- My morning sickness was so bad that at one point my boss was scraping cupcakes out of the sink that I had vommed up in work as I couldn't keep ANYTHING down.
- I was a permanent shade of grey.
- My thyroid decided to go into overdrive and make my body work at a constant 'light jogging' pace.
- My boobs barely went up a bloody cup size!
- I couldn't eat cake or curry.
- I developed a craving for washing powder. I would literally sit at the kitchen counter with a box of it inhaling all of it's soapy goodness (still would probably do that now in all fairness)
- Did I mention that I couldn't eat cake or curry?
- I developed the complicated condition obstetric cholestasis.
It started when I got back from a Holiday to Greece at about 29 weeks. I had itchy palms and feet which gradually became more and more unbearable. So I went to the Doctors and they tested me thinking it was just heat stroke or mild pregnancy itching, "every woman experiences a bit of itching". Except it wasn't a bit of itching, it gradually progressed to all over my body every single minute of the day. The next day when the Doctor confirmed I had extremely high levels of whatever it is they look for in these tests and that I had obstetric cholestasis, I did what any sane person would do- I googled it. I read the facts and despite the itching, I wasn't feeling too dis-heartened. Until it got worse. The only way I can describe it is that it felt like I had lots of little ants crawling underneath my skin and no matter how much I itched until I bled, the sensation would not go. I was still working full-time running on about 45 minutes sleep per night. I would stay up scratching and googling for forums for sufferers to write in hoping there would be some sort of miracle solution that I hadn't thought of. Reading about other people suffering helped (in a weird way.) I would read their posts detailing their experiences and I would feel relieved that I wasn't alone. Then I would look at the date they posted and see it was 2 years ago and I would think "lucky cow has had her baby, she isn't itching anymore!" I would phone my Mum at all hours of the morning sobbing saying I wanted to jump out of the window (I lived in a block of flats at the time so God knows what mental torture I put her through.) I would be taken to hospital for observations and beg the Doctors for a sleeping tablet whilst scratching furiously at my skin with my earrings (my scabby bitten nails just weren't cutting it- no pun intended.) At one point I covered my entire body in menthol aqueous cream hoping it would give me enough relief to get some sleep but instead I lay on the bed shaking like I had hypothermia (think Kate Winslet lying on that door at the end of Titanic.)
I had already decided at that point I would never put my body through this again, I would never have another child. Obstetric cholestasis has a 60-90 % chance of returning in subsequent pregnancies and I was struggling to keep sane when I just had me to look after, let alone if I had a child to look after too (Obstetric cholestasis and Snakes and Ladders do not go hand in hand.) It also is extremely dangerous if left to go over 37 weeks so when I got my induction date, I was thrilled. It may sound selfish that I was over-joyed my baby would be given her eviction notice three weeks early but I was looking like something from The Walking Dead at this point. I took my maternity leave early and it was lucky that I did as I didn't make it to my induction date. Obstetric cholestatis can also cause premature labour and I ended up giving birth at a little over 32 weeks. The itching stopped and my concern now was keeping my Daughter safe and well while she resided in the NICU.
You can never predict what will happen during pregnancy. Some have it smooth, most people suffer. It was worth the suffering for my Daughter but I don't think I've ever quite 'got over' the whole thing. Even writing about it gives my body a little tingle (like when someobody talks about nits and your head starts itching.) If you happen to be reading this and are suffering from OC, I can't offer you some miraculous solution that will stop the itching. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that it does stop eventually once you give birth. It's almost worth the pain of labour just to stop the bastard itching. I hate the term 'survivor' but if you can get through it without absolutely losing your shit and getting sectioned then you are a bloody survivor because it's horrific! If you are reading this and thinking "shut the fuck up woman! I'M going through this right now, you're not" well, I don't blame you. My mailbox is always open though if you need to chat or rant or scream blue bloody murder. I will reply, because I would have done anything at that time to have somebody to talk to that understood.
The Kitschy Mumma