It's been almost 2 years now since Bean (JC) was born in our little second story apartment! When I think back to my pregnancy with her and her birth, everything seemed so uncomplicated and (sort of) easy. I had good energy during the pregnancy, was never sick, and she was born in the comfort of our very own home.
As much as I love our new little Pea, things worked out a little differently (and a little more complicated) with the pregnancy and his birth. Similar to Bean's gestation, I had decent energy for most of the pregnancy; however, at the 37-week mark, things got interesting (and not in a good way).
On Tuesday, August 7th, I woke up feeling not so great, feeling low on energy and kind of light-headed. I figured it was just fatigue, so went to work anyhow. I had a really poor appetite that morning, and by the afternoon, I had abdominal cramping and was having difficulty concentrating. My husband picked me up from work early and I went straight home to bed. That's when the cramping really got going! My husband suggested that perhaps it was early labour - after all, many labouring women experience poor appetite, nausea, and general ickiness! We started timing the cramping/contractions and called our midwife. With contractions occurring every 3 minutes and lasting a minute a piece, we started to think it was "go time." We arranged for childcare for Bean and prepared the bed, bathroom, etc. for a home birth.
When our midwife called back awhile later, she recommended I get in the tub to see if labour would slow or progress. However, after bathing for a bit, the nausea increased and I was sick. And then the contractions STOPPED! Our midwife showed up and checked my cervix, but I was only 1-2 cm dilated and 50% effaced ... so she went home.
That week my appetite never really returned and I continued to feel yucky, and had pale stools and darker than normal urine). Come Saturday night I suddenly begin to experience EXTREME itchiness on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet! I tried soaking my feet in cold water with little relief.
When I woke up the next morning, the itchiness was just as bad and I was starting to put things together. I googled the symptoms (itchiness, pale stools, dark urine, low appetite) and came up with ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy). This website was the most informative: icpcare.org
I called my midwife and shared my thoughts. She acknowledged my concerns and suggested trying Benadryl to rule out an allergic reaction. (I didn't bother because I was sure it wasn't the case.) We were visiting my parents a few hours north of here when the itching started, but we were planning to go home that day, so we got in the car and headed home.
On the drive home, I started reading through the womens' stories on the icpcare website. Most of the stories had happy endings when women were induced at 38 weeks. But then I read one more story, where the woman had planned a home birth and waited til the baby spontaneously arrived ... and the baby was stillborn. And that is when the waterworks started and the panic set in (yes, in the car, on the highway, with Bean sleeping peacefully in the backseat).
Shortly after we arrived home, our midwife called and said she'd like me to meet her at the hospital to get some blood work done to check for ICP (seems she was starting to worry, too)!! So I met her at the hospital, put on the fetal monitor, and had some blood drawn. Movement was good, and hours later we found out that my liver enzymes were elevated (an indication of ICP). Care was transferred to the OB present and plans were made to induce me that coming Wednesday.
Over the next couple of days, my appetite started to return and the itchiness resolved. On Tuesday morning, we went into the hospital and a prostaglandin gel was applied to my cervix to encourage it to ripen. Within a couple of hours, I had regular, increasingly intense contractions. We arranged for childcare for Bean (again!) and returned to the hospital. When they checked my cervix, nothing had changed. Oh, and suddenly the contractions became irregular and less intense .... GRRRRRR!!!! They sent us home and told us to return in the morning.
I slept reasonably well that night and gave Bean a good cuddle Wednesday morning. We arrived at the hospital and they started IV oxytocin and ruptured my membranes (broke my water) to encourage the contractions to become more regular and intense. And man, did it work! Within an hour and a half I was in active labour. Within 3 hours our little Pea arrived, healthy and weighing 6 lbs 8 oz, measuring 21 inches! The placenta, on the other hand, didn't look so hot, so it's a good thing we kicked Pea out when we did (at 38 weeks + 1 day). I can't even imagine how differently things could have turned out had I not found the icpcare website (what if I hadn't told my midwife about my symptoms??)!