Intraheptic Cholestatis of Pregnancy (ICP) Awareness
June is Intraheptic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) awareness month. It is also the month my son was born, be it three weeks early. In honor of this, I wanted to share my store of how I woke up one night and couldn’t stop itching, and then found out my mostly average pregnancy was high risk.
When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I, just like every other person that has been 35 weeks pregnant, couldn't sleep. My hips hurt; my back hurt; I was hungry; I had to pee. But I also had a different symptom that was brand new, and extra annoying: my hands and feet felt like they were on fire. They itched so bad. And of course, I am very ticklish on my feet, so it was awful to scratch, but worse not to.
Well, I did what every single person who has been 35 weeks pregnant does, I turned to Dr. Google. I was expecting to see some awful thing come across the screen, but knew I was just overreacting. Well, I wasn’t overreacting.
I typed in my symptoms: extreme itching on hands and feet, worse at night. And some of scariest words possible came up: “RISK” and “DANGEROUS” to name a few. And then another word that had not been mentioned in my birth class came up: “Cholestasis of Pregnancy”.
I KNEW I had Cholestasis. My gut was telling me these were exactly my symptoms. My intuition was telling me to call my doctor immediately. And I did not ignore those feelings. The next Monday, I went in for labs and was diagnosed with Intraheptic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, and found out my baby would be arriving in 2 weeks, rather than the 5-ish weeks I had been planning.
I was scared shitless. But I followed my gut and I was right. My otherwise normal pregnancy was now high-risk. I was facing an induction at 37 weeks for a first time Mom. I was facing going into my doctors office three times a week to monitor fetal movements. I was facing a high risk of stillbirth. Again, I was scared shitless. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes.
I was induced at 37 weeks, and at 37 weeks and 3 days, my beautiful and perfect son was born happy and healthy as can be. And my itching stopped.
In the age of everything being at our fingertips, it can be easy to self-diagnosis and scare ourselves into thinking one thing, but only being told my our primary care physician that we are completely normal. It is easier to dismiss our gut because we are “just that first time mom who worries about everything”. Well, don’t. Trust your gut. Fight the itch, Save a life.
For more information about ICP, please visit http://www.icpcare.org/