How Old Was The Boy That Fell Off The Ride The Roller Coaster Ride of Pregnancy and Motherhood

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The Roller Coaster Ride of Pregnancy and Motherhood

As I raced toward my thirtieth birthday at a pace I would normally aspire to, I found myself taking a closer look at my life. I reflected and analyzed my achievements so far (or as I thought at the time, the complete lack thereof) and explored where I would like to be in the future.

I recently got married to a man I met when I was only nineteen years old. We were together for ten years before we got married. I was, I am, one of those people who live reasonably and safely from hour to hour and day to day. I didn’t make hasty decisions. As for family, the possibility of having difficulty conceiving never entered my so sensitive mind and I always thought I would have children by the time I was thirty.

After our wedding, we decided the time was right for a family and naively thought it would just happen – just like that. It’s not. And that didn’t happen for another two years. Many doctors and research later, it turns out I have a mild fertility problem, but not one that should be harmful. I started a course of Clomid.

It’s funny how obsessed I was. I kept thinking about the babies. I enviously looked at pregnant women and was convinced that the pregnant woman in my hometown had quadrupled in size. Everywhere I looked, friends, colleagues, and even family – everyone seemed to get pregnant very, very easily. Just as I was about to lose myself in the absolute mental torture of many “woe is me”, I looked at my calendar and realized that I needed to take a pregnancy test. Boxing day 2001 and I was positive. Unbelievable. The pregnancy was amazingly easy. (If you ignore the absolute chronic vomiting from the sixth week to two days postpartum). Then came an exciting time at 30 weeks that resulted in a week of hospitalization and a near premature birth. Happily, the pregnancy continued and in August 2002 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, born at 38 weeks and weighing 5lb 3oz. Fantastic! Jessica Rose.

Funny, without much planning – I got pregnant again in 2004. This pregnancy was very difficult. I had chronic vomiting again, but unlike that, I just didn’t feel happy or healthy during my pregnancy. I felt constantly tired – not a little, but completely exhausted. During the 30th week (obviously a little for me) I developed obstetric cholestasis. Cholestasis is an uncommon complication of pregnancy, which causes bile acids to build up in the bloodstream. The main symptom is persistent itching. It was taken during a routine visit to my obstetrics consultant. I arrived at my appointment feeling pretty sick. I was out of work with constant vomiting and fatigue. Literally, in the hospital waiting room, I developed chronic itching – mostly on my hands, but then spread to other places. The itching made me so desperate that I scratched until my skin bled. I was admitted to the hospital there and stayed there. I didn’t know anything about cholestasis then, I hadn’t even heard of it. Although now I feel like I know too much. When I was in the hospital for a few weeks and had daily blood tests, I was informed that my bile acid and liver function results were increasing significantly and could pose a risk to my unborn baby, who I knew was a girl. I didn’t really understand the exact medical terminology at the time, nor did I really understand what exactly was going on, but when a lovely midwife came and took my hand and very calmly explained to me that obstetric cholestasis could lead to stillbirth and that I should be prepared for that – my world fell apart.

The next day my consultant came to see me and informed me that he was going to start labor immediately to hopefully deliver my baby safely. The induction started without delay and was with few complications. I was constantly attached to a heart monitor belt and I remember at one point feeling like the pain had reached an absolute peak. My husband was looking at the heart rate monitor and noticed that the machine was no longer detecting a heartbeat. Having not seen a midwife for a while, my husband pressed the alarm bell and a midwife appeared immediately. Within seconds, a team of midwives, pediatricians and nurses were present in the room. My husband panicked – I was busy dealing with the pain, but then I realized there seemed to be a problem. The next thing I remember is that my daughter was born. At 7:20 am on April 15, 2005 – 35 weeks, I gave birth to a very healthy and very lively 5 lb 11 oz baby girl. Elisa Mae. Everything was fine, luckily and I was relieved.

So I was, 33 years old and the proud mother of two beautiful girls. What luck.

Then, at the end of 2006, I discovered I was pregnant again (bearing in mind that at one point in my life I thought I would never have children at all – this was quite astonishing). This time I went into pregnancy with my eyes wide open. I knew that since I suffered from cholestasis during my last pregnancy, there was a 60-80% chance that I would get it again. Forewarned is armed as they say. The pregnancy, like my first, was very easy. I didn’t even have any sickness after 14 weeks and because of that I was convinced I was having a boy. My logic was that when I’m pregnant with a girl, there’s an increase in estrogen that causes the disease. Not with a boyfriend. I was constantly monitoring the symptoms of obstetric cholestasis and reliving it when none appeared. I got to 30 weeks and that’s when I started itching like crazy. I couldn’t sleep at all because of the need to scratch. I was up many times during the night to shower to try to reduce the itching. I was exhausted and referred to my consultant. Many blood tests were done but there was no increase in liver function or bile test results and therefore cholestasis was not diagnosed. I was under frequent surveillance for the next few weeks, for which I will be eternally grateful. Then, after meeting with a consultant, I was informed that I would be placed on the ‘at risk’ register as I clearly did not have cholestasis and therefore my pregnancy should be treated as ‘normal’. I couldn’t accept this. Having gone through worrying about a significant chance of stillbirth last time, I wasn’t taking any chances this time. I became a boring pregnant woman and pestered my midwife, my GP and my consultant for numerous blood tests as the itching was still completely unbearable. That in itself, I believe, is a significant sign of cholestasis. I realized that the chances of stillbirth increase in the later stages of pregnancy and I know that many cholestasis consultants feel that it is best to deliver the baby at 35-38 weeks, because induced labor at this time has a high chance of the baby surviving. Armed with this information, I continued my quest for early birth. Something I know a lot of people frowned upon. But my conscience is clear. I did what was best for my baby. It was finally agreed that I would be induced at 37 weeks – July 2007. After a very traumatic birth – as my baby was coming down the birth canal but I was not dilated and then the baby signaled distress – I am pleased to say that my third GIRL born happy and healthy, weighing 6 lbs. Emily Grace.

Now I am the mother of three beautiful, charismatic girls. My life revolves around them, and thankfully they are not blissfully unaware of the trials and tribulations that have safely enveloped their arrival here.

My family is complete. Although I may be secretly longing for another baby – I know my family would not be able to handle another pregnancy and all the trauma it could produce.

My advice to everyone would be not to ignore any health issues during pregnancy and to see your GP. I don’t know how things would have turned out if I hadn’t met my consultant in my second pregnancy, and I don’t dare think about what would have happened in my third if I hadn’t been so persistent.

Every pregnancy is different. But we, as parents, must take responsibility for our unborn children and ensure that nothing is overlooked.

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