In this series we share birth stories of all kinds from mothers around the globe — with the hope that they inspire, educate and inform expecting mothers. Interested in sharing your birth story? Email us at email@example.com . Read more birth stories here.
My birth story with my 4th baby begins with something I may never have associated with labor or pregnancy….itching. Just before I hit 36 weeks I began itching, like crazy intense itching, mostly on my feet, legs and hands, and mostly at night. It lasted for about 3 nights but drastically subsided during the day. And then after about 3 nights of it being the worst, it seemed to go away. Right after these 3 nights I had a routine doctor’s appointment. Everything looked great….baby’s heartbeat was strong and I was dilated about 1 cm. I just happened to mention the itching towards the end of the appointment. My doctor didn’t seem too concerned, but ordered a blood test for cholestasis, explaining that it was rare but she wanted to “rule it out.”
Although we discussed the condition briefly at my appointment, I really didn’t think too much of it, especially since the itching had subsided. A few days later however I checked my voicemail to find a message from my doctor requesting I call back regarding my test results. Now, I knew immediately the test results were positive…because it was my doctor herself calling and not her assistant who normally makes the calls regarding routine test results. I called her back immediately and confirmed my suspicion…I had tested positive for cholestasis.
Cholestasis of pregnancy is a disorder of the liver that impairs the flow of bile – a digestive fluid – from the liver. While it poses no long term risk to the mother, it can be dangerous for the baby, even causing possible stillborn. While my doctor didn’t actually mention stillborn to me (I read that incredibly alarming word when I googled Cholestasis) – she asked if I still felt movement. That alone is a terrifying question. Luckily the answer was a solid yes. I could feel my baby girl moving. And for the next day if I didn’t feel her often I would give my stomach a poke, poor baby didn’t get much sleep that last day in my tummy!
The following morning I went in to monitor my sweet girl. I was hooked up for 45 minutes to monitor her heart rate and any contractions. Thankfully all looked well. Next I went in to talk with my doctor and decide on next steps. She had mentioned on the phone the day before that I would be induced early….it was a Tuesday afternoon when we spoke and she said I would likely be induced that Friday or following Monday, when I was 37 weeks. I went in thinking this was still the case, but was surprised to hear my doctor say that she wanted to admit me to the hospital THAT NIGHT at MIDNIGHT to induce labor. She said my baby was “safer out than in” so even though I hadn’t reached 37 weeks they wanted to induce as soon as possible. Wow!! I was surprised, excited and nervous. I was also relieved. Safer out than in….I knew I would be a nervous wreck with her in my tummy and just couldn’t wait to have my baby girl in my arms.
Leaving the appointment I immediately called my husband and my mom! We had planned on my mom watching our three other kiddos while in the hospital, and she is a solid 7 hours drive from our house. She knew I was going to be induced early, but now it was even quicker then thought! Thank goodness for moms, right!? Within in an hour of my phone call she was packed and driving our way. I spent the rest of the day running a couple last minute errands (um, I still needed diapers!!) and trying to relax. Oh, and that evening I also went to Open House at my kiddos school!
My mom arrived around 8pm, kiddos went to bed and I tried to rest. At 11:30pm I kissed my kiddos all tucked in their beds and we left for the hospital. And it’s at this point that my birth story is rather uneventful. And I’m thankful it was! We checked in, got my IV started and the wait began. I was actually contracting on my own, most of them I didn’t even feel and the ones I did were very mild. I was only 2 cm dilated. They started pitocin to get contractions going and said I could have my epidural at anytime. I signed right up! Once my epidural was in I could relax a little. My husband fell asleep and I watched Netflix to pass the time. In the morning the nurse checked me again and I was only 3 cm. I honestly couldn’t believe it, 3cm??!! That was basically nothing! With my other three I was already 4cm by the time I arrived at the hospital, so I thought I would be in labor for days! But I was contracting regularly and they weren’t concerned. An hour or so later the doctor came in to break my water and then things got moving. I dilated to 10cm within the next hour and a half. The room was set up and we waited for my doctor to begin pushing. Two contractions of pushing and Emery Elizabeth Johnson was born, 7 pounds 3 ounces of pure sweetness. They immediately laid her on my chest for skin to skin and my heart expanded once again. I’ve been truly blessed to experience the joy, love and exhilaration of giving birth four times.
A big thank you to Caitlin for allowing me to share my birth story here on Mama Notes. Cholestatsis is one of those rare, fluke things and I feel lucky that I did mention the itching to my doctor. It’s one of those odd symptoms that I feel like could have gone unspoken, and that thought is completely terrifying. Our baby girl was born safely because I spoke up. I’m hoping by sharing my story that if anyone else experiences the same symptoms they will speak up too!