After three easy and healthy pregnancies, I expected the same for baby number four. At about 30 weeks pregnant I started to become very itchy. I asked my Doctor and he said it was normal. To help though he said to take some benadryl and avoid hot baths. A couple of weeks later my husband and I went out to dinner. Afterwards, the itching became unbearable. I was itchy from head to toe—especially my feet at night. I couldn’t sleep. I searched the internet and came upon a disease called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, which is a liver disorder that occurs during pregnancy. This condition affects the normal flow of bile. It sounded exactly what I had. I called the doctors office and headed in for tests. A few days later the results came back and I was diagnosed with the disease. ICP poses several risks that are of great concern. ICP is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, premature labor, fetal distress, maternal hemorrhaging, and meconium passage in utero. I was scared.
I was put on medication to help the disease and was scheduled for an early induction, but at 35 weeks my contractions started. They tried to stop them, but I still kept having them. I was moved over to Labor and Delivery, and asked for the epidural immediately. Not only to control the pain but also the itching. After two days of labor Austin was born. They placed him on the table to clean him off and he stopped breathing.
They had to call a code blue. Immediately there were a lot of people in the room. They called a life flight helicopter team to transport him to a high level NICU and placed him on a breathing machine called an oscillator. I was wheeled into a recovery room and watched my baby fly away.
A few hours later I was able to be released from the hospital (I begged and pleaded) and was able to go visit him. He spent five days being sedated and on a ventilator. He was born with an infection that required antibiotic treatment and medication to help his blood pressure. It was very hard not having a normal birth experience.
It was tough learning how to adjust to the NICU life. I think you go a little crazy not being able to hold your baby. I had a lot of support from the nurses, family, and friends. After a week he started learning how to breath and eat on is own and after 14 long days he was able to come home.
Austin was born a fighter, he is such an amazing little boy and now is completely healthy. Although being in the NICU and having such a traumatic experience was the hardest thing I have ever been through, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned to appreciate life, and I have learned to be a better mother.
I have sat in the NICU and waited.
I have cried and prayed.
I have endured.
Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
I will notice everything about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover.
I will marvel at my surviving miracle every day for the rest of my life.
I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to a nurse taking another temperature, an alarm going off, another round of meds or because I am crying tears for fear of the unknown.
I will be happy because my baby is alive and crying out for me.
I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.
Whether I parent a preemie with physical challleges or medical issues, I will not be careless with my love.
I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.
I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body.
I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.
I have prevailed.
I have succeeded.
I have won.
So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.
And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.
I have learned to appreciate life.
Yes I will be a wonderful mother.