Founder / Board Chair
I look forward to helping with information and support to all those affected by ICP. I am a Mother who experienced Cholestasis of Pregnancy and blessed with two healthy children Branden & Evan. My time is dedicated to my family, work and passion to raise awareness. I founded ICP Care in an effort to continue to improve awareness among people and the medical community. The journey through ICP began with my first pregnancy in 2003 with my son Jorden. My pregnancy was wonderful until my 33 week when I began with itchy symptoms. Please read My Life-Changing Experience with Cholestasis of Pregnancy story on What to Expect.
Through the Itchy Moms Support group, I received comfort, and reassurance from those that experienced ICP and others that lost their babies to the condition. After living through the sorrow of my loss, my prayers were answered with my second pregnancy in 2004, with my son Branden. My new healthcare providers specialized in high risk pregnancies. The Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists were excellent with the best medical management, treatment and care. I will always remember the joy of having my sweet son home with our family as it is one of the best memories I hold dear in my heart. Subsequently, my blessings continued in 2006 with my surprise baby, Evan, I was diagnosed with Cholestasis of Pregnancy at 33 weeks, although I thought perhaps, the condition may skip my third pregnancy. I am blessed and truly cherish the special moments of time lived with my loves, each of my three sons. They have brought peace and joy to my life.
With all the life changing events that unfolded, I had a true yearning to help and reach others whose lives are affected with ICP. I corresponded regularly with Melanie Weltin from the Itchy Moms website and she chose to transfer that domain name to me in 2008, after years of communicating with her and knowing my passion to continue to make a difference for all those affected. The journeys in my life lead the way to support those who are searching for answers. In April 2012, I founded the nonprofit ICP Care.
ICP Care has a Medical Advisory Committee of Healthcare specialist. The information on this website was gathered from medical articles & references you can review on the Medical articles & reference page of the website. In addition to other women with Cholestasis of Pregnancy personal experiences and books. The ICP Care website is a guide for you to utilize to help you and your healthcare provider understand and learn more about the high risk pregnancy condition Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.
There is a definite need to assist in the awareness of ICP as well as aiding others to seek the proper medical treatment that is vital for those health care specialists caring for women with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy. My goals continue by networking with those affected by the condition, researchers and medical healthcare specialists throughout the world. With your help together we can all make a real difference to Fight the Itch. Save a Life.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (Hablo español tambien escríbame)
Senior Manager / Vice Chair
As a mother of three ICP babies, my hope is to help women like me to get the treatment they need to protect the lives of their unborn babies. I have a degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin, and I am happy to be able to use my science degree and background, as well as my sister, who is now a doctor, to help women learn about this disease and seek the proper medical attention.
My ICP story began with my first pregnancy, and like so many women with ICP, my first ICP pregnancy went undiagnosed. In retrospect, I can see many of the warning signs – I remember asking a friend if she, too, had been really itchy when she was pregnant. I had terrible right upper quadrant pain throughout the pregnancy; pain so debilitating that I found it nearly impossible to drive or even sit in a car. Even sitting in a chair could be excruciating. I had terrible bruising all over my legs, a sign of vitamin K deficiency which is another danger associated with ICP, and when Sydney was born she went into distress. I am thankful every day for my doctor who intervened promptly, allowing her to be born safely. After delivery, I also hemorrhaged, yet another complication of this disease.
In my second pregnancy my sister was in medical school and I asked her about this intense itching that I had that was keeping me from sleeping and causing me to intentionally scratch the skin off my feet just to get a little reprieve. She made the diagnosis of ICP and sent me to my doctor where we ran liver function and bile acids. Liver functions came back elevated within hours, but I was hospitalized for preterm labor the next day before bile acid results were received. I was treated with Ursodeoxycholic acid and delivered Alec at 36 weeks. My third pregnancy saw worsening ICP as my bile acids and liver functions were not able to be controlled with medication. Lucas was born at 35 weeks via urgent Cesarean section as he was breech. He suffered from failure to establish breathing at birth and needed to be transferred to another hospital for more respiratory support. He did well, and three days later, when I was discharged, I was able to go pick him up and bring him home, too.
