I came very close to losing my daughter when I was pregnant with her. During my pregnancy, I developed a condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). Generally, the main symptom of ICP is itchiness--extreme itchiness. The effects of ICP can be devastating, however. ICP can cause premature delivery. Even scarier is that it can cause a baby to be stillborn. Doctors who know about it and who really appreciate the dangers of it, recommend delivering the baby at 36 weeks, because the risk of stillbirth increases dramatically after that.
In my case, I wasn't that itchy! I did develop nausea at around 28 weeks, which concerned my OB. I did have one itchy attack on my belly that lasted about 2 days. I almost forgot to even mention it to my OB because the itchy attack had already passed, but thankfully, I did remember to tell him. He immediately sent me off for a blood test to see if I had ICP. Unfortunately, I did, so I had to get monitored by both my OB and a high-risk doctor.
I reassured myself that I was fine because I wasn't that itchy! And I was thankful that I had amazing doctors who took this condition seriously. They put me on the recommended medication and scheduled an early delivery for me.
I was surprised when the high-risk doctor called me at home on a Saturday morning. He told me to pack my bags and get to the hospital ASAP! They were going to deliver my daughter that day. My girl wasn't scheduled to be delivered for another couple of days, so this surprised me. I asked him if everything was okay. He told me that he had another patient with ICP. She was at the hospital the previous night to get a steroid injection to help mature the baby's lungs. Afterward, they monitor the baby for 45 minutes before releasing the mom. I had already been in for my steroids shots, so I know how that goes! Anyway, while the baby was being monitored, the baby went from doing great to dying instantly. The high-risk doctor said it happened really fast, and they couldn't save the baby, even though they were at the hospital! The mom was also only 33 weeks along--not at the risky point yet. It freaked out the high-risk doctor, and he wanted to get my daughter out ASAP before the same thing happened to her.
At the time, I thought everything was fine with my baby, and he was just being neurotic! However, at the hospital, we found out that my amniotic fluids had gotten dangerously low and that my placenta was appearing to be prematurely aged. So, I had a c-section delivery. My OB said that things had really gotten bad in my uterus, and my daughter wouldn't have survived another two days in there. We couldn't believe how lucky we were. We felt that another baby had to die in order for our baby to live.
It's strange, but because of this, I always felt my daughter was destined for greatness--that there was a reason why the stars would align so perfectly for us! I'm not sure this is a rational thought, but it's one I still hold today, six (now seven) years later!
If you are pregnant and having severe itchiness, I highly recommend you see your doctor ASAP and have them run the blood test for ICP. For more information about ICP, please visit www.itchymoms.com . This website is a fabulous resource and has very complete information about ICP.