As we have just had an ‘interesting’ baby-related few days, I thought it was probably time to write something on this blog about BabyMouse or BM, as she (we think) will be known on this blog.
At about 26 weeks pregnant (about two weeks ago) I started itching a lot, so, being someone who worries about such things, I went to the GP. She was on the case and I had a blood test done straightaway, which was just as well because it turned out that my liver function has gone a bit wrong and I’ve been diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis (OC). This doesn’t do me much harm, apart from the itching, which is just annoying, but it can be very bad for the baby in the later stages of pregnancy, so it is rather worrying to be diagnosed with it. I now have to have regular blood tests, which are always fun when your veins are small and refuse to let go of their blood! But still, it must be done.
The drama we had over the weekend developed because I was worried about the baby not moving very much overnight on Saturday. I’d been advised to keep a close eye on her movements because of the OC, so I may have been over-cautious, but I was really worried, so we went up to the maternity triage at the local hospital quite early on Sunday morning. They were lovely and supportive, and did a lot of monitoring of the baby and some more blood tests (it took 7 attempts to get any blood out by Mr C’s reckoning and I now have bruises to show for it! P.S. I hate needles), and decided to keep me in on Sunday night until Monday afternoon, just for observation as a precaution given the OC and my pre-existing heart condition.
Fortunately, BabyMouse woke up whenever she was attached to the monitor and performed her moves very well, so we were able to go home on Monday afternoon as promised. We were given some steroids to help her lungs develop, as it’s likely that she/I will have to be induced early (37-38 weeks) as is the usual practice nowadays with women who have OC. I also now have some medication (Urso) which should help stablise the liver function and reduce the itching. I also have a large pot of cream and some bath oil to help with the latter. Apart from taking the medication, monitoring the baby and my liver function and probably delivering the baby early there is not much that be done about the OC, so we just have to take things as they come…which of course is easier said than done.
Alas, we have an additional thing to worry about in that BM is quite small for her age. This is not necessarily a problem as lots of babies are small and turn out fine, and my cardiologist had already said that our baby might be small because of my lower-than-average oxygen levels. However, the smallness of BM’s head is a particular concern, so we are having extra scans to monitor her growth. We had the latest one of those yesterday. The consultant sonographer was kind, but didn’t pull any punches when telling us what the worst case scenarios could be and I found it quite upsetting (understatement). Even Mr C was not his usual chirpy self afterwards. But the facts on the ground as not that bad – it’s just knowing what bad things could happen that makes one sad and worried. As Mr C said yesterday, perhaps it was better in the past when we didn’t know so much about baby development – but of course it’s good to know if you can do something to help, it’s just hard when all you can do is wait and see.
P.S. If you are pregnant and find yourself itching a lot, it is important to go to your midwife or doctor and let them know, just so they can rule out OC. It’s unlikely to be that, as it only affects about 1 in 140 pregnancies in the UK, but it’s worth getting it checked out so you can and the baby can be monitored if necessary.