After pregnancy, I learned about the importance of follow-up care for all women with ICP. Approximately six months after Lucas was born, I was diagnosed with Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis (FIC). This came after follow-up testing for worsening ICP-like symptoms, and many appointments with gastrointestinal specialists and finally hepatologists. FIC is a genetic liver disease that caused me to develop ICP secondarily when pregnant. It also explained why my ICP was not able to be controlled by normal medications, as FIC does not respond well to Ursodeoxycholic Acid. Looking back at my medical records, I can see that I had been to the doctor many times before this for FIC symptoms – unexplained itching and intense right upper quadrant pain – but we were looking for answers in the wrong places.
I was 37 years old when I got pregnant with my first child, Gemma. Because of a previous miscarriage, I was an anxious “boy who cried wolf” pregnant lady, wrought with worry over just about everything. I drove everyone, especially my husband, crazy. By my third trimester, however, I finally let my guard down and was starting to relax. And then the itching started.
My feet became especially itchy right around 30 weeks. I thought it might have something to do with my new Uggs. Maybe I was allergic to the lining? But then the itch spread to my hands, arms, legs, back, and stomach. It was getting unbearable. I had learned that lots of weird things happen thanks to pregnancy, but this felt “off”. Especially since there was no rash. I went straight to Google.
I put in the search terms, “itchy, pregnant, no rash.” ICP popped up. I read, in horror, about stillbirth and fetal demise. My heart sank and I became sick to my stomach. There was only a 1% chance that I had this rare condition. But I couldn’t shake the worry. When I called my midwives I didn’t want to sound like the hypochondriac they were used to. I simply said, “I’m really itchy and don’t have a rash.” The nurse responded, “You need to come in immediately for blood work.”
Within a few days, my ICP diagnosis was confirmed.
I cannot say enough good things about my midwife. By some crazy twist of fate I was her 4th patient diagnosed with ICP that year. She was “an expert” of this relatively unknown condition. And she was calm, positive, and proactive. Although my bile acids were incredibly high, she was not concerned. She told me I would have regular BPPs (Bio Physical Profiles), non-stress tests, and would be induced at 37 weeks. She assured me that Ursodial was the “miracle treatment” for ICP and that the itching would subside and my bile acid levels would come down. She told me she was confident that I would deliver a healthy baby girl. And she was right about everything. The one thing she didn’t anticipate was the preeclampsia I would develop AFTER delivery. That was a shocker. I didn’t even know that was possible. Luckily, my body went back to normal… eventually. But what a scary time it was.
Two years later, history was about to repeat itself. I was pregnant again. And worry was my middle name. I knew there was an 80-something percent chance I would get ICP again. And, sure enough, at 30 weeks, my diagnosis was confirmed once again.
This time, my bile acid levels were much lower. So my midwife and her consulting OBGYN did not think there was any need for an early induction. I thank God that I had connected with Donna and was following the ICP Facebook page. I had read that induction between 37-38 weeks was recommended for ALL ICP pregnancies, regardless of bile acid numbers. Especially since the numbers rise rapidly in the last few weeks and can get toxic so quickly. I panicked, posted on the ICP Facebook page, and reached out to Donna and Hilary for help. I knew the health and safety of my son was dependent on the Urso along with early induction. I sent my midwife links to studies and literature that confirmed induction between 37-38 weeks for ALL ICP pregnancies. Within hours she emailed back to say, “I agree. We’ll set it up.” At 37 weeks, 1 day, my beautiful son was born without complications.
I am so thankful for women like Donna who have put their hearts, stories and information out here for the rest of us. Without them I don’t even know where I would be. I’m so happy to be a part of this amazing group and hope my advertising background will be helpful as we continue to spread ICP awareness. We must empower pregnant women to be their own best advocates and to educate those around them. With proper management and treatment, we will save babies lives.
Contact me at email@example.com.
