My festive itch
My name is Krissy Regan. I now live in Australia but am originally from the UK. I’ve had two ICP pregnancies.
My first little itch was a heatwave summer baby. For weeks I sat naked in front of a fan with a wet face cloth under my breasts trying to cool the heat pumping out of my liver. The itch was so unbearable I spent most nights sitting in a cold bath.
So, by contrast I was quite looking forward to a winter baby and my first little itch told me she wanted a baby sister for Christmas so I put that in fate’s hands and had my frozen embryo implanted on Good Friday, hoping to realise our dream of having a second child and a baby sister. The due date was set for December 31, but since my first was born at 36 weeks I was not expecting to have a 40-week pregnancy.
My second pregnancy was closely monitored and my body flirted with raised liver blood tests and bile acids from about 30 weeks. I finished work on 1 December hoping to have two weeks to nest and get ready for the baby to come, but after a few days of feeling horrendous and not wanting to move off the sofa I knew the ICP had arrived with force, so back to the hospital I went on 7 December to get confirmation that my bile acids had sky-rocketed along with reduced foetal movement, so it was agreed I would be delivered the following day by c-section.
After a brutal delivery and a fainting husband, I received my Christmas bundle around 7 p.m. on 8 December at St George’s Hospital in London. She was 6 lb 10 oz and truly gorgeous, and we named her Kara Grace. I was exhausted and excited to have our little bundle for Christmas and know that I wouldn’t be in hospital over the holidays while my husband and daughter sat home alone, with all our family in other countries.
As an ICP sufferer I would much prefer to have ICP in the winter than the summer, as your body does not produce as much heat and you can scratch furiously under your clothes and no one notices as much.
On both occasions my hospital stays were 4–7 days and UK hospitals are not great for air-conditioning, so a heatwave with a new born after a c-section in a noisy hospital for one week is torture on top of torture.
My first baby was taken to the neonatal unit on day two, which was a very long walk from the maternity ward. Despite a c-section and having to walk between the two wards every two hours, I was not offered any support – I fell through the gaps in the hospital care system. I then fought really hard for my own room on the birth of my second baby and I strongly feel that maternity wards need to take into account the lead-up to the birth for all mums and where they are grouped in hospitals or who gets access to the private rooms and who doesn’t.
Aftercare of ICP mums is something that is largely ignored and after such a traumatic time it is important that mums have the right support, including some rest, which in my case had already eluded me for three months before my child was born. It’s taken me five years to recover from the trauma and exhaustion of my two ICP pregnancies.
All babies are truly special. A Christmas ICP baby who had been in the freezer for 3½ years was a wonderful gift that keeps giving as a bossy and fun little sister who we all adore and appreciate the miracle that was given to us.