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5 Weeks and 3 Days to go

I have a new goal in life. That goal is to not set foot in Labor and Delivery again until it’s time to have a baby 5+ weeks from now. It’s a ridiculous goal to set since I have no real way of making it happen and I’ll just be disappointed and depressed if I take it seriously and then fail. But I’m just so very frustrated that I had to spend several hours there tonight after my regular Tuesday appointment.  On the plus side, when I’m up there and get labs I get results back before I am allowed to leave instead of having to wait days for them.

Tonight I found out that my liver levels are continuing to respond to the Urso and that they keep dropping. If it keeps up this pace, my AST levels just might be in the normal range next Tuesday! Probably not my ALT levels but give that two more weeks and that one might be down there as well. Last Tuesday they were only about 8 times what they should be as opposed to the 15 times normal on my first test the week before. Now, as with everything to do with Cholestasis, it’s always a cautious optimism. My numbers are dropping now, but they could spike back up any minute. No matter how low they get I will continue to be closely monitored 2 days a week until we hit that 36 week mark. I do feel better mentally about making it to 36 weeks now. Plus my itchiness is a little better and I have slept through the night several nights in a row now without getting up to put my feet in a bucket of ice cold water to numb them so I could get back to sleep.

But my Cholestasis and liver levels are not what sent me to Labor and Delivery today. My BP was elevated last week but today it was straight up HIGH. I knew something was up when my nurse took it 3 times and then my Dr came in to see me before they even started the non-stress test on the baby. She usually just comes in after that’s all done to talk about the results. And then they kept coming in the check on me. She poked at my ankles and confirmed that I am NOT swollen. I told her I have not been having headaches or floaters. There was no protein in my urine sample. All these things mean that I do not have a bunch of signs for pre-eclampsia.  Just the high blood pressure one. Up I was sent to the 2nd floor where L&D resides to sit on a fetal monitor and BP cuff for 2 hrs for a blood pressure series. I had forgotten my book so it was nice and boring. I mostly catnapped. They also went ahead and drew my labs there since the results come back more quickly than from sending them out downstairs from my Dr’s office. After my labs were back and my BP results were sent over to my Dr. she called and said I could go home, since both had dropped enough for her. That was great news since I did NOT want to spend another night in the Hospital!

I didn’t come home alone though. No. I came home with a giant jug to pee into for 24 hrs. A jug that then has to go into the fridge. I have a urine jug in my fridge RIGHT NOW. Hopefully the alleged scary ice storm we’re getting tomorrow will wait until after my 4pm Dr’s appointment to bring in my pee bottle and get some more blood drawn. I’m starting to look like a junkie with all my needle pokes. They’ll be checking my giant bottle of urine for protein to either diagnose or rule out pre-eclampsia. I’m going to be super honest here. I will be SO PISSED if I have Pre-E. I just want the Cholestasis to be the last issue. I’m done. All I wanted was to enjoy this pregnancy and then have a nice, med-free, natural birth. Instead I have been too sick to enjoy any of it. As soon as I think I might be feeling pretty good something else comes up. It’s just exhausting. I asked the Dr if this was related to the Cholestasis and she got the most sympathetic look on her face and said “No, it’s a completely different issue. I’m so sorry, you just can’t win, huh?” Ugh. I’ll say it again. This baby better not be a dud. I better not be going through all this trouble for a jerk baby. Or one that will grow up and be on Jerry Springer or something.

Ending on a happier note, the baby has been VERY active lately. Sometimes I make a weird noise and Daniel looks at me like I’m crazy because I’m trying to figure out exactly WHICH organ I just got kicked in. Unless it was my bladder. Then I KNOW there has been baby/bladder contact. My belly fairly swims these days. It’s so fun to watch it ripple as the baby adjusts. Daniel says it’s squirmy like me. I can never quite get comfortable so I fidget a lot. Also, a new revelation this evening. Apparently pregnancy makes me a sleep-kicker. Not only do I toss and turn like I have always done, I apparently have been thrashing about lately and kicking Daniel pretty hard in my sleep. He says it’s not like involuntary movement form my pregnancy restless leg. He seriously stops and thinks “WHAT is she dreaming about that she needs to kick something that hard?” My poor husband. But it’s still kind of funny.