Facebook Groups Moderator
I am the mother to 2 severe ICP babies. I am one of the lucky ones. My doctors were well aware of ICP and were on the lookout right away. Due to my underlying liver issues, Biliary Atresia, makes me at high risk for ICP. It wasn’t until after my first born son’s delivery, when I really learned the seriousness of this condition. I joined the Itchy Mom’s support group during my pregnancy, but just didn’t get a real grasp on how serious it was until the end. It was then I learned how lucky to be so well taken care of by doctors who knew the proper protocol. I was on Ursodiol from the beginning of my pregnancy to help with my liver problems. I began to itch a lot around 9 weeks, and had my BA levels tested at my next appointment. At 11 weeks, my levels were 122. My Ursodiol was increased to 1500 mg a day. I had ultrasounds every 4 weeks, at every appointment. This was also because of my liver condition, we wanted to keep an eye on his weight. At 28 weeks I started weekly BPP’s. I received steroid shots to help mature my sons’ lungs a week before delivery. I was induced at 34 weeks due to the severity of my condition. In addition to Cholestasis of Pregnancy I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, but it thankfully remained controlled with diet. At 11:22 PM on Tuesday November 12th, 2013, my 6 lb. 11 oz. and 20 inches long 34 WEEK baby boy was born! I couldn’t believe how big he was. I was so happy to hear him cry. He had a 22 day NICU stay while Gavin learned to eat orally. It was tough, long, and exhausting. However, he was safe. My daughter was born on 4-26-15 at 35 weeks. We had tried to get to 36 weeks with her, but during the 34th week things started to get a little concerning. I failed a BPP for movement and she developed premature atrial contractions of the heart. Normally this arrhythmia isn’t concerning, but with limited data about bile acids being harmful to baby’s heart, my mommy instincts were kicking into gear. Saturday April 25th I went in for decreased fetal movement’s. Her heart arrhythmia had gotten much worse and the heartbeat hardly sounded like a heartbeat to me because the pattern was so flawed. We made the decision to deliver her now because it wasn’t worth the wait. I was terrified of another NICU adventure with my 17.5-month old son needing me. At 4:13 am on the 26th our beautiful girl was born. She was perfect, with no NICU time needed at all. I know in the future if we want to have more children, I’m at high risk of another ICP baby because of my liver condition. I’m thankful for my healthcare team at the University of MN Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, and because of them, having more children is an easier decision. I hope one day ICP is a well know condition, so other mothers can rest easier knowing that their baby is being protected.
Behavioral Health Specialist / Facebook Moderator
I was misdiagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum early on in my second pregnancy. I had lost 60 lbs. and felt super ill. I then started itching and my mom told me she had had ICP in the 70s and 80s She received no treatment then and experienced a still birth at 38 weeks. She never even knew ICP caused it, though it appears it had as her placenta was very aged. I had to fight to get put on Urso and to get Bile acid testing done. I was diagnosed with a 111 bile acid level. My doctors didn’t want to up my dose of Urso, do testing twice a week or induce early. I knew I needed these things so I went to labor and delivery and demanded I be referred to a different MFM. At 35 weeks and 6 days I saw a new MFM. She agreed and ordered a delivery by 37 weeks an increased dosage of Urso and more testing twice a week. I had finally been heard. Sylvia was delivered at 37 weeks and the doctor that did the C-section showed me my placenta. It was calcified and ruptured from the cholestasis. Her exact words were, “Seeing this I am so glad you fought for early delivery. Very scary!” I hope all of you moms find the courage to advocate for your babies. I am very excited to be a part of ICP Care. This group gave me the information I needed to advocate for my baby. I hope to help other mothers advocate for their babies and help raise awareness for ICP and its recommended treatment. I am passionate about the work ICP Care does and honored to be a part of it.
Social Media Coordinator
I am a stay at home mom to two happy, healthy, crazy and kind boys who are 15 months apart. I’m a graduate from the University of Michigan and have lived in south east Michigan my entire life. Throughout college I was extremely ill and it took quite a while to find the problems, one of which was birth control effecting my liver; so early on I knew there was something about hormones and my liver but I didn’t pay much attention. In my first pregnancy something seemed off from about 20 weeks but never having been pregnant and being a bit of a perfectionist I didn’t want to think I was “failing” at being pregnant. You can read my story in the shared stories section here on ICP Care to see why I am now a very firm supporter of self-advocating and trusting instinct! Luckily my son was born just in time in an emergency induction at 36 weeks. My second pregnancy was much more clear that something was wrong when my entire face and head starting itching and burning. That’s when I found ICP Care and through their help was diagnosed around 27 weeks pregnant after symptoms starting again in the early 20 weeks. With the help of ICP Care I got proper treatment and was able to safely carry my son to 37 weeks when I was induced again. I still deal with cyclical itching and cyclical RUQ pain but I’m hopeful it will just disappear one month! I am excited and honored to pay back my appreciation by helping future ICP moms and families safely bring their babies into this world! My advice for ICP moms is always to get checked out if you have concerns and I am a strong believer in living an overall healthy lifestyle, especially a liver friendly lifestyle, after ICP. Always share your story if you feel comfortable, you might literally save a life!
