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!