This month has been such a roller coaster. Luckily, my pregnancy has stayed the same, but with everything going on in the world right now, some things regarding my care have changed. I hope you and your loved ones are doing alright, and coping well with this contingency created by the coronavirus, COVID-19. If you’re pregnant, I wish you the best for the rest of your pregnancy.
Itchiness during Pregnancy
During my first pregnancy I developed Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). The main symptom, and sometimes the only one, is itchiness. I was diagnosed at 22 weeks. This time around, I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t been itchy. I have. Actually my husband guessed that I was pregnant because he noticed I was scratching my arms out of nowhere! But well, it hasn’t been too bad, or super constant.
I’ve been having lab work done every 2-3 weeks just to make sure everything is going well. The last time I got my blood drawn was on March 11th, I was 15w2d. That previous night the itchiness was unbearable. The next day I was taking a shower, and I caught myself scratching my arms with my loofah. I called the emergency line of my clinic, and asked to get a lab order for both my total bile acids, and a liver function test. These are the two tests you need to diagnose ICP.
A couple minutes later after I had called, I got a call back from the midwife. She was super persistent about not giving me an order. She asked me about my symptoms, I told her; she asked how many weeks I was, and when I told her, she told me it couldn’t be ICP because it presents in the third trimester. I was getting upset. I told her as calmly as I could that I knew it’s more common to get it during the third trimester, that I was diagnosed during the second trimester during my first pregnancy, and that I know of cases of women being diagnosed at 8 weeks. I think then she remembered who I was, because we had the same discussion when I went to my first clinic visit with her, and I let her know I was an ICP Care volunteer; that day I also had to push her to get tests done. I also let her know that I could go as soon as possible, and that I would really appreciate it as it would give me peace of mind. Then, she agreed and she sent the order. Off we went to the clinic, I got my blood drawn, and long story short, levels came back in normal range, luckily! It’s well known that ICP sometimes presents itself in symptoms, and then you can have your levels out of range. That’s why it’s important to keep testing, especially if your symptoms persist, and if you have a history of ICP.
Advocate for Your Baby
All this situation got me thinking. On the way to the clinic I was telling my husband about how bad I felt for all those women who don’t know anything about ICP, and they have symptoms. They tell their doctors or midwives, and they dismiss them, either because being itchy while you’re pregnant is normal, or because you’re not in the third trimester. I ached for them and their babies.
If you are going through this, I’m going to recommend you to be pushy, and to ask for answers. You never know what’s going on with your body. Being dismissed by a doctor is nerve wrecking, I know, but we have to be sure of what we want and need to feel calm, and to make sure everything is OK. Let your doctor know of any doubt you have. Follow your instinct.
I started my progesterone shots treatment when I was 16 weeks. By then my insurance hadn’t solved if they were going to cover treatment or not. We went through some very stressful weeks. Starting with COVID-19, and on the other end, with the uncertainty of not knowing if I was going to be able to start treatment. At my clinic, the nurse and the OBGYN were really proactive and got me a few sample doses to get me started. They also helped me out with getting a first sample with the provider, Makena. First, they had told me I was going to be able to do the shots at home with the help of my husband. However, there are new regulations that say they have to be applied by a nurse at the clinic to make sure it’s done right, and to also monitor for any side effects after application for 30min. This was a bummer, since I’d like to be out as little as possible to avoid getting sick or catching the COVID-19 virus. Well, these last two visits have been tough. I have to be there on my own because they don’t let anyone with you. I have to keep going once a week to get these shots until 36 weeks (which I really hope we make it!).
My insurance finally approved the treatment, but still we haven’t figured it out if there’s going to be a copay. The provider also mentioned to my nurse that something else needed to be done. I really hope we don’t have to file for another predetermination in these crazy times!
On other news, we know the baby’s gender! One of the genetic tests I had done was the one called MaterniT21, and it included the gender. Before getting pregnant, I had thought that I didn’t want to find out the gender, that I was going to wait for baby to be born. Once I knew my OBGYN knew the gender, it was always on the back of my head, and I felt like I needed to know as well. On my last appointment they gave me an envelope with the results, and we opened it at home. We’re having another boy! There’s a Y chromosome on my DNA, so there’s no way it’s wrong. Healthy baby is all that matters!
I’m almost halfway this pregnancy. The second time around does feel quicker. I haven’t been able to find the energy everyone says you get during the second trimester, haha! My weirdest craving has been celery stalks with chili powder. Moreover, quarantine life is no joke, but we all have to stay home to try to flatten the curve and to not get the virus. I hope everything is going well on your end!
Did/will you find your baby’s gender before birth, or did/will you wait till birth? What was the weirdest pregnancy craving you’ve had?