I am the mother to three children, two of them from ICP pregnancies. I was lucky enough to not experience ICP in my first pregnancy. When the ICP symptoms of itchy hands and feet first struck me in the 33rd week of my second pregnancy, I didn’t think much of them. I figured it must be another fluke of pregnancy like stretch marks or nausea. After about a week of the itching, it became much more intense and I realized it was worth mentioning to my doctor. When I described what I was feeling to my OBGYN, she immediately told me about ICP and sent me to the lab for liver function and bile acid testing. About three days later the results were in and my diagnosis of ICP was official. Although my doctor knew about ICP and was knowledgeable on some of the proper treatment options, she was, unfortunately, not well informed about the crucial role of Ursodiol/Actigal. She planned my induction for 37 weeks and had me come in to the office for BPPs (biophysical profile of the baby) twice a week. I asked about being prescribed Ursodiol/Actigal after visiting the ICP Care website, but my doctor informed me that the medication took about a month to take effect (this isn’t true as I later learned), and therefore it would not serve a purpose at that point in my pregnancy. Sadly, I wasn’t yet very involved on this wonderful website or the incredible group forum on Facebook, so my husband and I decided to trust our doctor’s plan. Two days before my planned induction, our beautiful baby boy, Leland, passed away.
This awful outcome gave me the motivation to delve into more research on ICP and become more involved with this group. I wanted to do everything I could to guarantee a healthy baby at the end of my next pregnancy. I also felt like I owed it to my deceased son to help others in my shoes with advice and encouragement and to spread knowledge of the symptoms and diagnosis. My second ICP pregnancy was completely different. I had a great group of Perinatologists that diagnosed me properly and followed all the current protocols of active management of ICP. I was immediately placed on Ursodiol a few days before my diagnosis at 27 weeks. At the end of it all I gave birth to a wonderful and healthy baby boy at 36 weeks! It was then that I absolutely understood that ICP doesn’t have to be a tragic story. The best advice I can give anyone in this situation is to be proactive & persistent for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Educate yourself and your doctor, if necessary. Do whatever it takes to fight the good fight and don’t give up! And always remember; you are not alone! Seek comfort in others in this group that can relate to you and can offer such great empathy and advice.
I am a mom to two beautiful ICP babies. Aryanna born in March 2012 at 38 weeks and 3 days, and Avery born in December 2016 at 37 weeks and 1 day.
During my first pregnancy I started itching around 28 weeks and thought it was just another weird pregnancy thing, as I had recently discovered, there is so much that no one tells you! After a few weeks I brought it up in a mommy group on Facebook as the itching had gotten very intense on the plams of my hands and soles of my feet and I couldn’t tie it back to a change in soaps, a rash or anything else that made sense. No one else had the same experience so I wrote it off and figured it would go away on its own. But a friend from the group reached out to me and had Googled my symptoms. She found a page on the American Pregnancy Association website about Cholestasis of Pregnancy. I had every single one of the symptoms besides upper right quadrant pain.
At my 32 week appointment I saw a Nurse Practitioner. I showed her what I had found online and asked to be tested as I had almost all of the symptoms. She refused and called me a hypochondriac. I became very upset and a couple of the Nurses stepped in to help, they took the liberty of alerting the on call doctor who made the Nurse Practitioner test me. My bile acids came back at 12 and I was diagnosed. I started Ursidol right away and induction was planned for 37 weeks. While I was relieved to be diagnosed and treated I mourned the loss of the all natural water birth I had planned.
I was set up to have BPPs & NSTs twice per week to monitor the baby. She always passed her tests and she looked great on her ultrasounds. I was very lucky that Ursidol relieved most of my itching. My bile acids were never retested.
At my 37 week appointment I was informed that the hospital policy had just been changed and I would not be induced until 38 weeks. Then at my monitoring appointment later that week at 37+6, my blood pressure spiked. I was sent to Labor & Delivery and diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. It was decided between the two diagnoses I would be induced that day.
