“We’re talking pulled-me-out-of-deep-sleep, crazy intense, burning itching on my hands and feet.”
For me, being pregnant with Bailey was fun. Eating all the food, taking all the naps, buying all the cute baby clothes. Loved it. After suffering a miscarriage the first go round, I figured I was due for some preggo enjoyment and, by golly, I sure soaked it up. Bless Kyle’s heart, he was a peach. Couldn’t have asked for a better Fetcher of All the Things for my beached-whale self. I sailed through my first and second trimesters without a care in the world. And then Obstetric Cholestasis decided to be a jerk.
Okay, am I crazy?
During my 32nd week, I woke up in the middle of the night with crazy itchy hands. Super bizarre, but man, did it hurt. Felt like ants had bit me all over my palms. I mean, really, whose palms actually itch?? We’re talking pulled-me-out-of-deep-sleep, crazy intense, burning itching. Everyone always says that your skin can do weird things during a pregnancy, so I just figured I was being overly dramatic, slathered some lotion on them, and tried to go back to sleep.
The next night, I woke up again to the same burning itching on my hands, but also on the bottom of my feet. At the time, I slept with an oscillating fan next to the bed, so I coated my hands and feet with lotion, pointed them towards the cool air, and eventually passed back out.
Now, I should tell you, I felt totally fine during the day. No itching, no pain, no burning. By that point, there were some nice scratch marks where I’d clawed myself in my sleep, but nothing that looked like a rash. I’d had a weird pop up of hives for about 3 hours around week 25, but there was nothing like that to make me think I was getting those hives again. Way weird, y’all.
Not crazy after all.
Around 2 AM on night three brought so much itching, burning pain that I decided to take a cold bath to try to ease my poor hands and feet. As I sat there, I started to cry from my own pitifulness and decided to google my symptoms. Yes, I know everyone always says don’t google stuff when you’re pregnant because you’ll scare the crap out of yourself. Truer words, friends. But by night three, I just didn’t care anymore. I hit on a post from the Mayo Clinic that described my exact symptoms and it was linked to something called Obstetric Cholestasis. The who?? Basically, your liver starts acting wonky and the flow of bile is screwed up and it starts dispersing within your body. Gross, right? For the mama, it’s “intensely uncomfortable, but poses no long-term risk.” Yeah, no kidding. However, it’s super dangerous for the baby and docs recommend early delivery.
Lucky me, my dad is a doctor and doesn’t mind frantic texts from his daughter at 2 AM. I told him my symptoms, sent him the Mayo Clinic link, and he told me to run, not walk, to my OB first thing in the morning. So I showed up at their door when they opened, they drew some blood, and sure enough….I was diagnosed with Obstetric Cholestasis. We had to start monitoring the kid a lot to make sure her levels were all okay and they put me on some magic pills that made the crazy itching go away (praise Jesus). Going past 36 weeks is a no-no, so we induced labor at 35 weeks and 5 days. 23 hours of labor and an emergency C-section later, Bailey was born.
Hey, you know the cure for Cholestasis?? Have your kid. Literally, that’s it.
Moral of the story: if you’re preggo and your hands and feet start to itch, you aren’t crazy. Call your doc ASAP and get that crap checked out. All kidding aside, this thing is serious for your baby and your pregnancy can be at risk. So, please, if any of this sounds familiar, get yourself to your doc and demand a blood test til they take you seriously. K, thanks. The odds of having Cholestasis with my next pregnancy is about 75%, so if we decide to pop another out, homegirl is stocking up on the itch relief from the get go. Obstetric Cholestasis is a jerk.