When it comes to pregnancy, as women we tend to keep a close eye on our ever changing bodies. We glow, we grow, we crave. But sometimes there are other symptoms that will pop up over the course of the pregnancy that appear to be mildly annoying, but we think nothing of it. For example, an intense itch that comes on all of a sudden. Perhaps it’s those crazy pregnancy hormones again?
For one Minneapolis mom of three, it became a life or death situation for her newborn.
Hilary Boyer was twenty weeks into her pregnancy when she began experiencing an intense itching sensation on her feet. So, she did what any other person would do, she scratched the itch. She recalls the intense feeling saying,
“This overwhelming itch on my feet and I felt like I was losing my mind and so I did it. I dug in with my fingernails and scratched as hard as I could.”
She dug so hard that she was scratching the skin right off parts of her feet, at which point she sought medical attention.
Hilary was found to have Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy, a condition that occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy. Her sister, who was studying to be a doctor at the time when Hilary was experiencing the symptoms explains ICP; “It’s a condition in the liver that blocks the flow of bile acids out of the liver and some other compounds too. That can lead to an accumulation of chemicals that can be toxic to the pregnancy.” It is most common among Latina women, as well as women of Scandinavian heritage. At least one in every one-thousand pregnant women will experience the intense itching symptom associated with ICP. It can be easily diagnosed with a blood test, and once found, mom can be treated quickly with medication, but can still pose a risk of stillbirth for the unborn child.
When it was time for her to deliver her son, Lucas, he was found to have been affected by ICP. Hilary recalls the fear she felt when he arrived saying, “He was born and I remember praying ‘Please come out screaming’ and there was nothing. There was just silence.” The infant wasn’t breathing, and was immediately airlifted directly to a Children’s Hospital.
However, the new mama was only able to catch a brief glimpse of her newborn son.
“I saw him and I started crying because I hadn’t even got to touch him yet. And then just before he left, he opened his eyes just one little slit and I got to see his eyes for just one second before he was gone.”
Lucas was on breathing support for approximately 24 hours, after which he was able to breathe on his own.
Today, Lucas is a healthy and happy two year-old little boy, despite his brush with ICP. Now Hilary wants to warn other mothers about ICP and be aware of it’s symptoms.
She urges them to see their doctors immediately if they experience intense itching like she had. Knowing that it wasn’t normal, Hilary looks back and is thankful she sought medical help when she did, saying,
“I knew that that wasn’t normal, intentionally scratching your skin off. There’s a sign that there’s something wrong.” she also commented on how everything turned out in the end, saying “And now he’s here, so it was all worth it in the end.”