With my second pregnancy I decided I needed to know more about ICP as I knew the recurrence rate was high. I found this website and joined the Facebook group. I read everything I could find and soon learned how ignorant I was during my first pregnancy. I started itching at 18 weeks and I was in denial. At 20 weeks even though the itch was so mild compared to my first pregnancy I asked to be tested and my bile acids came back at 9. My doctor was quick to acknowledged that I was 1 point off from diagnosis and offered to diagnose based on symptoms and my history. Thanks to the Itchy Mom’s group I knew this wasn’t the best idea. I declined the offer and we agreed I would retest. After one more test I was diagnosed at 29 weeks with a bile acid of 11. I was scheduled for a BPP once a month, NSTs weekly starting at 32 weeks, and induction at 37 weeks. We retested my bile acids again to see if the Ursidol was keeping my numbers down and they had risen to 15. By 35 weeks my bile acids had risen to 23 and my placenta had grade 3 calcification. I was concerned about my levels rising and my placenta so I asked for monitoring twice a week, which was approved. I was schedule to be induced at 37+0.
Throughout this pregnancy my itching stayed very mild, nothing like my first where I was scratching myself to the point of drawing blood. Though due to knowing a lot more about the condition, and the risks, I found this pregnancy was much harder on me mentally.
I feel very lucky and thankful everyday to have two healthy children. I am so thankful for ICP Care and the Itchy Mom’s Facebook page and I feel honored to be able to share my own experience coupled with current research to assist other mothers dealing with this stressful condition. Spreading awareness for ICP has become a passion of mine and I look forward to helping as many women as I can.
Canada Facebook Moderator
I am a stay at home mom to my first ICP baby Jasper. He was born at 38 weeks February 2016, and I’m currently pregnant with his sister who’s also an ICP baby scheduled to make her debut around March 30th. My itchy babies will be 14 months apart.
During my first pregnancy with my son, I noticed around 35 weeks my arms and legs were very itchy. I mentioned this to one of my midwives and she brushed it off as winter pregnancy itching, so I didn’t think much of it. At 37 weeks the itching became unbearable to where I was scratching to the point of bleeding and not being able to sleep at night. When I showed my other midwife my cuts, bruises, and scratch marks she called the L&D OB and sent me straight to the hospital for Cholestatsis testing. I was hooked up to monitors and they performed an NST which baby passed. Once the medical students ruled out an allergic reaction, and PUPPS the OB said my liver enzymes were completely normal, but my bile acids would take at least a week to be returned. A few days later the OB asked to see me again, she decided based on symptoms alone she would induce me at exactly 38 weeks. I still had no idea what ICP was and the risks associated with it. I had my boy a few days later at 38 weeks, he passed meconium and was slightly jaundice but didn’t require any nicu time.
My bile acid results came back after I had my son, I did indeed have Intrahepatic Cholestatsis of Pregnancy (ICP).
I stumbled upon ICP Care and the Itchy Moms Facebook Page and was shocked at what could have happened to my son. With no Ursodiol, NSTs, or BPPs I was extremely lucky to have had zero complications and a healthy baby boy.
With my second (current pregnancy) I knew my chances of ICP returning was very high, so I asked for liver testing and bile acids before I even became itchy. My new general practitioner wasn’t educated at all on ICP and was certain it would show in my liver enzymes and billirubin (which I knew was unlikely, since it didn’t with my son less than a year earlier). Two perfect liver panels later my itching returned, this time very mild. I asked for my OB referral but he wouldn’t budge as I wasn’t in my third trimester yet. So I took my healthcare into my own hands and called L&D to explain my previous ICP history and current itching.
When I arrived at L&D the OB listened to all my concerns, documented my previous ICP history, did blood work and took me on as his patient-which was a huge relief. My bile acids came back normal a week later, but I insisted on more testing as I am now aware of the risks and how bile acids can take awhile to be in diagnosis range. At 29 weeks I was diagnosed with ICP again. My doctor was happy I advocated for more testing as he wasn’t aware that the bile acid levels could change even afew weeks later. I’m currently on Ursodiol, have weekly BPPs scheduled and will be starting weekly NSTs at 32 weeks. 37 week induction is also planned providing my levels stay mild.
