution was to start over with a new account.

START OVER! You have got to be kidding me! So now all my pins are lost! Awesome. The whole reason I didn't link Pinterest and Facebook was because I chose to purposefully keep the two separate, for my own security reasons. But after a short exchange of questions, Pinterest stopped answering my questions and closed my customer service request. No response, they just closed it. As in they are considering the case has been resolved. Only it is not resolved. All of my nursery decor ideas are gone. All of my recipes to try are gone. All of my gift ideas are gone. All of my dream home inspiration ideas are gone. I will tell you this is enough to make an 8 month pregnant woman really mad! As in really @!$#@$ mad!

But it is not the fact that it was hacked or even the fact that Pinterest put my account in "Safe Mode" that makes me angry. It is how poorly their customer service department handled my request. How can you just close a case and ignore the customer without any attempt to make things right? In fact their only solution basically says that the customer doesn't matter. Even if they couldn't do anything about it, an apology and a heartfelt explanation goes a long way. All I got was a canned response to say,"we are sorry to hear about this issue."

Now imagine what kind of uproar there would have been if Target had responded in the same way? And I fully understand that these are two very different situations with very different outcomes. But a customer is a customer whether it is one or millions. Pinterest can learn a thing or two about customer service from Target. Ignoring and shutting down your customer requests is not winning you any points in my book. Refusing to work with the users of your site is not the way to grow your company.

In fact I would almost rather have my credit and identity stolen then be treated this way (insert sarcasm here).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Where to begin...

Wow, has was it really March since I last blogged? Yikes, that is a little scary! How do you even start a new blog post after 10 months? 10 months! I could have had a baby in that time! And speaking of baby... (how do you like that for a great segue)...

Let me just say that a lot has been happening over the last 6 months in our little household. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!  First off, as you might have guessed, we are having another baby.  As I type this I am 31 weeks along. And we are having a BOY! Yes, that is correct a BOY!  I am so excited to meet this new little super hero I can hardly contain myself. I am not due until the end of March so I will have to wait a little longer but this little miracle that is keeping me up at night will be soooooo worth it! And the girls can hardly wait either. They will be such little mommies and are already practicing. Except when we talk about diaper changes, then they run the other way. I can't say that I blame them, I would run the other way too if I could.

So if that wasn't enough news to share, we have moved. Yep! The good ol' hubby received a new call to a new church in a new state so off we go again. We are still living in the east, just a little further south. Ok, a lot further south. As in North Carolina south. Although I can't complain too much because all of my Pennsylvania friends are enduring a bad snow storm at the moment and it is only chilly here. Ha! Take that PA!

We have been living down here for an awesome week and a half already and it has been great. The girls are adjusting to new schools and a new home and new routines. Actually who am I kidding, we are all adjusting to a new home, schools and routines. Plus this whole baby possibly coming in a few weeks has kept me busy. Our baby crib was broken in the move so we are on the hunt for another one. We made a trip to Ikea on a mission for a dresser for the nursery which I quickly regretted as soon as I stepped into the store. What a zoo! Note to self, the next time I go, make sure it is not Martin Luther King day when everyone and their mother is off of work. I have had Dr. Appointments, transferred medical records, had my Pinterest account frozen (due to suspicious activity, whatever that means and I can't get it unfrozen, which is not something a pregnant mom wants to hear after moving to a brand new place). And my husband was in a car accident and totaled his car. Don't panic, he is ok. Just a little sore and banged up. But the car was not so lucky. So sometime soon after the insurance companies do their thing, we need to purchase a new car. Sigh...

But aside from all the craziness, the people have been wonderful! We have had meals delivered to our door from the ladies of our new church and I can't even begin to express my gratitude to them for doing so. We had someone drop off a spare vehicle for us to use until we find a new vehicle to purchase. Life Saver! The girls were quickly invited to join the youth group activities at our new church which has helped them to adjust. Southern hospitality really does live up its name. And my husband has been an amazing support for all of his girls during this transition. I can't thank him enough. He is my rock and I can't wait to see what this new adventure with three kids in a brand new place will take us.