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6 Weeks and 3 days to go

Today I went in for the first of my twice-weekly Dr’s appointments. Driving from home to the Dr’s office was miserable. Moving around got my blood flowing, meaning it also got the toxins moving around and depositing all over my skin. Being away from my ice packs meant I thought I might scream from the effort not to scratch. I’m not really confident in the safety of me driving a car right now, honestly. That is not something they call out on any of the Cholestasis of Pregnancy websites I’ve come across so far.

The non-stress test on the baby took longer than usual because our little one is a squirmer. This is GREAT news! I’m supposed to do kick counts every day to make sure the baby isn’t suddenly having a drop in movement so confirming a very active baby was a big relief. Keeping track of movements is really the only way I have of knowing if the baby is doing ok in between Dr’s appointments when we get to check the heart rate. If we get a day with little or no movement we’ll have to hurry to get the baby on a monitor as it could mean distress.  That was, thankfully, not a problem today. On top of a wriggly baby who kept moving its heart away from the monitor, the little one also got the hiccups for 10 or 15 minutes while we were trying to track its heart rate today. I could see and feel my belly bouncing rhythmically with each hiccup and the heart rate monitor kept getting hiccups confused with heartbeats. It was sort of adorable. Eventually everything calmed down enough to get a good long reading and the baby passed its first non-stress test this week!

I was not so lucky and I could see the sympathy in my Dr’s eyes as I clawed at myself from the moment she walked in the room. She feels like I should be having more improvement in my symptoms by now so she upped my dosage of Urso and wrote a new RX for some steroids to hopefully get my itching under control. She also wanted to check my blood pressure again, even though the nurse already had. I think that’s always a bad sign. It wasn’t SCARY high but it was higher than she would like it to be so my BP has been added to the list of items we’ll be watching closely twice a week now. I also got my blood drawn again so in a few days we’ll find out if my acid levels are dropping and how quickly. In the meantime, she wants me to take it easy and keep my activity levels down. She didn’t put me on full-on bed rest but it looks like I’ll be working from my couch and sticking close to home “until further notice.”

Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning itch-free and Friday my levels will come back totally normal and I’ll be free to go about my life as usual. A girl can dream, right?

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You know what is ironic?

Being released from the hospital where you have been informed that the absolute LATEST your baby will be allowed to arrive is 7 weeks from now at 36 weeks gestation and coming home to a letter from your insurance company telling you that it is IMPERATIVE that you let your baby cook the full 40 weeks and giving a bullet pointed list of all of the horrible things that can happen to your baby if you voluntarily schedule delivery before then.

It’s very helpful to your emotional well-being, let me tell you.

Apparently I couldn’t just call it a day at kidney stones and have an uneventful third trimester. Instead I went to a regularly scheduled appointment hoping to get the go-ahead to take Benadryl for my itchy feet and got admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Cholestasis of Pregnancy.

Something is wrong with my gallbladder and it is not draining bile from my liver like it’s supposed to. Instead, all that toxic goo is just spilling over into my bloodstream. And it makes me itchy. So very, very itchy. There are other symptoms. Some of which have to do with what color things are in the toilet department so I’ll just let you Google to your heart’s content in that area. It’s not really likely to be harmful to me, just really annoying and uncomfortable. The baby is another story. Still birth is a big risk with this condition because the toxins can pass to the baby. So we walk a fine line of keeping the baby in until it has time to mature enough to survive in the outside world and keeping it safe from the toxins in my blood.

So I am taking a medicine called Urso that will hopefully lower my bile acid numbers and I will be closely monitored twice a week to check the baby’s heart rate and stress level as well as my acid levels. If things stay low enough to be safe and the baby stays healthy, we will get to continue gestating for 7 more weeks and then induce labor (boo) to bring the baby 4 weeks early. If my numbers get too high or the baby goes into distress, we’ll have an even earlier baby.

In the meantime I try not to scratch too much and try not to worry too much and fail at both. I have bruised myself from clawing and I can barely function because the itching never goes away and is so distracting. I do ok if I can stick close to home and rotate ice packs on my itchy spots constantly. This also includes lots of sitting with my feet in ice cold water and wet towels wrapped around my legs. I attempted to go back to work today and only lasted a few hours before coming home to work from here where I could cover myself in ice packs. It looks like I might be working from home a bit longer, depending on if the Urso kicks in to lower my levels enough to help with the itching.