I’m hopeful that one day ICP is openly discussed by pregnant women and healthcare providers alike, as its such a life altering diagnosis. I strive to spread awareness through my story, and gain even more valuable knowledge along the way. Lets fight the itch, and save lives together.
Australia Facebook Moderator
I have 4 beautiful children, only with my 4th child did I have ICP.
After having an extremely stressful twin pregnancy (#2 and #3 not ICP), I begged my husband for another child for many reasons, one of which I craved for a normal singleton pregnancy. This was not going to be the case.
At around 28 weeks I found out my mum had terminal cancer, she was given 2 months to live. About 2 weeks after that I started itching on my hands and feet, my cousin had PUPPPS so I rang her and asked how she felt, I quickly realised this was not PUPPPS. A quick google and I knew it was (ICP) Cholestasis of Pregnancy, itching, pale stools and Upper right quadrant pain.
I rang my midwife, she came out to my home that morning took bloods and that afternoon she rang me and confirmed what we both thought was ICP (side note: in Australia, the test only takes hours to run in capital cities). She escalated my care to Maternal Fetal Medicine to which I was very familiar and knew many of my specialists already. I was prescribed Urso, the few days it took to become effective was very difficult, once the medication began working things improved. I had blood tests and CTG’s 3 times a week, I always knew when my levels had gone up as itching increased. By a few days after 37 weeks and a long wait for results and a specialist, my favourite specialist who delivered my twins came in to see me, she said it’s time to get this baby out, levels were 39.
So some mad running around as my husband and 3 children were with me, hubby made it back to begin induction which was challenging due to my previous c section. I had a Foley catheter which failed, then my water broken, after a very long 18 hours he was born (after the threat of a doctor to do a c section) he was a huge 4550 grams (10 pound 5oz), my placenta looked calcified and he had swallowed some meconium, he spent a few hours in special care, since that date he never looked back, and my mum did meet James we had 3 weeks with her before she passed. As strange as it is I thank ICP for needing early delivery without that my mum may have missed out on meeting her final grandchild.
I also admin 3 other Facebook groups, 2 to do with the complicated and rare twin pregnancy I had and 1 to do with Caravanning around Australia. I feel it is my duty to help and support others in their time of need, to provide them with evidence based care plans and support them to making a well informed decision about their care plan. Thank you for having me as an ICP Care team volunteer member.
Spanish Facebook Moderator
I had my first experience with ICP at the age of 22 when I was about 18 weeks pregnant. I told my husband and my midwife about this itching on the palm of my hands and sole of my feet, it felt like a burning itchy feeling. After a few weeks, the itching became worse and was now spreading throughout my whole body, I knew something was definitely off. My husband and I went in for a check up and the midwife told me about Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy. She didn’t know much about it so I decided to switch from the midwife to an OB and met Dr. Kerr. She tested my Bile Acids and LFT levels, they were high to say the least. I was put on Urso and I was being closely monitored by her. The itching was getting unbearable. I was unable to sleep, eat or function. She gave me the steroid shots to help with the development of my baby’s lungs. At 32 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound, my baby wasn’t moving much and the sonographer sent me up for a non-stress-test. After being hooked to the NST for a little while my baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels came crashing down. It was madness all around and I was taken in for an emergency C-section. Our beautiful daughter was born 4.15 lbs, healthy and breathing on her own. She was in the NICU for 2 weeks because of jaundice but was sent home. Thanks to Dr. Kerr’s quick actions and knowledgeable approach.
Our second daughter came 2 years later. With this one, I knew what I was up against. The itching came around 22 wks. The itching was bad as it was the first time around. My BA and LFT levels were high again despite being on Urso and were not coming down. Dr. Kerr had me do blood work and NST twice a week, also ultrasounds twice a week and constant monitoring. I was given the betamethasone, at 32 weeks. With my levels being so high, she decided to do the amniocentesis to confirm lung maturity. Dr. Kerr didn’t want to take any changes and our second beautiful daughter was born at 34 weeks at 6.4 lbs. She spent a few days in the NICU because she had passed meconium at birth but was healthy and with very strong lungs!
