Saturday, November 14, 2015

Our Miracle Baby: Layla's Pregnancy

Our little Layla is one month old today! I don't know where to begin!  I will be writing her birth story soon, because I can't imagine not documenting it like I did the boys' birth stories, but I feel like I need to start with her pregnancy, because it will help to explain her birth story.  All birth stories are so different.  If you remember, August was induced at 40 weeks and 2 days due to his size and my PUPPPs rash, and at the hospital we found out I had preeclampsia.  Jude was induced at 40 weeks by my midwife breaking my water, and I went all natural from there.  Layla, of course has her own story that has changed the way I look at birth, and I am eager to share that with you soon.  Her birth has been the hardest for me to process.  She is our little miracle, even from her earliest weeks.

My Pregnancy with Layla: Hemorrhage and Cholestasis

Just like with the boys, I knew I was pregnant before the test even told me.  Vivid dreams are always my first sign.  Then the waking to use the bathroom, followed by exhaustion, cramping, back pain, overly emotional, and my skin acting different.  There was no doubt in my mind I was pregnant.  For some reason though, it took me a good 2 weeks to get a positive on a pregnancy test.  I have no idea why.  But as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I prayed for a girl.  It was probably already determined at that point, but God does what He wants, and He already knew I would pray that prayer!  I promised God if He would bless me with a little girl, I would turn around and give her right back to Him.  I would dedicate my time with her to raising a Godly woman. 

I was able to get a doctor's appointment a couple weeks after the positive test.  My first ultrasound did not show a baby in the womb. It showed the yolk sac, but no baby.  That was very strange since I had a positive test 2 weeks prior, and symptoms starting long before that. The ultrasound dated the pregnancy as not even 5 weeks along!   I was shocked.  Of course I went home and googled like crazy. I would have to wait another week before they would give me another ultrasound.

Well, a week later, they found our little baby with a heartbeat!  I was so relieved and excited!  I had thought for sure I was going to miscarry.  My due date would be Sunday, October 25th, 2015.  However, when my midwife came in to discuss my ultrasound results, my smile quickly disappeared from my face when I met her eyes.  She told me that I had a hemorrhage and that it was pretty large.  I cried as she explained to me that I would be on bed rest until further notice.  Bed rest?  At the time, I had an 18 month old and an almost 3 year old.  How could I be on bed rest?

The white dot in the upper black area is the yolk sac.  The black area below that is the hemorrhage.   

Morning sickness set in around 7 weeks.  I ended up throwing up everyday....all day...until I was 24 weeks pregnant. 

The following weeks (weeks 6 through 13), I went in for weekly ultrasounds and stayed on bed rest.  The hemorrhage was not shrinking, but the baby was tolerating it well.  The baby's heartbeat was always good, and the baby was growing.  My mom and my grandmother came over to help me with the boys and with housework.  I hated laying on the couch, but I knew it was what was best for the baby.  Thankfully, I never saw any blood.  The bleed stayed inside my uterus.  Not good either, but it helped me not to panic. 

Finally, after 7 weeks of bed rest, the hemorrhage was gone!  My body had absorbed the bleed, and baby was thriving! I was so thankful and so relieved.

We learned around 14 weeks that we were having a baby girl!  It wouldn't be confirmed until 16 weeks, so we kept it a secret from everyone.  It was of course confirmed 2 weeks later, and we had a gender reveal party.  It was so much fun!  My family and friends were just as thrilled as we were!

The following weeks would be the easiest of my pregnancy, even though I was still throwing up all the time.  I was able to go for walks with the boys, and I was still able to get out and about.  

8 weeks

Not sure...12 weeks?

20 weeks

Not sure....somewhere around 20 weeks

28 weeks

30 weeks

Somewhere around 25 weeks, I developed a painful corn on the bottom of my foot.  That's gross, I know.  I think it had something to do with my weight.  I started this pregnancy the heaviest I've ever started a pregnancy.  The corn stayed with me until I delivered.  It was debilitating.  Most days I couldn't even walk.  If you want to know how I got rid of it, one week of soaking it in a cotton ball dipped in apple cider vinegar.  Cotton ball changed out every few're welcome.   

From about 30 weeks to 35 weeks, my butt was kicked.  The aches and pains were intense.  But I was starting to see the end in sight.  I nested like crazy this pregnancy.  I think knowing we were about to be completely outnumbered made me want to be as prepared as possible.  So I wore myself out every day getting the house ready.  I overhauled and organized all of the closets, finished the boys' room, decluttered our bedroom, cleaned like crazy, and eventually finished the nursery (just in time).  I did all of this while hobbling around on the side of my left foot. 

Around 35 weeks, I noticed I was itching.  OH NO.  Puppps.  It's back.  Do y'all remember that from August's pregnancy?  I started to develop it with Jude's pregnancy, but I used a soap called Grandpa's Pine Tar soap, and the rash cleared up.  I quickly ordered some off of Amazon, but to my dismay, it did not work.  However, I noticed there was actually no rash.  I was just itching.  I laid awake at night, scratching my whole body, specifically my hands and feet, until they bled.  I had just started using a new laundry detergent (Gain).  My husband said I needed to quit using that and that I was probably allergic.  He didn't like the smell of it anyway.  (I LOVE THE SMELL OF GAIN! So clean!)  I usually make my own laundry detergent, but I just love the scent of Gain. So I discontinued the Gain and went back to my homemade stuff.  

But the itching got worse.

I knew something was off.  As I laid awake one night scratching, I googled "pregnancy itching but no rash."  My search gave me some grim answers.  