It’s been almost a week since that terrifying night in the hospital where the on-call Dr. told us she’d be happy to get 2 more weeks out of me. Thankfully my regular Dr. has a more positive outlook so far but the constant uncertainty of what could happen next and worrying that my own body is hurting my baby is difficult to deal with. We just try to stay positive and focus on the success stories of people we know who have been through this and came out the other end just fine with a healthy baby while trying to be mentally prepared for the other possible outcomes. If I have to be itchy for 7 more weeks, then so be it. But I’d rather have my medicine work on my acid levels AND my itchiness so that I’m not clawing at myself while I still get to cook this munchkin for 7 more weeks.

 

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This poor kid. I fear that, after this day and age of people documenting every little thing, our kid is going to come home from school some day and ask, eyes filled with confused tears, why THEY don’t have a snazzy memory book filled with weekly updates of their gestation and belly pictures of me.  “Didn’t you love me, Mama? Didn’t you WANT me?” they’ll ask with a shaking voice. I’ll have to reply, “Oh, sweetie.  Mama was afraid that if she wrote it all down she’d actually remember what it was like and then never have another baby ever again.” Plus it would have been really boring. But, just in case it will save me some time and maybe therapy money down the road, here is a quick recap of the past 6 months.

Weeks 4-8: Shhhhh! Nobody knows about the baby other than a few people at work who have noticed Mama’s constant emergency trips to the bathroom. Mama doesn’t look any fatter. Probably because she’s either barfing or trying not to barf every second of every day.

Week 9: Granny and Pike know! They are very excited. Mama’s pants are starting to get tight but she’s still barfing barfing barfing. She can’t wait for the first trimester to be over so she can quit barfing. Also she hasn’t pooped in two weeks and she’s not too thrilled about that.

Week 12: First trimester is over! We’ve announced our happy news on Facebook and on Mama’s blog. Still barfing but the Dr. says that will definitely be gone by week 15. There are also many naps at this point. Growing a human is exhausting!

Week 15: Mama’s Dr. is a lying sack of poo.  Mama would like to punch her real hard but it would probably make Mama barf. Everything else does. Mama is starting to feel little somethings in her belly but she’s not sure if it’s baby or if she just needs to toot.

Week 20: Mama only barfs first thing in the morning now! Or if she waits too long to eat. Or if she smells something weird. Baby movements are clear at this point and sometimes Daddy can even feel little movements from the outside. He says it feels like Mama has gas. He’s so sweet. We had an anatomy scan and it looks like the baby is coming along nicely with everything where it is supposed to be. Only the ultrasound tech knows the sex, not even Mama’s lying Dr. knows because, on top of lying about morning sickness, she also apparently can’t keep a secret.

Week 23: Mama had a strange pain the day after Christmas that went something like this: Back spasm? Braxton Hicks? Dear Lord I’m dying something is wrong call the Dr. NOW!!!!! Turns out Mama has a kidney stone (or a bunch, who knows?). And kidney stones hurt real bad, mmkay? Lots of water, heating pads, scalding hot baths and the occasional guilt-ridden pain pill are helping Mama endure the pain that some people are telling her is worse than childbirth. Mama didn’t want to take the pills at all but she was no match for a worried Daddy AND visiting Granny and Pike. If they discover later that they cause some horrible birth defect like being allergic to chocolate, you can blame your Granny. Also, the not pooping is back. What the heck?

Week 24: Mama saw her Dr. this week and her Dr. basically said “Yah, nothing we can do. Suck it up.” So Mama cried in her car for a long time then drove home where she pretty much cried the rest of the night. Because having kidney stones when you are pregnant sucks the big one. She would rather be moving furniture out of the guest bedroom to get ready to set up the nursery but instead she’s stuck on the couch attached to her heating pad most of the time.

So there you are, sweet child of mine. That takes care of the first 6 months of your existence. I will try to remember to do a weekly update on Thursday or Friday every week for the rest of your stay in my belly so you don’t have to feel like a total outcast among your pretentious little hipster spawn classmates with their fancy “When I was a zygote” storybooks. Night Night!