My husband and I decided to take a leap of faith 9 years later. I got pregnant right away and my itching started around 25 weeks. I was put on Urso, ultrasounds, NST and blood work. The itching was bad and terrible as it was with my 2 prior pregnancies. My BA levels of 59 were confirmed at 30 weeks spite of being on Urso and were not coming down. Given the increase of my BA and LFT levels, my OB took into account that both my daughters hadn’t gone past 34 weeks and based on my BA and LFT levels, she gave me the betamethasone shots and decided to schedule C-section at 35 weeks. Our son JH IV was born 6.8lbs! And as healthy as can be.
Given the difference in age between our daughters and JH IV, we decided to have another little one, and little partner for JH IV to get in trouble with. We got pregnant right away again. With this pregnancy though, all was well up until 24 weeks. I started with the itching, a very intense itching, not only on my hands and feet but throughout my whole body. By the time I was diagnosed much to my insistence, I had been sent to the MFM specialist who confirmed ICP at 30 weeks. More of my story to come soon…
Even though my journey with ICP has not been the easiest, it has given the greatest joys and the biggest heartache a parent should ever have to endure. I am committed to help mothers like me, who have to deal with this terrible condition.
Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod
The first 29 weeks of my pregnancy were as good as I ever could have expected. I had no morning sickness, was full of energy and was joyfully planning the arrival of our son. Then, like an unexpected thunderstorm, everything changed. I woke up on a Friday morning itching all over my body. I had a crazy busy day ahead of me at work. I was trying to get three months ahead so I could take a full three months of maternity leave. But as I tried to get out of bed that morning, all I could think about was that my feet, legs and hands felt like bugs were crawling all over them and eating me from the inside out. I begged my husband to help me scratch but no matter how hard we scratched, it didn’t seem to help. I grabbed the cortisone cream out of our medicine cabinet, but that didn’t help either. I felt like I was losing my mind.
My first thought was that I had eaten something I was allergic to for dinner the night before and I needed to take an antihistamine to calm my body down. Just to be safe, I called my OBGYN, Dr. Nicole DeQuattro at Capital Women’s Care to find out if I could take Benadryl to stop the itching. Instead of getting a simple yes, my doctor asked if I could come in that afternoon for a quick check. What I thought would be a simple taking of blood pressure and listening to the baby’s heartbeat turned into being admitted to the hospital and having what seemed like dozens of tests. After two days, I finally had a diagnosis: I-C-P. No, it wasn’t the rap group Insane Clown Posse. That day I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP).
Many women aren’t as lucky as I was. My doctor immediately recognized the symptoms and started me on the medication to protect our baby. I was monitored with weekly sonograms and blood work to check my liver enzymes and bile acid levels and was in constant communication with Dr. DeQuattro. As my pregnancy progressed, my bile acid numbers creeped up, so my doctor made the decision that we needed to induce labor at 37 weeks. When it came time to deliver, she was with us the whole time. I had no doubt that baby Brandon would be born safely.
Fast forward about two years – we were ready to expand our family. I got pregnant very quickly and were so excited for our growing family. But excitement turned to extreme worry and anxiety when just 8.5 weeks into being pregnant, I started noticing that my feet were tingling and my fingers were mildly itchy. It wasn’t the intense itching I had with Brandon, but enough that I was panicked. Dr. Dequattro thought it seemed a little early for an ICP diagnosis, but ran the bile acid test to get a baseline reading so we could monitor the levels throughout my pregnancy. Much to all of our surprise, the results came back abnormal at just 9 weeks pregnant! On the one hand, I was totally relieved that I wasn’t crazy and imagining the itch, but at the same time, I couldn’t believe that I would have to endure months and months and months of itching before meeting our second son.
Dr. Dequatrro really is one of the most special people I’ve ever known and she went out of her way throughout the pregnancy to help calm my fears and make sure that Leo Mason would come into this world safely. With this pregnancy I had multiple questionable NSTs and BPPs, so we made the decision to induce at 36 weeks and after a couple of days in the NICU, Leo came home with us happy, healthy and very hungry!
My husband and I know how lucky we are to have two happy and healthy baby boys. Everyday as we watch Brandon and Leo grow up, we are so thankful that we had access to great medical care and doctors who knew the signs, symptoms and proper treatment for ICP. I only hope that women around the world will receive the same great care that we did.