My symptoms matched perfectly.  

Cholestasis is where the liver quits functioning properly, or doesn't function anymore at all.  It causes bile acids to overflow into the mother's blood stream which causes severe itching.  Since blood crosses the placenta, the bile acids cause the placenta to quit functioning, which causes still birth in babies.  Still birth is very common with cholestasis.  The only cure for cholestasis is for the baby to be born. Most cholestasis babies are delivered between 35 and 37 weeks if not before.  Mothers with cholestasis have a 60-90% chance of developing cholestasis in future pregnancies.  Risks for the mother include hemorrhage because the mother is no longer able to properly absorb vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.  

(This is a great website if would like to read about Cholestasis:

I called my midwife the very next morning and requested to come in.  They took me in that afternoon.  I saw the OB that was in the office that day.  He said it was probably just PUPPPS, but they would do some bloodwork to make sure.  I doubled checked that he would do the 2 blood tests I had read about, and he said yes.  One of the blood tests would be a 24 hour waiting period for results, and the other would take a week to get results back!  I was not looking forward to the itching and the waiting.

The 24 hour test came back normal.  After a week of itching, crying, and getting very little if any sleep at night, the results for the second test came back.  Sure enough, my levels were elevated.  My midwife called me Friday evening, October 9, to tell me the news.  I was 37 weeks and 5 days.  She told me she consulted with the OB, and the OB consulted with a high risk doctor.  They decided I would be induced in one 39 weeks.  

I asked my midwife why we were waiting so long.  From what I had read online, if just one of the tests came back high, especially the second test, that means I have Cholestasis and we need to get the baby out ASAP.  She said that since only one of my tests was high, they would wait until I was 39 weeks to get the baby out. This was the conclusion the OB and the high risk doctor had come to.  
37 weeks 6 days

When we got off the phone, I did not feel at peace with waiting a week to induce.  Of course under normal circumstances I would choose not to be induced at all, but from my research I realized that every day is a risk leaving the baby in the womb.  I had a doctor's appointment scheduled with my midwife that Monday, and I prepared myself to make my case to be induced earlier.  I brought my instincts and my husband with me!

That Monday, October 12, I cried as I told my midwife that something was wrong, and I felt we needed to get the baby out now.  She completely understood, and she trusted that the Holy Spirit (yes, she said that!!!) was telling me that this baby needed to come out.  However, since I was only 38 weeks 1 day pregnant, she could not induce me.  I would have to discuss this with the OB.  I asked her if we could redo the 24 hour test so I could meet with the OB the next day and discuss the results. She agreed.  I had my blood drawn and headed home, not feeling hopeful for an earlier induction.  

On my way back home, my midwife called me and asked me to come back so they could put me on the monitor.  She told me she couldn't go home and relax until she knew she had checked on the baby.  I wondered what this meant, so I turned around and headed back to the office.  They put hooked the monitors up to my belly and left me to relax.  

I was having contractions, as I had been for about 2 weeks.  In the evening, I was having consistent contractions that were 5 minutes apart.  The monitor was picking up the contractions and confirmed them to be about 5 minutes apart.  I had a little button I pressed every time I felt her move.  I thought things were going well since I could feel her little nudges.

After about 15 minutes, the nurse came in and said they had been watching the monitor from their office.  She said the baby's heart rate and baby's activity were not fluctuating like they wanted.  She brought me a Coke and asked me to drink it to see if we could get baby to be more active.  This same situation had happened 2 weeks prior during an ultrasound.  During the 20 minute ultrasound, the baby had not moved at all.  She was breathing, but no movement whatsoever.  So during that appointment, they had me drink a Coke and eat a muffin.  I wondered why I was having to do this again to get her to be active like she was supposed to be.  

After 45 more minutes of monitoring, the midwife decided the baby was moving as she should after having the Coke and muffin. My midwife was glad I was seeing the OB the next day, and we were all eager to get the results of the repeated 24 hour blood test.  I went home, ate Zaxby's with my family, and stayed awake the rest of the night scratching and worrying. 

The next morning felt like a normal morning.  It was Tuesday, October 13, and I was 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant.  I started a load of laundry and decided to just snuggle in bed with the boys.  I let the boys play some games on the tablet and tried to catch up on a little sleep.  

August pretending to sleep...with his tongue out.  Haha.

My appointment with the OB was at 2:50 that afternoon.  Adam once again came with me, and we were put in a room and anxiously waited for the OB to come in.  Finally there was a knock on the door, and he entered along with his nurse.

He was very friendly, and told the nurse to check the heartbeat.  

He sat down next to Adam and asked Adam what he was doing tonight.  

"What are the results of my blood test?" I asked impatiently.

"Wait just a minute, let me build some suspense here," he replied.

"Umm...I guess I'll do some homework, maybe cut the grass..."Adam answered.

"Well, how would you like to have a baby tonight?" asked the OB.

"Are you serious?!  Really?  Were my numbers high?" I butted in.

"Your numbers have tripled since your last blood draw, and you are within 3 points of the situation being very dangerous.  If we had waited until Saturday, you probably would have had liver failure," he informed me.

"So I do have Cholestasis?" I asked, looking for verification. 

"Yes, it is Cholestasis," he answered. 

I sat there stunned.  I couldn't believe I finally got my diagnosis.  I couldn't believe how serious it was, too.

"When do we go to the hospital?" I asked.

"Well, I'll see you there in about 2 hours.  How's that?" he replied.

"Sounds good!" I answered, relieved but extremely nervous.

To be continued (soon!) in Layla's birth story....

Images by Freepik